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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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 Six of Being Unemployed: Cleaning Out My Desk

April 7, 2011 at 6:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

That I would be cleaning out my desk six days after being fired may sound a bit strange to some, as most people probably see to this chore on the day that they are terminated. In my job as the Web Librarian and Support Specialist for a well known Electronics retailer, I normally worked three days a week from remote location at home, and two days a week in the office. As my illness progressed, I was eventually doing all remote shifts until I was terminated over the telephone, so it took a few days for me to be able to come back into the office to remove my personal belongings.

Even getting ready to make the drive into the office was a surreal chore; I dressed as carefully, and nervously, as a preteen going on their first date. I am not even sure why the occasion brought about the “jittery nerves”. After being fired its not as though I had any motivation to impress anyone there. Maybe I was actually dressing for the “now you wish you hadn’t broken up with me but it’s too late” moment that we have all experienced. Surely you know what I am talking about, that moment that you go out on the town, dressed to kill, hoping to run into your ex so that you can see that look in their eyes, the “damn what was I thinking, I am an idiot and I want her back” look.

It took about two hours to bring in the teleworking equipment and to pack up and carry out two boxes. Seven years of my life fit into two boxes. The actual packing didn’t take that long, but the conversations with various and assorted co-workers and supervisors did. Almost all of the conversations followed the same pattern that began with the acknowledgement of “regrets” (I regret/hate that this happened, or, this so sucks/blows) followed by the “statements of loss” (I am going to miss working with you/how will we survive without you/your leaving is an end of an era) then the attempts at “bridging” the loss by bargaining (you will keep in touch, call me, holler at me sometime, we can do lunch/walk at the park/shop together sometime) and finally statements of closure so that we could all move on(well, it was great to see you, you look great by the way, you will not miss us, you will move on to something greater).

I still haven’t filed for unemployment or even began looking for another job yet. I hadn’t actually planned to file in the begining, I was fired, after all. But several of my co-workers seemed to think I should try, and appeal if the company protests the filing. A few other co-workers thought I should try to file for disability. The most helpful comments to me came from one of my former supervisors. She had pulled me off to the side when I first came into the building, and asked me what I was going to do, how I was going to survive. I looked at her and smiled and told her I honestly didn’t know. She nodded and told me that she knew that I had a lot of talents and that I would eventually move on to something better. “In the meantime,” she said, “you need to survive, you need to become ‘the crazy coupon lady’.” She then told me how she buys multiple Sunday papers each week and clips coupons to save on groceries and that she has reduced her grocery bill from $800 to $100 a month for a family of four. She then emailed me a list of couponing sites as well, check them out below if you are interested. Her comments and suggestions to me were the only “practical” comments that I received that day, and I will see this Sunday if her advice was worth coming into the office for one last time.

Coupon Sites:

Hip2save.com

Dealseekingmom.com

Stockpilingmom.com

Iheartthemart.com

Iheartcvs.com

Iheartriteaid.com

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April 1st, Also Known as “April Fools Day”, or Day One of Being Fired

April 1, 2011 at 11:00 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

In all truth and honesty I can’t say that I was completely blindsided by my termination today. Seeing the shriveled remains of my Red Margined Dracaena plant on my desk was a bad sign that I ignored when I first came back to work on March 18th. I had just returned after an extended illness and exhausting my FMLA leave. The fact that no one in the office had thought to water him, or give him a decent burial while I was away, was a very obvious sign.

I understand that no one is irreplaceable. I understand that companies are in business to make a profit. I understand that they couldn’t give me any more time to recover my health given the needs of the business, but I gave seven years of my life to these people, and for what, I ask myself.

At this moment I have a vision in my head of a scene from the movie, “Joe Versus the Volcano”, when Joe quits. Joe: “You’re telling me nothing. And why, I ask myself, why have I put up with you? I can’t imagine, but now I know. Fear. Yellow freakin’ fear. I’ve been too chicken shit afraid to live my life so I sold it to you for 300 freakin’ dollars a week! You’re lucky I don’t kill you! You’re lucky I don’t rip your freakin’ throat out! But I’m not going to! And maybe you’re not so lucky at that. ‘Cause I’m gonna leave you here, Mr. Wahoo Waturi, and what could be worse than that?”

I completely identify with Joe’s character at the moment, even though I was fired instead of quitting, this has been coming on a long time. I could not have kept doing that job even if they hadn’t fired me.

So the purpose of this blog is to keep a record of my job search and coping with being unemployed in “the Great Recession”. I hope if any of you who are also unemployed stumble upon my blog that you will at least feel a little less alone in the world, and who knows, maybe we can encourage one another to be true to ourselves and find employment that does help us to not only exist, but gives us the means to truly live, fully, honestly and completely.

“Joe Quits” at youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGLKnAvzlg4

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