The good news: I was too good for the job. Welcome to month 15 of applying for jobs. This is a habit I want to break.
Within the last month everything changed, or at least that’s what the political dialogue suggested. Yes and no I suspect. Yes, I suspect the Republican party will undergo a revolution of sorts. Maybe some of the secession talk will act out internal to that party. No, the balance of power and the effectiveness of the government may not have changed much. I’ll stay tuned. The great debates have little effect on my life except to provide wonderful material for Stewart and Colbert.
I watched some of the coverage because I do care, and am interested; just not to the level of many others. I also enjoy good oratory, which is why I watched Rachel Maddow’s marvelous post-election synopsis and President Obama’s acceptance speech. One line from his speech resonates with me. “If you are willing to work hard you should be able to find a good job.” I agree. Friends are more likely to tell me that I am working too hard, not hard enough. Allow me to pair that quote and my circumstance with something I’ve heard more than once. “We decided to hire someone else because you’re too good for this job.” No, really, I can be as bad as you want.
My backup plans continue to progress at various rates. Of course, I’ve been busy applying for jobs, which is my Plan C. Really, the compliments are nice. Hopefully, the resume changes inspired by the resume consultant will help. Plan A, my investments, continues to languish. Plan D, selling my house, where dropping the price $15,000 has had no effect. But Plan B, my business, has been very busy.
In the last month, I’ve been – pause to catch breath before launching into this list – proofreading a client’s book, helping publish another client’s book, selling art to patrons who couldn’t get it off their minds after seeing it at the Studio Tour, helped a few clients with their businesses and social media platforms, met for several collaborations, gave a few talks about publishing and art, committed to a collaboration for a publishing workshop, installed art at a local venue, worked on my next book, edited a description of my consulting services for a specific audience by request, and taught yet another class in social media. Add it all up and the business checking account was able to reimburse my personal checking account. After over a decade and eleven months my business may actually turn a profit.
On a more basic level, I also had a carport sale, sold my class ring, sold my membership in a local club, and sold the last of my Pixar posters on eBay. Throw in a very nice gift and my checking account is healthier than it has been in months, maybe since I’ve been applying for jobs.
Add it all up, subtract what it takes to live, and my net worth has dropped enough that I found it necessary and prudent to only send in a partial mortgage payment. The mortgage company got the check this week. Last night, UPS drove to my house far later than I’ve seen them on the island, and delivered an Express Envelope. Inside was a one page letter from the company my mortgage company wants me to refinance through. Stay tuned. I’ve done the math. My expenses aren’t the issue. The issue is my income. I’m a fan of living on less than I make, but making zero makes it hard to live on a negative number.
Aside from the consultants and coaches, I’ve received some wonderful insights from people who’ve quietly approached me with their stories. They were quieter amidst their challenging times, and support me telling my story here. They also passed along anecdotes that speak to a non-denominational faith. As one friend put it, “You step off the cliff and hope to grow your wings before you hit the ground.” One friend told me how she didn’t have the money to drive to an interview, looked down, and saw $26 on the sidewalk. Another found the best technique, networking, working for her. One of her friends talked to another and she had an offer for a nearly six-figure job by the end of the week. I’ve heard some enticing possibilities from my network. Now’s the time to move from enticement to commitment.
Some find money on the sidewalk. I am feeling good about my business. Potential clients are becoming paying clients, and we both enjoy the experience. (Paraphrased: “I thought working through this was going to create an ulcer, but you kept that from happening.”) Emphasizing the balancing of life and money, what I’ve been encouraged to call “Consulting For Life in Transition“, fits well with my passion for helping people. People who have complimented me on my art are calling back to buy it. Helping people polish and publish their manuscripts and books feels good too; and, is good practice for the release of my next book. (One man’s walk across Scotland – due out on Kindle by Christmas, really.) I wonder if my years of effort have finally satisfied The 10,000 Hour Rule, which historically has been an accomplishment that has marked the celebration of the overnight success.
I’m writing this a few days ahead of the monthly anniversary. That’s partly to work through so much of what’s going on in my head. My various Plans take up so much time that I’m working until 8 or 9 each evening. There hasn’t been much time for reflection and I suspect a part of me wants to get this out and off my mind so I can relax and enjoy on Thanksgiving.
Those friends who’ve been through similar circumstances tell a common story that I’ve witnessed too. Amidst turmoil and anxiety is an appreciation for joy in the moment. There may be less time for reflection, but as moments of joy pass by they stand out in such contrast that they are much more noticeable. I now recognize that they are always there. Want to know why I’m really writing the book about walking across Scotland? That’s the theme. Joy’s the theme. The beer and whisky were fine, but I found the awareness of the every-presence of joy there, and here now too.
Today I have a few other things to do. The gift to my checking account was delivered with a requirement that I get a haircut and beard trim. Sure! I’ve got to visit the bank and make deposits. Ah. And I get to bake dessert tonight for tomorrow’s feast. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by people who understood basics: one group that was recently re-educated by another group that understood them for generations. I celebrate the day by replicating a bit of what my mom and her sister cooked when I lived at home: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and more. Of course, the stuffing will be gluten-free cornbread and bacon, I won’t have to sit at the kids’ table, and there will be a nice bottle of wine; but, you get the idea.
Happy Thanksgiving, and I give thanks to you who are helping me see this through. (Let’s make sure the Christmas post isn’t a report from Month 16.)
Here are some links to my books and my photos for those who want to shop online. The photos are prints, of course, but they are also available as gift items like mugs and such. Call if you need help with the sites.
My non-fiction books on amazon (Just Keep Pedaling, Twelve Months at Barclay Lake, Twelve Months at Lake Valhalla, Twelve Months at Merritt Lake, Dream. Invest. Live.)