Recession Mama











{October 2, 2009}   This Baby Is Growing Fast

—by Carla

 cristal

Get ready to break out the Cristal, we here at RM will proudly be celebrating our 6 month anniversary next week. Nevermind, forget the Cristal…it’s too damn expensive. Break out the store-brand equivalent or just hoist your Diet Coke can high into the air!

We’ve been sharing stories and helpful (hopefully) hints along the way, as we attempted to start a national conversation about money. Going back to our “roots”, (if something 6 months old can actually have roots), we said that we were “Three friends from three different economic realities helping each other get through this recession, mama!”

six

 

You might  wonder why in the world anyone would want to air this sort of dirty laundry…especially when it comes to money…but our thinking was, “why NOT?”.

Of course, our stories are in no way as shocking and horrifying as other tell-alls…not the least of which was the bombshell this week by Mackenzie Phillips, but I think our goals may actually be quite similar. She has said she came forward because she wanted to make sure that other victims like her would speak out and get help.

Very similar goal for me, personally. I felt passionately (and still do) that too many of us in this country care far too much about what other people think about our financial status and would rather live financial lies than own up to the fact that they cannot maintain the lifestyle they are living. I, for one, had no problem admitting that I/we spent money hand over fist, without ever thinking about how much was being put away for a rainy day or an emergency. Our situation was a bit different than the many horror stories we’ve heard over the past several months about people owing hundreds of thousands of dollars on various credit cards. We had (and still have) little credit card debt (but still enough for me to consider it a monkey on my back), instead paying most everything in cash. Earn it, spend it. Earn it, spend it. After all, I was making almost six figures and had a contract with my (now former) employer. I was recession-proof, right? Wrong. You CAN actually be laid off two weeks before Christmas, five weeks after giving birth, while still on maternity leave, and while you have another year left on your contract. Yup…they can do that. And they did.

Flash forward and here I am, thirty-something-years-old, learning to cook…and honey I mean LEARNING. “How long do I cook this chicken breast again? Why is there smoke in the kitchen again?”…and so on. But beyond everything else, I have learned (and continue to learn) an entirely different way of life, one that has refocused me. 

I love hearing stories from Katy and Heather because we all are at very different places, economically speaking, and we each represent a good chunk of America. Plus they crack me up! The three of us tell it like it is, even to each other.

So, a great big “Thank You” to everyone who has checked us out over the last six months. More than 36,000 page views and counting…whew! Keep coming back for more. Huge changes next week.

Happy (almost) SIX months, Recession Mamas!



{September 29, 2009}   Broke Girl Frame of Mind

By Heather

I was digging through some papers this week and found a poem that I wrote back in 1996. It’s on a torn piece of notebook paper. Just something I scribbled down one night following a frustrating day of looking for a job.  I’ve kept it tucked inside my green folder with some of my other “thoughts” and stories. I’m not sure why I still have it. I  just don’t throw that kinda stuff away. (not a pack rat, just sentimental)

The “thought” or poem really gives one a sense of my “broke girl” frame of mind. I was just moving along in slow motion, trying to keep a positive attitude. But it was hard. I was failing miserably at being a “success” and accomplishing simple tasks. Even brushing my teeth felt like a major chore.

I was just tired of searching for a job. Tired of having all of the wrong qualifications. Tired of being jerked around.

I’m pretty sure this was around the time I answered an ad for a “public relations” position. I was excited to get an interview. I went into the office and discovered over 50 other people in the room.

Great! A group interview. I hate these. But I’ve been through them before. Better shine!

No such luck. Turned out they wanted me to sell vitamins, water filters and other health crap that nobody wants.

Whoa! Pyramid scheme. I gotta get out of here.

I rushed to the door and was stopped by a very tall guy who refused to let me out. The conversation, to the best of my recollection, went down like this.

“You can’t leave in the middle of the presentation”

“I’m not doing a pyramid scheme. I thought this was a PR job.”

“No but it’s a great opportunity. Really you should sit back down. You’re really not allowed to leave.”

“Either you let me out of here or I’m calling the police and telling them that you are holding me hostage.”

He got out of my way and I went home and sobbed.

So why share this now? Especially when it was so long ago.  It just feels right. I GET IT! It’s not easy searching for a job or learning a new skill in a crap economy. Once you’ve been in this position, you can never forget.

