Tag Archives: adjusting to change

Would you RATHER be living life laid off?

By Mariam Williams

I’ve had jobs I loathed so much that I would cry when my weekday alarm clock signaled the time had come to get up and get dressed to go to the office of misery.  Is unemployment better than that?  Definitely, even with all the hassles of sitting for hours at a time at the local unemployment office, all the glitches in the system, an automated system that only understands hourly work, never being able to earn extra income, and knowing I’m one out of something like 10 million people.  But it’s only better because I can still afford all the food I need and like, and I can still pay rent and most of my monthly bills without familial or charitable assistance.  If that weren’t the case, I would probably be waking up and crying just as hard as I once did over a depressing, unfulfilling job.

Since October 2008, I’ve tried to avoid going back to that situation by not applying for jobs that I know would leave me depressed.  (I’m presently wondering if that’s the reason there are supposedly millions of job openings out there that the unemployed aren’t filling.)  I have focused instead on jobs that match my interests, experience and skills, and even ones that I think would be fun.  For me, that’s the ideal: fun employment.

Not quite the same as funemployment, a new term I learned from an article in Sunday’s Courier-Journal.  The funemployed have learned to enjoy their employment hiatus by spending time with their children, on their hobbies or at various, mostly free attractions.  From what I gather, all of the funemployed featured in the article share my mindset: they’re still paying their bills on time and taking care of the essentials first.  And one has the enviable position of having a gainfully employed and supportive spouse who’s bringing home enough for the family.

Understand, I’m not saying housewifery—or house husbandry—or lollygagging along on government assistance is the ideal setup for every American household.  I am, however, suggesting that the ideal isn’t just to have a job that’s fun to go to every day; it’s to have a steady source of income and the time and ability to enjoy your passions each day, even if you don’t go to any job anywhere.

Puzzled as to how to be funemployed?  It’s really just a combination of a positive attitude and knowing how to fill your free time now that you’re living life laid off.  Here are some suggestions.  I’ve obviously done number 13.  Numbers 37, 41 and 84 are quite useful.  And I strongly recommend AVOIDING number 46, but clearly it’s all up to you.

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© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

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My love-hate relationship with living life like a housewife

I’ve begun to do something I thought I would never do: let my exercise routine slip.  I haven’t devoted myself to five or six days a week of rigorous 30-minute to one-hour cardio sessions combined with weight training for a little over one month.  As a result, I think my breasts are bigger (they are just hyper-sexualized fat deposits, after all) and my butt looks rounder (always wanted that), but my stomach has forcefully, purposefully, and unapologetically reappeared, much the way I had hoped a job would by now.

I blame my recent apathy on two factors.  The first is my favorite Zumba instructor’s departure to another state.  I’ve raved about Zumba on this very blog, but since my favorite instructor’s final class on May 19th, I have only been to one Zumba class, and I found that one less than thrilling.  Trying to perform my former teacher’s choreography on the carpet in my apartment has proven treacherous to my knees, and I guess I could get certified to teach Zumba myself and do the choreography I remember him doing in front of my own class, but I don’t know that I have the patience to just let people have fun without correcting their movements.  I went back to cardio machines and free weights for about two days before being bored out of my mind, and about as soon as I added jumping rope to semi-daily walks around the neighborhood and park, it got too hot outside to blink without sweating profusely.  I miss Zumba, but I’ve taken the class with all the other instructors at my gym, and no one else has the music or the moves that my former instructor did.

The second factor is living life laid off.  See, my gym membership is attached to my mom’s, and she pays for it.  If I were employed, I would look for another place to work out because I hate my gym, or at least the branch of it that I’m closest to now that I’m at home most of the time.  I had an appointment near my favorite branch of the gym earlier this week, so I packed my gym clothes and stopped in for old times’ sake.  I was suddenly surrounded by professional people running in on their lunch hour for a 45-minute workout and a 30-second shower before running back to their desk responsibilities, and it felt great! As I told another member who remains a part of the downtown lunch-hour workout crew, I come to my favorite branch of the gym, and even though I’m unemployed, I relate to the professionals downtown.  The housewives near my home, not so much.

