I’ve made a conscious effort of late not to talk about my unemployment too much in this blog. Partially because, completely failing in my goal of not taking things too personally, I reacted to a negative comment on one of my posts that I needed to find something new to write about. Which really stung, because I fear people are tired of hearing me talk/write about it, but it’s still very much my daily reality. Partially, and honestly, because I crave positive feedback, more than ever, and my “happy” posts seem to generate more interest and enjoyment.
But, the truth is, I am really writing this blog for myself. It’s been a way to effect discipline, and rigor, by keeping to my personal commitment to write and post every week. And that’s definitely been a challenge some weeks, especially with the extra, completely self-administered pressure of trying to find something happy and positive to write about, when I didn’t feel happy or positive. I am a positive person, but looking for work for all these months, interviewing and being rejected over and over again, worrying about money and keeping my house, these are serious issues that would suck the positivity out of the most stalwart Pollyanna.
On Dec. 31, the health insurance provided by my severance agreement ended. A few days after that, I received my last unemployment payment. And for the first time in several years, our federal government has not extended the unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed. I confess, I used to listen to those news reports with one ear, wondering what kind of person can be unemployed for months or years. Surely, it’s because they don’t want to work? Well, lesson learned, all I have to do to see that person now is to look in the mirror. And believe me, I desperately want to work, and spend most of my time looking and applying for jobs.
And it’s discouraging. I’m extremely well qualified, have a great resume, tons of experience, and would be an asset to any organization. People tell me that I have been fortunate to get as many interviews as I have. But an interview, or round of interviews in most cases, without a job offer, is tough. I’ve interviewed for dream jobs and “job” jobs. I’ve been told I was the final candidate, only to have the requirements for the job changed at the last minute. I’ve had recruiters and hiring managers tell me I’m on the “A” list, never to hear from them again.
Job hunting is not for the faint hearted! These days, the average hiring process includes a minimum of 3 rounds of interviews, and takes an average of two months. You have to be impeccably prepared to answer a host of complicated questions and scenarios. And answer them again with each consecutive interview. You must know about the company’s values and mission, and be able to describe how you can contribute to both. In detail. You have to be upbeat without appearing flippant and confident without being arrogant. One wrong statement or answer can end the process, and you may never know which thing you said was the wrong thing. Or, they already had a candidate in mind, and were just going through the company required motions of interviewing to meet their quota.
I was recently on an interview I thought was going brilliantly, for one of those dream jobs. The hiring director and I seemed to be really meshing; he even owned dachshunds and we spent a few minutes swapping tales of our pups. Suddenly, he asked me to name my three worst qualities. I always have one worst quality at the ready, that’s fairly standard in interviews. But three? Not that I don’t have three flaws, of course I do, but I didn’t have anything that I wanted to share. So, I stammered and stuttered my way through it, badly. Soon after, the interview ended, and I was not asked back for the next round. In racking my brain over it again and again, I can’t help thinking that that is where I lost the job, my inability to think of and share the worst things about me. Yeesh.
If you have read this far, thank you. I know it’s not a fun topic. It’s not that fun for me either. I know I will get a job at some point. I only need one! And when I do, most likely there will be days when I love it, and there will be challenging days. But I think it will take me a long, long time, if ever, to forget what a gift it is to be employed, and how precious it is, and how one should never take it for granted. And I look forward to having different things to write about, and think about, and, because it’s me, worry about. And next week, I will write about kittens. Or candy. Or something else fun, or funny, or just thoughtful. Because just like you don’t want to read about my unemployment all the time, I don’t want to write about it. And no-one will be happier, or more relieved than I am, when it’s no longer a topic of my conversation. Here’s to looking forward to that day.
The end, for now
I tend to be a bit late to the party when it comes to new things. For instance, I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t have an iPad or even iPhone, I don’t know how to stream, and, heck, I’m still on AOL. I consider that just being a “traditionalist” but it has caused some people to point and laugh.
