Fired No More

July 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I looked for a job, a new career, anything, for a long time. Living in a remote, and highly economically depressed area, there wasn’t anything, not even flipping burgers at fast food. As the months of my unemployment dragged on, I started concentrating on my dreams, and I began writing.

I found a way to pick up some spare change by writing articles at the Yahoo Contributor Network. I joined a local support group for writers, and collaberated on some works and was published. From there, people started “discovering” me on Yahoo and the short story anthologies, and I started being hired to produce sales copy for many different clients. I even created a gig and started selling my services writing articles, press releases and more for $5 each on Fiverr. For contrast, keep in mind that most writers charge $100 to $600 for a decent press release. I made scores of new connections on Fiverr, and some people became my business partners. Now, I write the content for several “authority sites,” in the health and wellness industry and I am making a unbeleiveable sum of money from the ad revenue that I split with my business partners. Now, my challenge is finding the time making all of my deadlines for my sales copy projects to find time to work on my fiction and non-fiction historical writings.

If you are like me and the economy has left you behind and you are without a job, or if you find that you are trapped in a job you hate, please believe me when I say that no matter what it costs you, you must do whatever is necessary to find out what you are passionate about and then find a way to make money at it. A little over a year ago, I had no idea how I was going to make it when I lost my job, but now that I have embraced my dreams and pursued my passion, I find that I need to get in touch with my former employer and thank them for laying me off so I would have no choice but to follow my dreams of being a writer and actually start doing it.

Everyone has a talent, a gift, and it is up to us to not waste it, to not neglect it. Can’t find a job? Make one of your own! It can seem impossible, but when you start embracing your true purpose, doors will open up and you truly can live the life of your dreams.

This is my last post on this blog. I am not “fired too” anymore, I am living my dreams! …and, you can too if you will be brave and step out in faith and believe in yourself!

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Time Flies When You are Having Fun

May 11, 2012 at 12:57 am (Uncategorized)

I know it’s been forever since I posted on my blog, and that sucks for my readers and for SEO purposes. I have just been too busy living my dream.

I started out writing on Yahoo!, since then I’ve made several connections in the publishing industry and now I have multiple business partners that I produce SEO content for; believe it or not the world is hungry and desperate for unique, original, well-written content; and that’s my niche, or so my business partners say.

It’s been a little over a year since I took the leap of faith and turned my back on the corporate world, on being practical, and walked out on a limb and became determined to try to make a living writing. After a year, baby step by baby step, my dreams are coming true, and opening new doors and new windows to even bigger dreams and opportunity.

So, if you are stuck in a dead end job and hate your life, guess who you have to blame? That’s right, look in the mirror, it’s not your boss’s fault or your family’s fault or even due to your circumstances, if you are stuck scraping by trying to survive at something you hate, you only have yourself to blame and if you are honest with your self you will admit it and own it and then you will stop being afraid and you will face your fears and figure out a way to embrace your passions, embrace your true self and walk away from fear and the voices of doubts and insecurities. People that say that they are only worried for you when they tell you to deny your true self and to be practical, run from them. While it may be true that they care, they are wrong. It doesn’t matter how much money you make or your title if you are not doing what you were born to do, that gives expression to who you are on the inside then your life means nothing…and its your own fault.

So, based on how wonderful my life is at the moment, and don’t get me wrong, I still have difficult days and it is hard to make it at times, but the best thing that ever happened to me was dying that day due to the allergic reaction and then loosing my job because it cut the last tether and pushed me to open my eyes and stop trying to fit into everyone’s expectation of me, but to learn to become and be myself and then to trust the gifts that were given to me.

There’s a small voice inside of each of us, it tells us what we are suppose to be doing while we are here, over time as we grow older, there are all of the competing voices of family, friends, teachers, bosses that try to tell us we are what they see us as being, but they are wrong. Listen to the voice inside and have some faith in yourself. Life is too short to spend it trying to be someone you were not born to be. Be yourself, find a way to make money at it and the rest will follow. God loves you. You are the only you on the planet, and he made you the way you are for a reason, so listen to the small voice and embrace your destiny, not fear.

