Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wonder


The jobs report this morning noted that unemployment is at its lowest point in 7 years, down to 5. 3 percent, but this promising statistic is driven by the fact that more people have dropped out of the workforce; they simply stopped looking for jobs.

I wonder: What happens when people stop looking for jobs? How do they live? And then I wonder if I am counted as having dropped out of the workforce, since I stopped looking for a job when I realized that I was competing against my 33-year-old self, who already had a well-developed work ethic, was maybe even a tad obsessive, but had the luxury of accepting a salary that was a very small fraction of what I was making when I was laid off from the magazine some twenty years later.

One day, I got real and admitted to myself that if I were an employer and I had to choose between my 33-year-old self and this woman who limps when she walks, I'd choose my former self, too. I know so much more now than I did then, so I'm not saying I was necessarily better then, but I knew enough to get by, more than get by. I was already on my way.

And so now I work from home, always a little bit anxious that the next job won't present itself, but so far, that has not been the case. I remember my cousin Helen saying to me once, just decide what you want, how much you want to make for the year, and put it out there. Write it on a post it and put it on the mirror. Then let it go. You don't have to worry about how to make it happen. You just have to believe that it will.

You know what? I wrote that number on a post-it, but I put it in my desk drawer, not wanting to announce my magical thinking to the world. And a month later an assignment showed up out of the blue. The how of it all had been engineered in full.

Just. Like. That.

So now I have a little yellow post-it on the side of my closet in full view. In my handwriting, it says, "Money comes to me easily and frequently." My children both guffawed when they saw it, but then they shook their heads and each one said some version of, "Okay, Mom, do you."

I'm still in a state of wonder at how things have turned out.

Wondering if I can do it all again.

And I shall.

25 comments:

  1. Very interesting view. I like the idea of the post it notes. I always wondered how they determined the unemployment rate, and thought that it was the payout of unemployment benefits that determined the rate.

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    1. Drita, the unemployment rate is not a true picture at all. Its sort of terrible that it's gone down so much because so many have lost hope. I wonder what the other social welfare metrics would show? xo

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  2. Dear Ms. Paddington,

    An interesting post, and one which raises several points. The statistics you read only tell part of a complex story. Looking at how many people apply for benefits, disability, Medicaid, bankruptcy, the growing population of families in shelters or transition programs and the homeless as well as those who use food banks might give you a more complete picture.

    Additionally, what was it you liked about your younger working self? Drive, ethics, curiosity? Physical ease? You have those still, though they are tempered by experience and time, two of life's greatest levelers and teachers. I've no idea why you limp, but please stop thinking of your body as broken. It still works and enables you to work and live and dare I say thrive, albeit differently than you may have in your younger years. Embrace the woman you are now.

    Did you get an e-mail from me? I would like to know what you think...

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    1. Dear e, thank you for your point about not thinking of myself as broken. You're absolutely right! And I should know the power of words, so I appreciate your tugging my sleeve all the more. I've gone back into the post and removed that phrase "broken bodied," because yes, my body takes me where I need to go, and I need to befriend it better, I do. As far as my younger working self, it is not that I thought she was better. I think I have far more to bring to an employer now, but she was a heck of a lot cheaper in terms of salary, and she was a hard worker, and the reality of the situation is that's who an employer would choose. And not just because she would ding their bottom line less in terms of salary, but they see a woman limping and they think old, and they think medical costs, and they think retirement benefits, and they simply do not choose her. So no, its not about drive, ethics or curiosity; I still have all those, and more refined, I think. Physical ease. Well, if I'm being honest yes. I miss that. I grieve for that. That's just the truth. But I hear you. I need to embrace myself as I am. Thank you again for that wisdom.

      (And yes, I did get an email. I thought I had responded but will check.)

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    2. You are welcome. Your younger self was cheaper in salary, didn't limp and wasn't older... I think part of what we mourn when we mourn those attributes is not only time and function lost but the attitudes from others, in this case potential employers, who are just plain stupid or wrong, and who miss a valuable person out of fear. It is another version of the discrimination song but it is rooted in ableism, an endemic problem that few but those who must seek to challenge. Hold your head up and say your piece. That is the only path to change. You are a beautiful, competent woman.

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  3. I love how you changed your life when your life changed. I mean, you took CONTROL! And how beautifully it's worked out!
    I am in awe of you.

