Flourish when you should be falling

Australian bush scene

View on a recent hike with the Engineer

How strange that today’s ‘daily prompt’ from wordpress is “flourish”. It’s a good word for what the last few weeks – unemployed and not even an interview yet – have been for me.

This week has gotten me down, really feeling like a failure who can’t get her head together with this job search. There are so few roles; there is no feedback when I get the “unfortunately, you have not been successful….” email; there is, also, no plan B. I have to get a job.

So today, to shake my self out of the rut, I went for a jog. And it made me realize that I kind of am flourishing…..

I’ve been walking a lot recently, just to get out of the house, but normally I go just for a 20 minute jog or so (and then lie down and die, obviously). Today, I jogged for 50 minutes. 50 MINUTES! I’m slow as an arthritic snail, but holy moly – I’ve never jogged for over 30 minutes before in my LIFE.

So barring my heart-rate training watch messing up and giving me an extra 20 minutes (believe me, I checked, I seriously thought it was a mistake), I am fitter right now than I’ve ever been in my life. Unemployment sucks but I guess not for my cardiovascular heath!

Which got me thinking of other ways I’ve been flourishing in this enforced time off. I’ve been painting again for the first time in years. I’ve learnt to make pasta and bread from scratch. I’ve de-grouted the shower (yay?). And I’ve been writing – this blog, and short stories, a novel. And reading and learning from other bloggers. Thing is, even if none of this goes anywhere – I’ve somehow, without realizing how, created these very full and weirdly meaningful days. On Saturday last, the Engineer and I were driving to go on a hike when I got an email with a rejection (seriously, on a Saturday folks?). I threw the phone back in the car, shrugged, and we walked for a few hours through the beautiful Dandenongs in Victoria – and I actually didn’t give the job a second through, just being in that beautiful place.

Don’t get me wrong, I want a job – I like to be busy and I love the work I do. Plus money is handy for eating. But in between applying for things, gosh darn it if I don’t feel the most creative and fulfilled I can ever remember.

Reflections of an unemployed Wednesday

I got my first job at the age of 16. I was a check-out chick at the local supermarket. I worked with my best friend, having wandered into the store after school one day, talking to the manager, and getting hired right off. I have never been unemployed since then, and now I’m 32.

*Pause while Panther gets a calculator*

That is quite literally, half my life. I’ve looked for jobs before, but always from a position of being employed.

Which might explain why I am so freaking bad at being unemployed. I cleaned out the grout in our shower today. This is not a legitimate hobby! 

But it does make me think that I am among the very, very privileged unemployed. Firstly, with the Engineer being all engineery, we in no way face a fiscal crisis. We can survive on his paycheque – and thrive, really, I’m all frugal from the post-graduate student days. I’ll share some tips I learnt from those days in an upcoming post. And I’m not long-term unemployed, which by all accounts is a vicious cycle that devours souls. And this is the first time I’ve been in this position! And, especially for my American readers, in Australia you don’t lose access to health care,  and we have a minimum wage here that is above the poverty level (just. But still). So when I get a job (fingers crossed) it will be livable. I really, really, am in a very privileged position.

With a very clean shower. Oh and I walked for an hour and a half today. And yesterday. And Monday. On top of a jog or two. I. Need. New. Hobbies. If nothing else, I’m out of showers to clean.

If anyone has tips on how to stay active and busy, I’d love to hear them! Or you know, showers that need a clean…..

 

Unemployed Monday – the Worst

The title says it all, I think. I got to 9:13 AM this Monday morning.

I tend to sit down at the desk around 8 AM, and start the job searching. Check all the websites, linkedin, any emails with alerts.

I start applications for any that look likely, make a note of due dates.

And by 9:13 AM this morning I was out of options. Nothing I can apply for unless I want to join a well-known fresh-juice store as one of their ‘freshers’. I found one job I thought I could apply for but as I went through the online registration, you had to check a box indicating you’d had direct experience for over three years in a fairly obscure area. I couldn’t check it, without lying – so when I clicked next, a pop-up came to inform me that I would not be able to continue apply as they had to have candidates with that experience.

So I’ve just eaten some chocolate covered licorice (only lollies in the house). What the hell will I do with myself all day? I can’t even leave the house! We’re getting a major household appliance delivered today, thanks landlord!

Argh. I was hoping by the end of this rant I’d be able to think of something funny to wrap it up with and make myself feel better, but I’ve got nothing. Kind of feels like this is what life will be like for the next few months, I guess.

