Tag Archives: marriage

Big bad unemployment

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I guess it’s OK to talk about this now: Some weeks ago, I lost my consulting job of 5.5 years, when I was laid off due to “lack of work.” I worked for my brother: He gave me one week of notice. The company had been struggling for some time.

I haven’t said anything about it outright on this blog, because for a while we didn’t want the kids to know. We didn’t want them to worry that they had just moved here and that we wouldn’t be able to take care of them. It was a difficult secret to keep. Even now, I’m worried that I’ll freak somebody out by saying the wrong thing.

It was very upsetting, as the timing could hardly have been worse, with my hubby having been unemployed for a couple of years now, and three children moving in. Let’s just say these past couple of months have been the most stressful in probably the last 7 or 8 years. I have so much riding on my shoulders.

In a lot of ways, it’s a good thing. It will probably be a great thing. I was in a job situation that was not right for me, and had not been for quite some time. I had tried to find other work, especially last year. But several promising opportunities came very close to coming through, only to  fall through at the last minute. One in particular crashed horribly to the ground only hours after I was promised the job. That, and some negative experiences with work, really took a toll on my confidence in 2011.

And now I’m in a situation, where, like so many other people, I’m looking, under duress. Our house is under water, we’re stuck at a relatively high interest rate. We have no savings, except for some quickly dwindling vacation pay. We have lots of extra expenses. We are able to get unemployment, which works out to be about $1000 less per month than we were previously bringing in. Before tax. And we were already struggling. We also lost our insurance, but were able to get some short-term major medical, and prescriptions aren’t too much more than they were with insurance. Fortunately, the kids have insurance through Oregon Health Plan. And we are able see the doctor if we need to – there’s a medical clinic in town that has a sliding scale. I’m able to see the vegan Nurse Practitioner I wanted to see for $11 less than the copay I paid when I was insured!

Of course, this is a great time to reassess, to figure out what type of work I can really be happy doing. To see which skills I want to ramp up, and maybe which ones to toss. To try new things. So many directions to go! Should I concentrate on our design and IT consulting business? Should I spend all my free time networking, emailing resumes, trolling the IT job boards? Or should I be concentrating on new skill-sets like WordPress dev and Ruby on Rails? How will I keep my SharePoint skills sharp with little access to dev servers or software? How can I leverage my nonprofit skills? Could I start a vegan-based business or nonprofit? Will I get desperate and take a job that doesn’t seem like a good fit experience-wise or financially? What happens when we can’t pay the mortgage?

A lot of my time these past few weeks has been wrapped up in contingency planning. Swallowing pride, asking for help. The schools and the community have really stepped up, and for that we are very grateful. There are a lot of caring people here, and some good social programs. Relatives on the kids’ side have also helped where they can. Just today, we finally got into a mortgage assistance program that was a huge pain in the ass to apply for. At least we are in enough that we’ll be able to submit the paperwork. I’m sure it will take a few months to come through, if it does at all, and hopefully I’ll have a job by then. But we have to think ahead. What if?

Luckily, a lot of the shock of losing my job and of suddenly becoming a full-time parent has worn off by now. Most days I’m able to think clearly. To appreciate what I have. To plan ahead as much as is possible. I’m so grateful that we were able to get a deal at the community center. Yoga is saving my sanity right now. It’s my major stress relief  and what is keeping my lungs strong and healthy. I’m going to go check the schedule for tomorrow.

A Natural Disconnect

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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 17

Nature. This week as you contemplate nature, think of all it has to teach us. Think of how it provides for us. But move beyond that to realize you are a beautiful creation of nature as well. Move beyond the thought of nature only being outside of us. What is the nature of your Self? How can you be more in tune with your inherent nature? How can you allow your beautiful self to just be? How can you be in a state of allowing? How can you inherently shine?

I feel very disconnected from nature lately (and from my natural self). I’m barely spending any time outside and I’m letting my work and family responsibilities overwhelm me. Every time I look outside at my garden which never got off the ground this year, and I think of the days I used to spend hiking, birding, and traveling, I feel disappointment, disconnection, and even shame, for not doing what I love to do. It was so much easier when 1. It was just me, and 2. There was money and time to spare—for taking days off for hikes, volunteering, travelling, supplies.

It feels like I have so much less time this summer. Last summer I went mountain biking, did yoga (in the beginning, anyway), grew a garden, painted a house, hung out with my hubby and animals, and worked. This summer I’ve… worked on the radio show, hung out with my step-kids, hubby, and animals, and worked. What’s missing? Nature, outdoor exercise, time to myself, time for contemplation, time away from the computer, non-stressful work. I need to find ways to resolve this before I lose myself.