I don’t have any great “Dear Abby” advice or pearls of wisdom here. All I know is that when you’re on the bottom there’s no place to go but up. That’s what always kept me going when the going got tough. You’ll be reminiscing about the “bad times” soon enough. Now I’m going to torture you with one of mine.

ad

 

*****************************************

Shoestring remedies and dime store anecdotes

A handful of full of change and a hole in your pocket.

 

Telephone rings and you wish you hadn’t answered

One more letter and it won’t ring at all.

 

Looking at the want ads cuddled up in a blanket

Turned on the heat, but it only blows cold.

 

One more day and you’re back where you started

Two more days and your start is long gone.

 

Deep dark thoughts, scratch it down on some paper

A whole idea once was great now it’s gone.

 

Brush in time with your voice a humming

Head down lights out you’re dreaming perfect songs.

 

-H



{September 25, 2009}   Who Wants A Little Good News…?

–by Carla

I went digging around on the Internet the other day trying to find an upside to all this recession talk…which honestly gets to be a total downer from time to time…and I  found this article.  It gives a broad overview of how the recession is “taking its toll” on various aspects of American life. But I chose to dig deeper for you and find the happy stuff…not all the doom and gloom. For example, here’s a little somethin’ about the old ball and chain: 

 married

“Marital bliss also suffered. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans 15 and over, or 31.2 percent, reported they had never been married, the highest level in a decade. The share had previously hovered for years around 27 percent, before beginning to climb during the housing downturn in 2006. The never-married included three-quarters of men in their 20s and two-thirds of women in that age range. Sociologists say younger people are taking longer to reach economic independence and consider marriage because they are struggling to find work or focusing on an advanced education. The Northeast had the most people who were delaying marriage, led by states such as New York and Massachusetts. People in the South were more likely to give marriage a try, including those in Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas.”

The way I look at it, there are fewer people trapped in crappy marriages who are too broke to get out of ’em. KIDDING. Just kidding there.

Ok, now for upside point #2 from the article:

“The share of people who carpooled to work rose to 10.7 percent, up from 10.4 percent in the previous year.”

Recession: terrible for most other things, good for the environment. See?

Next “plus”:

“Women’s average pay still lagged men’s, but the gap has been narrowing. Women with full-time jobs made 77.9 percent of men’s pay, up from 77.5 percent in 2007 and about 64 percent in 2000.”

Right on, ladies! Oh wait, the one time in history we’re THIS close to getting paid the same as the guys (um…and exactly why AREN’T we?)…and I got laid off!? WTH!?

Anyhoo, there ya go. Some happy news to report.

Have a great weekend everyone!



{September 18, 2009}   The Lead Story That Means So Little

–by Carla

This week I heard the wonderful news that the recession was over.

newsweek-recession-over-cvr

You’d think this former news girl would at least post a link or have the mindset to have remembered where she heard such a thing, so here’s a picture instead. I’ve got two gorgeous baby boys under age 2.5 and they both had yucky nose issues this week (their 2nd summer cold in 2 months…ugh) so I’ve been up to my thick Lebanese eyebrows in tissues, hand sanitizer (or as Toddler Boy calls it “hanitizer”), baby Vick’s and gunk stuck in my hair (that last one is pretty normal, actually). So you’ll pardon me for not accurately detailing for you what should have otherwise been the top story on every station across the country: “The Recession Is Over!”.

Um, K.

This news had about as much impact on me as did the news that we WERE in a recession when it broke at the end of last year. Hello, I’d just been laid off. Not a real shocker. But even before then, while I was still anchoring the news, about a year and a half, maybe 2 years ago, we did story after story about this expert or that analyst saying we WERE already in a recession, or explaining why were weren’t ..and so on. I was so tired of those stories. Then when Lehman Brothers failed a year ago and the cards came crumbling down, it was clear to everyone on earth and possibly even some passing aliens just outside our stratosphere that we were in deep doodoo. But the “official” news that we were “actually” “in” a recession came months later. (Once again, if I were a journalist worth my salt, I’d look up that information, copy the link, paste it here and let you know, but I haven’t showered in 2 days, my hair is clumped up in 2 clips and I’m wearing the same thing I had on yesterday. Having 2 sick kids is a total beat down.)

