I bumped into someone I hold dear yesterday, and she asked me an operative question: “What have you been doing lately?” Let me clarify that while we haven’t seen each other in weeks she is aware of my employment status. The question was harmless, but as it wasn’t the time or place for specifics I responded, “Not much.” Then I sat on the grass at the softball game we were attending, where I enjoyed the warm sun but otherwise squirmed throughout the remainder of the game.
My discomfort arose from the fact that back in the not-very-long-ago day, if you will, an answer of “not much” would have been construed as: working forty some odd hours a week then driving home to prepare a good dinner and organize us for the next day, chauffeuring and otherwise tending to our daughter, running errands, picking up the house, working in the yard on weekends, finally sitting down to take a breath sometime late on Sunday. Now the phrase “not much” could possibly be interpreted as not much and I didn’t like it. While tracking pop flies and doubles, I conducted my own internal coaching; practicing how to answer that innocuous question the next time. My “I’m working hard at finding work,” or “Gosh, I don’t know how I got everything done when I had a full time job,” and even “Last week I had two networking interviews and an outplacement meeting,” all fell flat.
So yesterday’s moment was lost, and in order to feel better, last night I mentally catalogued my activity over the last several weeks. You my dear readers, get to view the list version:
1) Blog, blog, blogging, for several hours, five days a week, with a shortened version on Saturday.
2) The physical job search. Not to bore you with details, but there are networking meetings most weeks. Each involves emails and or phone calls ahead of time, research related to the person I am meeting, preparation for what I hope to come out of the meeting, and follow up correspondence. There is also the upkeep of an Excel spreadsheet that documents these contacts so that I don’t forget to follow up. Not to mention driving to and from the appointments, which for some reason, all seem to take place a fair bit from home.
3) On line job search: Indeed.com and I are best friends. Well, maybe we are only good buddies, because as much as that wonderful job consolidator shares with me, it has yet to conjure up the perfect match.
4) Meetings with my outplacement consultant which never end without other suggestions related to follow-up actions.
5) Volunteer time with the Senior Center Café, which includes pre-baking.
6) One library day a week where I research information pertaining to job opportunities, or find and read books that will help me write better, or work on other writing projects, two of which have been accepted for publication and which, other than this blog, are my most meaningful accomplishments over the last few months.
7) Chauffeuring: Dropping off and picking up my daughter from school, her appointments, meetings and social obligations, etcetera. This week etcetera means chaperoning a class trip to a band competition two hours from here, followed by an all day visit to a Six Flags amusement park--rides unlikely, for me anyway since the vision of a 50-year-old-mama on “The Twister” has large scale potential to humiliate a certain fifteen-year-old.
8) All of the aforementioned running of errands, picking up of the house, working in the yard and sitting down to take a breath sometime late on Sunday.
So that, my friends, in a proverbial nutshell is that--documentation of diligence in action—or then again, perhaps it’s validation. Because while I purportedly typed this list for you, we all know that this one is for me right? As I continue to adjust to the fact that I am not working, I'm hoping this little treatise will help to convince the old ego that in some regard I still am.