Monday, April 24, 2017

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

Two more interviews. Two more turn downs.

I swear I'm starting to get a complex.

I know it's a tough job market, and there are literally hundreds of applicants for every position, but for crying out loud, I've been searching for eight months and the best I've got is $10 an hour and an entire trashcan of rejections. It's enough to make me question whether I have any marketable skills left after more than 35 years working in the public sector.

A wise person once said to me that all I needed to be was myself and I would never lack for opportunities. These days however I question more and more who I am and what I have to offer to any organization. Sure I'm older than most of those being interviewed, but why do I feel like age is a minus, not a plus?

But then I remember I'm on a journey, and I have no control over how long this road will be. Nothing will be mine before I learn what I must learn to progress to the next phase of my quest. The problem is, I'm not sure what is being asked of me.

A friend at work said, "God is preparing you for what is to come next." Those words frighten me to the core, because what I've been going through has broken me. I am only a fleeting wisp of the woman I used to be, and what I wouldn't give to find that person again. However, the slow path only runs in one direction and a locked door will not open again.

So I will continue paying my penance in purgatory, because that's what I need to do now. I need to win back those things which I have lost and the first of those is myself. Who am I when the lights are out and I'm alone with my thoughts? Not the person I hope to be, that's for sure. My confidence is shaken, my spirit not quite broken, but fragile nonetheless.

Perhaps I will stop looking for a while, and let the wheel of fate turn as she will. I want to be in a certain area, at a certain rate, and those jobs don't come along every day. I need to make sure I am worthy when the time comes. There are a few quirks of my life that needs smoothed away, made right before I tackle the next phase. I'm almost ready to make the leap to the next ledge.

I wait.

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Raining...

I love Spring in Atlanta.

I know, that's a loaded statement. Let me clarify by saying I also detest the pollen we are 'blessed' with during the months of April and May. When the allergy clinic reports the pollen counts are in the 4000's and the air is tinged a vague yellow from the wafting sperm of tens of thousands of varieties of trees, shrubs, and flower, I grab the Zyrtec and another box of Kleenex and carry on. What I love is the fresh coat of green the city wears, a soul thrilling change from the drab browns of winter.

I love the warm breezes and sunshine that make you lift your face to soak in the vitamins and renewing energy missing during the short days of grey clouds and darkness. Pausing to watch in amazement as overnight the brilliant universe of colors from ancient azaleas and spreading dogwood trees burst forth, proudly displaying their Easter finery and challenging us to match their splendor.

In the suburbs the hardware stores bring out racks and tables filled with every possible starter flats, including tomatoes and pepper plants. The smell of composting mulch fills the air as the weekend farmers sally forth with their trucks and SUVs to accomplish in one sun-filled weekend all they missed during the work week.

Hanging baskets of every size swing in the breeze, reminding us of wide front porches with lazy swings and tables holding glasses of sweet tea and lemonade. Children run through the vibrant green grass looking for multicolored plastic eggs or just to feel the cool happy blades between their no longer woolen clad toes. Life is renewed and the earth welcomes plant and animal to the eternal change of season.

Yesterday I sat on the swing and watched the clouds swing by and wondered to myself whether Heaven enjoys the different flavors of our seasons or if it is eternal spring. I came to the conclusion the reason we desire the return of spring each year is to welcome the promise of something better. Summer is freedom and fall is aging, winter is waiting but spring is renewal. It is possible to bear the waiting because something better is coming.

Which is why Easter falls in the spring. The promise of something better coming is why Jesus committed himself to the cross and what millions of Christians like myself hold as the most sacred tenet of our faith. It makes the waiting and enduring of all the twists and turns of our life worth the pains and pleasures of this messy planet hurtling through the infinity of space.

So again I say, I love Spring. In spite of all the turmoil our lives have experienced these past few years, I know better days are coming.

Monday, March 27, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I haven't written much the past two years.

There's a wealth of emotions tied to that one sentence, and even now I'm still dealing with the fallout of the wreck that has become my life. I've lost so much in two years. Some days when I reflect back on what's happened I can get a handle on everything, but other times I just cry.

A lot of circumstances when added together can become a tidal wave from which there is no escape. Our tidal wave started in 2009. They say God doesn't give more than we can handle, but obviously he has a higher opinion of my abilities than I do. Six close deaths in eight years were just the tip of the iceberg, and things only got harder when my darling hubby broke his back, for the third time.

So now the business is closed, the assets sold, and our unemployment is running out. I make $10 per hour and we are attempting to get the hubby on disability. My daughter is working two jobs to help with the expenses, and every penny is debated twice before spent. In the darkness that has been our reality, I've learned a few lessons I probably already knew but didn't adhere to.

1) Without money, you have time to work on the problems you've ignored. Every little resentment we've developed in the thirty years of our marriage has to be dealt with. No longer do we have the luxury of moving in separate areas in order to keep from facing each other.

2) When I'm stressed about finances and bills, the first thing that disappears are the voices in my head. I have three stories in various stages of development, and none of them are close enough to submission to be worth talking about. They have great story lines, but right now, every single character decided to head out on vacation.

3) People may ask how you are doing, but they really don't want to know. Everyone has issues and problems, they don't want to constantly be surrounded by yours.