A small reprieve

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Ahh. Silence. Things stay where I’ve put them, for the most part. No questions or stories when I’m still waking up. Nobody just sitting there, staring at me. Nobody probing me for what we’re going to do next. No having to ask that the Hulu or Netflix get turned down, or off. No kicking kids out of the room so I can have a conference call. No hiding in my room just to have time to myself. No yelling. No pulling out my hair. No having to leave the house because I’m feeling stabby because nobody will pick up after themselves and I am sounding like a broken record (and channeling my mother). No having to get dressed to leave the room (it’s amazing how much I run around half-naked when there are no kids around). No doing dishes and laundry several times a day. And best of all—I went grocery shopping on Saturday—and there’s still food in the house!

On the flip side… No spontaneous hugs, no excited storytelling, no pals to go on walks or to First Friday with, no helpers for VegNet events or potlucks. No family game nights. No special cooking or baking. No general silliness. Nobody is doing art, or painting their nails, or reading Harry Potter books. Nobody is bugging me to walk up Pilot Butte.

A small reprieve… from the step-kids.

It’s the only one we get, and then they’re here for two more long months. I love having them here—and it drives me crazy to have them here. That’s family.

Happy {actual} Faux Mother’s Day!

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So tomorrow is Mother’s Day, in the U.S. Back on April 3rd, I thought it was Mother’s Day, because that, apparently, was Mother’s Day in the U.K. Funny, nobody corrected me, probably because—let’s face it—not a huge readership here.

This year, hubby’s birthday coincides with Mother’s Day. So that’s been the focus of our celebration this weekend, as much as we’ve been up for it. We’re both still really dragging and trying to recover from our flu and lung issues of the past few weeks, and from yesterday’s long drive over the pass and back.

But at least tomorrow I will have 2 out of 3 of my step-kids here for part of the day, and all my fur-kids as well, and that’s enough Mother’s Day for me.

Here’s to weekends at home

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In spite of the fact that my husband and I have been sick for a week (is this turning into bronchitis?!) and I’ve been feeling crappy off and on for a few weeks now, I just had a great weekend. Sometimes a quiet weekend at home is exactly what I need. No need to leave the house (except for the yard, or a walk around the neighborhood), and certainly no reason to drive anywhere.

Hubby and I did mostly our own thing, except for watching Rome together, an old series we’re working our way through on Netflix discs. I read most of Will Potter’s excellent Green is the New Red, which I’m going to finish after this post. I caught up on a bunch of vegan podcasts while doing stuff around the house. I henna’d my hair. I started some lentils sprouting in a jar, which is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. 

It was a slightly warm and sunny weekend, so I was able to take Pip, Isis, and the dogs out into the backyard to hang out a little. (Gordy and Nevermore were not very interested, but Gordy logged some good time on the porch. Caesar even came out to the porch for a bit.) I took Ruby for a walk, trimmed the dog’s nails, and brushed Bubba and gave him a bath, which hadn’t happened for a looong time. Due to his health issues, his coat has not been in the greatest shape lately, and he seems to always be shedding and shaggy—half a pug of fur is now in the back yard. This evening I even had a little time to research some news for the next show.

Poor Pip, the pain med that the doctor gave her for the extraction seriously cracks her out. Fairly immediately, her eyes glaze over and she loses coordination. In fact, we’ve had to keep an extra eye on her. This ordinarily very agile cat is having problems judging the leap to the cat tree, etc. And she somehow banged herself up in the night—she has a divot of fur out next to each eye (worse near her right eye). It could be that she had a tussle with one of the other cats, but I don’t think so. So tonight we’ll make sure to confine her to the bedroom. I’d almost rather not give her the pain med if its going to mess her up like that, but then I don’t know how bad the extraction might be hurting and she can’t tell me. Yesterday she did seem to be uncomfortable eating, so it probably does hurt—a lot. At least I know she loves going outside and was able to do that for her.

Both days I began to feel tired after about 4 hours, so it was great to have nothing that had to get done. Hopefully it was enough rest to kick this and be able to start my work week feeling good.

Gaining some perspective by holing up on a snowy weekend

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OK, so this hasn’t been the best weekend of my life due to the crappy end to last week. But I’ve taken it easy and tried to gain a little perspective.

Things could be worse. I got to hole up over a beautiful snowy weekend with my hubby and animal companions, only having to leave the house once for provisions. My hubby made a delicious vegan lasagna yesterday, even making the marinara sauce from scratch—we’re still working on leftovers. And tonight, he made vegan peanut butter cookies which are even better than the ones I made last week. I slept in very very late both days, watched a movie, and finished a good novel (Theft, Peter Carey: “How do you know how much to pay if you don’t know what it’s worth?)

One thing I’ve learned from a week like last week, is that I can pull it together for things that are important to me, like the radio show. I spent some very late nights all week wrapping up our February 18th All Things Vegan radio show, which aired Friday, and got the show notes and archives ready today. You can listen to it here:

http://allthingsveganradio.wordpress.com

At the core

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#reverb10

reflect on this year and manifest what’s next

Core Story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

I’m a little self-reflected out. Good thing it’s the last day of reverb10. Happy New Year (thank the gods).

Reverb Recap: