myrandomrealities

One of the perks (not) of unemployment is having lots of free time to fill. I am sure there are people with lots of family and friends, but I don’t have the luxury of that. Feeling, pretty much, abandoned in the wilderness today. Now that my life seems to be stabilizing, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t have much OF a life anymore.

Everyone I know is either paired off and don’t do anything unless they do it together. I am getting cabin fever big time, now that my kids are back to school and work all day. I have lost all my playmates. I workout. I job hunt. I volunteer. I stare at the walls. I listen to the dog snore. My days now just run together, but not in a good way. Where once my life was vibrant with the colors of life, I am now a boring beige, with dark edges.

Remember the Bill Murray movie where he wakes up and repeats the same day over and over? That’s where I live. I wake up and the days are all the same. In the movie, Phil tries to manipulate the day and the people he comes in contact with to his amusement and advantage. Phil comes to accept his new reality and tries to make changes in himself.  In the end, Phil becomes a better person and starts fresh with a new day and a chance at a new life.

Perhaps the lesson is that if you want things to change….the change has to start with you. Since I am all about change these days, I appreciate the film more now then when I saw it years ago. Change is a given in life, but sometimes we fight to maintain the status quo. Maybe we should all ask ourselves why NOT embrace change?

Today, I woke up and realized how much in a rut my life has now become. My life is changing, evolving. I no longer feel I lack control, but I don’t have as much as I would like, maybe that’s a GOOD thing. I’ve always had a Plan A, Plan B…and a Plan C. Now I find I am so far off the grid with my life, there are no plans, no safety nets, and just a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

I try to stay hopeful, optimistic…eye on that glimmer that is hope, new beginnings, the call of a new life. Some days are better than others, but that is life. Good days. Bad days. Beige days. We rejoice in the good days, struggle to stay afloat on the bad ones, and try to add color to our lives to make it interesting and joyful.

Now I just have to figure out how to let the colors back into my life. What crayons do I want to color with to create a new life? I would start with pinks, purples, blues, as they are the colors I associate with comfort and security. My favorite color is red, but I’m not sure I have the self-confidence to be bold, brave and daring- which are the attributes I give that color. Someone said that pink is red without the passion. I want passion. I want back my passion and enthusiasm for life. I want to live my life, be actively engaged in it, daring, bold, unafraid of the future.

What steps do I need to take to reset my life? I am done repeating the same day over and over,  living Groundhog’s Day. Tomorrows are about new opportunities, risks, challenges and chances.  I want to color my days bold, brilliant, brave, inviting new colors to shade and shape my life. Not sure how to Google search that, but maybe an adventure is just what I need.

 

 

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After two crying days in a row, I have how made it to Saturday. Whoopee. When you are unemployed all the days run together. I know I’ve hit the weekend when I can find local news in the morning, just cartoons and Jeff Corwin. I like Jeff Corwin. His shows are interesting and educational…and I think he sounds like Matthew Brodrick…but that’s a different conversation.

I can’t remember what triggered the first crying day, and it does not really matter now anyway. There is something about getting up in the morning and not knowing how to fill what seems like endless hours. I had the house to myself with nothing to look forward to but job hunting and house cleaning. Most of the time all it takes is someone to call…someone who has a job, a career, a LIFE…and ask innocently enough, “What are your plans for today?” PLANS?! I have NO PLANS! I am going to sit in front of my laptop and troll the internet for hours, running my search engines hoping one will suddenly be the little engine that could. Then I realize how pathetic my life is and I open that door that leads to depression.

It is really a challenge to stay positive and focused every day, so I expect an occasionally meltdown. They don’t last long, require liquor, medication, shopping, breaking things, or professional intervention,  just chocolate. A hug would be great, but if hugging myself was effective, I wouldn’t cry as much. I grab my box of tissues and just let go. Huge tears….the ugly cry women know so well and hate to be seen doing.  The cry that men fear, best left to run its course without much intervention or assistance. I will feel this way until I am done feeling this way. Thanks for caring. If you feel the need to hold me, please do so and….you can hold the tissue box. Do not say things to make me feel better, sympathetic noises only, please.

