Sunday, September 27, 2009

So Many Changes....

This week the lines of communication fired up as I learned that the CEO of CoreNet Global, where I worked for five years, suddenly announced his retirement. As the rumor mill churned, I heard several versions of this event, and while I am not going to add to the fray in writing about something I really don’t know much about, it opened up a train of thought that I want to explore in writing.

I have been unemployed, at least by a paying company, for seven months. I can’t say I’ve been out of work, because I have been very busy during these months of not having to commute to Atlanta or sit all day at my home computer while teleworking. My paycheck is now a weekly deposit into my bank account from Uncle Sam in the form of an unemployment check, which I greatly appreciate. I feel like I’ve earned it! In addition to gardening, baking, writing, dog training, and other activities, I’ve been paying more attention to the news and have been following the economic condition of our country, listening to the various views from both left and right, coming to my own conclusions about what is going on in our country, and how I feel about it.

Most recently I have been working on a project of researching public libraries in the Southeastern United States, trying to identify the library directors and collection management librarians. It’s been an adventure in research, as many public libraries’ websites appear to be created by non-professionals, probably donated by local citizens, and many are lacking in contact information. While searching for an elusive name and contact email address, I have learned a great deal about the communities in this part of the United States, and it concerns me. I see this valuable public service, our public library, suffering greatly from the current recession. I read about library closings, reduced hours of operation, budget constraints, pleas for community donations, and other signals that point to big troubles. If a website has a section on job opportunities, there are no openings. If there is a section on new books, they are often ones that have been out in the market for quite some time. There is almost always a plea for volunteers. I think the public library offers us a clear picture of what is going on around us. It’s not a pretty picture and it makes me sad.

As my thought process continues, I return back to my situation. I’ve not been able to find a full-time job, and have been told on numerous occasions that my resume was one of many received. I heard on a news show this week that there is one job for every six people looking. In my case, I believe the ratio is much higher. Associations are similar to public libraries. Many are struggling as their representative membership base is suffering from the continuing unemployment and economic situation, and people and companies are becoming more selective in what they do with their expendable income. Hours have been cut and staffs reduced. At a meeting last week for association executives, I heard from several of my colleagues that they are now in survival mode, working to stay afloat until the recession is over. I don’t see many job openings in associations, and when one is posted, there is a plethora of candidates to choose from, and salary offers that are lower than they were two years ago. If the recession is coming to an end, as I hear on the daily news, I believe that it will be a long time before it trickles down into where people actually live and work.

So, where does this leave me? I sometimes think that I need to look at myself as retired, instead of unemployed. I have become a farmer on a very small scale, and now have enough food in my freezer to feed Phil and me for at least a year. I am looking at keepsakes and mementoes, wondering if I can sell them on EBay. I wonder if the time is right yet to sell some of my gold. Consignment and thrift shops are pulling me toward them. I am baking bread and selling it at a local outdoor market. I’ve pulled out my fabric scraps and am making a rag rug, thinking that someone might want to buy it. My one completed book is sitting on my desk staring at me, and I know that I need to get back to the task of finding a literary agent who will take a chance on me. My novel-in-progress is also sitting on my desk in the form of a jump drive, and I am beginning to feel the nudge to get back into it. With the summer season ending, I’ll have more time to concentrate on these things. Maybe I won't be retired, but will become a small-scale entrepreneur!

I know I'm not ready to be truly retired, so I examine my situation and wonder where my road is leading me. I don’t see another full-time job in my near future, but I keep my hopes up that something will come along worthy of my experience and expertise providing me an income and a feeling of contributing to something bigger than myself. I also look at all of my little projects, and wonder if perhaps they are drawing me into something that is beyond my present view of my life. I am practicing the art of patience, and know that this is the best way to approach each day.

These certainly are challenging times, and changing with each day. What does the future hold for me, for the former CEO of CoreNet Global, for public librarians, for anybody who is going to work each day wondering if this might be the last? I have to be optimistic about the future, but in order to do this, I find myself rethinking almost every notion I’ve ever had about life and how to maneuver through it.

So many changes. What will today bring?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mourning the End of Summer

The days are getting shorter. I’ve noticed it both in the mornings and evenings. All summer long I was out in my garden at 7:00 AM picking vegetables, weeding, and making sure no deer or other critters had made a salad bar visit during the night. And, in the evenings, Diamond and I would go for our long walks in sunshine and long shadows.

At 7:00 this morning it was still dark, with only the hint of the new day in the eastern sky. Last night Diamond and I got caught in twilight as we finished up our walk after dinner. I’ve decided that I am a sunshine kind of girl, and in voicing this fact, realize that I am mourning the end of summer. I tell myself that it won’t be long until Spring will be here again. But then I also remind myself that I have to make it through the long nights of winter. My one redeeming thought is that of hibernation, because it is in the winter that I nest down in my cozy home and feel the security and warm hugs of the walls around me.

With Autumn come cool, breezy days and bright blue skies, which I love, but they signal to me the end of another life cycle, that I find kind of sad. I can remember a childhood Sunday School teacher talking about the promise of new life as she showed us the seeds of summer flowers and vegetables. Even though this promise was reassuring, I had experienced the death of a brother and grandfather and beloved aunts and uncles, and I knew that no seed was left from their lives to bring them back the following April or May.

Fall reminds me of my mortality and the seasons of my own life. It also makes me begin to think about what is beyond Fall and Winter for me. I have been engaged in many conversations of the theories of whether there is something for us beyond the grave, and have heard many theories and promises on this subject. None of us know what welcomes us as our own life seasons come to an end. For myself, I have formed my own theory which is totally unscientific and not purely religious. As I told a friend one day when this topic came up, “I believe that there is something beyond this life because it is impossible for me not to believe it.” Not a logical statement, but it is the only one that I have, and I’m sticking to it!

I also look at the universe as I broach this topic in my mind. As I see specials on television about the universe and the theories of its creation, I always come back to one question, “What about origin?” I don’t have the answer, and the question goes unanswered for me by the scientific world. My one conclusion always comes back to God and a feeling that I will one day have the privilege of exploring the universe after leaving this world. There is so much out there to see!

But back to the thought of summer coming to an end. I don’t like it, and I am watching the sun and noting how its position in the sky is changing as my world readies itself for winter. I am already looking forward to the first warm and sunny day next Spring!