Thursday, October 31, 2013

For better or worse, but not for lunch

There is a saying (and I think there are even books with the title) I married you for better or worse, but not for lunch.  This is something I've heard said in my association with my friends that are reaching retirement age.

Retirement, they say, can be rough on a marriage.

In my experience... they are right.

I remember back, waaaaay back (in December 2011), I saw a facebook status of a young mother claiming she wished her husband didn't have to go to work, EVER!  I took a few rough comments on this blog post, as well as getting blocked on facebook by the woman that posted the facebook status.  Well, let me tell you, it's not as great as you think it will be. 

First of all, believe it or not, your spouse is living their own life.  They are not hanging on a hook waiting to see what you would like them to do.  I only mention this because I think this would have been news to the woman that posted the facebook status. 

In my experience my husband left his job a year and a half before I lost my job.  He no longer calls himself a retired person.  He now calls himself a full-time student.  Anyway, the point is that he was home, by himself, quite a while before I was home, all day, with him.  He had settled into a nice little routine.  When I started being home, all day, with him he didn't adjust to the disruption of his schedule very well.  Sure, the first few weeks were fine.  I'd even go so far as to call them fun.  I applied for unemployment.  He didn't think I would qualify.  I did qualify.  He was surprised.  That gave us something to talk about for a week or two.  We interacted.  He spent a little time with me.

Then..., he wanted to get back to his routine.  And..., he wanted me to get a routine.

And I didn't have one yet.

On Monday my husband told me my vacation was OVER and I needed to start DOING something.  Hilarious.  He said a bunch of other equally hilarious things that weren't very nice, but meant to motivate me.

I think he forgot that, just like him, I'm living my own life.  Unfortunately for him, my life includes spending time blogging, reading blogs, working on the bible study I'm putting together for my small group, and... sometimes watching Real Housewives.  I think it was the housewives that put him over the edge.  I try to watch more CNBC than Housewives, but sometimes I just gotta have me some Housewives.  The other thing, I think, he has an issue with is my development of a sedentary lifestyle.  He wants me to exercise.  So, as I said on Monday, I broke through that barrier and started walking around the neighborhood.  It's a start.

For better or worse, I love my husband.  We will learn to spend our days together in the same house.  I know we can do it.  I don't need to talk to him all day.  I don't need him to help me do the things I need to do each week, like look for a job.  I don't need him to shame me into exercising.  My friends that have retired have told me that it's important to watch out for weight gain.  Being home all day can allow someone to be a little too close to the refrigerator.  Dangerous.

So, for better or worse, I will learn to be home all day with my husband.  I will look for two jobs each week, and I will go for walks around the neighborhood 4 (or 3) times each week.  I can do this thing.

For better or worse
547.  Working in the garden
548.  Going to lunch with a friend
549.  Hot tea when I feel the sniffles coming on
550.  Having a husband who loves me enough to accept me for who I am
551.  Looking forward to trick or treaters

Monday, October 28, 2013

Breaking through my barriers

I was going to write "fears" instead of barriers.  I think the two things I finally did today weren't things I was afraid of doing, rather, they were things I'd used as barriers to keep from moving forward in this new stage of my life.  Maybe now that I've done each of these things once, I'll have an easier time doing them again and again.

The first thing I did for the first time today was to apply for work through the MWE job search site.  I've mentioned before that since I am collecting unemployment benefits I need to apply for at least two jobs each week.  Up until today I did this the "old fashioned" way.  I looked for jobs in the local on-line newspaper or I asked people I knew about possible employment opportunities.  Those were working just fine for me.  But on Friday I received a letter from the DLLR informing me I was required to attend a seminar for the JobSource program this week.  I knew the state wanted me to use their job service to hunt for work.  It allows them to keep track of how I'm looking for work and not just relying on me to keep my own records.  So, today I updated my resume' and applied for work through the website.  I applied for two jobs.  Check.

