The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

How to Dress for Work September 9, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 12:49 pm
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A few months ago, I was faced with a very frustrating phone call. The temp agency I’d been working with had discussed a few potential improvements I could make on my job. One of them had to deal with my attire. As I’ve always had a difficult time accepting my appearance, this came as a rather difficult piece of information to swallow.

I’ll admit: I cried. The day after I received the phone call, I didn’t speak to a single person in my office unless spoken to. I stayed in my cubicle and wallowed in my anger.

I knew I couldn’t act like that for very long if I wanted to keep my job, so I decided to take some action. I recruited my friend Egan to perform a “What Not To Wear” intervention on my closet. It was one of the hardest, most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t recommend having anyone but the closest of friends help you with this. I know I came very near punching her once or twice with some of the insults she threw at my closet. (The episode of “My Boys” a couple weeks ago is a perfect example when Kenny tried to organize P.J.’s closet.)

Since then, I’ve been looking for “work appropriate” clothing. I bought myself a few shirts that should be better, and I’m making sure not to wear things after they start looking a little raggedy. I started wearing make-up (and have since declined in my usage due to my tendency to be a little later getting around in the morning than I’d like).  I take time, however, to look at my hair. If I don’t have time to dry it and straighten it, it gets thrown into a bun with chopsticks. I’d prefer those over a ponytail any day.

Shortly after this intervention, however, I went with Ashley and Michelle to have our photos taken. Ashley and I were getting ready together since I was staying at her house. We were trying to go through some clothes and decide what she was going to wear, and in the middle of it, I had an epiphany.

People have told me many times that I look great when I go to Indiana or to friends’ houses, but to have this fall on my lap confused me. The one major difference, I realized, is cameras. When I visit friends with new babies or who take many photos (which are most of my friends), I expect to have my photo taken, so I make sure I look nicer. I don’t want to be remembered as “Auntie Erin, the scrub”, do I?

No. So as Ashley and I concluded, every day you should dress as if you’re going to have your photo taken.

Go to work expecting a photographer to show up and use you as a model for cubicle furniture or a printer advertisement. Visit your friend expecting to see yourself in scrapbooks down the line. Always be on guard for that camera.


What do I like most about my job? June 29, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — michellehuegel @ 9:41 pm
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Having two “jobs” complicates this question for me. My first job, and the one I consider most important even if not the most (okay, at all) financially profitable, is that of wife and mother. Although I often get claustrophobic and stir-crazy, still I love taking care of my home and my son. I’m scared to death to take care of two little boys, though! That will be a whole new adventure in motherhood! One of the things I like most about this “job” is the new, exciting adventures I experience every day watching my son grow up and learn new things. I suspect adding a new baby boy into the mix will only enhance this aspect of the “job”!

Speaking of jobs, at the moment my little “boss” is clamoring for mommy’s attention (either that or mommy’s computer, I’m not sure which), so I think I’ll write a little about my second job tomorrow!


Battle Scars of the Modern Day Workforce May 20, 2010

The one thing I love most about my job is that I’m never doing the same thing from one week to the next. Last week, I spent the entire week working on a PowerPoint® presentation while every day so far this week, I have been working on cleaning a room that started out looking quite a bit like the cover of this book:

Berenstein Bears

No joke. That’s almost exactly what it looked like, but with more boxes and no kids. By now, it’s begun to look a lot more like this, but with toys lining the walls instead of artwork and no carpet:

Please note, neither of these is really my workplace. Just comparisons. But I would love to work in the world of the Berenstain Bears, but that’s another blog post in itself.

While cleaning yesterday I somehow managed to nick my finger on a door, and earlier in the week, I think I did something awful to my finger trying to break down corrugated boxes. It was sore for two whole days afterward. I haven’t felt this beat up at work since working in the factory! (But I like this job a hundred and fifty million times better, let me tell you!)

Sure, sometimes I may use these as battle scars to compare with other people at work and see who’s suffered the most damage over the last three months, but there are other non-physical scars people who work here like to compare, too. These are scars we take pride in, things that make us feel like we’ve done our duty to our jobs.

