Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Thankful, and Jobless

It’s a big week for being thankful.

I know we are supposed to be thankful year around, not just on the holiday with Thanks in its name. And, I am, or I try to be.

Regardless, it is a particular time to be thankful. I don’t have to take much of a searching glance around to see much to be thankful for: family, home, health, pets, life itself.

To be more specific: A patient, loving husband who still has his job, a beautiful daughter about to graduate college, a working son who gets his degree in June, a old dog who has a hurt foot right now but still wags her tail when any of us come around and a regal, elderly cat who still curls up in our laps.

Does it get much better? I doubt it. And, that's not counting extended family and friends.

Still, this Thanksgiving, as last one, I am unemployed. On this Thanksgiving, I am thinking about that and the millions, I say millions, of others who are in the same boat. Like me, they have lost their jobs; they've been laid off and downsized. I hope they all have other things to still be thankful for, too.

Checking the official statistics, I am one of 15.7 million unemployed workers in the United States. These are people who are actively looking for work. That’s up 558,000 in October, when unemployment reached 10.2 nationwide. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and more) – that’s my group -- was little changed in October, at 5.6 million. These Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers are scary enough, but when you put a face, a home, and a family with each one of them, it’s easy to get discouraged.

“They” say the economy is improving, and maybe it is in some sectors, but the jobs in my field are few and far between, and the competition is keen. I try not to get discouraged. “Managing expectations” is my mantra when I apply for any job.

Yes, I have considered going back to school to study something else, to acquire skills for field where they are plenty of jobs. I’ve considered the medical field, where there seem to be jobs. And, I may do that eventually.

But, for now, I am still a writer, editor, experienced public relations and communications manager. That’s what I’ve done for 30 years.

I am not afraid to change; I just don’t know what to change into.

So for now, I look for a job every day, and I bother friends for referrals. I write this blog, to keep my name “out there” and the mind still churning out ideas. And, I write on the novel I’ve mentioned before, now into the final stretch of writing on it every day until I finish the first draft. Then, I will begin bugging everyone I know who has ever published a book for referrals to agents or publishers, but that’s for another day.

On this Thanksgiving, I can in some ways even be thankful to be where I am, unemployed, one of the 15.7 million jobless. That's because I can be thankful having the time to write my first novel and a chance to catch my breath and spend time with my family instead of on the job and on the road.

Still, none of those benefits pays any bills.

If I have a lesson from more than a year of looking for a job -- more than a year of doubts and fears -- it would be that to deal with it, sometimes you really have to look at the other side. You have to look at the “other hand,” the positives that come from negatives, and move on.

Each Thanksgiving, we have a tradition of placing three kernels of corn (actually pop corn kernels) beside the plate of each guest at Thanksgiving dinner. Before the blessing, we go around the table and each person tells three things they are thankful for, as they place the kernels back into my grandmother’s crystal sugar bowl.

Despite it all – the uncertainty of being an economic statistic and all that goes with it -- this year, I will have still a hard time narrowing it down to three.

Picture(s) of the day: High water

How high's the water?

Both piers are under water, and only the pole
with the still-shining solar light still shows in this picture of our pier on Pine Barron Creek. This was a day or so after Tropical Storm Ida came through the South.

Below is what it the pier scene normally looks like.

Song of the day: High Water for Charley Patton, by Bob Dylan

"I just can't be happy, love

Unless you're happy too

It's bad out there

High water everywhere."


  1. Jackie, I enjoyed your post. You do have a lot to be thankful for, and a great attitude about your situation is just one of those things. I do hope something breaks for you soon on the job front. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    Janet Z

  2. Nice post. I may have to adopt the "Three Kernels of Corn" Thanksgiving tradition.