The second thing I did today was to go for a walk around the neighborhood during working hours.  I had delayed this endeavor for more than a couple reasons.  I had excuse after excuse after excuse.  I'm lazy.  I'm fat.  I don't have good music on my phone.  I couldn't find my earbuds.  I didn't want to see anyone from the neighborhood.  My feet hurt.  It's cold.  It's hot.  It's windy.  It's not.  Yeah, I had a few excuses.  Today my husband shamed me into going for the walk.  And I lived.  And I DID see people from the neighborhood.  And the music on my phone was crappy.  And it did hurt.  But it was a nice day and, who knows, maybe it will be good for me.  Check check.

And, more importantly, maybe I'll do theses things again tomorrow.

541.  A nice neighborhood for walking just outside my front door
542.  Friendly neighbors
543.  A perfect fall day
544.  The feeling of accomplishment
545.  My son got a new roommate
546.  Looking forward to my bible study small group

Friday, October 25, 2013

Seasonal Affective Disorder (reversed)

There is a disorder for anyone and everyone.  But...

There is no substitute for hard work and perseverance.  At least that is what those members of the (Greatest) Silent Generation and those of the Baby Boomers believed.

And then came the Xers, Millenials, and now, the new Silents.  I can only hope the new Silents have some of the grit that their predecessors, the xers and millenials, just don't seem to have.  How can two generations find so many maladies to keep them from hard work and perseverance?

I recently heard of a disorder called sunny day depression.

Evidently, this form of depression is the reverse of another malady called SAD (or seasonal affective disorder).  This disorder is said to be prevalent at this time of year.  It is caused, they say, by a reduced amount of sunlight during the fall and winter months.

The disorder called sunny day depression is weird.  I think it's weird because if reduced hours of sunlight can cause depression, how can increased hours of sunlight do the same thing?

Here's a thought.  The xers and millenials are the best educated generations, EVER.  The sunny weather brings back memories of vacation days and freedom from school and fun and no responsibilities.  The only decisions that were made were what do eat or who to play with or where to play.  Sunny days meant you didn't have to get up and get to class, so you slept longer in the morning.  And, who knows, maybe you went to the beach or the pool and dozed off while laying in the sun?

The xers and millenials didn't have to worry about anything, they had their moms or dads to do their worrying for them.

And then they became adults.  And the sunny days of spring and summer become work days.  The responsibilities of work and children and bills don't go away just because the calendar rolls over to May.  And then they get tired.  They can't sleep late into the morning.  They cannot stay up all night and enjoy a balmy evening on the beach or the porch.  They mourn the end of childhood and resent the responsibilities of adulthood.

Life has gone from being fun to being mundane and the sunny days of summer are just the thing to remind them of this.

Since they cannot go back and repeat their childhood, they find the next best thing to allow them to escape from their responsibilities of life.  Their depression settles in.  And sure, they are sad.  The sadness comes because there is more than just do than just what they would like to do.  This is not a clinical condition.  Instead of taking in the extended sunshine hours and taking these feelings and memories and being childlike in their enthusiasm of summer, and turn it into a disorder that allows them to avoid responsibilities.

Maybe a little hard work would help heal this disorder.

533.  A day devoted to helping a friend
534.  Waking up with a purpose for the day
535.  Catching up on chores hanging over my head
536.  Sunshine on a cold morning
537.  Hearing my husband tells me he loves me first thing this morning
538.  Believing he does love me
539.  Continuing in prayer for my son to find a job with hope that this prayer will be answered
540.  Hope

Thursday, October 24, 2013

To Twitter or not to Twitter?

I'm on Twitter.

Something I've discovered about most of my peers is that they are not on Twitter.


I don't completely understand the thinking of not being on Twitter.  Ok, of course I understand that many of my peers don't like to spend a lot of time on the computer.  I understand most of my friends aren't bloggers.  I understand that most of my friends don't understand the value of using Twitter.  I understand that some people think Twitter is about being popular instead of being informed.  Sure, I understand that most Twitter users are kids and Real Housewives.  I understand that Twitter is used as a weapon of snark and stalking by the young and incredibly immature.  Some weak minded individuals have even shut down their Twitter accounts because they believe everyone is tweeting about them.  I don't think that is what Twitter should be about.