It starts out with the negative self-talk…No one will ever hire me. I have no skills. I can’t do anything. I’m too old. Why did I ever quit work?  I should have gone back to school. I should have kept up with my teaching certifications. Why didn’t I make better choices? How did I get myself into this position? How do I fix this?  I might as well give up…it’s never going to happen….We’ve all said these things to ourselves. If we say them often enough, we start to believe them. It is the most dangerous and damaging thing we can do to ourselves, but at some point, our wounds become self-inflicted.

Crying day, part 2, started of with a “What are your plans today” call, followed by an email from a recruiter, saying there will be an assessment test to move forward with a particular job I am being considered for. Great. Now I have to take a TEST to get a job. Really? If there is math, I am screwed. I flip numbers. Big time. You will see on my resume that I NEVER taught anything more than basic math. Sigh. I shoot a Facebook message to a friend who works for an HR company to as about study guides for assessment tests. She suggested I check out the company recruiting me since some are just scams to get personal information and sell you assessment test study guides. I was so hopeful about this job. Now it might not actually exist? Yikes…hand me the tissues. Let the crying begin.

Now, I am stressed on multiple levels.  In no particular order I find I am stressed because:

I am awake. I have no reason to get out of bed except to job hunt. I have an entire day to fill and kill. There are no new postings. My ex wants to know what I am doing that day. My mom wants to know what I have planned. My mom is in assisted living. SHE gets out more than I do. No one cleaned the litter box. I missed the local weather, so I don’t know how to dress to go walking. I am hemorrhaging  money now that I have nothing coming in and lots going out. I have to take an assessment test for a job. I have to take a TEST to get a job. What if I don’t do well? What if it is another squiggles/letter/number sequencing test…what if there is complicated math problems…what if I don’t do well???!!!

I hate tests. I don’t think they are an accurate measurement of skills or ability. I gave them. I take them. I hate them….but I understand the argument. And I am furious that a company, a group of people, could take advantage of the economy and exploit people’s desperation by luring them in with hopes of a job, just to try and sell them something. It is a new low point for humanity. I think that’s what had me so upset yesterday…the thought that there are such cruel people in the world and I was dumb enough to drink the Koolaid and believe.

What did I learn, what life lesson lies in the crying days? Nothing and none. Crying is a pressure relief system. Open the flood gates and let the sadness, the pain, the grief, the anger wash away until there is an empty space you can fill with something more positive, or at least try to. I ended those two days not any better off, but also no worse. I finished off a box of tissues, but had an emergency stash for the rainy day when I was the rainmaker. I realize that most of my sadness and depression is self-inflicted and that’s ok. As long as I can identify and get emotions out, I know I am alive with some fight left in me. A friend said you have to ‘fight the fight that is in front of you’ and he’s right. But…when there are too many fights in front, it’s hard to pick and choose.

They talk about the fight or flight response, but I think we should add ‘flow’. I am learning to flow. I try to focus on the things I can control and just try to flow with the rest of the universe. take what it throws at me, hope for the best. Eventually, this economic nightmare will end, but it does not mean I will come out of it with a job. I might just have to create my own place in the world. And that’s going to take more fight. I think I can handle that, but just in case, I am stocking up on Kleenex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the thing about job hunting…it is brutal and it sucks the life out of your day. Always. There is no ‘upside’ to job hunting, at least not in this economy. There are so many job hunting sites there is no way to cover them all. Search engines are like crack. You can never get enough and you are always obsessed about getting more. Whoever said job hunting is a full time job was not joking.

One day I will share (ad nauseam- I took Latin in college and occasionally feel the need to use my education somewhere.) everything I did wrong that landed me to where I am….50+ and unemployed, but today is not a crying day. For now, let’s just say ‘I am open to new challenges’, which pretty much means I will do anything for a paycheck  and somewhere to go on Monday morning. I have great skills, just not enough clustered together that anyone is interested in. As I scroll through job listings, I often think “I can do that!” and send in a application…and never get called for an interview.  Over the last year, I have come up with a few personal rules/guidelines for job hunting.

1. If you do not know what the abbreviations in the job posting stand for…you are not qualified for the job.

2. If you have no idea what the job IS after reading the requirements…you are not qualified for the job.

3. Note to self: You are a bit dyslexic with numbers. If the job involves numbers or accounting…you are not qualified for the job.

4. Just because you read the position summary and think, ‘I can do that!”, but don’t have any of the required education or experience, does not mean HR will agree with you and think you are qualified for the job.

