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It's a daily challenge

Have you ever felt like a cultural stereotype?
I do now.
It's this lay-off thing. Being part of the 10% of unemployed Americans who are out of work because their positions were eliminated or their company down-sized them out of a job.

Workers are dropping like flies around me:
  • the 24 others from my school who were let go during this deep deep cut
  • a librarian friend with one year left before retirement and who discovered 3 weeks ago that her position was eliminated along with 53 other municipal positions.
  • my brother-in-law's position eliminated along with his entire department after being told a lay-off was coming but 'not too worry' your job is secure. Yeah right.
  • Amy, my daughter, emailed two days ago with the news that she and every other teacher in her school district with less than 3 years service were being let go.
  • a neighbor - no, not yet unemployed -- he's a self-employed contractor but with lots and lots of time on his hands these days.
A la Woody Allen, I feel like I've been reduced to a cultural stereotype.

And like Woody,
I hate being reduced to a cultural stereotype!

It's been just about a month since my former school eliminated 25 positions, mine among them. To say I was surprised that it happened would be insincere. I'd known there was a large deficit and that more students were leaving than entering but until that fateful day it wasn't real. If you know what I mean: it was still a shock. And really it is still reverberating ...... I am still working through the process of not working and what it means on an emotional level.

In the initial days, I chose to refer to this as my "Gift of Time": time to quilt and sew; knit and embellish; alter books and make fabric journals; and garden. All activities that I always fit into and around my work life.

But here I am one month out of work and finding it hard to create a structure for my day. You know, for so many years, I rose to greet the day and immediately went off to work. Now I can make my own schedule and perform for myself; but I am finding it difficult.

I have been thinking a lot about certain authors who have a routine for their work and who set a goal of writing so many words or pages each day and I wonder if that sort of structure appeals to me.

May Sarton who has been my favorite writer for many years created a rhythm to her days: she rose early and made a breakfast of eggs and toast and tea which she brought to her bed to eat. She fed her cat and filled her birdfeeders.
And then she wrote.

Morning was desk time to work on her journal, her current novel or poems. She always made time for correspondence; she was an avid letter-writer. After lunch she worked in her garden in season. She always napped. She always transitioned between day and the evening meal with a scotch.

Well, I have no pets; I don't want to eat eggs in bed; and, I hate scotch. But I do like the feel of her day.

It is a struggle. How does one create a rhythm, a structure for the day when all of one's adult life was about rising and getting to work. And performing on demand. The post-industrial clock. The scheduled lunch.

Perhaps this, the unstructured day, is the most difficult for the newly unemployed or retired. How does one go about this task? Does it evolve? Or does one 'force' the structure, create the patterns.

Right at the moment, it feels a mystery to me.

This is original work
created and uploaded
by PatStudio.
Please be kind.
Do not use without


Celeste Maia said...

Very interesting entry, Pat. Being a painter and a mother, and changing countries every two or four years I have had to be super organized with my days. We also had to entertain quite a lot, so lots of shopping for food and cooking. Yet, my painting always came first, everything else had to kind of "fit" around my painting. I always thought that the lap of luxury would be when I could afford my own studio, outside the house. And until today my studio was always part of my bedrooom, part of the kitchen, a varanda, an unused bedroom. I am grateful for that because when cooking and kids' projects took time away from the painting, I could compensate by painting through the night. I also have a very understanding husband, that really helps. I dont know if this helps, but I've always had to carve out time for myself taking into account everyone else's needs. Over the years that became my structure. Celeste

Pat said...

I see how your structure was carved out by necessity. And I think that is what I was trying to get at, as well. When a mom with two children; a graduate student with a teenager; a working single mom, and later full time + professional -- all these 'shoulds' and 'have-tos' filled my days. Here I am with no small dependents; no outside job. And struggling to put myself into my day in the absence of external structure.

Yes, that is the way to say it -- it is the lack of external structure that I am struggling with.

And, so I must really attend to the question: what do I want from each day? what do I want in each day?

Donna (Gingerellen) said...

Hi Pat, have you considered volunteer work? I do a little of that, but not as much as I used to. It would give you a reason to get out a little, and feel like you have a little structure. Don't know if that would encourage you or not. Just an idea.. Donna

Hélène H said...

Being French, I am shocked to learn that so many teachers lost their jobs. Though it is a hard time here too.

I have been on the dole twice in my career, it was hard, but in the end I think it made me stronger.

I hope you make the most of your time !

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