  • The number of paper cuts received in a single day
  • The number of hours of overtime you work in one week
  • The latest time you’ve ever stayed after the typical 5 p.m. closing time (or your shift if you work something other than the typical 9-5 job)
  • The earliest one person has ever had to come into work
  • The most changes to a single project in one day
  • The longest length of time it takes to upload a file to the ftp site
  • The number of times you cut yourself with an Xacto blade in one day
  • How many cans of 5-hour energy drink needed to survive one week
  • How many cups of coffee or cans of pop one person can drain in the same day
  • The longest flight an individual has had to take on account of work

Are there any battle scars you compare with your coworkers to prove who is the most dedicated to your jobs, no matter what industry you work in? Are there other things that should be added to this list?


Facebook Fan Pages March 9, 2010

Filed under: Writing — michellehuegel @ 5:21 pm
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I’m quite proud of my most recent technological accomplishment – publishing a Facebook fan page! The page is for published author Patricia Strefling, who I’ve been working with lately on some editing projects as well as computer projects, such as setting up this Facebook fan page and her Etsy shop (she makes and sells beautiful crocheted baby afghans).

Creating the fan page took me back to my days at Davenport U as a marketing major, as we discussed ways to drive traffic to the page, links to other authors and sites, and choosing photos and blurbs for different areas of the page. The fan page is really all about marketing, but on a “grass roots” level – focused on connecting personally with your target market (your “fans”). The end goal, however, is still to drive sales/traffic/readership/etc. I think it’s a great idea and I’m excited to build my editing business to the point where I need a fan page!

I wish Facebook would build more customization capabilities into their fan pages. For example, I’d love to put up a sidebar box with all of Pat’s favorite links – to fellow authors, her publisher, etc. The link box available now will only show 2-3 links and I don’t think there’s a way to choose which ones are displayed (although I could be wrong).

I think the Discussion board area has great potential especially for the creative arts people like Pat. She can create a post for each of her books, and hopefully get some thoughtful discussions going and ideas for future stories! Check her out – her inspirational romance books Edwina and Cecilia are available now!

If you have any sort of business I encourage you to create a Facebook fan page. Seems like everyone is on Facebook nowadays, and it’s a great way to touch base with your friends and clients, and hopefully reach new ones! If you have a page already, would you mind sharing it with us in the comments? I’d love to see how you’re using this great feature!

So now I have a question for our LifeInk readers – do you think LifeInk needs a Facebook fan page? Would you be our fan? If we do launch a page in the future, what would you like to see on it? Besides, of course, blog post updates (because I know you never want to miss an episode :))!! How about additional links and info about posts? Updates on past posts? We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

PS – Of course, you can always find the three of us on Facebook! We are all on pretty frequently posting insightful and witty status updates (HAH!) and we love to chat!


Late to Work January 26, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 2:30 am
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It was only my second week at my new job, and it was my dad’s second day at his. I never expected they might have the potential to collide.

My job is an office desk job. I get to sit at a computer and play with baby toys all day. It’s quite the leap to think that I might have some contact with my dad, a tow truck driver.

And it’s all because I was trying to save a couple dollars.

I was about to go away on a long trip that weekend, so I figured that I might be able to wait until right before to fill up on gas. The night before I went to work I thought I had enough to make it to work and to the gas station, and I think I was hoping it as much as I was assuming it.

I was rushing out the door, and I didn’t have much time to eat, and I’d just thrown a microwavable sandwich in my purse for lunch. I think I even forgot to brush my teeth that morning. (Not that it matters with the coffee I drink at work.)

Usually my mom and I leave the house at about the same time. On most occasions, she will leave before me, but that morning I was lucky. We went out to our cars at the same time that morning. Knowing I was in a hurry, she let me leave the driveway first.

I pulled out, and turned the corner to leave our subdivision. As I was going down the hill to make a turn toward the main road, my power steering went out. I was confused. Why couldn’t I make the turn as easily as I normally would?