I think of Twitter as a tool.  I use it to make my life easier and to be more informed.

I check my Twitter feed first thing in the morning to take the temperature of world events.  I follow financial advisers, news people, my favorite sports teams, political leaders, and local news and institutions.  I know, at a glance, what is happening in my community and the world.  If I want to discover more information on a given subject I use the #.

I do not speak # (hashtag) speak.  I think it sounds dumb.  I do, however, use #'s.  This is how I narrow down information on a specific subject.  Another way to use Twitter to narrow down the wealth of information it has is to check out what an individual tweeter is saying.  When I want to this I use the @ (at) symbol and check out what a tweeter is tweeting.

I check out my Twitter feed much more often than I check my Facebook newsfeed.  I find it is much easier to check in with friends and arrange meetings with Twitter than with Facebook, but maybe this is because I check it more often.

If you are one of those people who need the information you put on social networks to be "super secret" then Twitter may not be for you.  Although, if you want the stuff you put on social networks to be "super secret" then maybe you shouldn't be putting stuff out there on the social networks (#knuckleheads).  There is no way to make your Twitter feed private.  Sure, you can lock it up, but that limits the people who can follow you.  I guess if you choose to do that, you probably don't have anything interesting to say.

One of the fun ways to play on Twitter is to join a group of people tweeting about a movie you are all watching together.  Or, during the presidential campaign debates, it was fun to watch my favorite tweeters become "twitterpated" or "un-twitterpated" about them.

In my humble opinion, I find it much more interesting to follow interesting people than to be concerned with how many Twitter followers I have.

Twitter is perched for the launch of its IPO on November 15th.  I am excited.  I would have been more excited if Apple had bought Twitter while it was still a private company, but you never know what will happen. 

527.  Twitter
528.  Leftover spaghetti
529.  A fire in the fireplace
530.  Black and white movies
531.  Smart people
532.  Fuzzy slippers on cold days

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stages of retirement (and accepting it)

I'm struggling with this new phase of my life.  After all, I'm really not old enough to be retired.  I checked.  I called my pension fund manager and they told me I cannot collect anything from my pension until I'm 62.  I'm not 62 yet.  I've got a few more years to exist before I become 62 years of age.

So what am I if I'm not retired.  Am I just unemployed?  Am I between jobs?  I feel like I'm trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.  I'm still trying to figure out what I want my day to look like.  Even though I continue searching for work, I can tell you, I'm not all that excited about going back to work.  After all, yesterday was a $5000 day in the market. (go AAPL!!)

Even my husband won't call himself "retired" anymore.  He calls himself a "full-time" student.  He's still writing his dissertation.  (I cannot believe how long this is taking)  There is just something about being labeled as a retiree that doesn't sit right with me.

I've heard there are stages of retirement.  I think the first stage consists of dreaming about retirement.  I know what that is like.  You hear a tease on the news about The Best Place to Retire segment and you stay tuned to hear where that place may be.  Some people have countdown calendars to their retirement date.  They watch the days tick away until the big day comes.  They may even know where they would like to live when they retire and maybe have made the purchase.  (I think they are awesome)  I guess my husband and I got this "dream time" cut short.  After all, my husband quit his job when the stress and management style became detrimental to his health and I got fired at an age where finding a new job isn't an easy task.

When one finally retires.  When that great date arrives.  Or, when you are pushed out of the workplace.  One enters the go-go stage.  This is the stage I find myself experiencing.  I'm young.  I'm healthy.  I still want to do stuff.  I love to travel.  I still want to earn money, but I don't want to be a slave to "the Man."  I want to work for myself, but I don't know exactly how to do that.  Since I want to travel and "do stuff" I need to earn money.  After all, when you are too young to draw off your pension, the money has to come from somewhere.  And if you are anything like me, it just doesn't feel right to spend all your savings.

The next phase is the slow-go stage.  I guess this will come after I'm old enough to begin drawing my pension.  I guess this means that since I'll be older I won't want to "do" as much stuff.  Ok, I get it.  I'm guessing this will work out pretty well since less money may equal less travel.  We will see.