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Day 206: Still Unemployed and The Truth About Unemployment Extensions

October 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Today is Wednesday, October 26th, and I have now been unemployed 206 days. Earlier this month I exhausted my original 25 weeks of unemployment benefits. Congress has failed to vote in another extension, so I am now drawing on my last 20 weeks of “emergency” benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits, I could wait until Richmond mailed me an application, or I could go into my local VEC office and turn in the form and then wait for it to be processed. So I drove the 35 miles to the local office, waited 45 minutes for a rep to see me, answered 10 yes/no questions and then she sent the form to Richmond for processing. I have to wonder why, since I can submit my job contacts online each week, and why, since I can apply for unemployment benefits online, why can’t I apply for the extension online as well? I combined the trip with applying for two jobs that day, to save on gas, but this was really a waste of my time and money, when it should have been made available to me online.

I’ve been sending resumes out, but still no job offers. Without an extension, I will run out of benefits mid-February, as will about 3 million other Americans. I really don’t want to have to resort to flipping hamburgers at the age of 43, but it is starting to look like a real possibility.

I have had some success with freelancing for Yahoo, but the pay has been so small they haven’t even reduced my unemployment benefits when I turned in my self-employment work on the form. Basically, you can submit articles that you write for exclusive, up-front payment. Payment ranges from $2 to $4 per article that they accept this way. If you are lucky, as I was, they may offer you a beat on a limited topic. I was assigned a real estate, personal finance beat, and I can submit up to three articles a week under this topic, and if they accept the articles its $10 per article. I also earn performance pay based on the number of views on each article. If your articles are declined for upfront exclusive payment, you can submit under display only. You don’t get paid upfront for these, but you earn performance pay based on views. In two months I’ve earned a whopping $93 for 16 articles. If I spent more time writing, I might be able to double or triple that number and earn a bit more pocket change, but it appears that is what it is at this point, pocket change. Still, that extra bit has helped cover a couple of small, expected emergencies, and I am thankful, and it does give me something to put on my resume and helps me to not feel quite so depressed and worthless. If you are curious, here is a link to my profile for Yahoo! US Finance and some of my articles. You have to search by site, choosing Yahoo! US Finance and Associated Content separately to see all of my articles: http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1155233/lyn_brooks.html?site_id=388

At this point, dealing with feelings of depression and uselessness are still the hardest things to cope with while being unemployed. When you have a job, like it or not, that is how our society defines us for ourselves, but is that what we really are? Are we really our job, or our location, where we live, or our name or our appearance, our skins? Or are we something more, are we something on the inside that defies definition by mere words and numbers? Being unemployed in some ways is as much of a blessing as it is a curse, because when you don’t have the title of your job to throw out to people as your identity, you are forced to ask yourself, who am I? This is a question few of us ever ask ourselves. From the time we are born, everyone is always telling us who we are, based on our position in our own families, based on our test results and activities in school, based on our later education, experiences and jobs, but is that what we really are, just the sum of others expectations and our external experiences or are we something more, and if we are each really something more, don’t we owe it to ourselves to spend just a small bit of the short time that we are on earth to discover who we really are?

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Day 145: Lowering My Sights and Expanding My Horizons

August 25, 2011 at 1:18 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Yes, as you can guess, I am still unemployed. Out of a hundred or so applications over the past 20 weeks I have had a total of four actual interviews. When I asked later why I wasn’t hired the responses fell into two categories: I was either over-qualified or while I was qualified based on experience, I lacked a degree.

At this point, it is hard to not begin to become discouraged. I have all of this free, unstructured time on my hands. I am not use having all of this time, of not being busy. The monotony is about to get worse. I just got back from dropping the last of my three older children off at their respective colleges over the past two weeks, and my youngest began her senior year of high school last week. There is literally no one home, all day, but me. It is scary how quiet my house is during the day.

So, I need something to do with my time, and I have decided to begin volunteering at my local nursing home. It’s something that is easy to do, adds a bit of diversity to my resume, and I am helping someone, I am giving back, all at the same time. It’s an activity that is free except for my time, of which I have plenty to spare at the moment. So, I am expanding my horizons just a bit, when it comes to how I am spending my unemployed days.

I am also lowering my horizons and accepting the reality that I may have to accept a job that I am not just crazy about, a job that isn’t necessarily full-time, and maybe I need to look into going back to school and finishing my degree.

