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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What did we do wrong?

Hey, folks, haven't we been good purchasers? Haven't we admirably carried out our part of the consumerists' contract? Then, why have our jobs and all those benefits disappeared, sometimes even our homes. Not wanting to be seen as whiners, we've been sucking up our personal pain like injured ball players not wanting to be taken out of the game. As good sports we're supposed to cheer for the person who makes the game winning play even though we've been side-lined. Right? Then we find out that the "hero" has been taking steroids.

I understand that by taking myself out of the game (meaning I have a LOT less money than I used to and less inclination to spend it) I could be seen as letting our side down. If I don't shop like I used to, how is the economy going to recover? It's possible a lot of us are headed for simpler lives since many of us have less disposable income. So, if we get happier with our lives and need less expensive distractions (see the first entry), how can our economy grow? We've been told this must happen before we have any chance of recovering what we had.

I think there's something wrong with this whole economic growth business. If our consumption and output are supposed to grow every year, isn't what results a big, fat bubble - maybe like right now? Despite how it looks sometimes, this planet has limited resources. I don't see how we as Americans can keep consuming and growing as we have been. This boom and bust business is making us suspicious of our "pull yourself up by your own bootstrap" culture - and it should.

Having some time to think about our place in all of this, consider again that we may not want to look for a job that puts us right back in the same position where we needed all those (expensive) distractions and contribute to the next bubble burst. In the last entry I offered some re-training ideas. If you still want to be in your profession, consider sharing one job with another person. Here are some web sites that could help you sort this out.

Pros and Cons of Job Sharing -

How to present your job share proposal to your boss -

How to find someone to share a job with (the information is free, but actual contacts will cost a small fee)

For teachers, check with your district's HR department. They may have a list. If they aren't actually anti-job sharing, but don't have anything in place, write a proposal for them. See above web site for help.

Google: job sharing (your community and year, like Seattle job share 2011)

This addresses the concern about unsustainable growth and job possibilities

These folks are excited about job sharing and making a sustainable economy -

Friday, October 21, 2011

Next Question

Next question: what do you gain if you abandon one bad road for another just like it…or worse? If you decide to re-route your life, consider making your new direction less stressful. This doesn't mean that stress is avoidable or even undesirable. Just consider a new route that generates less pressure. Why? Look in the mirror, really look. What has your life been costing you? Is the money and position really worth the damage done to your body, your relationships, and your quality of life?

Re-training was my first thought about how to navigate a job-less situation. If the answer to your question "what now?" is "I've always wanted to… (you fill in the blank)," then what would be needed to accomplish that goal? Consideration: is the training itself going to be a barrier? One person in our family wanted to enter the medical field and quickly found that the preparation is a relentless nail-biter. Many times training pressure is unnecessary and considered hazing (I've witnessed this first hand) - even if the perpetrators and victims don't admit this.

Interesting note: I've already looked for medical schools, using every key word I could think of, that have high marks for humane training. If anyone knows of a medical school with reasonable training, please share. For now, look into Drexel University College of Medicine. Or try a School of Osteopathy. Both paths lead to a physician's certification, but osteopathy trains quite differently. (The reason I've chosen osteopathic doctors for over 20 years. I'm sure there are patronizing, unpleasant D.O.'s out there - I've just never met one.)

Two blogs about medical school and stress:
From a student's perspective - From a medical school professor's perspective -

Is retraining worth it? Look here for some considerations.

Google: What fields are hiring (add the year)

Where to get money for retraining? No surprise, but it's a lot harder than it was two years ago when there were stimulus funds available. Some things to consider: was your old job moved out of the U.S. (look at Trade Adjustment Assistance 2011, a newly re-funded source, are the funds you are seeking a grant or loan (grants usually do not have to be re-paid, but there could be conditions attached), the field you want (some offer financial help), where you live (some local colleges and institutes offer help), your age (some fields favor older applicants), Check out

Where could you go for re-training, some ideas and pros/cons

Consider re-training only for a job that excites and energizes you; the inevitable stress of re-tooling your potential can be lessened!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

As I watch the "Occupy" movement I wonder where we are all going? Does this mean we might get back what we've lost - like our jobs, our houses, our retirement funds, health insurance, and …an identifiable place in society? If you're crusading hard to get back to where you were, I'm suggesting that you take a deep breath and read this anyway. And, if you've decided to rethink your old life, then fantasize along with me.

What would happen if all of us did what made us happy, what fulfilled us? Lots of us weren't contented even before the financial meltdown. Unhappy people will do whatever distracts them from the disturbing suspicion that their life style is costing them too much. There's no way to list all those stress relievers - every time you and I think we've heard it all, something weird (to us) or just outright ugly and harmful is exposed - usually on the evening news. Some, however, are innocent, proper, and even necessary. But, judgments aside, that isn't really the issue. Distractions are symptoms, not the cause.

Assume, please, that for whatever reason your imagination can conjure, the way you'd been living your life before today is no longer possible. And it's true for everyone else in America. I ask only that your explanation doesn't involve annihilation of the earth. Leave the earth intact; otherwise, be inventive.

Here's my personal 180 degree turn - not very imaginative, but true. One morning in early 2009 I couldn't get out of bed. I'd been feeling wonky for a couple of days, but to wake up so drained of energy that I could barely move, breathe, or think…. I was too sick to be frightened. Diagnosis: fibromyalgia. Immediate changes: quit my part-time job, quit my volunteer work, quit my social activities, and quit going to church. Other surprising things I had to quit: listening to music (it sounded like unpleasant noise), going to stores, doing housework, eating my usual food, watching T.V., and talking on the phone. My old life was gone.

Two and a half years later I haven't resumed most of my old life. At first I was afraid to since fibromyalgia symptoms return easily. Lately, however, I realize that I don't want to go back. But, if I don't work, volunteer, go to church, see friends, talk on the phone, listen to music, shop, eat what I want, clean my own house, and watch a lot of T.V., then Who Am I, What Am I Doing Here, and What Will I Do Instead? These are the three questions for all who agree to imagine that whatever they were doing before, they will not be doing today - or ever again. Who are you if you don't do these things? Why are you here? What will you do instead?

At first I just needed something to do (I'd recovered enough to be bored), but it would have to be done in bed or on the couch. I'd always enjoyed color and making things, so for months I did the least messy creative activity I could think of: I drew shapes with metallic ink on black paper. Mostly I cared for my own needs and slept, but those drawings and ink creations occupied a lot of my time. A year later, I was still drawing and able to contribute to the household chores. But then the worst of the crisis emerged: if I'm not a teacher, singer, volunteer, church-goer, and ever-available, then who am I.

By 2011 my identity emergency is manageable. Not that I haven't tried to develop a new one, but since I'm doing exactly what I've wanted to do since I was young, I no longer feel in emotional crisis. That is the point of all these thoughts. My socially sanctioned if out-of-control life cost me everything. Instead of being busy about too many things, stressed about it all and chain-shopping to recover a sense of power, I'm mostly content with my life. All I want to do is create, which has taken me out the American marketplace, a life restoring decision I can afford now that I'm retired. Who am I: myself. What am I doing here: being. What will I do instead: be attentive.

Your sudden "go-no-further" can come from anywhere. It might be health like me, or from financial upheavals. If you decide not to go back to your old life, you're can re-invent yourself. What would that look like? Take yourself on some solitary walks, talk with people who know you well, write what you're feeling, finish the sentence "If I had the money, I'd …." Give yourself some hope.