Corporate Sellout

Remember when I said I was quitting my job to be a writer?  Well, turns out that idleness doesn’t suit me.  And I’m not the most self-motivated.  (I haven’t written for this blog in…well, let’s not talk about it.)  So I’m back in accounting but this time in the corporate world.

It’s somewhat different from public accounting and it’s challenging, but I like it.  It’s a great place to work.  We develop and manage hotels which means I get discounts all over the country.  Pretty nice perk.  Nothing’s perfect but here’s some high points.

  1. I park in a garage.  I was a little leery at first because we all know parking garages can be dangerous but it seems okay.  And the best part is you don’t have to wrestle your umbrella into the car when it’s raining.
  2. There’s good security.  You have to have a security badge to make the elevator go up to the fourth floor.  With all the shootings on the news, it makes me feel good that they take our safety seriously.
  3. The bathroom is fancy.  I mean, listen, each stall is it’s own little room.  It’s always spotless and there’s always enough TP.  It matters to me considering where I came from you couldn’t tell if the toilets were even swished at night.  But anyway…
  4. There’s a gym.  Not that I frequent it but still it’s there if I suddenly become athletically inclined.  It would be a good excuse to go shopping though.

Like I said, nothing’s perfect and there are definitely cons but I know this is where God wants me because no matter how frustrated I get or how hard it is to adapt to a new environment and new people, I’m just so happy I’m not where I was before.  Change is hard, but change is good.  And at the end of the day, every day, I know that change is exactly what I needed.

Yourself or Someone Like You

Recently, one of my co-workers suffered a stroke and because of her other health problems she cannot come back to work. In fact, her doctors have said she’s lucky to be alive. While it’s sad to lose her (she’s a great lady), I’m happy they decided to hire a new person to fill her position. I fretted and bit my nails over who they would choose. We really need another person to do taxes, not just the bookkeeping work our former co-worker was doing. I wasn’t hopeful given management’s track record of late, but they surprised me by hiring… me.

She’s not exactly like me but close enough. She’s around 30, unmarried, has experience doing this kind of work, and most importantly, does individual taxes. That’s exactly what we need. I’m working on training her and I see a lot of myself there. She went to grad school and got the Masters and is still trying to decide if she wants to get the CPA. I decided against all that early on but we have a lot in common. She’s responsible, detail-oriented, hard-working, kind, and respectful. She’s struggled through her twenties, having jobs pulled out from under her. I’ve struggled on one job. Boy, have I struggled. We may not have the same experiences but we agree that she needs the training now. It’s only six weeks to tax season. She wants to know what she’s responsible for and how to do it and I’m trying to make that happen. Management has responded positively to my efforts and I see that trend continuing. I’ve proven over the last year and a half that I’m attempting to improve things for everyone, not just myself. And that seems to be appreciated.

A year ago we were in dire straits. I was sending up desperate prayers that these issues would get resolved, that someone would pay attention, that people would stop fighting me when I was trying to help them. It looks like those prayers have been answered. This time next year could be even better.

There are many things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving but the biggest is this job. There have been a lot of days when it didn’t seem worth it and I wanted to just quit and go somewhere else. It has taken six long, hard-fought years but I finally feel like it’ll be okay. I’ve built a career here and I’ve earned respect. I was even able to clone myself. Now, that’s something to be thankful for.

Grrrr…

That pretty much sums up my week. It has not been the best week ever to say the least. My sinus problems started on Memorial Day and really didn’t let up until yesterday. I’ve been moody and irritable for over a week and that doesn’t show signs of stopping. Seriously, it’s like everything I touch this week turns to crap. Even though things have been really slow at work and I’ve had an almost unbearable amount of downtime, this week has been really stressful. It stems from knowing how many returns are on extension and how many have fiscal year ends and how all of them are going to be due at the same time in September and October and I’m sitting around waiting. So much could have gotten done this week if only clients had brought the information in. Take all that, a dash of paranoia, and throw in one heart-stopping, narrowly-avoided direct deposit disaster and you have one sucky week. Ta-da!

Paranoia did you say? Why, yes I did. I have this strange sense that everyone is out to get me, that there are horrors lurking around every office corner, horrors that are going to make this job even more difficult. That’s probably because that actually happened last year. More than once. Surprise! We bought out the CPA across the street and here’s more work for everybody! Surprise! We bought out the CPA next door and here’s more work for everybody! Surprise! We’re switching everything over to a ridiculous new program that has nothing to do with anything for no reason! If you recall, that last one never actually came to fruition because we mounted a rebellion and got it stopped. Or at least put off. I’m paranoid that that particular problem will rear its ugly head again. There’s no telling what could be brewing behind the scenes. I’ve actually been given permission to divvy up the 1099 clients between all the staff accountants so I won’t be responsible for 210 in 30 days like I was this past January. I can already tell you that’s not going to go over well. Turns out I’m the one lurking behind the curtain ready to jump out and say “Surprise! You have to do more work in January!”

After everything I’ve been through in the last several months, I just want a rest. I’ve been making the most of my vacation days and weekends but when I’m at the office I can’t seem to shake a sense of foreboding. I know I put too much pressure on myself and that’s the root of the problem. It’s a fear of failure, of being seen as inferior, not good enough. This job has not been great in the building self-esteem department but that’s another story. What it has taught me is to trust God and obey Him no matter how hard that might be and to stand up for myself and for the truth when the chips are down. I know God led me to this job and no matter how I feel or what they throw at me I’ll keep fighting because in the end, it’s for Him and no one else.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12 (NIV)

Recreation vs. Sleep: A Tax Season Dilemma

Okay, so you may have figured out that it’s tax season and that’s why I haven’t really written anything lately. Tax season means I’m spending long hours at that hellhole my office and my brain hasn’t been able to handle much outside of itemized deductions and balance sheets.