Now where’s that licorice………

Other unemployed bloggers for the win

I knew this blogging malarky was going to help! The lovely Josie Elliot, who writes very touchingly at If I’m Still Unemployed At The End Of This, I’m Quitting, (just about the best blog title ever) wrote a comment the other day with a gentle reminder that mindfulness, whilst not my natural state, is a worthy pursuit.

View from desk of the unemployed across rainy Melbourne

Unemployed views from my desk

That’s a picture our the window near my desk. It’s been pouring down in Melbourne the last little while (take that, drought!) and I get to see a lot of it through this window. Despite being very much in a built-up suburb, I have a view of a beautiful old tiled roof; trees; the sky and our little balcony.

And that is a fresh espresso from Natasha, our Nespresso machine. (You have to say ‘Natasha’ with a Russian accent – she’s by far the coolest, slickest thing we own, so she has her own personality and name. Cos we’re normal). I made it in my fanciest mug, and dug out the saucer for it too, and then I sat here for 10 minutes with the computer off, just enjoying the moment.

Which turned out to be a bloody hard thing for me to do, being one of those extremely fidgety people.

Searching for work, being unemployed, seeking new opportunities – whatever you want to call it, it can really sap your sense of self. No matter how you try to take care of yourself, or how wonderful others are, there’s a whole lot of rejection in this game. My general defense against that is to be really sarcastic and turn it into a hilarious story for others – but taking those ten minutes today, to just sit quietly – well, I don’t know if it helped, but damn, I like that view, and I’m way more aware of it now.

Of course I stubbed my toe when I stood up to get back to work; but that’s just me.

Updates; I just discovered today’s Daily Post challenge was about chance encounters – I thought this post qualified rather well!
Chance Encounter

Week two of being unemployed in Melbourne

Righty-ho. Day Six. The Engineer left for work (slightly bleary eye’d after a 7 AM alarm clock), and lo, I have re-begun my search for fruitful employment. I’ve decided last week was a wash, and this week is the actual real start.

This week, I was determined to begin well, to set a schedule that maximized my job prospects, whilst respecting my physical and mental health. I also wanted some time to pursue a few dreams and hobbies. A healthy balance seems appropriate. (I may have read a bit too much information on surviving the job search over the weekend…….)

Timetable looked like this:

7 – half hour jog. Listen to inspiring podcast on mindfulness or some such.

730 – prepare lunch for the Engineer

8 – sit at desk to search for jobs. Background playlist – Mozart. For the intelligenceness.

12 – Pilates (note to self – figure out what Pilates is and how one pilates)

1 – lunch, probably of raw biodynamic salad, whilst listening to more soothing classical music.

2  – pursue other avenues of income – Airtasker, upwork, etc.

4 – other writing projects, such as this blog, or a short story on a brave princess who followed her dreams and came out on top. With good hair.

5 – prepare dinner

6 – meet Engineer at the door with a fresh Martini, with tasty stew bubbling in the background, and bright smile.

A healthy salad I didn't have on my second unemployed week in Melbourne

Witness my healthiness! Note this salad was had by my sister for lunch. I, well. I burrito’d.

The day has looked a little more like this…….

7AM. 20 minute jog, woo hoo!

730 Fall back asleep on couch as body refuses to accept the reality of the time of day, and the physical exertion.

9 AM wake up to post-it note on face saying ‘bye! I’ll grab lunch from the sandwich shop from Engineer.

930 – read job ads. Try not to cry. Turn on Metallica as you can’t cry to Metallica.

12 –  Eat lunch (burrito. Well, burritos, really. Biodynamic credentials uncertain) while watching episodes of Parks and Recreation.

3 – google ‘jobs in parks and recreations in Melbourne” .

6 – Engineer arrives home to find me in bed, reading, and refusing to move until the world promises to be nicer.

The following thoughts have characterized my day:

  • Why are there so many jobs for accountants and architects?
  • Wonder if there’s any chance a PhD in American history counts as ‘experience’ for jobs in architecture?
  • Due to budget cuts, no one has any parks and recreation departments any more. This is sad.
  • Thank god for Nespresso.
  • Mindfulness suuuuuucks. In ‘this moment’, I’m unemployed, unsure of my career direction, have several blisters on my heel and the sounds of the ocean are making me have to pee.

Critical stats:

  • Jobs applied for – zero
  • Coffee machine espressos consumed – six
  • Waves of existential dread – ten
  • Hugs from the Engineer – unlimited, bless his heart.