In the last week or so, I “discovered” Pinterest, which launched publically in 2011. Wow, this time I’m only 3 years behind! Anyway, I didn’t so much discover Pinterest as I was led there by two separate roads. First, my sister had suggested to me a couple of weeks ago that I might find it useful to look on the site and start collecting inspirational messages. She’s spiritual that way, and was trying to lead me out of a funk. It didn’t really resonate, partially because I am a pig headed fool, and partially because I was like, what is this Pinterest you speak of? I didn’t get it at all.
Then, my good friend and spirit guide, let’s call her “Sunshine,” started sending me pins. Virtual pins. Through email. On AOL. The first one she sent me was while I was sick, and it was a sexy doctor. I appreciated it very much. Then she sent some more, each one funnier than the last. It made me very happy, both the idea that someone was thinking about me and sending me funny things, and the pins themselves. So, I was like, perhaps I should look into this Pinterest.
So I went on the site, and at first, I still didn’t get it. What’s the deal, you just click on pictures and make virtual bulletin boards? Actually, yes. I started slow. Cute little animals. Huh. I don’t consider myself a very visual person, but who doesn’t like pictures of sweet little puppies? A baby lamb? A tiny little doe? Okay, I’m in. They’re adorable!
Next, I looked at food. Because, well, FOOD! Yum! And as I was basically looking at food porn, and pinning it to my board, oh yeah, suddenly I had two followers. No big surprise here, Sissy and Sunshine. And they started sending me more pins. I got a Jan Brady wearing the black wig pin from Sissy! Priceless! More pins from Sunshine, who is deceptively quite naughty and hilarious! Hey, I’m loving this pin thing! I started sending them pins back. Suddenly, pinning had become a sport and a pastime.
I created a board of things that made me smile. And a board for beautiful gardens. Then, it went hardcore. I created a board of vintage things, including the vintage travel posters I covet and can’t afford. And, speaking of things I can’t afford, I created a board of the places I dream of traveling to, starting with Alaska, Hawaii and Vancouver. That board will only continue to grow, there’s no end to my dreaming of future travels.
Like other social media, Pinterest can be a great entertainment, or it can be a time suck. Moderation in all things is best, and especially while I have too much time on my hands, I will have to be careful about not getting carried away. But, it has been a fun addition, allowing me to exercise my mind and imagination in new ways, and inspiring me to dream a little. I’ve also enjoyed seeing the collections my loved ones have created; it gives me a little extra insight into their heads and hearts. I’m even considering creating that inspiration board my Sissy recommended. See, even this old stubborn fool can learn a new trick or two, even if it is two years later than everyone else.
The end, for now
Since I’m still recovering from whatever sort of evil flu decided to visit me last week (and NOT leave), my thoughts are a little hazy, just want to share some rather random ponderings. Although I still feel like someone is repeatedly kicking me in the solar plexus and then punching me in the head, today was the first day in several where I’m not dizzy, feverish and so achy that all I am capable of is laying about, moaning softly and sadly. I actually got in about 25 minutes on the bike this morning. Then I had to lie down, but it was a start.
I’d like to say a few words about my dogs, and what a comfort they were to me. Louie has this amazing ability to cuddle up around whatever body part is hurting the most, like a little wiener dog heating pad (is there a dirty joke there? No? Huh). Daisy P not only looked on protectively and sympathetically as I slept 12 hours a day, like the good guard dog she is, but also nudged me every now and then to make sure I was still breathing. Okay, it’s entirely possible she just wanted me to get up and feed her, but I’d like to think there was some empathy and love there as well.
I read two books while I was down. First I finished the Bridget Jones sequel, Mad About the Boy, in about a day and a half. Light, silly, silly, but fun reading. I had never read the first two Bridget books, but of course had seen and loved the first film. The second film is pretty bad, but any movie with Hugh and Colin in it gets 10 redemption points in my book, bringing it up to passable. I can’t wait to see if they make a movie out of this third book, because in this one Bridget is in her early 50’s, like me, and still as loveably messed up as ever. Like me? And (spoiler alert) she has a delicious affair with a young stud, so it’s just, well, aspirational reading. It’s rare that a book makes me cry but I wept happy tears when I finished this book.
