Sunday, December 06, 2009

m-pyre birthday: recession edition

Mikaela says:
The m's thought it would be fun -- okay, bad word choice -- to write about how the recession has affected us as our birthday reflection this year.

So with my daughter screaming herself to sleep in the next room, heaters blaring in all the rooms, typing with fear of breaking a circuit any minute, I'll share a bit of what this recession has meant to me.

The biggest effect by far has been the impetus to quit my job. That's right, quit my full-time with great benefits job for an uncertain future as a consultant doing all manner of odd, small jobs.

You know the saying, "It's always darkest before dawn?" Here in the balloon fiesta city, we all know it's also the coldest right before dawn. It also translates into screaming baby, actually. The biggest scream is often the last one, right before she drifts away to sleep, oddly and miraculously enough.

And so it was that it took the biggest recession of my lifetime to push me to do the thing I knew I was supposed to do all along, which is ... not get pigeon-holed into a job for the sake of security. I'm a virgo and not a big risk-taker anyway. I don't like being out on a limb, but I also know that my skills will support a number of endeavors, and so I should assemble the odd jobs that make up a life that supports me, challenges me, and makes me happy. Did I mention they also need to be flexible enough to allow time to raise a little girl? Well, there's that, too.

My mom worked from the time I was two. She was a realtor, and her work was never done. She struggled to make ends meet, so there was little she could do to make time for extra commitments with us - organized sports, concerts, etc.? Not so much. But she raised us, and we never went hungry. And her efforts were enough.

Here I am, a generation later, and I can see that I may have chosen a path that allows me to take her to daycare and pick her up every day, but it's also the path that means I'm checking my email all hours of the day, and working late and once even pulling an all-nighter to shoehorn the work I need to get done into the shrinking available time to do it.

This recession has simultaneously given me the biggest freedom since going to school full-time (which most of us remember was not all that "free" to begin with) and the most stress I've ever had about work. I have five jobs at the moment - one of them full-time with flex hours and the rest very sporadic but still time-consuming. I'm lucky to have them all, even if I honestly don't know how I will find the time to complete them all.

In the meantime, Eric's job at UNM is looking increasingly grim, even as he personally struggles more and more to find meaning in his efforts there. He's been "keeping an eye out" for a while now, with no good options revealing themselves. Even with all his good connections and friends in high places, there's no positions to be had. If he can't find work, I really worry about everyone else in the job market. Yikes.

We can pay our bills for one more month on our savings, and then I pray that my consulting gigs start paying. It will be close, but I'm sure it will all be fine.

As the people who have coached me about money in my life say to do, I'm focusing on the abundance in the universe and the feeling of being buoyed by all the gifts and blessings I know to be my life. Life will provide.

In the meantime, I work, listen to NPR, drink coffee, and do yoga -- chanting T.S. Eliot's invocation (quoting an English mystic Julian of Norwich, author of the first book written in English by a woman): "All shall be well. All manner of things shall be well."

Maybe in the next year, I can add blogging to that daily list.

Maybe in the spring...

A little more from my pal T.S. Eliot, excerpting (and updating, where needed) from his fourth Quartet, Little Gidding:

In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers.
[W]hat you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment.

In the uncertain hour before the morning
Near the ending of interminable night
At the recurrent end of the unending

... I said: 'The wonder that I feel is easy,
Yet ease is cause of wonder.
[L]ast year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice.
I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit

All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
...I think, again, of this place,
And of people, not wholly commendable,
Of no immediate kin or kindness,
But of some peculiar genius,
All touched by a common genius,
United in the strife which divided them

The only hope, or else despair Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre— To be redeemed from fire by fire
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.

A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded [website]
History is now and [the Internet].

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well