Recession Mama

{August 23, 2009}   Mother of reInvention

From Heather

George Eliot once said  “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Just think about that for a moment. It is never too late to be what you might have been. Most of us spend a lot of time talking about the “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” moments of our lives. But why not turn that into “I did, I can, I showed ’em.”

Today’s guest blogger, Tammy Jo, embodies that very philosophy. She’s re-invented herself many, many times. I’m sure she’ll never stop. When life throws her a curve ball, she just changes her approach and knocks it out of the ballpark. I think we all can learn something from her. So pay attention mamas and papas!




   By Tammy Jo

    In the last year, around 5.9 million Americans have lost their jobs.  Have you?  Or do you still work but just have no job satisfaction?  If you answered “yes” to either question, have I got an idea for you!  No, this is not an advertisement for a “make millions by stuffing envelopes at home” scheme.  This is a chance to reinvent yourself. You may ask, “How? Why?” 

     The “how” is easy.  There is no better time since the GI Bill after World War II to get government money for education. The government has a stash of cash in financial aid for students.  Even if you do not think you qualify, apply. Whether you have quit, been laid off, down-sized, suffered a redundancy, or just plain fired from a job, learn how to recession-proof yourself or at least make yourself more marketable. It is not just reinvention, it is reinvesting. 

Whatever money you use to learn a new skill, trade or career, the money is well spent.  Instead of spending $500 on a handbag, take some classes.  Whatever it takes to make yourself more marketable — do it. 

The “why” may not be as easy as the “how.” Maybe you are in a dying industry. Maybe you need to learn something new or improve a skill to stay current. Maybe you have been dreaming of doing (fill in the blank) and never had the time.  Or maybe you just think you are too old to do anything different.  Get over yourself! Even a very old dog can  learn a new trick! 


 Walk with me down memory lane.  For about 10 years, I had been working in marketing and promotions in the entertainment industry.  Ah, the stories I could tell you!  But I digress.   Eventually, I inched my way up the pay scale until I was earning high 5 figures but I realized that as a corporate marketing employee, my department would always be one of the first on the chopping block, and I would never be the master of my own destiny.  Then about 8 years ago, my husband was transferred to a new city and I did not have a job.  That’s when I decided to go to law school.  It would be a career for a lifetime, not just a job. With one license, I could practice anywhere in Texas and I could always work — even if it was for myself.   And so, at 33, I went to law school.  It was a sacrifice to live on one income for 3 years but it was worth it. I have been practicing law now for several years. But the story does not end there. 

            After having 2 children, I realized that working in a law firm and being a slave to billable hours did not give me the flexibility I needed to participate in my children’s school activities.  I wanted to be “there” for my kids, wherever “there” was. I decided to become an elementary school teacher at a private school.  The pay would be less but I would get a tuition discount which would make up the difference.  The best part was that I would be on the same schedule as my kids. Plus, there is something very rewarding about shaping young minds.  So, at the ripe old age of 40, I enrolled in an alternative teacher certification program and after 6 weeks of learning classroom management, obtaining state-mandated observations hours and passing the EC-4 content exam, I became “Highly Qualified” (according to the federal “No Child Left Behind Act”) to teach Pre-K through 4th grade.  I now have two recession-proof careers – theoretically speaking. 

            But I’m not the only one who has reinvented themselves.  Lots of people are doing it everyday.  My best friend decided to become a licensed Interior Designer after countless years in broadcast journalism.  Rather than become a casualty in a dying industry, she goes to school with people half her age but is doing something that is fulfilling a dream.  Another friend left a lucrative job in sales to pursue a dream of being a writer.  She completely downsized her life and barely made ends meet, but she eventually co-authored a published book, edited a magazine, and has opened her own public relations agency. 

            If you have some down time on your hands these days, how will you use it? Will you embrace it as a learning experience and a chance to fulfill a dream or interest? Or will you continue down your path of complaints and complacency?  There is no better time than the present to reassess, reinvent and reinvest in yourself. Go ahead you deserve it!

-Tammy Jo





recessionmama says:

Great advice Tammy Jo. We appreciate your encouragement and insight. You have definitely inspired me to get a second degree. Thanks! -Heather

Katy says:

Way to go, Tammy Jo! Really inspiring. And yes, I believe it’s a great time for re-inventing yourself. I’ve also seen a lot of friends go back to school to study something they’ve always wanted. Again, thanks for writing and for the inspiration!

Carla says:

I love you, Tammy Jo. You’re a true inspiration, that’s for sure. So many of us talk the talk, but you have actually walked the walk and that is very cool. Thanks for sharing your story with us. : )

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