Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What a difference a year makes...

Today is an antiversary for me. It is my definition for an anniversary that you don't want to celebrate or remember. It was a year ago that my life was flipped upside down. I know, I know - a lot of things much worse could have happened, but it has still been a really hard year.

Below is a list of things I've learned over the past year:

1. No matter how hard I try, I will always feel embarrassed about being laid off. It is humiliating and makes you question your self worth. It is also obvious I had a career, not just a job - and I really loved my job. Amazing how a manilla envelope can set you free and make you feel like a prisoner at the same time.
2. Freelancing is much harder than you think. Working at home has too many distractions and requires one to be a go-getter. Some days, it is hard to get out of bed, let alone do work for a company that saw no value in keeping me.
3. A double-income, no kids life style can be cut in half. I had to give up a lot this year to make ends meet for my half. I'm sure M has, too.
4. Staying at home is lonely. There were days the only person who talked to me was my husband. It is a good thing my cats are good listeners.
5. No one wants to know how you are doing unless you're doing great. Friends and family don't call or ask how I'm doing because they don't want to hear that I'm lonely, depressed, scared, sad, anxious and pathetic. But when I was feeling that way, a phone call could have made a huge difference.
6. Winter is much worse than warmer months at home - at least I have a pool and yard work in the summer. One of the pros of being home during the summer is having a killer tan.
7. I try to justify my worth by doing stuff around the house - so I took over the cleaning, cooking, laundry and errand responsibilities. Our yard never looked better this year.
8. Sleeping in only made me feel worse - both my morale and my back. So from day one, I got up to see my husband off to work - it was the least I could do. I never wanted him to resent me being at home while he went to work for us. Before, I've been able to sleep in on the weekends , so I didn't want to start doing it on a daily basis. I also never took a nap during the week to avoid a new bad sleep habit.
9. Being unsupervised with the kitchen is really hard for me. The time between 2:00 and 4:00 is bad for me. It is obvious I'm bored and eat to fill the void.
10. I'm now associating mornings at home with coffee. And I also eat breakfast for the first time in decades.
11. Fox8 news is on until 10, then Robin Swoboda or Dr. Oz, then the View, then the noon news. A bunch of judges are on after that - and Judge Judy is my favorite of them. I dvr some of these shows in case I have nothing to do on some days. I've become a tv junkie.
12. The UPS guy honks his horn exactly 8 times when he makes a delivery in the neighborhood and our mailman comes about 3:30.
13. My cats sleep most of the day and ignore me - but Flip is now friends with me.
14. I'm addicted to Facebook - as it is my window to the outside world. I've connected with cousins and friends that haven't spoken to me in years. I'm also really good at Facebook games like Mafia Wars and FarmVille. The only way to do well is to be on the computer unsupervised... why I'm at level 234 in MW and 35 in FV. Some days it seems that is the only thing I'm good at.
15. Job searching went from about 8 times a day to every other day. And if you see a job you want to apply for - you have 1 week to do so or it is gone.
16. People will try to help find you a job - but just because I'm out of a full time job doesn't mean I will apply for every "web" or "design" job. I also found that I'm both under qualified and over qualified. Freelancing has allowed me to pay my bills, keep my resume up to date and able to be particular at what jobs I apply for.
17. I made a to-do list that isn't complete... and the list helps the days go by when it isn't a pool day or a freelance day. Another way of justifying self worth.
18. I don't drive much anymore - nowhere to go and if I went somewhere it could mean spending $. I try to leave the house at least every 3 days now... for sanity's purpose.
19. I discovered I really like searching for beach glass at Lake Erie. Of course, it was at the end of the beach season when I went the first time. December is not kind to beach glass seekers in Mentor.
20. The guy down the street walks his dog at exactly 8:15, another one at 9:00, and the guy at the end of the street doesn't go to work until 9:15 - but he comes home at 3:30 many days.
21. I vacuum the downstairs Monday, Wednesday and Friday - at exactly 7:35. And Monday is laundry day.
22. I have time to spend with my parents, go on extra-long vacations, and do free baby-sitting for nephews & nieces. I also am your ride to the doctor or can take your car in for an oil change. My dentist and doctor appointments are easy to get because I can go any time.
23. Grocery shopping is easy when you go at 10:00 am. I'm the tallest and youngest one there many times - and I usually have to help the little, old grandmas & grandpas find items or get them off the high shelves. I also smile and talk to them - thinking they are also alone. Maybe I'm the only one who talked to them that day. I know how it feels.
24. Just because I was let go doesn't mean I'm a hobo or a loser. But don't take advantage of me, either. If I bought you lunch or paid for something, it would be nice if you paid me back or invited me again. And I really despise people bitching about their jobs. It is insulting, insensitive and uncool. I know I had hard days at work, but I would never bitch about it to a former co-worker.
25. It is really hard for me to go back into work's whq (I'm freelancing for the same company). I have to act like it is OK, but it isn't. And I also put up a huge front that I'm doing really well. Deep down, I'm sad, jealous and bitter at the people who still have jobs and who don't care what happened to me. I also am pissed when they take their jobs for granted or if they brag they got a bonus.
26. I'm not a leper - ignoring me is really hurtful. And if you know me, maybe you should treat me like one of those old people at the grocery store and simply say "hi" once in a while.
27. People don't like to hear about your job search, etc. Not only do I look dumb because I didn't get a certain job, but I sound stupid and desperate. So I learned not to talk about potential positions. Until this year, I have never not gotten a position I wanted and interviewed for. And in my field, it is humiliating to not get a position because I'm not talented enough. It is one thing to do well in an interview, it is another to wow them with your portfolio.
28. Now that I've figured out how to control the arthritis in my back, it has decided to show up in my right hand.
29. I've mastered the dvr - I now watch shows from night time in the morning. I also watch the morning news fast-forward on the dvr - simply because I can.
30. I survived this last year. And it made my marriage stronger, too. I know my husband deserves better than what was handed to us. He works harder now to make sure we are OK. I know there are many much worse things that could have happened to us, so I just have to take it day by day. There is a reason why I'm at home and not at work - I don't know the plan, but it is still a plan.