I recently looked into producing media for Associated Content through Yahoo. I have been given an assignment to write about being unemployed for Yahoo Finance. I have a day or so before it’s due and I will let my readers know how this turns out, if it is actually possible to make any “real” money blogging on the Internet. If it is a true opportunity, that would be wonderful, who knows, maybe I could make enough funds to stay home and write full-time, wouldn’t that be lovely? If it doesn’t pan out, well, all I have lost is some time but I have gained some writing experience in the process. So, either way, it sounds like it is a bit of a win-win either way.

Good luck, again, to any readers who are among the 14 million or so of us that are still unemployed. My best suggestion for coping with being unemployed is to look at ways to occupy your time that are meaningful to you, and that in some way, help others while you continue to look for a job in this ever bleak economy.

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Day 114: Desperately Seeking Employment

July 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Today is Sunday, July 24th, and I have now been unemployed for 114 days. I have to admit that a feeling of desperation is beginning to settle in. I honestly did not think I would be unemployed this long. I have saved a record of my job search so far as a word document, it is now 38 pages long. I search and apply online at Monster.com, vawc.virginia.gov, as well as individual websites for regional employers. I also search the help wanted ads in regional newspapers online. I have posted on my Facebook account, and let every friend, relative, and all acquaintances that I know that I am unemployed and looking for a job. I don’t know what else I can do to improve my job prospects.

I have three children that are enrolled in college at four year universities this fall. I have a fourth child that is dually enrolled at both the local high school and local community college this fall. Of course their tuition and financial aid is based on our family income for last year, which is ridiculous. I have now been late on all of my credit cards and house payment. We have gone to eating soup beans and rice and whatever produce I can scrounge from our pitiful garden that has wilted and dried up and blown away in the inferno that is this year’s summer weather pattern. I honestly don’t know what we are going to do if I do not find a job soon. I feel nauseous when I realize I have just a little over two months of unemployment benefits left.

I have been reading articles online about some people who have been out of work and looking for YEARS. I don’t know how we will survive if that happens to me, or how we would survive if my husband also lost his job.

So, I am trying to stay busy with my job search, and doing all of the little fix-it jobs around our house that I never had time to do when I was working full time. I have also been working on my novel that has been in various stages of completion over the years. I have started quilts from the bits of clothing that were some of my children’s favorite outfits that I saved over the years, as it is beginning to look like a handmade quilt from scraps is all that I am going to be able to afford to give them for Christmas this year. I have also been trying to walk and improve my health each day. I find that when I start to feel anxious that taking a little walk eases my fears a bit. I find myself praying more each day. I pray not just for help and guidance, but I try to find something good in each day now and to thank God for that bit of goodness.

I will close this post with a prayer for myself and all of the millions of unemployed Americans and our families:

Holy Father in Heaven,
Who sees our needs and provides for us,
And makes a way for us,
Even in the darkest hour and the hardest of times.
Forgive us of our sins,
Bind up our wounds,
Walk with us on this rocky path,
And help us.
For surely you are not blind nor deaf,
But can see and hear,
And judge.
Be merciful and draw us all near to you,
And comfort us,
Save us,
And redeem us,
For the sake of your son and his sacrifice.
For you know our needs and desires,
And you are faithful.
You are working all things to the good,
For those that serve you.
Even the trials of this dark and desperate time,
You are using to my benefit and your glory,
Even though I cannot see it at times.
Thank you for the blessing of this day,
And every day,
Help me to use this day to your benefit and Glory,
For you are worthy to be praised.

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Day 53: Still Unemployed and Looking

May 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Sorry it has been so long since I posted. I did have my telephone hearing a few weeks ago with the VEC. After receiving documentation from my doctor, as well as hearing evidence from both me and my employer, the VEC officer did ultimately decide that being absent due to illness does NOT constitute misconduct, so I am now receiving $164 a week from the VEC. It is paid electronically into my checking account.

Coupons have helped lower my grocery bill some, but since I already buy most of my groceries in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, it has not helped as much as I had hoped. Due to my husband’s income we do not qualify for food stamps. He is now clearing less since our health insurance comes out of his paycheck now. It is very hard to make ends meet.