I also have lots of  ‘thoughts’ and suggestions about job hunting now that I have gone ‘Pro’.

1. Never job hunt on a Sunday night in hopes to have somewhere to go on Monday. It will make you cry.

2. Cover letters are not creative writing experiments.

3. Cover letters should not be written while under the influence. And certainly should NOT be sent just because they are funny and make you laugh when you read them out loud to yourself.

4. Applications that require resume uploading and THEN ask you to type in all the information onto the website are just fucking with you. Somewhere there are HR people laughing their asses off.

5. HR people are not human. They are computer generated holograms or Droids who scan for reasons to reject you. They are also laughing their asses off.

6. The time it takes to apply for a job must equal your actual chances at getting an interview. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

7. Drinking does not help anywhere in the process, but chocolate does.

I do better with job fairs where I can talk to a real live person. Hand them my resume and talk about what skills I have. I was a teacher. I like interacting with actual people. I don’t do as well on the phone or online. I did get a call from a recruiter from a college today. There is a job being posted he thought I would interested in. You bet! I am interested in anything that comes with a paycheck. Well, almost anything. Let’s hope I get called to at least interview. And, no, I won’t wear my “Will Work For Shoes” t-shirt. I will be whatever you need me to be. Put me in, Coach, I’m ready to play!

Six months. That is how long I am giving myself to create a new life.  Over a  year ago I pulled the emergency exit cord on what was my life, sucked out all the oxygen, tossed myself into the wormhole that leads to the future…choose your metaphor. Regardless, I am now still in freefall, without a plan and no safety nets in place. An exhilarating place to be when you are young and the future is all about unicorns, glitter and possibilities. Sucks a lot when you are 50-something and clueless.

I wish I could say I am starting with a clean slate, fresh ideas and a PLAN. No. If you are looking for inspiration, find another blog. I am at the point where I look at inspirational plaques, bumper stickers,  refrigerator magnets and think…”Screw you.” O.K., I do have my moments of profound optimism but that tends to gets bitch smacked out of me in short order. That being said, I am an optimist and a hopeful romantic. I just am having issues with reality.

So, to summarize, I’m a middle-aged,white woman with two kids- one still in college, who currently live at home, separated for over a year, and an unemployed professional. Yikes. It looks worse in print than when you say it in your head. I’m intelligent, loving, fun, witty, attractive…how could it all have gone so wrong and I not see it coming? The truth is, had I really looked, I would have see that disaster movie heading my way. I would have started building walls, braiding safety nets, stock piling sanity, friends, laughter, love and hope.

The last few months I have been very focused on changing my life. New Year, New Life was my mantra…then New Year’s Eve finally arrived. A short, but intense relationship had ended, I was sad, hurt, depressed, fighting a head cold, and found myself at a New Year’s Eve party with a girlfriend who thought I needed to get out of the house.  Low Point. I walked into a Toby Keith “Red Solo Cup” party…omg…couples dancing, loud music, fire pits, palm trees covered with lights. Drink in hand, I found a spot by the fire pit and settled in for the duration. Thinking I could bail and not be insulting in an hour or two, I spent the evening chatting with my girlfriend and two guys. One who told me he had just got back from spending two weeks in Africa, one of them spent sick with something. Great. THAT is your pickup line? Like I want to catch whatever plague you brought back with you? Next…nice college kid. Apparently, it was his mom’s party. I have 2 of those at home, (college kids, not party moms) so I asked about school. I am a former teacher, so we talked about his courses, work and what he wanted to do with his life. Nice kid. His mom is doing a good job. So much for New Years. Holidays can be overrated anyway. Time to close the door to the past, start a new year and get a new life.

Now you are thinking….”Why the six month time limit?” Why not? Things end. Times change. We try. We fail. We grow. We try again. We learn the lessons we give ourselves. We let go. I am ready to move on. In six months my life will change. But…it will change by my own hand, with me driving the bus, not being tossed under it for once. (Inspirational moment ahead…I lied about that.) If not now, then when? If not me, then who? I just don’t know how I am going to do it….yet. Life is made of moments strung together like pearls, so I am going to string a new life together one pearl at a time. They all won’t be pretty or perfect, but a least I will be out in the world trying to make something beautiful for myself. The biggest obstacles are the ones we place in front of ourselves. So, set the timer. I’m ready to start.

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