4) Joy can be found in the most unexpected places. Take time to appreciate the small things you see around you. It's amazing how much you can get when you slow down and enjoy the ride. This life is all we have, don't spend so much time chasing money that you lose sight of what is truly important, and that is the relationships you have with the people around you.

I'm trying to live with these lessons and others, but I confess it's been hard. Hard putting myself aside and letting God take control. Hard realizing I am not in control of my fate anymore. Hard giving up things that I'd taken for granted, like movies and new clothes.

Each person's life is a journey, and though we we think the train has become derailed, that's all part of our journey as well.  The Apostle Paul once said, :"I must decrease so that He may increase." I'm still decreasing, and I need to let Him increase instead of stomping my foot and demanding things of which I have not proven myself ready or worthy.

So I'll embrace the lemons, and learn to make not just lemonade, but lemon pie, lemon curd, lemon jelly, everything that can be made from those lemons, because no matter what my situation, I need to be grateful for them. Those lemons came about because God sent them, and I want to master the lemon, so I can move onto the next challenge.

And somewhere along the line, the lemons will become sweeter, and the journey will continue, winding down a path made for me leading to where I do not know. But I do know I will be stronger once it is complete.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dear Scammers, Letter from a Job Seeker

I've been looking for a new 'real' job.

Sounds perfectly normal, right? Well, to be honest, it's been twenty-two years since I was unemployed and the market and methods have changed dramatically. No longer do you race out on Sunday to get the want ads to be the first to send out a resume, or make a phone call on Monday only to hear the position was filled two weeks ago and they forgot to pull the ad.

Now, everything is electronic, This makes things super easy for employers, but for those of us on the other side of the equation, it has become another area where you have to watch out for people trying to separate you from your hard earned money.

Here is an example that was sent to my email after spending an afternoon painstaking looking over a dozen web sites, trying hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff:

"Dear job seeker 

Our recruitment team viewed your resume published Application :Administrative Assistant- Full Time/ Part Time) and we are pleased with your 
qualifications,we believe you have the required qualifications to 
undergo an online interview.

Your resume was shortlisted for an online interview with the interview
manager Mrs Carol Rawson via G-mail Hangout or Google talk with the
following email address ( Add Her to your
buddy list and message Her, She will be online waiting for you ASAP to
conduct the interview with you.

Your verification code is ( XXXXXX ), this would serve as your
identification number throughout the online hiring process. Your
timely response matters a lot.

We look forward to having you on the team.

Interview Scheduled : Online.
Time: 9am-5pm
Date: January 16th-23rd 
Venue: On Line Via Google Hangout
Training is Available
Human Resources
Your swift and timely response matters a lot in this beneficial 

Best Regard :
Yours Truly,
Hiring Manager

There are so many things grammatically wrong with this email it would be hard to believe a reputable business HR department put this together. Second, Google Hangout? Really?

I followed one of these rabbit trails months ago when I was a fresh faced newly unemployed idealist. It led to a chat room where the contents of the front page of a real company website were splashed before me, which then led to a hiring offer. They would send a check to cover any expenses I might incur to get the 'new' district office up and running.

Sure enough, two days later a delivery man dropped a parcel on my doorstep containing a cashier's check for $2700.00. I was to deposit it in my account, then send a new money order to so and so for the purchase of the equipment. Yeah, right. I bet there's a Nigerian prince in this mess somewhere.

Look, all I want is a job. If I had money to be scammed I wouldn't be on the hunt for gainful employment. In preying on those who can least afford to be catfished, you are taking grift to a new level of lowliness. In the immortal words of Septa Unella from 'Game of Thrones', SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.

Or maybe I am looking at this the wrong way. Instead of answering advertisements, I should place one: "Wanted: Admin/Office Manager/Receptionist/Lemming/Human Resources/Gerbil. Must have valid checking account for payments. Work from home trying to find new office space. Only the gullible need apply. Make your own hours all for $40/hour."

Click to Apply

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hello New Me

It snowed this weekend, always an exciting time here in the Deep South. Stores ran out of milk and bread, our DOT finally got to use all that road salt they had stored up. I made chili and watched my dogs stare at the ground with undisguised revulsion at the idea I wanted them to soil their delicate little feet. But snow always makes me reflective and since it's the first of the new year, I've decided to air a few of my annoyances and fears for the upcoming year.

I'm not crazy about the incoming government, but I'm wise enough to be willing to give them the chance to make a difference. Who knows, it might actually be a great thing, if people are willing to look past their own pockets and put the common good first. Isn't that what the Democrats are always screaming?

For the first time in a very long time, I'm unemployed. It's scary and the jobs market is a very different place from the one I knew more than 20 years ago. The industry I used to be in, computer hardware, is light years away from what I knew. While I'm great at a lot of things, I'm discovering I'm not special enough to stand out when there are literally thousands of applicants for every position.

It's made me very reflective of who I am. I am more than a one page list of accomplishments and skills. I've spend a long time these past few years digging into my past, the fears and accomplishments as well as my place among others, and I've come to peace with who I am and where I want to be. Becoming unemployed ten years before I can catch Social Security wasn't anywhere on the radar, that's for sure.

But I will endure. I've overcome loss before, and with God's help, I will again. Life is a journey, and this is part of my path. Doesn't mean I won't be frustrated; in fact, that seems to be my favorite emotion here recently. However, I will face my fears and my anxiety, and learn to grow with every experience.

Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth...