Tag Archives: faith

One Full Year of Living Life Laid Off

By Mariam Williams

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

one year anniversary calendarfree-printable-calendars.com

It’s not a happy anniversary, but I’m alive, and there’s still hope.  I’m thankful today for the writing opportunities God has given me in the past year.  I’ve gone from having a grand total of zero bylines to having 18 articles published in various print publications and having a regular column. By the end of the year, my publications list will include at least 25 entries.  I’ve put the name “Research Works” on my writing, editing and market research skills, and I’ve managed to convince a few people to let me put those skills to use and write their organization’s newsletters and press releases, come up with a slogan for their business or edit their regular business correspondence.  (I’m a little bitter that growing that into a viable business has been impossible given unemployment compensation’s requirement that I report any money I earn, even if it’s only a few dollars for a few hours in one week, but I’m trying to prove that honesty will get me somewhere.)

I’m thankful and more hopeful than I have been over the past few days, but I’m also admittedly confused as to why God has made so many opportunities for me in a dying field.  Let’s just be honest: print journalism is on life support.  Obviously, I can transfer my skills to online journalism, but the blogosphere is already heavily saturated, and people with more experience than I have get laid off every day.

It’s that looming uncertainty that makes me wonder if I missed something when I decided earlier this year that I wouldn’t take just any job that came along.  Was I supposed to humble myself, go to a temp agency or the Census Bureau and make less than I did at my last job and less than I do on unemployment?  At the eight-month mark, was I supposed to humble myself a little further and apply for a minimum wage job at the Target that’s now reopened right behind my apartment building?  Or was I right to wait?  A year later, is God saying to me, “Wait just a little bit more”?  Or is it time to do something entirely different from the path that I was on even before I began living life laid off?

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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

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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Realistic faith while living life laid off

by Mariam Williams

“My faith is the only real thing I have now, but faith doesn’t put bread on the table.”

The pastor of an Episcopalian parish said that Thursday on Oprah.  He and his wife lost their life savings in the stock market, and at 65 years old, they’re not sure if their resources will outlast their lives.

The more righteous among us might ask, “What kind of faith is that?”  I think it’s a realistic one, and it’s a perspective I share.  I thought about my level of faith, or maybe the reality of God’s provision, just hours before seeing the show, as I prayed for forgiveness for taking God’s provision for granted, realizing that I go through many days without even a quick blessing over my food, much less a genuine prayer of thanks for shelter, safety, health, transportation, or even the portion of the stimulus money I guiltily spent on new workout clothes at Target last week.  (While I haven’t quite felt guilty enough to return them-they do fit better than the pants that have gotten so loose no amount of drawstring tightening will keep my underwear from exposure-I’ve been too ashamed to leak my purchase to the blogosphere until now.)

As I made my petition Thursday morning, I felt an entitlement farmer plant a seed in my brain.  “What am I asking forgiveness for?” I thought.  “He’s God, and I’m his child.  He has to provide …”  But before the thought was complete, I recognized its fallacy, and that moment of clarity wasn’t just the Holy Spirit convicting me for the attitude of entitlement that had momentarily replaced my appreciation of grace.

I have a bookmark-a physical one that you use to mark your place in physical books-that directs me to certain scriptures for certain situations.  I guess it’s a biblical GPS for life and emotional breakdowns.  When worried, the bookmark says I should read Matthew 6:19-34.  Loosely summarized, verses 19 through 24 warn that focusing on temporary, material things leads to spiritual blindness, as it’s impossible to devote yourself to both God and money.  In verses 20 through 34, Jesus says not to worry about your life and body when it comes to food and clothes; there’s more to your life and your body than that.  Besides, he continues, God feeds the birds, and flowers are clothed more royally than King Solomon, the wisest, richest king of his time.  Come on, now.  Don’t you think God cares more about you than some flowers?

That scripture would have watered my entitlement seed if Matthew 25:31-46 hadn’t dug it back up.  In this scripture, Jesus talks about the day of final judgment.  He’ll separate the sheep from the goats, congratulating the sheep for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, looking after the sick, and doing other charitable acts, and condemning the goats for not doing any of it.

What does all this have to do with living life laid off?  Simply this: one scripture says don’t worry about food and clothes while the other rewards the people who feed the hungry and clothe the naked.  This means that there will be people-during this recession and forever-who will not be fed like the birds or clothed like the lilies, and I’m absolutely sure that some of those people believe in God just as much as I do.  They may even be the shepherds of a church or parish.