And yet, I live like a house-wife in training, and there are some elements of my life I actually enjoy.  When I worked out steadily, I liked being able to stay at the gym—even that gym—for two hours at a time, hours that were outside of the normal 9-to-5er’s pre- or post-work rush hours.  I like avoiding those same time constraints at the grocery store or in the park.  I like being able to go to the bank and the post office any time I feel like it, instead of at lunch time or on Saturday.  I like having enough time every morning to make a spinach and mushroom omelet if I want, to have a meaningful private praise and worship session, to fully dissect a bible verse I’ve been studying or thoroughly research something for this blog.  If the unemployment compensation checks were in an amount that allowed me to have as much fun as I want to, or if I had a husband who made about five times that amount, maybe I would be content with my life.

On a local news station the other night, the anchor welcomed the meteorologist back from her four weeks of maternity leave.  Four weeks? I thought.  What kind of maternity leave is that? Isn’t it just a little barbaric to take a one-month-old away from its mother’s breast and leave it at least 10 hours a day with strangers you just assume will take care of it? If I ever have children, I’m not sure I could do that. Eight months ago, I never would’ve considered any of that, not having children, not the hardship of being apart from them, not the savagery of leaving them with strangers.

I must take the time to remind myself here that housewife isn’t my only option.  I also like being able to jump on the rare freelance assignment that comes along and to take a day to go shadow an attorney, or mold my own schedule to a busy professional’s schedule to get the story.  I like having access to a venerable Who’s Who of the city, meeting people I would otherwise never come in contact with as an educated, intelligent, unemployed young woman.  I like when an editor says I’ve done a good job.

Hmmm.  A good job.  If I could just make this freelance writing thing steady …

And stay away from housewives.

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© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

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Living life laid off complicates life in ways I never expected

Absolutely no one is going to read this blog today, the day after the untimely and tragic deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, but I’m awake updating it because, since a strange man pounded on my door at 3:30 this morning demanding to see people who do not live with me, I haven’t been able to go back to sleep.

When the loud beats on the front door of my apartment jolted me out of my slumber, I didn’t even take the time to put my glasses on.  I rushed to the door and looked out the peephole.  I could only make out a blurry image of a white male’s head; the rest was distorted by the peephole.  I think I asked, “Who is it?” or “What do you want?”  He asked if men I do not know were home.  I said, “You have the wrong apartment.”  He asked again.  I repeated my answer.  He asked if he could come in for a minute and call one of them.  I ran back to my bedroom, shut and locked the door, grabbed my cell phone, and with trembling hands, dialed 911.

Police arrived probably within three minutes.  I can’t be sure because I was using my body as a barricade to my bedroom door, in case the strange man decided to break down the front door, and I wasn’t about to move until I was sure that either he was gone or the police were outside.  I didn’t hear any sirens, and the angle of my windows to the parking lot combined with the lightning outside would’ve made the lights on top of the patrol cars difficult to distinguish.

I moved from the door when I felt things had been quiet long enough.  I went to my window and peeked through the blinds.  I saw three patrol cars in front of my building and one police officer standing outside the building that sits cattycorner to my own.  I heard muffled voices from the floors below and outside; fans on high covered up everything else.

Moments later, I heard another knock on the front door, this time loud but normal and solid, and a voice identifying itself as St. Matthews Police.  I looked through the peephole, this time with glasses on, and saw the distinct markings of a police uniform.  I opened the door.  A kind and concerned officer informed me that the man was homeless, had been seen around the area before, and was now in police custody.

I was relieved but visibly shaken.  In fact, I was still shaking, hard, from head to toe, and then I started crying.  The officer asked three times if I was okay and said he wasn’t going to leave until I said that I was.  I took a few deep breaths, assured him that I was all right, took his card, shut and locked my door, and retreated to my bathroom with cell phone still in hand.

Another officer rang the doorbell about two minutes later.  This one asked if the man had tried to kick down the door.  I said no, I hadn’t waited long enough to see if he would.  I looked at the door for evidence of a hard kick but didn’t see any.  The officer said he doesn’t think the man was trying to break in; he was just wandering, and they were probably going to escort him to a homeless shelter rather than to a jail, which didn’t bother me.

I peeked out from the blinds again and caught an officer escort a tall, thin white male in blue jeans, a green t-shirt, a baseball cap and handcuffs, into the back of a patrol car.  They turned on aviator lights – the red ones inside the car – presumably to do paper work or input some data about the night into the computer in the car – and drove away.

