Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bouncing Back

It's been a very rough few weeks here. It began with our Biggles passing away. We had been hoping for more time with him and his presence is so sorely missed. I still have not been able to write about it, though I will eventually post a tribute to him, like I did for Frankie.

A week to the day later, we found out that someone had cloned one of our bank cards and drained one of our checking accounts. And then, because we weren't having enough fun, a week and a few days after that, I lost my job.

Losing my job came as a complete shock. I was in the middle of several ongoing projects. Everyone was happy with my work—and said so. To the best of my knowledge, my contract was going to be renewed and paperwork was underway.

It was the Tuesday following Labor Day. I was in up to my ears and having a very productive day when the phone rang. It was the consulting agency that signed my checks and my rep with the agency said, "we've just received a very strange email from the client. Today is your last day."

I'm in my forties. I've had my fair share of jobs. I've never lost a job like that. No warning. No explanation. It was three-thirty in the afternoon and in less than two hours, I was going to be unemployed.

To say I was in shock doesn't even begin to describe what I was feeling. I had no idea what we were going to do. I didn't even have a final week's worth of pay to look forward to, just my earnings for that Tuesday, minus the usual taxes and the cost of health insurance for two. (It didn't amount to much.)

It angered me to be dismissed with so little care—to know that my work could be deemed unnecessary and unwanted by someone I'd never met. I'm not surprised though. It's the way companies operate these days the people who do the work don't matter. (Job-providers my ass!)

Wookie and I thought this job was a new beginning for us. We were hoping to finally get climbing out of the morass of debt that my little family has been trapped in. It's amazing how quickly that hope was extinguished.

After the initial shock started to wear off I had another battle to fight. I could feel Depression looming. Suddenly, for the first time in many years, I was hitting the old lows that dominated my twenties. It wasn't just the emotional lows—being sad is a perfectly justifiable reaction to getting fired. Suddenly, I was saddled with the physical side of Depression. The aches and heaviness I had not felt in years.

I fought Depression in college and throughout my twenties. I know Depression lies. But it this time I had something tangible pushing me into the darkness. It did not help that when I applied for unemployment, I had to watch a video about resources "to help me find a job and and keep it." Insult added to injury because I had done nothing to earn my dismissal.

The ache of depression pushed my shoulders down and made my joints hurt. I steeled myself for battle. There was too much to do and I could not afford to be in that pit again. I had obligations to meet. While the day-job was over, I still had other work to do and more than that, I had Wookie.

In my darkest moments, Wookie was there. He brought me roses and told me how much he loves me and needs me. Wookie reminded me of the difference I make—Wookie, who has also been struggling to find work, but still gives back. He trains a search and rescue squad to help others in times of crisis and has never hesitated to help someone else in need. If giving back could pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads, we'd be set.—Wookie reminded me of the lives I touch as a Celebrant and teacher. Loss of the day-job had not changed that.

The Social Media course I teach my fellow Celebrants every summer was due to start that Thursday night. I had to pull myself together. I also had several weddings coming up that needed to be revised, written or officiated. My other professional life was still intact and this work—while it usually has to take the back-burner to the higher-pay and health insurance of the day job—was important.

The first session of my social media class was just one hour, but I felt immeasurably better afterwards. The heaviness and pains of Depression had faded. Was I still sad? Sure. Was I still afraid of what the future would bring? Absolutely! But I was reminded that I still had work with a purpose.

People tie so much of their identities to work. Take that away and you can hurt someone on more than a financial level. I think there are two kinds of work. The kind you do for the paycheck and the kind you do to make a contribution. If you're lucky, you get to do both at once. Sadly, I think many people don't ever look past the paycheck. Maybe they don't think they can.

My day job as a technical writer was a paycheck job. I enjoyed the people I worked with. I enjoyed the challenge and always worked to exceed expectations. I even enjoyed the products I was working on. But at the end of the day, I don't believe lives were touched or improved by what I worked on for 40-hours a week. When I walked away at the end of the day, I had money but little else. The same can be said for most of the 9-5 jobs I've had.

I believe my work as a Life-Cycle Celebrant® makes the world a better place. It glorifies Love. It honors the individuals, couples, and families I serve. I tell their stories, because they are important enough to be heard. I respect and honor their wishes and help I them celebrate in ways that are unique, because each person's experience of life is unique.

When I walk away after a ceremony, I feel satisfied. I know I've made a difference. This may sound like just so much fluff, but I've been the client and I know how it touched my life to be heard and have my wishes honored. I've also had the honor of hearing from clients and their friends and family about what their ceremonies meant to them.

When I teach my fellow Celebrants, I know more lives will be touched by what they carry forward. It all ripples out like rings from a stone tossed in the water.

So here I am looking for a new day job and I know that there may come another day when an employer decides that my contribution is unimportant and lets me go.  Luckily for me, I know that my work as a Celebrant is important and always will be.

I'm never going to get rich as a Celebrant, though my hope remains to eventually make a full-time career of it. But for now, as some parts of our world come crashing in on us, I know that no matter where Wookie and I end up, we will always have each other and I will always have Celebrancy as away to contribute to the world. What I get back from Wookie and Celebrancy is a wealth that can't be measured.