So you can see that a recession “officially” having come to an end will likely mean little or nothing to most of us. It may do a little something something to Wall Street and Wall Street types, but there’s Wall Street and then there’s Main Street…and there are a bunch of houses for sale on Main Street. In fact, the story on the TV news the other night that followed the news that the recession was over was (no shiz) “150 Blockbuster Video employees are losing their jobs as the company closes several stores…” bla bla bla.

The financial experts and analysts and the smart people who do numbers and money for a living may have a sense of what’s going as far as “official” data, but it doesn’t change a thing for me or my family. I’m still a (very happy) full-time stay-at-home-mom now and we’re still living on a cop’s salary…and having a great time adjusting to this little curve ball.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to see what happens in this new period of economic recovery, but I also think we need to be realistic about it and not think that life (those of us for whom life changed, that is) is automatically going to snap back to the way it was..with us gobbling up everything we could possibly cram into our ginormous houses that we could barely afford on 2 incomes and charging every last purchase we made, paying the minimum each month on our credit cards, putting debt out of our minds, leasing new cars every 2 or 3 years and not putting money away for the future.

Wait, come to think of it, I don’t want that life back.



By Katy

lehman_brothers

Lehman's tower in NYC

One year ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed.  They filed for bankruptcy on Monday September 15, 2008 which created a domino effect that caused our current global economic crisis.  Today, the pundits say the recession is essentially over.   But is it?

According to CNN, only 59.2% of adults in the U.S. are currently employed.  So if I have 100 friends, almost half of them would not be working!  And you know what?  Although I am not consciously keeping track of whether my friends are working or not, I fear this statistic may be true.  On the other hand, even when we are working, some of us are not seeing the same amount of pay as before.  Now let me ask you, are companies scaling back with salaries and pay in order to survive during these hard, economic times or are they taking advantage of workers’ willingness to work under any circumstance?

I talked to a recent grad who just got a job.  Lucky right?  Well, she has to move to another city, and since the job is a government position, the hours and pay are less than what it should be in a “normal” economy.  A hotel employee told one of my relatives that he’s working three jobs these days!  Imagine that!  He has three jobs!  But he says it’s the only way to make ends meet and he barely sleeps.  As for me, I have worked this year, and I have not worked this year.  I have gotten paid less than my “normal” rate, but like the two people above, I am also not complaining because it’s absolutely better to work than to not work!

Happily ever after with my financial decision?

Happily ever after with my financial decision?

I have also postponed a wedding until 2010.  If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that.  You know that I just hired a wedding coordinator, and we’re looking at locations for a wedding next Summer.  What you don’t know…I’m still skeptical about paying for a wedding!  I have the entire amount saved up already, but I still think about whether or not I want to spend that money on one night.  My fiance and I think about putting that money into our retirement fund.  We think about paying down more of our mortgage and refinancing.  We think about buying the unsold unit next to my place, knocking down the wall, and building a bigger loft.  We think about starting a small business.  And sometimes, yes, we think about using the money for a wonderful party celebrating our union with our friends and family.  And no, that doesn’t have to cost the equivalent of annual private school tuitions.

I think this is what this recession has taught me.  You can have money or you can not have money…this recession is the BEST thing that’s happened to everyone…if you’re willing to learn and not repeat the same mistakes.  My recent lesson:  It’s important to think about our choices when it comes to money.  Just like it’s important to think about what we put into our bodies — healthy fruits and veggies or fattening fried foods and lots of sweets — the choices we make today will affect our health, physically and financially, later down the line.  Make healthy and wise choices today, and we’ll live better when we’re older.

When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t think about money.  I thought I had plenty of time to pay off the debts, to save up for retirement, etc.  And if I were to have a wedding in my 20’s, I would’ve done it without even thinking about it.  Now, I would’ve thought about whether I should be getting married or not.  But I wouldn’t have thought about the financial aspects so much.  Now that I’m in my mid-30’s, I don’t have as much time to save up for retirement.  And like most of you out there, I lost about 50% of my retirement account in the last year and a half.  Only this last quarter, did my 401K skip back into positive territory.  So I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma for awhile.  I thought postponing the wedding until next year would help ease my conscience.  It did for about one day.  But I’m taking this one day at a time.  Just like marriage, right?  Right?



