December 10, 2009

all shined up ...

I would like to share my thoughts with you all on what is most important to me.

First, a little history ...

I started babysitting at age 11. I watched my at-the-time neighbor's two daughters three days a week until I was a Sophomore in high school. I had two other babysitting jobs besides that. I starting working part time at Rocky Point as a hostess in the Shore Dinner Hall when I was 14. From age 16 - 18 I worked 25 - 30 hours a week at Almacs as a cashier. I would get home from school, do my homework and head out for a 5 or 6 hour shift. After high school I worked full time for 14 years. I never took any time off in between jobs. I was out of work for two and a half months after having major surgery. I had a two week break for our wedding and honeymoon. And I had 5 weeks off after having a cyst removed from my dominant hand. I have never called out of work without a legitimate illness.

I was raised to be responsible. When I wanted a car I saved the money for the down payment, paid for my insurance and financed the piece of shit for 3 years. When the car needed repairs it sat in my parents driveway until I saved up the money to get it fixed. This isn't to say that my parents NEVER helped me out. Of course they lent their hands along the way as all parents do. They just had sharp instincts and knew when to let me struggle and when to step in.

I am a very hard worker. I started with one company as a proofreader in their composing site and four years and three location changes later became the office manager of the sales department. Not that this is a magical title or anything but it was a lot of work under crazy deadlines with a lot of responsibility. Not to mention an hour commute. That's 44 miles each way. So after two years of that heinous commute, about a million oil changes and an absolutely disgruntled demeanor I decided I needed to make a move. I found a job that was 15 minutes from my home, nailed the interviews and started two weeks later.

At this point it is no secret that I am unemployed. To recap, I lost that job in January. I was completely blindsided. Up until that point I was led to believe that I had a "very bright future" with the company. I was immediately pissed off, bitter, upset, hurt, sick to my stomach and just felt like my pride had been shattered. I was scared to death that I would end up losing my house and not be able to pay my bills. I felt defeated and knew that I was going to have to start all over again after all of my hard work. The problem with that was the pay scale. I am not in any position to take what most employers are offering for starting pay. I have a lot of bills and a high mortgage payment. There is a minimum that I need to make and I can't seem to find it anywhere. By collecting unemployment I am still making over $200 less per month than when I was working. Making that adjustment alone has been no easy task. But as the months passed it became clear to me that I am not in a horrible situation at all. Sure, it is hard to manage our money and we struggle as any other does. And finding a job that fits is an enormous task with no guarantee. But I am HOME. And I am enjoying my home and taking time for myself that I didn't realize I needed until this happened. I was, at first, too busy freaking out about our financial situation to take that step back and see that this break is OKAY and we will be just fine.

The point I am trying to make with this tale is that I am finally enjoying my life. After losing that job I realized it wasn't a horrible turn of events ... it was actually a great blessing. I got back in touch with who I really am when you strip away the daily grind and the added stress that comes with any job. I have the freedom to sit in my pajamas and look out the window when the sun is first peeking through the blinds rather than cursing it while sitting in rush hour traffic. I have the luxury of sipping my coffee each morning rather than gulping it down while curling my eyelashes and straightening my hair. I have the liberty of taking my dog for a brisk morning walk rather than sitting in an office chair for 8 hours with excruciating back pain. I get to enjoy grocery shopping while the store is nearly empty rather than fighting a crowd of 14 people for that little, paper ticket at the deli. I can leisurely write out my Christmas cards with happy greetings that actually stem from a happy mood rather than forcing pleasant adjectives through a scowling pen. In fact, this entire Christmas season has been such a tremendous delight I almost feel as though I am 7 yrs old again, sitting in art class just bursting with excitement over creating my construction paper Santa! It feels damn good to be me right now. I have never felt this wonderful. I have never been this happy. I have been happy of course but not THIS happy. It is truly amazing to see how a job can slowly tarnish your spirit. I feel as though I have been shined back up this year. I am SO thankful for this experience. And whether people judge me or not I don't feel guilt about it, I don't feel as though I am undeserving. I wish for everyone to have the opportunity to peel away the grimy layers of stress and remember how it feels to be satisfied and joyful once again.

Moments like these don't last very long so I am cherishing every single second. One day soon I will be back to the old grind. I will be rushing around each morning having no time to enjoy the simple pleasures. I will spend my days answering to peoples calls and meeting others demands. This freedom and gracious spirit that I have dusted off will once again become somewhat stifled in the process. I dread it but I am not naive to it. I know its coming. Which is why I am so thankful for every second I can spend fully happy.

I love my life. I love my husband. I love our home. I love that we, together, love each other and our home. I love who I have become. No matter what happens down the line I am going to try my hardest to not lose myself ever again. No job is worth it. Life is love. The love you give and the love you receive. It doesn't matter who treats you like crap at work, if you make a mistake or if you sit in hours of traffic. I will do my best to remind myself of this every single day when I feel my spirit is crushed. I know I will be coming home to my real life ... and that is what matters most.

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