Lemon Scones and Pendulums

This morning, I sipped my coffee and munched on a lemon poppyseed scone while I surfed job listings. Just as I was beginning to notice that listings matching my search terms looked pretty slim, I also noticed that my mug was empty. Normally, this wouldn't be much of an issue, but I needed something to wash my mouthful of scone down. I refilled the mug, but two minutes later there was half a cup of coffee left, but no more scone...and what's the point of coffee without pastry? So I got another scone, but then ran out of coffee again and refilled the cup, and then I needed more scone...

It went on like that for a while, and I can tell you now that A) after seven cups of coffee, I can see through time, and B) scones and coffee coalesce into concrete inside your belly.

All week long, I've felt out of balance, the scone-coffee conundrum just one example. It's all related to the calendar. Last Friday was my one month unemploymentversary, which means that today is the end of the first week of my second month without a job. Knowledge of time passing takes its toll, and it gets harder to keep up the bold face and positive attitude that's fueled me this far. Faith that everything's going to work out for the best gets harder to maintain when every moment of every day is a reminder that there's money going out, but none (or, at least, not nearly enough) coming in.

Money worries are, for me, the spark that causes a firestorm of doubt, diffidence and panic. When I run into troubles paying bills, that stress eats away at me until I can't see silver linings on any clouds, money related or not. Luckily, I've been surviving with my meager savings, but I received two unexpected bills in the last week. By the math, I've figured out exactly how much shorter my survival without income will be as a result of these bills, and I don't like the new numbers.

In tandem, the weight of money worries and transitioning from weeks without a job to months without one are throwing my load out of balance. I'm starting to get critical of my methods in job hunting, my strict daily scheduling and routines. The impatient, emotional side of me is creeping out around the edges, and it's harder to contain outbursts of irritation and impulsive reactions.

For instance, in response to a contract position I applied to, which very closely matched my experience and desires in career direction, I received an email that said:

"While we do not have any positions at your level currently available, things can change at a moment's notice."

This isn't a first, but it increasingly gets under my skin. I applied for a position that I knew full well was below my previous level, but went to great lengths in the cover letter to explain my desire to redirect my career and willingness to move down the ladder a rung or two if necessary. Today, it almost made me snap, and I started drafting a response that, among other things, questioned the recruiter's literacy and suggested they may be in possession extra chromosomes. Fortunately, I never clicked "send," but it was a close call. Instead, I refilled my coffee and brewed more sconecrete.

Mentally, though, I started a downward spiral. What's going to happen? Where did I go wrong? How will I make it? What's the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? WHAT THE HELL HAVE I BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST FIVE WEEKS??? Then something happened: the doorbell rang. It was a serviceman here to paint some of my siding that had been damaged in a storm. Watching him do his work triggered my mind into a replay of everything that I got done or contributed to getting done during this time:

  1. Patched, sanded and painted my staircase walls
  2. Patched, sanded and painted my living room walls
  3. Rearranged my living room and prepared dining room for new furniture
  4. Converted my workout room into an office
  5. Rearranged my bedroom furniture and incorporated an entertainment station
  6. Purged my closets, unused electronics, books, kitchen cabinets, liquor cabinet, bathrooms, and garage
  7. Installed new carpeting
  8. Tore up old carpeting in Gramma's new house
  9. Moved Gramma into her new house
  10. Moved Auntie C. into a nursing home
  11. Cleaned and purged Auntie C.'s house
  12. Written an entirely new 10 minutes of stand up comedy
  13. Applied to 148 highly targeted, well matched positions
  14. Interviewed for twelve positions
  15. Established a daily blog of 800-1200 words

I started to relax, and the worries subsided. That's a pretty good month in terms of productivity, if nothing else. Comparably, that's more than I've accomplished professionally in the last nine months of employment combined. Likewise, that's more than I've accomplished in my personal life in the past two years. Which again brings me back to the concept of balance. Life is a pendulum that rarely rests. It's constantly swinging, shifting focus from career growth to personal growth. The best situation is to stabilize to a point where there's no swing, the optimum equilibrium point where personal and professional are progressing in unison. But until that can be achieved, learn to accept the swings and see the benefits.

Five weeks ago, I lost my job. Today, I'm a better person for it. I've achieved great things and great perspectives in those five weeks. There's no reason for me to think I can't continue that trend into the next five weeks.

The serviceman finished up his painting, and I sipped my last swig of coffee, washing down my last bite of scone. And as I took a deep breath and started to feel better, my phone rang and I scheduled another interview for next Tuesday.

Who says it's hard to stay positive?

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