Finally people move into the no-go stage.  At this time I will be at an age when my health may be failing.  Or, if I'm like my mother, my mind will go.  I'm guessing I'll be spending more money on my health than I will spend on travel or "doing stuff."  Hopefully I'll have considered this stage of my life when I choose where I want to live at this stage of my retirement.  Hopefully I'll have planned for access to health care and access to shopping and access to family.

I feel a bit gypped in the "dreaming of retirement" stage of my life.  However, even though I didn't spend a lot of time dreaming about my retirement, I do have an idea about where I'd like to live.  I have saved money and I'm still managing it and I do know of places I would like to visit before travel becomes too difficult for me.

Who knows what plans God has for me at this new stage of my life?  All I know is that I need to be watchful and aware of His presence in my life.

521.  Taking steps to rectify a situation that was wrong
522.  Accepting encouragement from my husband
523.  Making myself available to be there for a friend
524.  Watching the leaves change color and taking the time to enjoy it
525.  Culling clutter from the house
526.  Finding purpose for the day

Monday, October 21, 2013

Unemployment (it's not just for beer and cigarettes)

Let me introduce myself...  I am the newest member of the entitled.  I am the newest member of the unemployed collecting money from the government (and me, 'cause I paid into it while I was working) and you hard working individuals out there.

This experience is teaching me so much.  I can now look at this experience from both sides.  I have written about about people willing to take money from anyone that will give it to them, instead of working, in this blog.  I've written about my lazy tenants and the lifestyle of welfare, unemployment and crime they have cultivated on the backs of hard working people in this country.  And now I find myself collecting money every week because I no longer have a job.

I will tell you... it seems weird.  I'm getting paid for looking for a job.  I am required by law to apply for, no fewer than, two jobs per week.  I am required by law to keep a log of every job I apply for.  According to my state's DLLR this log can be required for submission at any time during my term of receipt of benefits and up to two years after my benefits end.  I'm going to tell you...  I have a difficult time believing that many people collecting benefits actually keep this log.  I mean, it's sort of like taking a class and having homework assigned every week, but the homework is never collected or checked and you are going to get an "A" in the class whether you do it or not.  But, because I'm such an ISTJ, I'm applying for jobs and keeping the log.  It's just the way I roll.

Ok, I know the title of today's blog is a bit snarky.  I know people collecting unemployment don't use their benefits for only beer and cigarettes, but let me tell you, the government makes it easier to use the benefits for beer and cigarettes and more difficult for using the benefits to pay your mortgage or rent.  Seriously.

Here's the story.  When you are approved for unemployment benefits my state sends you a debit card and my benefits are loaded on to this debit card and I can pay my bills with this debit card.  This may work for many people or some people or people that don't want to maintain a stellar credit rating, but it isn't working for me.

First of all, my mortgage company does not take debit cards.  So, I cannot pay my mortgage unless I go to the ATM or the bank and have the money transferred into cash or deposited.  Both of these transactions will incur a charge onto the debit card.  POOF!  Money disappears into a charge I would have never paid had I been getting paid by direct deposit into my checking account the way I was getting paid when I had a job.  I HATE paying service charges when I don't need to pay them.

Secondly, I LOVE paying my bills with my credit card.  I pay my bills with my credit card for two basic reasons.  Because I pay off my credit card completely every month, my credit is stellar.  If I ever need a loan for anything, I have no difficulty obtaining said loan.  AND, I use a credit card that allows me to accrue points for free flights.  The more money I put on the card, the more points I accrue for free airfare.  I look at this as a "win/win" situation.

Maybe I'm not the typical recipient of unemployment benefits.  The few people I've told that I'm collecting benefits have all been quite surprised.  I guess they thought I didn't qualify.  That's funny to me.  After all, when you are fired from a job for no reason at all, one qualifies for unemployment.  This is just the way it works.  And, by the way, it's not going to be easy for this 56 year old woman to find work out there.  After all, most of the work in the area I live has been affected by sequestration, furloughs, and government closures.  It's tough out there.

