Monday, March 5, 2012

Finding Your Life's Purpose (Part 2)

While I was happy and content being a stay-at-home-Mom, I admit that I sometimes craved for the kind of interaction a full-time job provides. I was afraid of getting rusty, of forgetting all the things I learned in the corporate world. In fact, in order to keep myself busy while my kids were at school, I discovered some online jobs and spent most of my free time doing them. They didn't pay much, of course, so I wasn't really in it for the financial returns. But it felt good to have my brains working again. And then the pleasant surprise which came around August 2011.

I got a phone call from my good friend, Pia. She told me that a foundation was in the works and that she wanted me to handle things. ME? My first reaction was to ask her if she was sure she wanted me to do it. Having no foundation background whatsoever, I was hesitant. Our friendship is far more important to me than any work offer and I just really wanted to make sure I was the right one for the job. That discussion came to an end very quickly and I officially went on board as Executive Director of the Francis Magalona Foundation (FMF) the following month. All of a sudden, I was a working girl again! This time though, with more perks ... the biggest one of all, would be the fact that I'd be working from home all the time. I do miss having to dress up for corporate work everyday (also gave me a good reason to go shopping all the time) but I have to admit, nothing beats working from the house. I don't have to "abandon" my children and I'm still there all the time when they need me. The biggest challenge I have would be making sure I'm totally focused on work even when the kids are at home. Sometimes it's tough, especially with the 5-year old who demands my complete attention when she needs it (and that is quite often). Slowly though, she is beginning to understand the times when Mommy can't be disturbed. I tell her to give me some time to finish what I'm doing before I attend to her. But really, nothing has changed. I can still take them to school anytime I want, I'm free to attend parent-teacher conferences, attend to my responsibilities as a Pep Squad parent for Anissa, be present in Sabine's school programs, run errands for N when needed, even engage in some ME time on the side. I have it so good! So good!

Needless to say, I still don't get the same fat paychecks I used to enjoy every month. There are no checks for performance bonuses, no 13-month pay at the end of the year. It's a trade-off but one that's really worth it. After all, money can't buy things like TIME. It also can't buy the satisfaction I get out of the work I do for FMF. There are no hidden agendas for me, for the team. We do what we do because we want to do it for the people who need our help. We're in it, not for the money (because there ain't much hehehe, in fact we need to raise some big time!) but for the desire to reach out and make a difference. I know it sounds so cheesy.

But seriously? I had office politics for breakfast, lunch, dinner for more than 2 decades. I had to sometimes choose to be a hypocrite when dealing with colleagues (and I really really loathe hypocrisy in general) at work, I was exposed daily to people who fought for survival in the work place, no matter what it took. I survived in an environment where personal integrity was of no importance, as long as people got what they wanted. In other words, I thrived in a world that made me question my own core values. I think that's what the fat paychecks were for. I have no regrets though. That world taught me so much and turned me into a stronger person. Despite the existence of two-faced characters, I made some really solid friendships in the workplace. Not too many, just right.

Back then, I only felt one thing at the end of a long work day ... EXHAUSTED.
And now? I've been with the foundation since October 2011 and I haven't felt even the tiniest ounce of exhaustion. Just giddiness, enthusiasm and the kind of satisfaction one can only get when she sees that there are many others who would like to be on the same boat and help. Plus the smiles I get from my family because they know I'm always around and appreciate what I do.

Let's see you beat all of that, fat paycheck!

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