Two significant things happened to me this week. First, I got my files in order (thank you Kacy Paide of The Inspired Office !) I now have folders for: unemployment, writing, networking, office work samples, and creative work samples. Plus, one more: the Wish List. While most of my files are dedicated to past or current projects, only the Wish List is truly forward looking. In it, I'm placing reminders of the things I want to do when I'm employed again.
And that leads me to the second significant thing that happened this week. I did a Google search on Love Your Layoff, and discovered an endorsement from the poet Jessica Smith on her LookTouchBlog. What really moved me about Jessica's post was her own story of unemployment, having to go stretches of time without a paycheck, and how recently worries about money have slowed her writing.
Jessica's life inspires me in so many ways. Her dedication to writing and publishing poetry is something I never had the guts to try.
My first reaction to her post was anger at the world for not being more supportive of poets. But then I realized that it was not the "world" that needed to be more supportive, it was me. That poetry was something I loved, that I admired Jessica's work, and I hadn't done enough to support it when I was employed.
So, the first item I added to my Wish List file was a copy of Foursquare as a reminder to purchase a subscription when I'm employed again--ditto for 32Poems and Flim Forum press .
Now here's the challenge: if you're unemployed, take a moment to consider what you would like to support when you're employed again. What's really important to you? Who has inspired you? What programs, organizations, artists or writers have changed your life? Then start your file. Perhaps there are ways you can help already. Things that don't cost money, such as volunteering or even writing a nice thank-you note. I guarantee it will make you feel good.
And, if you are employed, maybe there are some organizations and people you can support today. Make a list and act on it.
Yesterday marked the start of my new unemployment routine. Awhile back I had a post about Routines to Savor Time (RTST), the basic concept being if you're unemployed take advantage of the time by incorporating some routines to achieve creative, practical and/or physical goals, which is something I did last year. This time around, my routines have taken a bit longer to cultivate. Still, I thought I'd share them here to: a) solidify my commitment, and b) hopefully inspire you to consider some routines of your own.
Drum roll please for the 2009 routines...
Memoir: Write a 300 page memoir at the pace of 1,000+ words per day
Blog: Write 3 posts per week
Exercise: 5x per week, alternating running and weight lifting
Clean: 1x per week, entire house
Visit: Free parks, museums and entertainment, at least 2x per month
These routines, of course, are in addition to actively seeking work each day, submitting applications and networking. It's important to strike a balance between the two. Because, on the one hand, you should take advantage of your time off and schedule relaxing activities. On the other, you need a job.
What I've found helpful is splitting my day. I use the morning for RTST to achieve my writing, exercise and cleaning goals. The afternoon is completely dedicated to finding work. And, oddly enough, I find I am more successful at both tasks when there's a finite amount of time to achieve them per day.
Within that structure, setting mini goals, such as "write 1,000 words before 7:30am" or "apply for one position per day" or "attend a networking event 3x per week" helps you to feel a sense of control and accomplishment often lacking during a span of unemployment. Try it, and let me know how it works for you!
Eight weeks ago, I got my last hair cut. It's been bobbed since the fall (I know, I need to update my headshot). And I love it that way. However, as mentioned in a previous post, maintaining a bob is expensive. When I had long hair, I got it cut one every 3-4 months. The new haircut requires maintenance every 6-8 weeks.
So, when I went in today I had to tell my hairdresser that I was unemployed, and, as such needed a cut that would look okay growing out. She walked around me, picked through some strands of my hair, and looked pensively into the mirror.
"Okay," she said. "We'll just clean it up. And, lets do some sweeping bangs. I trim bangs for free, so we can still see each other while you're looking for work."
That was music to my ears. Particularly because today has been one big headache. I woke up at 6am to write and was on a roll till 7:30 when the house wakes up and the morning routine begins: diapers, dressing, brushing, breakfast, driving, drop off. By the time I got back and settled, I opened my computer to continue, and...no Internet.
Needless to say, the rest of my morning and afternoon were spent alternately trying to: a) fix the problem b) do things that didn't involve the Internet (run, shower, clean) c) visit places that have Internet (two coffee shops, so far, and currently in one)
All the while trying my hardest to be patient, thinking: the universe must want me to take a break. But I wanted to trail blaze today, so we were at odds.
Anyway, I love my hairdresser. It took me years to find her. What's more, we both went through some crappy but life altering moments these past two years. She was in a car accident that nearly killed her and took her out of work for 9 months.
When we first met, we were both hard chargers. Cramming our days with activities. Taking lessons, fixing up houses, getting ahead in our careers. Today, our major topic of conversation was naps. She takes an afternoon nap every day and was highly recommending I incorporate one into my daily routine. Which does sound tempting.
An hour later, my hair looked fresh again. She showed me some drying tricks for home. And, very kindly, gave me a discount on the cut. Another example of friends going above and beyond. And while the rest of the day has had its ups and downs that one small hour was bliss. Almost as good as if I'd actually taken a nap.*
*Update: I caved and took a real nap. Feeling 100% again. Plus, the Internet came back on!
Katie's career has included posts as coo, poet, publicist, bellydancer, and mom. She holds a BFA in creative writing from Emerson College and an Executive Master's in Leadership from Georgetown University. She believes in the power of positive thinking and the ability of failure to transform.