{September 1, 2009}   Did I Get Ripped Off?

By Heather

money

The door bell rang the other day while I was paying bills and taking care of other “grown-up” chores. I was going to ignore it, but couldn’t since my children ran to the door screaming “Somebody is here, somebody is here.”

I was forced to deal with a “magazine” salesman.

I’d like to point out that we subscribe to more magazines than a doctor’s office. We get so many each month that we could open a magazine kiosk or host a school bonfire. This is thanks to nieces, nephews and children of friends who sell them for school.

The young man at the door told me a story of how he was trying to stay off the streets, turn his life around and build a better future. His name was Demarcus.

I bought his story hook, line and sinker. If fact, I spent at least 45 minutes giving him my best motivational speech. My inner cheerleader chanted “You can do it… you’re building character and using this job as a stepping stone. Hang in there! Goooo Demarcus!” 

I even gave him pointers on how to improve his presentation. We practiced.

 He asked a lot of questions about college and trade school, I answered them. I truly believed him because he seemed incredibly sincere.  He asked that I pray for him. I told him that I would and I did.

I handed him a check for 4 magazines. We shook hands. He left and took off down the street. I felt “good” about possibly giving someone some helpful advice and encouragement.

But now I can’t help but wonder “did I get ripped off?”

I did a little internet research on the company and found almost nothing on it. That is except for an article warning that it was a scam!

Doh! Did I just throw away my money?

money in trash

I was so caught up in trying to help someone that I forgot to be cautious. I have a tendency to believe that most people are good, kind and truthful. Maybe I should be a little more skeptical.

I sent Demarcus an email warning that if my magazines didn’t arrive in a timely fashion that I would contact the local police department, the Better Business Bureau and the Texas Attorney General.

It just burns me up to think that I spent so much time encouraging someone who may  have ripped me off.

I’m thinking about cancelling my check too. But maybe that’s a little overboard.

Still, my gut tells me he’s a  good person just trying to survive in this economy. Maybe the company is taking advantage of him. I’m just not sure.

 Hopefully I’m wrong about the scam and I’ll soon receive my new magazines. We’ll see. Until then, I just pray that some of my advice and encouragement will stick with Demarcus. I don’t want to believe that I was “taken” …. instead I’d like to believe  that Demarcus IS the hardworking, honest, person for which I took him.

-Heather



{August 30, 2009}   Don’t Wig Out In This Economy

Today’s guest post is from Jasmin Barnes of www.mywigstudio.com.  She is a woman who is determined to not let this economy get her down.  In fact, she started her own business with the idea that every woman deserves to look great…no matter what her circumstances are, whether they’re financial or physical.

Jasmin in a pink wig

Jasmin in a pink wig

By Jasmin Barnes

In this economy, you can’t afford to be unattractive, unproductive, unmotivated and unknown.  It is definitely not the time to sit in one corner, be a fly on the wall and be negative.  With all the bad news we hear from the papers, television and radio, it is not a surprise if you find yourself a little wigged out.

Jasmin & her sis in different wigs

Jasmin & her sis in different wigs

My story started one bad hair day.  I was feeling kind of bummed and just wanted to curl up in bed.  My husband asked me to go to a county fair with him. Hesitantly, I stood up, got dressed and went.  At the fair, I stumbled upon, of all things, this wig vendor.  So I stepped inside the booth and started to try on some pieces. The next thing you know, I bought my very first hairpiece!  I can still recall the feeling when I first put on that piece.  Not only I was amazed at the transformation, I was blown away by how convenient and cost effective it is to stay stylish and fashionable during a recession.  More importantly, it did put a smile on my face!  I wanted to share that fun and fresh feeling with others and introduce this new wave in accessorizing especially during these trying times.