Some of the things that I am doing to trim our budget is to shop Wal-Mart’s deli on Wednesday mornings, this is when they put the clearance bread on the rack. I buy several loaves and pop them in the freezer, taking them out a slice or roll at a time as we need them. I shop my local Food City and Save-a-Lot stores as well, and I always check out their marked down produce. My faithful crock-pot also helps. I combine whatever marked down meat I can find with some chopped vegetables and some spices and a few hours later we have a tasty, cheap, filling, meal. I make rice or potatoes on the side to stretch the meal.

My oldest duaghter is leaving in less than a week to travel to China with a college group. Thankfully all of her expenses are being paid by scholarship or she would not be going. Still, there are lots of little things she needs for her trip, and this has not helped our budget. My next oldest daughter leaves for college early, beginning in July instead of late August, so there are expenses there as well. When Fall begins we will have our youngest daughter at home in her senior year of high school, and our oldest son is still at home commuting to a local college. It bothers me that there is part of me that is relieved that there are not as many at home to worry about feeding. I wonder what it is like for people who are loosing their jobs in this economy and they have really young children at home that they have to worry about clothing and feeding, I am so thankful that my situation is not as dire as many.

I am thankful also that the gas prices are coming down. I have an older car that requires premium to run, so filling up the tank has been a challenge. Since my local Food City has a program that they call Fuel Bucks, earn 150 points, get 15 cents off a gallon, I have been trying to use this as much as possible. On Fridays premium is the same as middle grade, so I try to fill up on Fridays and then use the 15 cents off. Since gas has come down, I have gone from paying $72 to fill up my tank on that Friday to $53, this savings has happened in the past two weeks. I pay a lot more attention to only making a few trips out each week, and then combining as many as stops as possible to save on the gas. I even apply to most job opportunities online to save on our gas bill. Gas is the biggest expenditure in my household. My husband commutes 45 miles a day, one way, to his job and spends about $120 a week in gas, so the 15 cents off program at Food City really helps us.

So, that is where I am at this moment, still unemployed, still looking for work and trying to rake and scrape by and keep my sanity and sense of humor while I am getting by. I wish all of my fellow unemployed Americans well in their job search. Hang in there everyone.

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Day 23- The Hearing is Scheduled

April 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm (Uncategorized)

So, on Thursday I got my fourth letter from VEC saying that my employer was contesting my unemployment claim, saying that I was fired on the grounds of “misconduct” and that the hearing is scheduled for April 28th at 9 a.m. I am supposed to be at my telephone at that time and wait for a phone call and the hearing will begin at that time. If there are any written documents I want to be considered as evidence, I am suppose to fax that to them before that time. Since they haven’t specified what they mean by “misconduct” how would I know what exactly I need to fax to them to defend myself against the allegations since they haven’t spelled out what they mean by “misconduct”? Even in court the defendent usually gets to know what evidence someone has against them, a bill of particulars, before they present their defense.

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Day 20:The Great Paper Chase

April 21, 2011 at 12:16 am (Uncategorized)

So, on Tuesday, April 19th I received some letters in the mail from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). The first letter confirmed that I had made an unemployment claim and advised me that I would qualify for $162 a week in benefits for 25 weeks. That totals $648 a month. I live in a small, rural area in Virginia. After 7 years, I made the princely sum of $10 an hour and bonuses that averaged $350 every two months. Not counting bonuses, that means I grossed $1,600 a month before deductions. I keep reading in the news and hearing on the television all of these people who make statements like, “If they would quit paying people unemployment they would be forced to go look for a job…” I may have even been one of those ignorant souls who thought that way at one time, but believe me, NO ONE can live on $648 a month. $648 a month is not an incentive to stay at home and veg out in front of the telly or internet, no way no how, people who say things like that are just completely ignorant.

That was the first letter. The second letter was a form that requested information from my doctor to verify that my absences were medically necessary and that he had requested that I take a medical leave for my condition. The funny thing is the letter is dated 4/14, the day that I applied for unemployment, but I did not receive it in the mail until yesterday, 4/19 and they want to receive his documentation by 4/22 or they will close my claim. How realistic is it that a doctor is going to fill that out and get it back to them in that amount of time? So, I drove the 35 miles one-way to my doctor’s office to ask him to fill it out. He was at lunch, but his secretary promised to give it to him. She then informed me that after today he would not be back in his office until Monday. So, I have no idea if he will get it filled out and faxed before the deadline, and I feel lucky that at least he wasn’t gone all week. So, I am crossing my fingers and toes that he completed it and got one of the girls in his office to fax it and that it is received in time.