And then it dawned on me:

I was out of gas.

On my second week of work.

What was I going to do?

I was humiliated. As I was calling the temp agency I work through, my mom pulled up beside me to see why I wasn’t rushing down the road as fast as I had been out the door five minutes before. I told her I’d ran out of gas while the phone was ringing, and hopped into her car.

Thankfully, we weren’t far from home and had a spare container to go get some gas. Otherwise, I would have had to call my dad’s work and have him bring me some. I’m sure he would have been pretty amused that his daughter would have been one of his calls that day. But alas, my mom saved me instead.

It’s mornings like those that remind me to be extremely thankful for living at home with them. If I had been living somewhere else, I would have been stuck relying on AAA, and I would have been at least 45 minutes late, rather than only the 15 that I was that day.

Oh, and did I mention my boss just laughed at me when I got to work? 🙂 Yeah, not a surprise there.


Calloused Knees December 15, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 11:09 pm
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When I first started taking photos, I never thought of it as a physically taxing job. But it is.

I am always on my knees talking to children. I’m always on my knees eying them through my viewfinder. I’m always lifting blocks, dragging and rolling backgrounds, or jumping up and down to get kids attention. It’s insane.

As one lady said to me the other night, after attempting half a session with her four children, “You must go home every night exhausted from this job.”

It’s true, I do. But I love seeing the kids in their cute outfits, and catching those occasional quirky smiles between moments of hysteria makes every moment worth it.

Having worked in the photo studio for a couple months now, I have begun to have pretty calloused knees. I was warned toward the start that I’d deal with the knees of my pants being worn out, but I never imagined my actual knees would begin to be worn. Maybe I should have invested in a pair of knee pads to put under my pants.

Growing up, I always heard about how people who had calloused knees from praying so much. I just thought it was an expression, not something that could actually happen to a person’s body.

I feel a bit ashamed that I’ve never realized it until now, when I’m being paid to be on my knees all day. As with any callouses, your knees are rough, and they catch on material that rubs up against them — in this case, your pants. And no matter how much lotion you scrub on them, your hands end up ten times softer than your knees.

That makes me wonder: how often do Christians really physically exert themselves in prayer? Sure, we’ll get down on our knees if we’re paid or if it’s something fun to do like play with children, but we’re pretty quick to curl up nice and comfortably in prayer. Even churches that do kneel on a regular basis have kneeling pads so as not to cause callouses on the knees of their parishioners.

But even with those kneeling pads gone, everyone knows that a decent workout isn’t going to impact you if you’re only doing it on the weekends. What about every day of the week? Is prayer really driving us to our knees in focus, or has it become a passing thought? Should prayer have more of a physical impact on our lives?


December Days 9 and 10 December 11, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 8:11 pm
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Dec. 9th

Winter set in with an attitude today. I think we’d all become a bit complacent with our nice fall weather (remember that 8″ snow deficit in November?), and Winter had to remind us that we do, in fact, live in Michigan! Now it’s making up for lost time with extra nastiness. Fifty-mile-plus winds today, plus a few inches of snow and cold temps equals icy roads and a noisy mobile home. Cai and I took refuge from the things banging on our house and visited my parents. Real houses are much quieter. He’s still feeling icky, but hopefully is on the mend. Seemed a little better today than yesterday. Last night was very rough, he finally ended up in bed with me after mommy got tired of getting up and down. So neither of us slept well.

I just realized that we leave for Christmas traveling in a little over ONE WEEK!! EEEEK!! I’m trying to kick my calendar-gifts production into overdrive, which meant I got three pages done today. Woo-hoo. I figure I have at least 36 different pages to do, more if you count just switching out photos. Then go buy the paper and ink. Then print. Then embellish. Then assemble. Then wrap. Then stick on these cute little photo gift tags that Picture People gave us for free in the hopes we would buy more but we didn’t because we’re cheap and besides I won’t use more than 20 or so anyway.