I put the direct number to my neighborhood dispatch in my cell phone and lied down.  I called one person, who didn’t answer, and tried to think of others I could call who wouldn’t be so alarmed that they would make me even more nervous, but might be so concerned that they would drive here in the middle of a thunderstorm with bright lightning to help ease my fears.

I decided that making the request during a thunderstorm was unreasonable, and as I desperately sought elusive sleep, my mind raced.  What could have happened if … What do you do when safety – one of your most basic needs in the hierarchy of needs – is disrupted?  I want a dog.  A dog would’ve heard someone even coming up the steps and the barking probably would’ve scared him away.  Wait, I can feed myself fine, but pet food costs money.  And then there’s the initial expense of just buying the dog, getting it spayed or neutered, getting whatever shots it may need from the vet, then there’s regular vet check-ups … Okay then,  I need to move to a more secure apartment complex.  Application for rent.  Wait … they’ll want to know my monthly income before taxes.  And my employer.  And how long I’ve worked there.  God …

Living life laid off complicates things in ways I never expected.

At least I’m awake in time for the morning show tributes to the King of Pop.

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© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

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Filed under Mental & Emotional Health, Unemployment

Living life laid off six months and counting

calendars

by Mariam Williams

Monday was my anniversary.  Six months unemployed, six months to the day.  Monday, October 13, 2008; Monday April 13, 2009.

I almost glazed over it without realizing it.  I didn’t notice the date at all until I wrote it out, “Monday, April 13, 2009,” in the notebook that holds my notes from various sermons and bible studies.  I had been too busy rewriting an essay to be submitted for publication, chasing down another freelance assignment, trying to figure out a balance between making a profit from writing and pricing myself out of the market, and trying to craft my resume to fit the description of yet another job that doesn’t quite fit me but that will do if this goes on much longer.  Thanks to a couple of freelance writing assignments and that severance pay that the state Unemployment Insurance Benefits Department determined was really wages in lieu of notice, I haven’t run out of benefit money yet, but the balance is quite low.  The extension application process is probably next.

I don’t fear the process, though.  My insatiable craving for information and the writing that pours forth from the information I gather occupies so much of my time that I feel busier now than I felt for most of the time that I was working.  The rejection letters don’t sting as much any more.  I can laugh away the sympathetic looks I get from family and friends who remember that I’m on an employment hiatus just after they complain that they dread Mondays, and I might just smile a little bit every time I hear a prayer request for God to deliver someone from the gossip, tattling, backstabbing, politicking, and concrete ceilings on the job.  I’m fine with dining out maybe once a month, when all the food in the house suddenly repulses me, no matter what it is.  Being alone most of the time has never bothered me very much, although I know that’s not good.  I’ve managed to keep myself entertained by seeing 14 plays just since October, and I saw 13 for free.  I ushered at ten of them, and my mom or a friend provided tickets to three others.  Insufficient healthcare coverage still concerns me, but over all, things aren’t so bad.

I didn’t think I would be unemployed for this long.  I hear that the average time for unemployment these days is eight months, but I was sure my situation would be different.  I’m sure that if I went to Starbucks or Wal-Mart or Six Flags it would be, but I still can’t see going for the survival job yet.  I waited so long to get a job in my field, tried so hard to convince an employer that the one consistent trend in the randomness of my resume was the adept use of my written and oral communications skills, that to risk deviating from the path for only God knows how long, putting an even larger gap in my years of direct experience, and possibly getting stuck in something else is too large of a white flag to drape across my back for the moment.

As I write this, I’m looking at the sermon notes from Monday, April 13, 2009 and trying to capture the spirit of the message, but it’s impossible.  There was too much life in the sanctuary that night for pen and paper, or keyboard and monitor.  I remember the preacher describing my very situation: applying for positions you just know are for you and getting turned down; having doors close; following up on leads and connections that go nowhere; getting your hopes up only to be disappointed again and again and again.  I knew he was talking to me, but I didn’t emote the way the rest of the church did when the preacher said that when God moves, he will compensate you for all the suffering you’ve been through.  Nor did I dance or shout when he said that God makes concluding moves–moves that that will end your situation in a way that will never allow you to return to it again.  Nothing really hit me Monday night.  Instead, I woke up with those words in my spirit Tuesday morning and smiled as I thought of how wonderful it would be to be compensated for this blog and to make so much money writing that I never have to return to the unemployment line again.