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    1. Ms. Moon, lol, sometimes it doesn't feel like i took control, only that I got very lucky. for this, i am very grateful.

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  4. I felt free, because of this post, to write here that a few years ago, I read a book called "Change Your Stuff, Change Your Life," -- I think that was the title. It's sort of Feng Shuisih. I did the things for the Prosperity chapter which I won't go into now, but they've worked. They've worked in the sense that what's happening to you, too -- not so much a willing or control thing but more an expectation that your life is abundant and you have everything you need. Now I've done it -- not explained myself nearly as well as I wanted. I am both the person with the post-it that says "I have everything I need and am prosperous" and the one who guffaws at the absurdity of it.

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    1. Elizabeth, I know that book. It's Wayne Dyer's Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. I actually gave it to my children. Similar to you, I am the person who writes the post it but then hides it away in a drawer. I do think we get much of what we expect in life so I'm working really hard not to give in to my tendency to always catastrophize, with the wrong headed idea that at least I won't be blindsided. Crisis always blindsides. It would be a shame not to enjoy the in between time, expecting that you'll be equal to whatever comes. This is life on planet earth, after all. Love you woman.

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    2. Nope! It's not Wayne Dyer -- it's a book called "Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life..." and it's feng shui. I think ultimately it gives me a sense of control, albeit minimal. Not catastrophizing is a good goal for me, too. I think I tend to catastrophize in a weird backward-ass way to ensure that good things or times don't disappear. God forbid I should rest in the good without leaping forward to what might happen (usually bad) next.

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  5. i love this advice! i'm going to do this. thanks for sharing.

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    1. Candice, you are helping to make my post it come true! Life can be sweet indeed. xo

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  6. I love this.
    Feeling confident with your skills and strength is something we must work on all the time - I find. It's like a system reboot, to realise that we can do stuff, we can be brilliant, we can be successful. That and trust in community, that the gift will always return, that asking for help is just as important as giving help.

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    1. Sabine, i love this comment, every word. Thank you for putting it just so. xo

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  7. it's not a miracle. you work very hard and you are stellar at what you do. plus you are a nice person with a large heart. it's not a miracle; it's the pay-off or, as i prefer to say because it brings to mind a good-sized bowl of strawberry shortcake, just desserts.

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    1. susan, i appreciate your faith in me, and these kind words. may we continue to relish that good sized bowl of strawberry shortcake! love to you.

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  8. Good for you for setting that goal and keeping it in view, even if not always in the forefront of your mind. I essentially gave up on ever making what I used to make before I was laid off. I'm not sure that's wise, but I've settled into my lower salary. I think of being laid off like being sent back to "Go."

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    1. Steve, you do know, don't you, that you were a big inspiration to me, the way you remade your life after being laid off, and made it better and more satisfying, and also filled with adventure. I keep your example in sight always. How's that for pressure! Thank you, friend.

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  9. I should add that I don't mean that in a negative way. We're all still playing the game, after all! :)

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    1. Steve, i took it in the most positive way. Being sent back to go is like getting a do over, only with the experience of having already played the game and knowing what parts worked for you and what parts didnt.

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  10. I like this. I'm always afraid to ask for what I want. My partner finds this frustrating and I'm learning to ask but it's hard for me. Scary for me I guess.

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    1. lily cedar, it's nice to see you commenting here. thanks for joining in! i think women in particular are often socialized not to ask for what we want, as if its an imposition. I'd say, ask the universe, the fates, God, your inner self (whatever it is for you) for what you want and then let it happen. My mother used to tell me the first step to getting what we want is knowing what we want. Such a simple idea, but sometimes so hard.

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  11. I vaguely remember being out there, earning money. I just listened to a podcast about a woman who went back to work after eight years off to have children, and she described how much confidence and how many skills she lost... I know that feeling. I know I should start earning something again sometime, but I find it hard to imagine anyone paying me. It's good to know other people are managing, after having children, and freelance.

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    1. Mwa, i think it depends on what you want for yourself. There are no shoulds. If you're happy with life the way it is now, then who cares what other people are doing. Your life sounds pretty awesome to me! I just had to get paid because I have college tuition to pay and New York City is the most expensive city on earth, I think. Otherwise, I might be doing what you're doing. Yeah, no shoulds. xo

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