As my state of unemployment comes to an end, I am filled with feelings of success and failure when looking back at what I’ve accomplish and what I might construe as waisted time.
Education: Returning to college to complete my undergraduate degree was the best decision I made, however, I didn’t need to take all twenty credits in one semester, nor did I need to pursue a degree with two majors. Unfortunately, my educational accomplishment did not give me the edge in the job market I anticipated, but it gave me the personal satisfaction of completing goals I set for myself long ago. When I changed my academic direction to pursue a degree in Sociology I did not want to give up my prior goal but add to it; having already worked so long toward my major in English. Re-entering, I evaluated my transcript and I could have dropped either major to lighten the course load, but I wanted to be recognized for the accomplishment in both areas and not deem myself ‘a quitter’ or to ever perceive my prior course decisions as mere electives.
I had expected soon after graduating to obtain employment and much to my surprise this did not happen. Having not applied to grad school, as August ended and the kids went off to college I felt purposeless and filled with regret.
Career: I had a career in human service specifically in the field of mental health: I was an Activities Director before becoming unemployed. Prior to that I had juggled several part-time and per-diem positions as a support worker with the school district: running a sporting program, tutoring, and as a swimming teaching and coach. Years before, I was what they now call a mental health tech. And while finding my way I did office work, primarily bookkeeping when I wasn’t waiting tables. Now, with a degree I’m unemployed.
I applied for many positions in many fields as my background and education is vast. At times I found exciting job possibilities in education and health care that I felt were a good fit. Many positions I found were asking for extensive experience and a Bachelor’s degree or higher with pay that didn’t compensate. I’ve been considered as the candidate for positions that funding grants weren’t paid, employees changed their minds deciding to stay, and where someone with a Master’s degree snatched up that underpaying job. I have applied to agencies for multiple positions over the twenty-one months I’ve been looking figuring eventually they will hire me. That it will finally be my turn, all the while lowering my salary requirement. Instead of looking for the optimal job I changed my search to an acceptable position with possibility or a mere stepping stone with pay.
As the months passed, closing in on one-year unemployed we were entering another cold winter in the Northeast and taking the advice of family and friends I began to do something that I had control over. I began to write this blog.
Writing: I’ve been told I have a way with words. Some have said they laughed so much they cried. A fellow blogger once replied my story could be a book. I love to write and this blogging community has been great encouragement and company for me in my state of solitude. I even thought: I should learn about being a freelance writer taking an advanced writing course, subscribing to a writer’s magazine, and buying books on the subject of publishing before quickly becoming discouraged. I even expanded one of my posts into the start of my memoir only to be overwhelmed by the volume and jumbled in direction at each turning point. My love for writing like my love for babies has to be more than dirty diapers and insecurities, I need the giggles.
A writer needs a subject and for a while my subject was “The Freshie” my youngest going off in her own direction and the mother grappling for control. Much had changed when I let go not only in my writing but in trying to parent a run-a-way and I am happy to say The Freshie is gone and my sweet Melissa is home making good choices. I am looking forward to resuming my blog on a regular basis now that my despair of being alone amongst the many unemployed has lifted.
Last year, during the holidays I felt unsettled that I hadn’t given enough gifts to the children and began crocheting scarfs. I loved creating each one of them differently to each of their preferences. I kept busy between my job search and then my writing to keep my spirits lifted, I even thought: perhaps next year I’ll sell scarfs on Etsy.
Crocheting: Like writing, I crochet for love. I don’t know if I’ll be selling scarfs on Etsy, an ideal I came up with as a means of survival should I still be unemployed. I even made a beautiful afghan for the sofa and have another one in the works waiting to return to on a cool autumn day. Lately, when I think of crocheting I am planning a baby blanket. Fred’s son’s fiance Ashley is expecting. I am so excited. I think they will be excellent parents.
I kept myself busy during that long winter and in early spring I began planning an extensive garden. With my funds limited, land plentiful, and unlimited time on my hands I invested in seeds.
Gardening: By the time Hurricane Irene crashed into New York and the flooding that came after, my garden was long ago harvested. I sowed an early crop: potatoes, lettuce, spinach, peas, green beans, beets, carrots, and then cucumber, basil, cilantro, and a few pumpkins before giving up in the early August heat. I had grown so exhausted chasing the weeds and fighting the beetles that I gave up the prospect of a later season crop. In stopping there, I called my garden a huge success with plenty to share. I even sold some produce to my friend to sell at his farm stand making back some of my initial investment and I happily ate the rest.
It is suggested that the garden be rotated from year to year. If I learned anything sowing such a large garden it would be to plant the center of the garden with its full sun earliest in the spring and then in the hotter weather plant in the partly shaded area. The way I had the garden planted it seemed everything was ready to harvest at the same time instead of gradually as I had planned. If I am still here next spring I have learned how to make better use of the land.
Home Renovations: Everything that was done we did ourselves. Fred and I are pretty handy and determined once we get going on a project. Being stuck here at home the way it was had become unbearable and a great motivator. There was periods of frustration when we couldn’t move forward because we had to wait for a truck to pick up sheet rock or waiting for the layers of wall compound to dry to sand or having to clean up to live in a construction space only to mess it up all over again. Then Fred got upset when we were trying to prepare the walls and ceiling in the kitchen and I surprised him with a dishwasher that I insisted immediately got installed not realizing plumbing and electricity would be a factor. I bought the dishwasher because things weren’t moving along fast enough and there I was slowing things down adding this project to the long list of others.
We have two houses between us. We live in mine and when there is money we renovate his. When there is no money we go back to renovating mine. My hope is that when we move into his house it will be finished and when we move out of mine it will be finished also. I don’t know if I will sell or rent my home but I plan to be living in the larger house without the expense of a second house.
At the end of the month I start my new job. Before then, I will have the inside of my house all painted. That is the plan. Then I will think about the long over-due roof.
When looking back at it all I am satisfied with my accomplishments. I took care of what I could and I did the best with what I had. I let go of unrealistic goals and achieved some beyond my expectations. I believe I will be happy in my new job. Sometimes we have to step back in order to move forward. I could have done this all differently, with a blanket thrown over my head but I did not. I came out the other side to a new day, to a new beginning. Another period of hardship has come to a close and I’d like to think I am a stronger person having 1500 words to write about it when I could have just said…
BOY, DID THAT SUCK!