The third letter had my “code” or “pin” so that I can begin reporting my job contacts each week. I must have two a week, and Sunday is the last day to report, so, since I didn’t receive it until Monday, last week did not count, and the first week that you report is your qualifying week, so it doesn’t count, so this week won’t count for benefits either, so next week will be the first week that I can report, and then it will be the following week for the benefits to be paid for that week. So, I might have my first $162 deposit by May 8th, five weeks after loosing my job, and three weeks after taking the initial steps to apply for benefits.

All I can say is, thank goodness I am married and have a spouse I can live off of until I am employed again. I know that is a horribly chauvinistic thing to say, but if I was single I would have already starved by now. It is sad that “the system” is seemingly designed to “kick you when you are down” at every possible opportunity.

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Day 17: Just Call Me The Coupon Queen

April 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm (Uncategorized)

Today makes the second week of buying multiple copies of the Sunday paper in order to get the coupons to save on groceries. So last Sunday I bought three copies of the Tri-City paper, and I was able to score the last two copies of this Sunday’s edition. They are $1.50 each, so I have spent a little over $6 in my couponing efforts thus far. I have made the following deals:

1. Free Subway 6″breakfast Sub with the purchase of any size drink. This was an awesome deal @ my local Subway. I gave my youngest two teenagers a coupon and $1.70 each, and they came out with free BLT Subs for their breakfast one morning, savings $6 ( as they are $3 each).
2. $1 off any size Folgers coffee. I had four of these coupons, and my local K-Mart had a deal where you got the 11 0z size for 2 for $6 on their Shop Your Way Rewards program. These are normally a little over $4 each, so I saved $4 just in coupons, not counting the sale price, so, after all discounts they were $2 each. I got two of the Breakfast Blend and two of the Classic Roast, while I do not drink coffee myself, my husband and two older children that are in college were very thankful, they thought coffee had probably bit the budget dustbin after I was fired.
3. $1 off any 4oz or larger size of Colgate toothpaste. My children love the Colgate with Maxi-Strips toothpaste. I normally buy the 4 oz size for $1 at Dollar Tree, but Dollar Tree does not take coupons, so this makes each ounce cost 25 cents. My local Wal-Mart sells the 6 oz size for $2.77, so after the $1 off coupon ( I had three, so I bought three tubes) that made it 17.7 cents an ounce, my children, again, were very happy, they thought I would start buying the larger tubes of Pepsodent that Dollar Tree sells for a dollar, and were quite happy with this purchase.
4. $3.00 off select Bic Razors. We already buy the Bic Hybrid Advance, which was covered under this coupon, they were $5.75 each at my local K-Mart, after the coupon they were $2.75 each, I bought three, so I saved $9.00.
5. $1.50 off the purchase of three Cheerios brand cereals. These are $2.75 each at my local Wal-Mart and we eat Cheerios anyway, I had three coupons, so I bought 9 boxes of cereal (breakfast is covered for a while) and saved $4.50.

I haven’t done my major grocery shopping for the month yet, but so far, in about a week, I have saved $26.50 in coupons alone, and I still have literally oodles of coupons left, so it has been worth the hour or so I have spent clipping them the past two Sundays.

I think I am going to contact my paper and see if they offer a deal for buying multiple copies of the Sunday paper. I think the discount might be worth it. The one thing that I have noticed is that some of the coupons say there is a limit of four per transaction, still, if you are willing to make more than one trip, I think it could be very worthwhile.

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Day 14: Applying for Unemployment

April 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm (Uncategorized)

I finally got up the courage to apply for unemployment. I first went to the state of Virginia’s unemployment web site to find out the process, and was pleasantly surprised that I could go online to apply. I went online and answered the questions in the five sections. The online prompts then told me that I would receive my “pin” or “code” in the mail in a few days and once I receive that I can begin calling in or reporting my job contacts online each week. I was also told that it was mandatory that I sign up for the Job Search within 5 business days or my claim for unemployment would be closed. I’ll report back when I have more information, but if you live in Virginia and need to file a claim for unemployment you can do so at the following link:

http://www.vec.virginia.gov/vecportal/seeker/jslogin.cfm

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