Thursday, November 8, 2012

Powerful Forces

There it is on the left side of my photo - the broken right wrist. I slipped in cat vomit in the middle of the night three days after the fourth of July. They say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I don't know if I believe that. But what I do know is that in my case, it was sort of a gift or blessing, from God or the universe or my angels. Whatever. It stopped me cold in my tracks and changed the course of my and my family's life. I believe that blessings can come in any form; wildly wonderful or sometimes painful. I got a little of both. In this post I will talk a bit about the painful. Let me explain.

For five years prior to the wrist event, I have been trying to climb high enough in my retail position to afford Tony (husband) and I a little bit of ease and security. I have had many "day" jobs in my life. With a college major in fine art procured in the 70's, jobs/careers were limited. I started out as an artist in the art department of a silk screen company. Then my kids came along and the computer took over where my old job used to be. When the kids were in school I found employment for a used kid's clothing store. It was the perfect fit for a young mother. Later, and after my divorce, I found myself caring for my Mother at home. It wasn't until she passed on that I had to take stock of where I was in life and what I had to offer. I thought of going back to school for culinary arts but it was expensive and the schedules conflicted with my being a single Mom. So I found myself turning to retail and started working in a family owned fabric store. It was a great fit, however, the economy and life happened. They went out of business. So I sort of backed in to a job at the card store part time and decided to ride it out and try to move up. I did. I finally became a merchandising manager full time with the benefits my husband and I really needed. However, having a job you need to have doesn't always equate with the needs of the employer.

I really am just an artist at heart, a good Mom with some life skills but no real training in either retail merchandising or management. I was never meant to be a corporate climber. As the economy started to tank, my position became harder and harder. With less payroll available, those in management were being expected to do everything, seamlessly, quickly, and without error. Some people call this multi-tasking. I call it a recipe for a heart attack. From the end of January last year until my spill in the cat puke, I have little recollection of anything at all. I was working so hard - long hours, little sleep and a lot of stress. My studio was like a dream of another life. But I was providing for us, and thankfully I had the health insurance to cover the more than $35,000 it cost to fix my bones. What would we have done without this insurance.

Then I recovered. Having had a summer to recoup the bones and do a lot of thinking, I began to realize just how impossible my situation had become. I was looking at job listings often, feeling incompetent and developing a hopeless dread. There is nothing out there for me, calling my name; nothing I have the skills or experience to do without training. I had to return to my job with the cards. Tony needed me to suck it up and go back, after all, he works so hard that I just had to contribute. Needless to say, when I got back to the job it was overwhelming. My head was spinning every day as I tried to keep up and I was making mistakes that I never had before. I had stepped back into their busiest season and my boss had no patience for my flaws. Two days ago she asked me for my resignation. As if divorce is not enough to have dealt with in my lifetime, I now have another deep-seeded feeling of failure. It's taken me two days just to stop crying, not because I loved this job, because I was depending on it to survive.  And depression is creeping in to stay for a while; I feel it like the tickle at the back of your throat that lasts all winter long.

So you may wonder why I said something about blessings at the start of this post. Well, hard as it may be, I think this may be one of God's lesson "blessings" and may have saved my life. The stress was killing me inch by inch and day by day, driving my blood pressure to dangerous heights. I would have dropped before I quit. Tony and I still have quite a bit of stress as we try to figure out how to make up for this serious cut to our budget, but I have every faith that with both of us working together, we will get what we need. We will tighten our belts, remove the unnecessary, reevaluate everything and come up with a new list of need vs. want. Tony has wanted to develop his business for quite some time now, (he is a jewelry repair and custom design artist,) but as his work IS his hands he has never had the time. I have always looked externally to find that paycheck and the benefits that we need. But now I am thinking that two heads are better than one. I am going to step into the business with Tony and try to fill the holes and help him expand his business. Hopefully this will bring us what we need to survive and it may help take the stress away from him as well.

Life is such a mystery. We are never to old to realize that change happens and usually happens for a reason. It's a hard change for us this time, the dust hasn't yet settled. There are bound to be more issues to deal with, difficult decisions to make and there may be sleepless nights of another sort, but at least, this seems to be the right path finally and not just one taken out of fear or lack. We just need to keep ourselves healthy and open and learn to roll with it. 

As heavy and dark as this post was, my next one will be much lighter. After all, life provides the good along with the difficult. My blog has suffered under my suffocating job. Perhaps now I will be more able to communicate my progress in my art, as there may actually be time to create progress in my art. Hope springs eternal!


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