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© Mariam Williams, aka The Pink-Slipped Girl, and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mariam Williams and The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off or http://livinglifelaidoff.com, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Any use and/or duplication of any photo contained within this blog without express and written permission from Mariam Williams is strictly prohibited.

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Filed under faith, Lifestyles, Unemployment

If you missed it …

If you missed the discussion from April 8, 2009 on living life laid off, education, jobs in Kentucky, disillusionment, the arts, politics, the future of our country, and my ambitions and inspirations (wow, we covered a lot in an hour), click here to listen to the on-demand broadcast of “Staying Creative and Upbeat While Living Life Laid Off.”  Scroll down to “on demand episodes” and hit the play button.  There’s about 5 minutes of music first.

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Filed under Arts and Culture, Economy, education, Me in other media, Mental & Emotional Health, Unemployment

Unemployment 1 America 0

My story, and the stories of others affected by the dismal labor numbers, are featured in the latest issue of FLYP Magazine (www.flypmedia.com).  Click here to check me out on video in “Unemployment 1 America 0.”

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Filed under Economy, Layoffs, Me in other media, Unemployment

In a state of unhappiness

by Mariam Williams

At least now I have an excuse for the funk I’ve been in lately.

My whole state is unhappy!  Kentucky ranked 49th on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index TM, which measures the overall health – the physical, mental, and social well-being – of each state and each Congressional district within each state.

When I took a closer look at the map provided on ahiphiwire.org, I saw that Kentucky’s 5th district is ranked last of all the districts in overall well-being, while the district I live in is ranked somewhere in between the lowest 20% and the middle 20% of all districts within the United States.  Quite frankly, that still sucks.

Because I’m a trained researcher and a nerd, the whole study fascinates me, but for the purpose of this blog, I want to highlight one quote in the AP story on the findings:

“‘It’s not just about physical health,’ said Eric Nielsen, a spokesman for Gallup. ‘It’s about their ability to contribute at work and be more productive, and it’s about feeling engaged in a community and wanting to improve that community.'”

In this economy, I have to argue that it’s also about a person’s ability to find work.  I said it in a previous post: a certain amount of pride and dignity comes with having a job.  If the job pays enough, you can take care of all your needs.  If it doesn’t, and you have to work several jobs to provide for yourself, at least you can say you’re a productive member of society.

My current job is to find full-time work.  When my employment hiatus began in October, I remarked that I had forgotten that finding a full-time job is a full-time job.  I think the dead ends – the lack of responses, the generic “we found someone else who better fits our qualifications” letters, the daily reminders from the news and from strangers’ comments of just how difficult it is to find a job right now – have contributed to a slowdown in my productivity.  I haven’t reached the point where I see a job I’m interested in but think to myself, “Why bother?  I won’t get it anyway,” or, “Why even look?  There’s nothing out there.”  But I am to the point where I might wait several days before applying for one of the good full-time positions I’ve been holding out for.  (And the job market is to the point where I don’t see those jobs very often at all.)  There are days when email, Facebook, whatever random, useless information I can find online, the dishes, the laundry, a little spot on the floor, a good workout, or even this blog seem more important than sending in an application.

On Tuesday’s Tom Joyner Morning Show, commentator Jeff Johnson talked about the “depression created from the recession … A level of depression that comes when working class people – who don’t mind working to pay the bills … can’t find work.”  To get out of the depression, Johnson recommended, first and foremost, thinking positive.  He also recommended trying something you’ve never done before, learning a new profession, going back to school for something completely different, or in his words, “taking a risk.”

I don’t find many job postings I’m excited about anymore because I know that what I really want to do isn’t listed.  I want to pursue – and perhaps am called to pursue – a profession that forces me to open myself up to rejection, to not depend on an employer for health care and retirement benefits, to not depend on cubicle mates for companionship, to not always be on someone else’s clock, but rather to have the kind of freedom that also takes great responsibility.  To pursue this career takes great risk, and I believe the fear of failure, or maybe of all the responsibility and pressure that success would bring, is manifesting itself in distractions and lethargy.  Lately it takes more effort for me to put a coherent sentence together than it does to clean the house.  And I HATE cleaning.

Hmm.  I guess I don’t have an excuse for the funk I’ve been in lately.  The funk is the excuse, and I have to get out of it if I want to stop living life laid off.

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Filed under Economy, Health, Layoffs, Mental & Emotional Health, Recession, Unemployment