I am learning so much, through this experience.  I'm learning that this program, and the limited checking into job search activity, may make it easier for people collecting on this program to become lackadaisical in their job search.  AND, more importantly, I learned that I could call my state's DLLR office and have my benefits deposited directly into my own personal checking account.  YAY!  Now I can pay my mortgage with my unemployment benefits.  I'm so happy.

511.  My back is all better.  (I tell you, the secret to living well into old age is to NOT FALL DOWN)
512.  Spending time in the book of Acts and the gift of Christianity to Gentiles
513.  OCR programs
514.  The cool crispness of fall
515.  Netflix documentaries (yeah, I watch too much tv)
516.  Crawling out of the depression that comes from being fired
517.  Clear blue skies
518.  Making lunch for my husband
519.  Learning to be quiet at home (no laughing out loud)
520.  Having the energy to entertain friends on the weekends

Monday, October 7, 2013

Finding my way in this new land

I have to admit, I'm lost.

I haven't found a routine or schedule or goal or whatever motivates one when they don't have a job outside the home and they don't have children to care for.

I used to think I was a "self starter," but now I'm not so sure.  It's funny (read, kinda sad) that I let little things stop me in my tracks.  The first thing I allowed to keep me from jumping into my new way of life was the hurt I felt from the way I was "let go" from my job.  It took me almost three weeks to pick myself up and dust myself off.  Now that I've got a bit of distance and I've let go of any ownership I felt about my work I can look at things objectively.  The first thing I've come to accept is that they fired me.

There, I said it.  Out loud.  On the internet (so it's out there forever).  Those people (jerks) that I worked for for 11 years, fired me.  Yeah, they did me dirty.

Ok, now I can move on.  But then..., my computer broke.  Seriously, I can't do anything without my laptop.  Here I am finally blogging again.  AND, I'm blogging on my brand new MacBook Air.  Yeah, I thought I was going to get a Pro, but I decided to go with the Air.  It cost less and it has everything I need.  I LOVE IT.  It is light as a feather.  Seriously.  I can take this thing EVERYWHERE.  I'm going to have to get some kind of sleeve or protector for it.  Since I CAN take it everywhere, I DO take it everywhere.  I've banged it against the car door more than once.  I don't want to break it.

I still haven't taken all my files off my old MacBook yet.  That bad boy is still sitting in the front hall.  Maybe I'll finally get to that little chore today.

Then, sadly, two of my former co-workers (ones that I truly liked, but cannot call friends because, well, are we ever REALLY friends with co-workers?  after all, we only know each other because we work together and when we don't work together anymore we don't really have time or opportunity to see each other.) have had tragedies occur in their lives.  One of them had a mini stroke (she's only 35 years old!) and the other lost her 22 year old son (she discovered he had passed away when she got home from work).  These two events stopped me dead in my tracks.  All I could do, that felt productive, was to pray (and, unfortunately, worry).  These things give me opportunity to reevaluate the way I look at the difficulties I have in my life. 

I have the opportunity to get a little perspective.

I'm out of work..., but I can look for a job and maybe even find one.
My son is out of work..., but he is still capable of working and he's looking for a job.  (at least that is what he tells me.)
My husband doesn't have job..., but he is on the last chapter of his dissertation and, fingers crossed, will finish in November.
My mother is losing her mind..., but she is 80 years old, still has her physical health, and her condition is not as difficult at this time as it will become.
My father is has become very bitter..., and become the best example of what I NEVER want to become.
My favorite millennial blogger has become a mommy blogger instead of being the voice of her generation (of the entitled)..., but I can find a more uplifting blog to read. 

I'm still searching for a routine.  I long for a schedule in my life.  I need to find some discipline and get myself together.  I know I can do it.

And I will.  But not until after my back feels better.  (I fell down the stairs the other day.)

501.  New laptop
502.  Heating pad
503.  My health
504.  My son's health
505.  My husband's health
506.  My father's health
507.  My mother's health
508.  Time in prayer
509.  Time in God's word
510.  Hope