Monday, June 1, 2009

Best laid plans

I have not written here for several months, I just could not bring myself back to it. Every time I opened the page, I would take a glimpse at previous posts, and remember the sadness I felt around the time of my dog Jasmine's death, I would sign out and try not to think about it.

The winter was wet, perhaps it was my perception, or simply that the San Francisco Peninsula is much different from San Diego. My strongest memories are of the things that happened on those wet days at the end of winter which I remember as snapshots; Maiken's visit at the end of February, both of us trying to heal Jasmine. In the midst of pouring rain on a stormy Sunday, Maiken buying new windshield wipers for my car. Walking my little dog that last week of her life; getting wet while holding the umbrella over her when she stopped. I imagine her now as an old lady, moving ever so slowly, tired and arthritic, she really just wanted to stay inside where it was warm, sitting on her pillow; being comforted.

Spring was a frenzy of volunteering, networking and self reflection. I remember very little, the days went into weeks with very little change. I visited my sons in San Diego for a brief visit over Easter, we had a wonderful time. In the beginning of summer I started working an "externship" for a company that had two websites in the start-up phase. The work was "pro bono"; I had hoped it would turn into a paying job, which was not to be. After two months I stopped giving my time to their cause, they could not sell the product, once again I escalated my search for work.

As of today, I have been officially unemployed for 1 year and 17 days. The weeks go by as quickly as the money is spent on life necessities and small luxuries that keep me sane; movies tickets bought at Costco, a dinner out here and there. In May every penny I could find went toward small birthday gifts for my sons. "Separating needs from wants" is an expression my friend Judy frequently uses, at times I have trouble discerning the difference.

I do not feel sorry for myself, I actually feel lucky, not that luck has anything to do with my current situation, but luck that I have been able to survive this long without a job. I have done a great deal of adapting and it has changed me in positive and beneficial ways. I am a realist, I was not always, but I am now. I realize that if I am doing everything possible to find paying employment and it isn't happening, I may need to consider relocating. This was not a part of the original plan. I planned to move here and grow old, but I may need to go where the work is. I need to start earning money again, I must pay my way. I need health insurance and enough money to pay back my student loans. The bottom line, the best laid plans can change.

I am grateful that I have gone through this with the support of my family and that my children are grown and they both have jobs. My heart goes out to the people I read about who are experiencing long-term unemployment with not enough income to provide for their families. I am not wise enough to have a solution to fix this problem; there are more unemployed people than there are jobs. There are jobs that pay so low people can not afford to live, I do not know how they do it. If you imagine that a job that pays $10.00 an hour at 40 hours per week pays gross wages of $400.00 per week, take home pay is approximately $335.18 per week. This equates to a net income of $1452.44 each month. This is more than many jobs that are available today pay; many are minimum wage. How do people afford rent, utilities, food, gas and car insurance, certainly not health insurance?

I have a new cause, helping the long-term unemployed. I contribute to discussion forums, I write the media and our politicians. The plight of the long term unemployed is real and without a solution at present. While the political parties discuss and debate and Town Hall meetings become the forum where loud voices announce their frustration and mistrust, the unemployed are largely without a voice. Many affected by long-term unemployment are middle aged and older. Most do not have health insurance, people are scared, worried about a future that is more uncertain now than ever. What happens if they do not land a job before unemployment runs out, where will they live, what will they do? Would a tax credit for employers who hire the long term unemployed help? My mind is consumed with ideas; we must help small business survive this downturn and hire again.

When you experience a significant change in financial and social status, it is interesting how your values and perception of the world around you changes too. What I have learned most of all; re-inventing ones life and career in the midst of this economic crisis, is a process with no end in sight.

1 comment:

Heather Ann Koehn said...

When you experience a significant change in financial and social status, it is interesting how your values and perception of the world around you changes too. What I have learned most of all; re-inventing ones life and career in the midst of this economic crisis, is a process with no end in site.

Kelly ... the above is AMAZING!! :)