Good news everybody! I got a job! Add that to the other one and I’m three-quarters of the way to half-time employment. If I keep this up I’ll be able to work a lot less.
Yesterday I signed a contract as a contractor. For about ten hours a week, I’ll be managing the electronic presence of New Road Map Foundation (aka financialintegrity.org and host of the Simple Living Forums.) I am now the Information Manager. (Reminder to self: update resumes.) It is a welcome and surprising return to the organization where I’d been the board Secretary. Now, lets see if I can do as good a job as the previous manager who just managed to get a full-time job (that undoubtedly underpays her for her talents, but maybe they’ll catch on and promote her.) Ten hours a week isn’t going to appease my mortgage company, but it does force the fears of “homeless and hungry” into retreat.
Until now, my biggest client and benefactor has been the HCLE Virtual Museum (also History of Computing in Learning and Education on facebook). Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been the (Interim) Project Director, a job that has been intriguing and a good match. The title and the job are keeping me busy, and are already on the resume, but until we find sufficient funding (hence the “Interim”), it’s a job that takes less time than NRM.
Those two jobs, one as contractor (NRM), and one that started as a client (HCLE), add to everything else I’ve been doing: consulting, teaching, speaking, selling books, selling art, and helping people with their social media platforms and publishing projects. The long second half of that sentence is enough to keep anyone busy. As my financial turmoil increased, I increased my level of effort, striving to find a sustainable and encouraging lifestyle. Some of you readers are long-sufferers as you’ve empathized with my struggle. I’ve worked as hard as I can, actually a bit too hard, as I tried to find which efforts would help pay the bills. There has been lots of encouragement and I’ve generated lots of momentum, but I didn’t generate enough cash. I made enough to convince me to continue (thank you clients, attendees, readers, and patrons), and the growth is good; but, the worries remained.
My reaction to the NRM job has taught me a lot about myself and what I’ve been through. Logically, I assessed the task, my skills, the effort, and the compensation. Emotionally, I am still reserved. My emotional reservation is partly because this ten-hour a week job is not a complete solution. It is very welcome and a fair trade, but the foreclosure concern remains. I dug deeper though. Money matters aside, I realized that months or years of ineffective struggling included dozens of opportunities that never materialized, others that took weeks of effort but became nothing, or collaborations that cost more than they made. At some level I thought the good news was a mirage. I’ve seen a similar reaction in friends who haven’t had a date in so long that they don’t believe the flowers were for them.
NRM’s offer was a surprise. No job ad required, just a serendipitous meeting at the Commons in Langley. HCLE’s job was a surprise to both of us. No job ad required, just a serendipitous phone call about a different topic. It is possible that neither of those opportunities would have arisen if I hadn’t been working so hard on everything else. All of those other tasks were training grounds for what I do now.
Within the last two days I’ve re-assessed my habits. I am human. We humans get into ruts. Sometimes the only way to get out of a rut is by getting into another one for a while. That’s why I bicycled across America and why I walked across Scotland. I traveled for the traveling, but I also traveled to change. I got myself into a rut of work that was largely energized by hope, a very subjective experience. My NRM and HCLE jobs are energizing me with objective compensation. My rut had become working from about 8 or 9 to about 8 or 9, interspersed with time for mowing the lawn, making meals, and maybe exercising. The spread-out hours were necessary to get all the work in, but also to enable coordination with other people’s schedules. Now that money should be coming in on a more regular basis (did you read the doubt I unconsciously put into that first phrase?) I have to change, I get to change.
The unemployed are some of the hardest working and busiest people I know. They spend time and effort to make money any way they can because they must. Taking a break means missing an opportunity. They don’t get vacations. Days off are usually imposed by mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion – during which they aren’t making money, which therefore requires them to work harder. Unemployment can develop a workaholic mentality and an excessively frugal relationship with money that is unfortunately necessary and unhealthy in many ways, especially when passes it from temporary to permanent. Many people who lived through the Great Depression never left the mindset of lack. The title of a friend’s book captures their perspective, Trance of Scarcity. (The text of the book shows a way to change that.)
Monday night another friend called. She’s a sole-proprietor and entrepreneur too. One job sustains her. At least one of her passions may allow her to thrive. She caught me in the middle of my second spiced vodka martini (frugal details elsewhen). I needed something to break down my emotional inhibitions, something that would help me reset my perspective. I knew I couldn’t continue my old mindset, adding job on job. I knew I couldn’t just celebrate and stop work on the rest of my projects. I had to find that middle ground that acknowledged my new good fortune, respected and continued to energize my most promising projects, and that began allowing more time for me. The last part was and is the hardest. Talking to a similar spirit was immensely powerful.
Before my financial turmoil and portfolio collapse I was just beginning to explore what pleased me, what I enjoyed rather than what others had told me I should enjoy. Those important lessons were interrupted. It is time to pick them up again, at least in part; because, that effort is more valuable than many of the less likely projects on my list. Having a ten-hour a week job, with a few hours committed to another long term project, may not be enough to appease the mortgage company, but they do provide enough relief to begin to relax.
I look at myself looking at myself and I wonder what this economy is doing to many who don’t get that opportunity. Employment numbers don’t reflect that people who lost a middle-class job are replacing it with two or three that pay far less. Staying above the financial poverty line may require so much work that they are trapped below an emotional poverty line. I’m glad I have friends who have helped me through, out, and probably beyond my troubles.
Now, I’ll close this post. I have a job, or two or three or four, to do; and I’m going to make sure that by dinner time I also do a bit less.