Being idle is deadly. This is not to say stillness is deadly. In fact, stillness saves my life, slowing down enough to enjoy Pearlie’s sweet face wrapped up in a towel after bath, or Aviva’s handmade mezuzah to put on the fort we had dinner in last night. Nor is this to say I favor the heart-killing busy-ness for the sake of looking busy or feeling self-important. I’m writing about that very real something when it comes to having purpose, having connection, having impact, effect, a raison d’etre that you can touch in action.
This is partly why being either unemployed or underemployed is so debilitating, so soul-killing, such that it can precipitate a full-on spiritual crisis. You start doubting your usefulness, your necessary-ness, your you-ness that the world needs. And self-employment – well, that is a whole ‘nother thing.
I remember, oh so vividly, the period pre-kids when Greg was Lost in the Wilderness, spending his days at his computer in the small home office off the kitchen in our first house in Burlington, surfing the internet, cutting out little rectangular job ads from Seven Days, wondering if he should be a forest ranger or a renewable energy guy or a fiction teacher. There was a randomness to it all, and a closed-loop circuit he was going round on: the less engaged he was, the less inclined he was to engage, and the more he didn’t feel confident about what he had to offer.
It is easier in some ways to write about Greg’s Dark Nights of the Soul than my own, but of course his is not my story to tell. What I can say is this. This past few days, I got to thinking about how to sell my wares in new packaging, how to let people know that I have SKILLS they can USE, which in turn make me feel USEFUL.
I am a life coach, as anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows. What you might not realize is that I am also a resume wizard and a very fast typist and great editor and a natural networker who loves helping people get settled when they’re new to town or re-enter the workforce after being home with kids for years or simply feel more prepared and professional for that big interview.
Life coaching may seem to some like a luxury in these lean times. A great resume or CV, on the other hand, is downright currency.
I emailed some ideas to Michelle, the awesome graphic designer who created my coaching brochure (many copies available – let me know if you want one!). I figured I (she) could at least make it pretty, rather than just hanging a bunch of plain 8 1/2 x 11 flyers all over town. She said it would be no problem to whip something up.
Meanwhile, we survived the flu week followed by the school vacation week, and I’ve been feeling more like a stay-at-home mom everyday, with money stress lurking, looming, hovering, threatening bodily injury as we skate on this crazy choppy ice of self-employment in a recession yadda yadda. When will I ever get back in synch, I start wondering, only to realize maybe I never was in synch, maybe being a mama – and all moms are working moms let’s remember – is synonymous with adjusting to constantly shifting rhythms and schedules.
So, Pearl went back to “school” today and Aviva skipped up the block to her friend’s house and I came home to a house alone, which should be bliss but instead felt slightly demoralizing, not sure as I was as to where I could be useful. There is only so much housework I can handle, people. There is only so much Facebook, so much blogging and so much inventing. Maybe I should just go lie down, I thought. And not in a “Wow, what a treat, I get to nap” sense. More like the “I’m feeling unmotivated and a little lost and a little down” sense. The idle sense.
But before I succumbed to crawling back in bed, I checked messages on my home phone, which also happens to be my work phone. And there waiting for me was a long message from a stranger, referred to me by my former boss at UVM Career Services, saying she needed her resume revamped… TODAY, and asking if there was any chance I was available. I called her right back to say why yes, as a matter of fact, I was available for exactly two hours if she could come over right away, which she did.
We worked together for exactly two hours, entering into that creative, quirky dance of looking at the pages she brought with her, discussing what she was applying for and what she needed this resume to accomplish, and trusting something to take shape. At one point, I said to her that it felt like we were identifying the four corners of the puzzle first, the overall structure and shape of it, so that we could then fill in the middle with all of the little pieces. Watching the resume come into focus was like seeing a polaroid go from blurry to clear. It was fun. It was satisfying. It was useful, and a really nice human connection for us both, if for different reasons. And it put a check in my wallet to bring to the bank tomorrow, not a dollar too soon.
The moral of the story? I felt affirmed. Affirmed that there is nothing to hide about selling my wares out on the street, putting myself out there, making sure people know what I have to offer. Sure, I need money. We all do. We also need to feel useful and purposeful, to find ways to resume when we are heading for bed. Resumes, job coaching, career transitions – this can all be part of it,. And sometimes, it is just satisfying to be busy, to be needed, to be helpful, and to make money in the process. No shame here. Only the truth as best as I can tell it tonight: I need more work. the Universe sent the call. And I answered the phone.
What about you? What is it you need to put out there a little more loudly or clearly or confidently? And – deep breath here – is there some way I can help?