I have a long ways to go. It would help if I’d ban myself from Facebook, but the problem with banning yourself is that it’s been historically proven to be a bad governmental model. If the same person is judge, jury, and executioner they’re not likely to pass or enforce the death penalty (read: no FB) on themselves. When’s the last time you read about some old-time king finding himself guilty of treason and ordering himself executed? Not in my history books. So, since it won’t work anyway there’s no point.

This week when you see me on Facebook give me a shout and tell me to get back to Christmas presents, because I don’t have the self-discipline to tell myself. 🙂

Dec. 10th

Today, for the first time in weeks I think, Cai and I stayed home all day. We didn’t shrivel  and die or turn into shy, maladjusted human beings from the lack of contact with other people. It was actually rather nice. We snuggled and played, and Cai napped (yay!). I finished several more calendar pages, and made sure to keep up on cleaning “maintenance.” Of course, we kept Christmas music playing! That is, when Cai wasn’t changing the station, turning the radio off, or switching to CD (he loves the stereo). Josh came home early from work, unfortunately, because they didn’t have enough to keep him busy. He finished sealing our door to keep out the bitter cold sub-zero-wind-chill temperatures, and braved the cold to pick up a few essentials at the grocery store for me. I need to embark on a serious grocery shopping excursion this week, but not sure the budget will allow me to. I hate money, especially around Christmas time. Such a spoilsport.

In case you’re curious about how the calendars are coming, here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages ready to be printed:


More, More, MORE! November 24, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 12:00 pm
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Hi, I’m 24 years old, and I have my first retail job this Christmas season.

There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open. I feel so much better now.

Most people get one while they’re in high school, but my parents decided that they wanted us to focus on being kids and having fun rather than worrying about car payments and such. The logic has its ups and downs, but there’s nothing I can change about that now.

First thing I’ve noticed is that Christmas starts the moment Halloween is over.

Being in the mall significantly more often this season has made me see commercialized Christmas in a whole new way. I mean, I knew we were horrible about it, but this year it’s repeatedly thrown in my face.

I keep seeing the overuse of the word “more”, and it frustrates me to no end. One store has it on every sign they put out. It’s bigger than any other words in the advertisement, and all it makes me think of is that greedy girl, Veruca Salt, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Another store sent out advertisements saying that “Joy is just a click away.” Real joy, my friends, is not just a click away. Actually, when I start clicking away, my stress level rises and my joy is definitely not present, even if it is part of my name.

And then there’s the whole idea of Black Friday. I know a lot of people love going out and getting these amazing deals after standing in line at ridiculous hours that morning, but I dread the idea that I now have to work that day. The idea of fighting traffic with the same people who have been planning their schedules for months makes me apprehensive. I’m just thankful we don’t have snow yet this year. (But that’s still a couple days away, so who knows?)

So, how do I avoid the holiday pressures while working at the mall? I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure that one out. And just think: sales are so much harder to resist with an employee discount!

What about you? How do you avoid all the stress and pressure of the sales? If you do, have you any suggestions for the rest of us who are much more easily (and as guiltily) swayed by them?


The Ethics of Temp Work October 13, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 9:18 pm
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Lately, I’ve been working for a temp agency in town. It’s been a great way to keep up on bills while not having a permanent job, and I’ve been very thankful for the work. This weekend, however, I realized that I’m dealing with an interesting dilemma by accepting some of this work.

While looking for a job, one of the things that I am looking to most is that I want to work somewhere I can agree with the morals and the standards of the company. In taking a temp job, I haven’t even considered that. I just say, “Well, I’m thankful for the work.” It’s true, I am very thankful for the work, but at the same time, I’m sitting there thinking, I can’t stand that I am here promoting what I don’t agree with.

So, I guess I’m asking if this makes me a hypocrite. Should I turn down work because I don’t think that people should be involved in sending out mass mailings? (But it’s marketing, right?) Or should I turn down work because I’d be manning a table at a conference for a company I think is a scam? (But I’m just making a couple bucks and the agency didn’t tell me the name of the company I’d be working for, right?)

Is the couple bucks an hour worth my time and my guilt? I still don’t know.