Jasmin transforms her look

Jasmin transforms her look

A wig can transform your look in an instant!  As always, it is important not just to look good but to feel good about your self from within.   And in times like these, you can definitely still be beautiful, positive and be on top of your game.   As a woman, I know that how she feels inside reflects in everything else that she does.  Women these days are juggling different responsibilities from work and at home.  This can be very challenging and can make us easily forget ourselves.  I have 3 kids, a husband, a house, a career to take care of, and a business to run.    I don’t have time to spend fixing up my hair on a daily basis.  With a wig or a hairpiece, you can skip that daily ordeal of blow drying / styling your hair.  You no longer need to curl/ flat iron that often.  You won’t need to frequent the salon which saves you time and time is money.   Today, every second counts – every penny counts!  If you really think about it,  who has got time and money to go to the salon these days? A simple haircut, blow drying and styling (and don’t forget the tip) can leave your wallet dry.   You can use and re-use your hairpiece over and over again for parties, meetings, weddings, concerts!  Some of my clients even take theirs to a cruise!  I find these hair pieces as quick and cost-effective solutions to today’s very active demanding society and problematic economy.

One of Jasmin's wig parties

One of Jasmin's wig parties

My Wig Studio hosts wig parties every other month.    I would invite ladies to come to my studio and try on different styles, textures and colors.  Since I started the biz, I have had 3 successful events!  My customers are usually referrals from friends and family.  Since my products are very personal, I also provide private fittings and consultation at My Wig Studio or at the comforts of my client’s home.    During a recession, all businesses get affected one way or another, but what keeps me going are the emails and messages I get from my customers.  One email said “Thank you very much! You have no idea how you helped spiced up my relationship.” Another one said “I found my self esteem I lost a long time ago and I just love the way I look now.”  These positive reactions from ladies are very inspiring, something you can’t put a price tag on.

Wigs Galore!

Wigs Galore!

We cater to all sorts of people.  I would get calls from cancer patients under going chemo therapy, to entertainers, artists, photographers, and just plain fashionistas and everyday people like you and I who simply like to enhance and update their look.   A wig is no longer just for people with hair loss condition but it has now become part of our daily wardrobe.  However, we are proud to say that a portion of our sales goes to City of Hope’s Cancer Cure research program.  It is just like choosing that pair of shoes and that purse to match that outfit (or that mood for that matter) for the day!  What makes me excited everyday is the anticipation of meeting a new person and knowing her story.   Every lady has her own personality just like every wig has its own character.   When the two meet, I can see fireworks.  It is amazing to see how someone’s personality shines through whenever they put on a hairpiece!

We are all in this together.  Continue to shine, stand out, inspire and make a difference.  All we need is a little daily dose of creativity – so, don’t Wig out in this economy!



{August 28, 2009}   The Reinvention Continues…
–by Carla

As Heather embarks on her new, fabulash career as an interior designer and Katy gets ready to start working on her latest Hollywood hit TV show, I’m here in suburban Dallas, trying not to eff up dinner each night. And so, the reinvention of Carla the Career Radio News Anchor continues…

Yay, the stove's right behind me....mocking me...can you hear it?

Yay, the stove's right behind me....mocking me...can you hear it?

I have made a little headway in the kitchen, but not as much as I’d hoped by now. I mean, I was laid off 9 months ago. You’d think I’d have gotten the hang of being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) by now. But I was “baptized by fire” for this venture, so I try to cut myself a little slack every now and then. It’s not like I started out as a SAHM with my firstborn, then eased into baby #2. I woke up one day and was all of a sudden a SAHM of 2 baby boys…with zero experience.

This week, I did manage to cook a few dishes that didn’t end up crossed out on my “Can Cook This Again” list. I whipped up a chicken and rice casserole Sunday that was inspired by the one and only Campbell’s soup can. Yup, I got me some inspiration at the grocery store last week. I thought, “This looks pretty easy…even *I* can’t screw this one up”. And it was pretty ok. My next bit of inspiration came at the checkout line and one of those little books about “fun cooking for kids” or something. You know the ones…food that looks cute and fun and MAYbe, just maybe, your picky, doesn’t-want-to- ever-eat-anything-at-all, toddler will actually want to eat this stuff. So I then cooked up some chicken strips breaded in crushed corn chips and some other stuff. The breading didn’t even smell appealing to me, but whatever, if Toddler Boy eats it…then fine. I also made some Italian breading-coated chicken strips to go with the giant batch of pasta and sauce I’d made earlier (bc I’m up to HERE with chicken most days). If you’re following along (and I am not), that’s roughly 4 semi-successful meals in about 3 days. I also whipped up my always enjoyable Mexican Casserole which is a lot like what ya get at Chipotle…and even *I* can’t screw up that dish. I’ve made baby Dean several home-cooked meals in the Magic Bullet (bless you, PopPop and Granny for THAT Christmas gift)..and last night I cranked out perhaps the greatest banana bread I have ever cranked out. (For the record, baking does not freak me out like cooking does, for some weird reason)

Success!