The other book I read couldn’t have been more different, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. This is a beautiful and thoughtful book, about teenagers dealing with cancer. It’s sad, of course, but also sweet, funny, and luminous. I cried when I finished this one too, but for very different reasons.
I also did a lot of viewing over the past few days, breaking my own rule of no daytime TV watching. I watched old Glee episodes, and wished that show had ended back when it was still fresh and good. I watched several episodes of the first season of Game of Thrones, and decided that show has only improved as it has gone on. I watched a few episodes of the Brady Bunch, and thought, not for the first time, how that family could really have benefited from some therapy. They have SO many issues. Seriously, Jan, take a Prozac!
I saw the movie Don Jon, which I had expected to love, and thought was only, meh. It wasn’t the subject matter that bothered me; I mean who doesn’t love a film about a man who is addicted to pornography? And I really think Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, is a very talented young man. But, because I didn’t really like any of the characters, including the one played by Scarlett Johansson as a sexy shrew, I didn’t really care what happened to them.
My last random thoughts on this random, rambling post have to do with acts of kindness. In the past few weeks, I have been the beneficiary of several, including the plumber who is now coming to my house so frequently he is giving me the “family discount,” my long term hairdresser, who is basically cutting my hair for about 50% of her regular rate until I get a new job, the sweet friend who offered to pick up groceries for me while I was sick and kept checking in on me, and finally, my sweet and silly friend, who sent me a Pinterest of a hot doctor to make me laugh and forget my ills for a few minutes. Every one of these gestures means so much to me, and I am so appreciative of these blessings. Just a great reminder that even a small act of kindness can mean everything to someone else.
The end, for now
Have you ever made New Year’s resolutions? And, did you keep them? I think the advent of a new year is a great time to take stock and set some intentions for the coming 12 months, but for some reason, the idea of “resolutions” has never really appealed to me.
Webster’s Dictionary defines resolutions as thus:
: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something
: an answer or solution to something
This makes me think that there is a general misunderstanding of the concept. What we think of as resolutions, are in fact, goals or intentions. Again, we consult with Webster:
something that you are trying to do or achieve
a determination to act in a certain way
I like these concepts better, because unlike a resolution, which is sort of a pass/fail situation, a goal is the action of effort, i.e. the intent of improvement or accomplishment. Last year I set the goal of writing and posting a blog post once a week. I met that goal, and it was a great source of accomplishment to me, in a year where so many things were completely out of my control. I also made a goal to exercise at least 120 minutes a week. My success there was mixed. I hit the goal for about 14 weeks, and then had to stop to recover from the appendectomy. Once I was able to get back on the bike, literally, I met my time for another couple of months and then had to stop again because of knee problems. But my knee never really improved, and I regained the weight I had lost, which has made me very unhappy.
So number one goal for 2014 is to get back on track with exercising. I started three weeks ago. The knee hurts like hell, but the improvement to my self-esteem, and hopefully my weight and waist line, make me willing to take the tradeoff. I also have some other personal improvement goals, that may sound silly and trivial but all have to do with feeling better about myself, which has been a struggle. So, I am committing to whitening my teeth, softening my feet, and moisturizing vigilantly.
I also want to work on one of my worst faults, which is taking things too personally. I don’t know that I will ever succeed completely with this, but I think the time has more than come to stop letting the negative comments or actions of others affect how I feel about myself. It’s a very bad habit, and it’s a problem. So, in this case, I actually may have a real resolution. The only things I can control are my own actions and attitudes. Therefore, I RESOLVE to make every effort to follow Agreement Number Two of The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is a wonderful book, and if you have never read it, I highly recommend it. Anyway, the second agreement reads like this:
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
My final goal or intention is to try to find a way to do more for others. Whether this will take the place of volunteering, mentoring, or some other method, I have yet to determine, but there’s so much need in this world, I want to help. So in the coming weeks I plan to look into various opportunities and see what happens. That feels like a really good direction to focus some energy towards.
If you’ve made any goals, intentions or resolutions, I’d love to hear about them. And if there’s anything I can do to support you in meeting them, don’t hesitate to let me know. We’re all in this together! Plus, I have that final goal to work towards, that could be the first step!
The end, for now