Its not as if this is really anything new for me. The nature of my work has made cyclical lay-offs a fact of life and this time of year has often found me between contracts. This year is harder though since my winter contract got totally cut. Its not great comfort, but at least I can say that I’m not alone. If you are one of the thousands of people who has lost your job recently; my heart goes out to you and your families in these difficult circumstances.
In the best of times, this time of year brings with it added pressures and stresses for even the most resourceful and resource rich individuals. Personal and family commitments can throw us into conflict with those who we would otherwise avoid. For separated families with children there’s the jockeying for holiday visitation and the competition between parents for scoring “gift points” with their kids. Will people like my gifts and can I afford the post holiday credit card bills are popular concerns? There is pressure to put on a good show and make the holiday special. And then there are the prolific ad campaigns by charities begging for toys, food and money to brighten the Christmas of a needy family; no pressure there.
When household income stops flowing in just a bit before Christmas many are likely asking themselves questions like, “How will I make my mortgage payment?” or “How will I ever find a job in these hard times?” , among many other hard, cold questions that leave the asker with few warm or easy answers. Add to these all the stresses already mentioned and you may wonder if the words happy and holidays belong on the same page let alone together as a phrase.
So if I’m speaking directly to your situation, I’m not going to hand you all the clever cliches that people handed me over the years when I lost a job (these cliches usually came from people in higher places, one of whom shanghied $50 of mine and didn’t return it to me after I was laid off!). I was never sure if these witty little quips were suppoed to make you or the speaker feel better. My favourite to this day is, ”When one door closes another one opens”. I’ve heard it several times and I can’t help but wonder if these people ever watched the Price is Right, “Tell ‘em whats behind door number two Johnny…”
”Well Bob, its a box of Eskimo Pies and a Yak!” …wah, wah, wah, waaaaaahhh!
The fact is we don’t know what lies ahead. We don’t always chose which doors open or close…or even if another door will open. My only advice is to be open and honest with yourself, and your loved ones. It might be hard for some time so your going to have to build your team and if you’ve been neglecting your team-mates, well now is the time to make amends. You will need the support of friends and family. This can be a time of renewed closeness with loved ones, so pay close attention to the people around you and you may be rewarded with richess of other sorts.
If you are like me you will need a creative outlet…I like to blog, write songs and play guitar. If you are like me you will also need a physical outlet…I like to run and cross country-ski. If you are like me you will also need to feel that you can share your gifts with other people. Blogging helps me in some way do this but so does volunteering or even helping my wife with things. Finally, if you are like me, feeling that your skills and character are valued is very important. I am energetic, creative and passionate and when it seems like no one needs that anymore it is hard. If it is a lengthy period or you don’t find suitalbe work, it can be devastating to your self-worth. I understand very well that the loss of my job is not about me personally, but it affects me personally. My boss didn’t have to say I wasn’t valuable anymore…but someone up the line did…or society did…or I’d still be here. So don’t agonize about that, the conclusion is the same.
Here is what you can tell yourself:
I am a good person and I will share what good I am with those around me.
I will never give up. I owe it to my kids, my wife and myself to use this one chance in life that I have to do something with it.
I will nurture myself. Now is the time to put an old resolution into action…quit smoking, exercise, change your diet, perhaps become a vegetarian.
I will have faith in my tomorrow. If a door won’t open, You may have to keep knocking or knock on another. Eventually I may have to cut a hole in the wall and put in my own freekin door! but I will create a future – I will.
I will be patient and I won’t expect miracles, but I won’t expect crap either (so don’t take any!)
I will stand up for myself. My esteem may be low because I have lost a lot; and it feels like the people around me can’t count on me the way they used to, but I am the same as anyone else, and I am the same person that I used to be even if some days I feel a little less.
I can accept help and ask for it if I need it. I can graciously accept a gift with a smile and warm handshake. I don’t have to feel indebted or try to repay it…these things trivialize the sentiment of the gift giver.
Love. I will love and appreciate the people who I hold dear. I will let them know it through my words and actions. They are my greatest resources and whatever else fails I will have loved and been loved.
And finally, I thought I’d leave you with a smile
While waiting in a check out the other day I was behind an old man buying lottery tickets and I couldn’t help thinking, “Now there’s a good gig!”. The lottery business that is; thats when it hit me! Why couldn’t I make a lottery?…look at all the other ones…mine would just be one more! Here’s my idea. I would make my tickets really shiny and colourful and market them to the elderly and down and out! Then after expenses, I would take some of the money I made and pay it out to the winners, give some to charity and pay myself a couple hundred thousand a year to run it! What a good deal. I say. Jolly good.