Recession Mama

{April 22, 2009}   Old Dog, Meet New Trick

By Carla

dogdrawingage4When you’ve done the same thing over and over for nearly a dozen years, you get comfy. You get used to things being a certain way. You’re set. Or so you think.

Just like millions of other hard working, dedicated Americans, I am having to reprogram myself and learn new tricks…and you know what? I LOVE it!

I started at my previous place of employment (a radio station with a news/talk format in Dallas) when I was 24 years old. I started working part time hours and working any shift available. I was a nobody. For the next (almost) 12 years, I worked my way up the ladder doing everything there was to do on the news side of the operation. Learning new aspects of the business was thrilling to me. I loved being associate editor, even though it meant no one respected me because I was the new kid on the block. But I was learning and I loved it. I also loved street reporting because it was a huge challenge and it forced me to think on my feet at all times. I won several awards as a reporter, in fact. I then became editor of a drive-time news program and thrived in that position…winning awards in that capacity as well. And finally, having made it to the anchor chair in the 5th largest market in the U-S at the age of 29…well I felt that the dues I had paid all those years…had finally paid off for me. I anchored for the next six glorious years. (My dear friends who are good at math, there’s your bone) I was set. I had a contract. I was there to stay. Then the layoff four months ago.

I realized right away that I wasn’t trained to do anything other than news…and more specifically, radio news. Sure I could edit (produce) newscasts, I could report and I could anchor, but my business is hurting and no one is hiring right now. Then this wonderful opportunity came along. Be a back-up anchor at what used to be “the competition”, anchoring whenever they need someone to fill-in. It doesn’t pay much and I probably won’t be there very often, but it keeps my name out there and it keeps my brain from fizzling. Not to mention the fact that it’s a wonderful opportunity to work with some extraordinary people.

I went in for training this week. It was the first time in nearly 12 years that I had trained at any place other than my previous employer. I’m laughing at myself now, but here I was….a grown woman…married mother of two…nervously chugging my mocha and shaking and giggling in the car on the way to the new station. “What if I don’t understand their computer system?”, “What if I get lost?”, “Did I pick the right outfit?!” (I’m a girl…what do you expect) All of those questions and a million others were racing through my head on the drive in. After all, I hadn’t worked in SEVEN MONTHS. I couldn’t believe it myself, but it’s true. I went on maternity leave last September and was laid off while still on leave….so I haven’t actually worked in seven months. That’s a first for me. So having to go in for training was a very scary prospect for this old dog. I mean, I wasn’t supposed to be learning new tricks at this point in my career, right? I was supposed to be set…and moving up, up, up, right?


Training was exhilarating and I loved every minute of it. I’m serious. I loved it. I was “getting it”. It wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be.

Not only did it go far better than I expected, it was a huge boost to this mama’s self esteem. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but hey…it is a little tough on the feelings when you get laid off…and knowing that you’re “wanted” somewhere else, even in a fill-in capacity, well it just plain feels good. And those good feelings seemed to spill over into the rest of my day. This stinky economy needs more good feeling spillage, don’t you think? I’ve made up my mind, I’m hiring my housekeeper back so she can feel good again. KIDDING. It’s a joke. Those are free.  

I go back for more torture training today and a I’ll go back a few more times in the coming weeks to make sure I “get it” and am ready for when they do need me to come in and do the “real deal”.

Whew…! Just another challenge. I love those…but y’all know that.

Move over ego. There’s no room for you here. It’s a new day.


recessionmama says:

Good for you mama! It’s always tuff to learn a new office space. You feel like a dummy cause you don’t know how to work the phone system, log onto to the computer, find the printer, find the bathroom and so on. But it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. You are really going to enjoy freelancing. It’s a great way to keep your hand in the biz and still be a mommy too. It’s been a perfect fit for me. You don’t have to get so wrapped up in office politics. Besides, you’re fortunate to have this time at home with the boys. Being a stay at home mommy is really hardwork. You don’t get lunch breaks, sick days or holidays off. It’s a 12 to 15 hour work day everyday. Absolutely exhausting! But yet so important. You’ll always be a news chick. Nobody can take your experience from you.

Stoney says:

Way to go.. I love it. Hang in there and keep us posted.

katy says:

Great job, Carla!! We’re all rooting for you!! By the way, you’re not an old dog, and it’s always good to learn new tricks! Being the new person is always a bit nerve-wracking in the beginning. As you know, I’ve been the “new” gal many, many times. But it really keeps you on your toes. The job may always feel new, every time you go in, but I guarantee you’ll learn something every time…instead of feeling like, boy I can do this in my sleep now.

Margaret says:

Awesome Carla! What better way to get back into the swing of things than part time work in what you love! All you need to do is line up a good babysitter, and you’re set for those last minute call ins…

Maggie says:

I will gladly be your good babysitter when you get those last minute call ins in May…then there’ll be some good feeling spillage for me!! Just kidding, as much as I’d love to watch the kids I will be watching Sahara in St. Louis while waiting for my French visa……

Carla says:

It was a blast again today, since I was really starting to understand their computer system.

I am so blessed to have Mom living nearby and ready and able to jump in and help with the little guys …like she’s been doing this week. Maggie, you’re sweet for offering, I know Donald would love flirting with you : )

But yes, I can say with 100% certainty that you CAN teach an old dog (or a pretty hot 30-something chic mama) new tricks.

Teresa says:

Way to go, Carla!!!!!; we know you can do it!!…

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