…Not really. See, my palate is accustomed to a certain level of yum that my current culinary skills simply cannot deliver. That is a terrible feeling. Talk about champagne taste on a beer budget. It stinks when you’ve eaten at some of the tastiest places on earth, yet you are serving up stuff that a 3rd grader could cook.

It is nice, though, to cook things that my family will actually eat. My very favorite morning this week was when Donald ate my banana bread for breakfast and Dean had a few bites as well, along with his standard baby grub. My heart was huge with joy. Still is.

And lastly this week, in an attempt to save a little money …since I was accidentally poking the boys with my crazy, out of control nails…I hacked them off myself. A good old-fashioned “Recession Manicure”…

Wow, practical AND sexy

Wow, practical AND sexy

…and the tips of my fingers are STILL numb. TOO SHORT. Plus I sliced open the ring finger on my right hand the other day opening the knife drawer. In all, I had 1 bum thumb and 2 bum fingers on the same hand…all while trying to do all of this cooking …just this week. Not to mention the vacuuming, dusting, laundry, laundry, laundry, baby care (all of it), play dates, time-outs, and the who-knows-whats.

Most days I feel like all the other moms are doing a waaaay better job than me…and that I should be waaaay better in the kitchen that I am, that my house should be cleaner, that I should get out more often and host play dates more often and try to meet other moms more often and lose more of this baby weight …and so on, but I also know that I am doing the absolute best that I possibly can.

I also know that I am having the time of my life. A lot of people really don’t understand that, though. I mean, how can you be happy about having lost your nearly six figure income? Easy…

1624a

…I feel like pinching myself because I am living my dream. So what if my cooking stinks right now and money is tight. I’ll learn to cook. In fact, one of my awesome girlfriends …who is very awesome in the kitchen…is organizing cooking classes at her  home coming up soon. I can’t WAIT! (I’m sure I’m not alone on that one…)

…and yes, I do know that there are about 14 different fonts on here. My eyeballs are glazing over. I need a font czar.



By Katy

2009_07_fashionwalk

Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of extremely innovative ways in which people are making money in this recession.  To borrow from some writer at Vogue — (I am paraphrasing) — shopping has become, these days, not just a guilty pleasure…but just plain guilty.  Not so last week when some very innovative fashion peeps decided to host the first ever Fashion Walk!

Sorry this is so small!  It says "Designer Pop Up Stores."

Sorry this is so small! It says "Designer Pop Up Stores."

Hundreds of designers, some known, some not so known, showed their goods in “pop up stores.”  Downtown is seeing a renaissance, of sorts, but in this down economy, there are still plenty of empty storefronts.  For one night, last week, those empty storefronts and spaces were transformed into clothing stores that were open late into the night.  Fashionistas, or shall I say, Recessionistas, flocked into these spur-of-the-moment store openings to check out deals, innovative designs, meet designers, and shop…totally without any guilt!  How can you feel guilty about buying designer clothes at 70% off, and help new and struggling ones, at the same time?

Fiance and I caught on camera

Fiance and I caught on camera

The fiance and I were caught on camera for a website called Racked LA.  You can check out bigger photos on that site.  For their own protection, I guess, I can’t make these photos any larger.  We walked into a couple of different “storefronts.”  At one giant loft space, I got two C&C California shirts (one for $3 and one for $5) and two Rock & Republic silk chiffon shirt dresses for $25 each!  They were all made right here in the USA!  And they retailed for a lot more.  And even if I had not scored with such great finds, it would’ve been a totally fun and free night out!  Some of the clothes looked more like art and some of the “stores” looked more like installations.  DJ’s spinned at some locales, while others brought in live musicians.  Bringing clothes to the masses, instead of relying on a high end department store to sell your clothes, is, to me, a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that has made America what it is today.  The recession is not going to rock us.  We are going to rock this recession.



{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!

PARIS

 

       

   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! 

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 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

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