I’m somewhat concerned about the people who will run to houses of worship in the midst of this economic crisis with sincere belief in a genie-god who will make a high-paying job or an unusually sympathetic banker appear.  I’ve been a Christian for nearly 17 years, and although I do believe that God is able to do “immeasurably more than [I] can ask or imagine” and that everything eventually works out for the best, I don’t believe he will always spare me from the worst.  This realistic faith is why I quickly reverted back to my original request: forgiveness for taking God’s provision for granted.  It’s also why I added a request for help to focus on what’s necessary and for a new perspective on wealth and on what’s important in life.

Suze Orman and I were on the same train of thought today.  Later in the show, the pastor on Oprah explained that his “faith in his creator and provider hasn’t wavered a bit,” but the system, the government working for him and people like him?  His faith in that is crushed.  Suze Orman followed his comment by begging the audience-I mean literally getting down on her knees on the Oprah show-to focus on what they have and forget about whatever jobs, riches, homes, or savings they lost.  She said that we’re not judged by how much money we make, a point I will likely debate in a later post, but “by who we are in the face of adversity.”

But just to warn you, we may not be spared from the worst.  At the end of the show, Suze Orman, who was right when she said years ago that we would soon be in this mess, predicted that it will be 2015 before everyone affected by the recession retrieves what was lost and each person’s hope is completely restored.  That means there’s an end in sight and plenty of time to reevaluate our priorities as 12.5 million of us continue living life laid off.

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See a summary of Suze Orman’s financial advice for the unemployed and everyone else here.

http://www.oprah.com/dated/oprahshow/oprahshow-20090311-suze-orman

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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 Economy, faith, Lifestyles, Mental & Emotional Health, Recession, Unemployment

How far would you go to stop living life laid off?

by Mariam Williams

Last week, I saw a story on Good Morning America about the modern meaning of Sugar Daddies. At the end of the video, reporter Andrea Canning said, “So money can’t buy you love, but it can buy financial freedom. These websites say they’re actually seeing a spike in the number of members with the shaky economy – unemployed women looking for an easy way out.”

As I find fewer jobs each week that will hold my interest for longer than a month or that will be a step up in pay or skill level, and the expiration date for my unemployment benefits looms closer each day, I start to wonder how I’ll feel when the deadline actually arrives. I picture the humiliation of begging the state for an extension in benefits. I don’t know what the process is, but I can see a meticulous investigation into my job-seeking efforts for the past six months … A hearing of some sort to determine whether or not I looked hard enough for new employment … An official from the Office of Employment and Training telling me I will be required to lower my standards, to accept a salary below the requirements I originally stated on my unemployment benefits application and to accept work outside of my field … Sending the 30 days written notice to my landlord … Selling all the possessions that I won’t need in my mother’s house … Posting a picture of myself in full makeup and a form-fitting shirt, baby shorts, and stilettos onto a Sugar Daddy website … Surprising my landlord with six months’ worth of rent and a description of the new car now occupying my parking space … Hanging my head in shame the first time I see my Sugar Daddy out in public with his wife …

Nope. Not going there.

It’s not exactly a question of morality, and it’s not the Sugar Baby’s morals I want to debate. I willingly admit to occasionally having used feminine wiles to lure an unsuspecting (and sometimes fully knowing) man into paying for my drink, my dinner, or a movie. In the name of the semi-full, slightly narcissistic disclosure and invited voyeurism that having your own blog promotes, I’m also willing to admit that if I hadn’t found the job from which I am now laid off, my next step would have been to either join an escort service or start my own. (And I mean an overpriced date, not a prostitute.) But this time, I’m not willing to go there.

This time, I’m finally in a place where I’ve tried enough jobs that I thought would be careers to know much of what I don’t like. I haven’t zeroed in on the perfect combination of what I do like – at least, the scope isn’t precise enough for me to throw tens of thousands of dollars at tuition towards a masters degree somewhere – but I’m getting there. More importantly, I’m learning about God’s faithfulness and provision, and about my own spending habits that need[ed] to be corrected. I’m also rebuilding my confidence in my skills, gifts, intuition, and abilities. I know how to make an old apartment more energy efficient without asking the landlord to do massive, costly repairs that he wouldn’t do anyway. I’m writing consistently, for an audience of more than one, and helping other adults who haven’t written in years. I can sense, even from descriptions filled with euphemisms for boring, clerical duties, when I won’t like a job (and I don’t apply for it). And I’m able to withstand many quiet hours alone with my computer and a daily ambush of new ideas about what to do next. As much as I would like free rent and a new set of Manolos to go with it, a Sugar Daddy couldn’t buy me the perspective I’m gaining while I’m living life laid off.

However, I realize that this isn’t everyone’s point of view and that my relatively simple financial situation is probably not the standard. So if you’re registered on a Sugar Daddy website, contemplating becoming an escort, or otherwise thinking out of the box, leave a comment! How far would you go to stop living life laid off?

© 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 Dating and Relationships, Economy, Lifestyles, money, Unemployment