New career move

Logo of the OAS and CICADI have not been posting here for a month. It just became too difficult to write about my life and not reveal too much about my work situation and other repercussions.

The past six months have been stressful times. I’ve worked as staff in the Office of Information Technology Services (OITS) for the past five years in the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (GS/OAS). The OAS is being squeezed by a fixed budget and is now undergoing severe service and staff cutbacks. I could see the writing on the wall — downsizing was coming to a unit near me and soon.

Since March, I’ve been trying to find another area in the GS/OAS to transfer to. At a time of institutional crisis, it’s hard to get managers to pull the trigger on bringing in new personnel — they’re concerned about protecting the staff and budget that they already have. This past week the political stars aligned and I started work in the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), a policy area within the GS/OAS. I will be the resident writer-editor working directly with the executive secretary and also supporting the communications director.

At one suspenseful moment this past month, I gave up hope and began sending out resumes to other places. But the exercise made me realized that my best fit was CICAD — my first-hand experience in Latin America, my combined skills of researcher, writer and editor in English and Spanish, my penchant for web technology, all meld together to contribute to making CICAD more efficient and productive. CICAD could also maximize my own potential if the management knows how to get the most out of me. In OITS, I’ve been glaringly underutilized for the past year, especially after my mentor retired in October last year.

The OAS has been the longest stretch of continuous employment in my life. Only during my four years in the Peruvian Times, almost 30 years ago, did I stick with a job this long. I’m not counting my years of “self-employment,” freelancing in Peru.

This blog silence does not mean that I stopped practicing yoga, breath work and meditation. Quite the contrary, I could not have managed the crescendo of stress — and avoided falling into depression — without my daily practice. My lunch hour became a mini-session of breathing and meditation. I’ve increased my frequency in taking yoga classes. At one stretch, I was going to a yoga class seven days in a row. Each time I rolled up my mat after a class, I felt as if I had returned to a baseline of balance and stillness. All the bitterness and frustration that can condense in my veins during a workday was purged.