ARIES (March 21- April 19): Do not be discouraged if you haven’t made your fortune yet. You may not be rich but should be thankful if you are comfortable.
That was my horoscope from Tuesday. Normally, I pay about as much attention to my horoscope as I would to anything spewing from Glenn Beck’s pie hole, but this got my attention. When I began to think about it, I realized that there’s some truth in those words…and I could probably stand to do a better job of being aware of that.
I’ve been unemployed for almost four months now. While I’m actively looking for work, I haven’t exactly been singing the blues about having so much free time. When people ask me what I’m doing, I tell them that I’m on sabbatical. After eight years of working for the same company, and in the end coming to intensely dislike the culture and the work environment, a break is exactly what the doctor ordered. I do feel as if I’m on sabbatical; over the past four months, I’ve been awakened by an alarm clock twice. I’ve been able to relax and slow down. It’s been a nice and very welcome change to no longer have to be doing silly things for people I don’t respect. My time is my own, and I don’t owe an explanation to anyone for how I spend it.
Not that there aren’t stresses that are part and parcel of being unemployed, of course. The money won’t hold out forever, and though I’m in good financial shape now, I’m all too aware that my bank account is not necessarily a renewable resource. Realistically, though, I’m OK for now and for the foreseeable future. While I don’t want my sabbatical to end, I recognize that it will eventually have to. My hope is that it will be soon and that I’ll be able to find work that pays well and has some meaning for me.
What keeps me going is the realization that I have some serious “me time”. How many of us wish from time to time that we could have an extended period to rest, recreate, and recharge? Well, I have that opportunity, and I’m trying to keep things in perspective as best I can in order that I can maximize and enjoy this break in the action. There are certainly times when I can feel the doubt and anxiety creeping in, but for the most part I’m feeling pretty good about things. I can only hope that will continue.
If I didn’t care for fun and such,
I’d probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.
- Dorothy Parker
It’s not that I don’t give a damn, but I really don’t miss the job that quit me after I’d decided to quit it. I don’t miss the silly procedures and expectations, the myriad layers of management complete with backsides in need of kissing, and the environment that demanded ever more while providing correspondingly less in return. It wasn’t all bad, of course, but I’d known for awhile that, given the way my situation was constituted, I wasn’t going to be provided with any opportunities. My job was to show up and shut up…not something I’ve really ever been willing to do. I gave a damn about doing what I did to the best of my ability…but that became increasingly more challenging given the environment I was required to work in. Now I know longer have to shoulder that burden…and I’m rather enjoying it.
I’ve taken advantage of this time by taking better care of myself. I’ve been working out more diligently, I’ve lost a few pounds, and I’m eating better. Feeling better has been a nice change, especially since my health insurance lapsed and I refuse to pay the ridiculous premium required for COBRA coverage. I have to take better care of myself…if for no other reason than I can’t afford to become ill.
Last weekend, I moved to a new apartment in southeast Portland. It’s a chance for a new start in a place that’s more centrally located than where I’ve been living for the past few years. When I start to feel sorry for myself, I can remind myself that there are new places to explore right outside my door. If I choose to, and I generally do, I can find a lot of ways to keep myself in a positive frame of mind. Right now, I just can’t afford to allow myself to let life drag me down…and I don’t want to. Things could be so much worse.
I’m not going to complain; I’m in a reasonably good place emotionally and financially. There are millions of Americans in far worse straits who would likely want to trades places in a heartbeat. I’m OK, and I’m going to continue to be OK. I just have to remember that there will be stresses; uncertainty will do that to a person. If I can keep that in perspective and remember to take care of myself, life should continue to be good. Being on sabbatical does have certain advantages…. ;-)