But I’ve made a discovery this week. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been tired all day no matter how much caffeine I consume. I’ve been going to bed early to try to overcome it but to no avail. I still toss and turn and wake up cranky and blurry-eyed. So last night I tried something different. Instead of turning the TV off at 9 and heading to bed, I decided to stay up an extra hour and get caught up on “Agent Carter.” Amazingly, I stayed asleep for longer periods and woke up feeling less like the walking dead.

This experiment has led me to conclude that what I need is more recreation not more sleep. Sleep is good but it’s not the only thing that rests your brain. Doing an activity you enjoy and getting the focus off work can do even more to help. I believe I already knew this on some level but I put it into practice last night and had good results.

It’s my anxiety that brings me to the dilemma part. How am I supposed to add enough recreation time to my already overloaded schedule and still get the amount of sleep my body and mind require? My anxious, mushy brain says, “There aren’t enough hours in the day. There are too many tax returns piled on your desk, too many clients calling, too many demands and not enough Kim to go around.” All these things are true but isn’t it also true that God is the God of all things and that includes time?

It has become increasing clear to me that God has placed me in this job for His purpose and I know that every day He strengthens me for the tasks at hand. And this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been through five tax seasons and half of this one and I know the stress doesn’t do any good. My battle is the lie that I’m not good enough and I still need to prove myself.

This tax season, amid the extra crazy of a dysfunctional office, the task is not the returns or the planning or a sleep regimen. The task is trust. Trust in Him to make the time for it all and trust that now, finally, I am good enough.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Why Not?

As I sit in my office breathing in the scent of Sweet Pea from my Wallflower, exhausted from 7 weeks of workplace hell, I can’t help thinking about how all this happened.

It started in the spring. Our firm bought out a couple of smaller ones and we took on some major new additions. It’s put a strain on everyone. We’re small ourselves and we’re not equipped to handle this amount. Then we were told we’d have to change our entire way of doing things by converting to a new, harder-to-use, very un-user-friendly program. Add in some serious problems at the top level and you’ve got a recipe for rebellion.

One night, as I was stressing about the situation and thinking about how useless the whole thing was, a train of thought started running through my head. There could actually be a solution to this. I’ve always been a leader and I often get put in leadership positions. I’m also pretty good at mediation. Emotions were running high with everyone and there was so much whispering at the office. The things I was thinking about would open communication and help to reconcile the situation. It would also put me at the center of the fray. After I had hashed it all out in my mind, I thought, “I can’t do that.”

Then God said, “Why not?”

And I didn’t have an answer. At least not a good one. He gave me these leadership and people skills. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that He would want me to use them? Hadn’t He already given me many situations like this to practice on? Hadn’t He already revealed that He was using me at this job for His purpose?

So I stepped into the fray and no, it wasn’t easy. I got pummeled from all sides and it left me drained and wondering if I had done the right thing. But then others started to step up and we had the opportunity to make our concerns heard. They decided to the delay the conversion until we could all consider the consequences. That’s a huge relief going into the autumn. Did it fix everything? No. But it fixed the most immediate problem and brought the other issues to light.

Part of being all in for God is hearing His voice and being brave enough to act when you know it’s Him. He doesn’t give us the entire answer up front. He expects us to recognize the opportunity and step out in faith, trusting He will take care of the outcome.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Romans 8:31 (NIV)

Why not, indeed.

Why I’m an Accountant

Not because it’s fun. I’ll just put that right out there. I’ve already ranted at length about how the job can suck. So, why, you might ask, do I continue?

Because God told me to. Yep, I said it. That’s the real, truthful answer. I’m an accountant because God wanted me to be. Now, I had no idea about this until just a few months ago. For the last 27 years, God has been preparing me to do this job at this firm. And I had no freaking clue.

Let’s start with college. I worked hard and got the scholarships and got into the good school. I was a smart kid and I thought I had my pick of majors. The trick was finding out what I wanted to do because I could do anything. I was that awesome. That lasted about six weeks. C is for Chemistry in more ways than one, y’all. I didn’t know what to do next so I just kept going with the gen ed. When it came time to declare a major I decided on accounting because it just didn’t suck as much as everything else and I didn’t seem to suck at it.

So I took the courses and got the degree. I also did an internship for two summers. It was really temp work, but I was getting paid so I wasn’t about to complain. Then there was grad school. It was sooooo important that I go to grad school and get the CPA. I’ve explained this part of the story but I’ll reiterate that I was being told CPA or die. So I went. For two months. I came home and immediately got a job as an accountant (not a temp) at the exact firm I had “interned” with. If that’s not divine planning, I don’t know what is.

I realized pretty quickly that flunking out of grad school was not a failure. Far from it actually. It was a huge learning experience. And while I may have had an inkling that it wasn’t the right path for me, I believe God took me there to show me my path. I was having second thoughts just before I left but it was way too late to turn back. I had to go and see and fail. It wasn’t being disobedient to God. I needed that experience. And God’s timing is always perfect. If I had decided in August not to go and asked for a job at my firm, there wouldn’t have been one. They had just fired someone not long before I called to tell them I was leaving grad school and could I please have my temp job back while I look for a real job. That’s how I know I wasn’t disobeying. I was exactly where He wanted me. Sometimes God wants you to make the mistake.

I’ve been on this job for four years and it hasn’t been easy. There have been a lot of low points but God has kept me here because I’m doing something for Him. And if I might be so bold, I think God trusts me to do His work here. God has been leading me to this place for a lot longer than I knew.

When asked formally why I became an accountant, I’d give some BS answer about wanting to provide an important service to people. Little did I know I was actually doing service for something so much greater.