Just Another One Of The 13.9 Million Unemployed

Unemployed. Out on a limb. Yep, that’s me.

I cashed my last paycheck 15 months ago, back in the middle of the recession. On purpose. With purpose.

I had a good job, a great one, even – with a prescription plan, dental checkups, three-day weekends, and a 401K. It was rollicking, good fun and I knocked off by 4pm, at the latest. The company’s prestige was stellar, my colleagues were exceptional, and there was opportunity for growth. The wine flowed. Have I mentioned the magnum of ’82 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, uncorked just for me?

People thought I was out of my mind, people who had lost their home, steady income, health insurance, a chunk of their retirement account, their sense of security and self-worth. Why the hell would I willingly walk away when worlds were crumbling?

Because great was not good enough.

Because when the market is down, I’m like Warren Buffett.

Because there’s no place like the right time. And it was my time.

Once, a few years earlier, the CEO, this restaurateur who built his empire from the dining room floor of a neglected neighborhood all the way up to the skyscrapers of Dubai, poked his head into my office and greeted me with a rhetorical, “Hey, Kellie! Workin’ hard?” before he turned and continued walking down the hallway.

“No,” I replied. “Not really.”

Mid-stride, he hesitated. Uh-oh. I had caught him off guard.

Now here’s the guy who signed my paychecks, and probably didn’t appreciate my cheekiness, but truly, I wasn’t working hard. Work hard is what my dad did – a veterinarian by day, a farmer at night. It’s what the lobstermen do here in Maine, hauling traps in dangerous weather. It’s what moms do everyday. It’s what he did, twenty years prior, when he opened his first place, when he took a risk on real estate next to a methadone clinic and earned the trust of each customer, one by one.

That’s what I really wanted to do, take a risk. Not support someone else’s vision, but manifest my own. And for that, I’ll bloody my knuckles, scrub the basement with a two-bristled brush, and sell my soul. For it was my soul that was banging on the bars, begging to be filled. I left those spreadsheets and time cards to be filled by someone else.

Now, pour a jigger of my former boss’s entrepreneurial sensibility over ice, add a dash or three of my tendency to disregard the financial and cultural climate, garnish the rim with a dusting of dreams… and voilà! Here I am, taking an emotional gamble and it’s the hardest damn work I’ve ever done. But did I have to launch my rocket during the recession? Couldn’t I have waited for the terra to be a bit more firma?

Nah. What better time to cliff dive than when the economy is weak and I’m feeling strong. Better odds that way. I’ll grow despite, with less resistance, as everyone’s running for cover. The vine must struggle? I’ll leave that to the viticulturists…

Not to say it hasn’t been scary.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of feeling vulnerable, looking stupid, being rejected.

Overcoming these? Not so easy.

How about getting Lyme disease without insurance in these Tea Party times? Or paring down, living on $12,000 a year? Then figuring out how to build a website, a platform, a freelance income, a brand new life?

THAT’S sweat equity.

Then comes the real effort. Maintaining health, cultivating creativity, releasing stubborn obstacles, and breaking habits with gripping roots of steel. It takes commitment, fortitude, perseverance… and a plan. You have to know what you want to get what you want.

First, know thyself. And that is the hardest work of all.

I give thanks every day for all I do have, especially my solid support system, for without loving friends and family (and those random kindnesses of strangers), these challenges would feel a lot more like struggles.

At the end of it all, being one of almost 14 million was NOT on my wish list, but it will undoubtedly lead me to become that one IN a million.

Just like the ’82 Bordeaux. I’m sure of it.

Besides, with markets continuing to crash and real estate still iffy, you’ve got to invest in something worthwhile, right? Might as well be yourself.

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  1. Ahh just what I needed to read. I just started writing my book today about my own dropping out… Yeah, we’re starting our own revolution – who wants to join us?

  2. Viva la revolucion!

  3. Jane Powell

     /  10 August 2011

    You ARE that one in a million and I am so glad you are on to it. We all get to benefit from that trust, conviction, expression and inspiration. Living our best lives outside the conventional world’s limiting confines allows for endless possibilities, daring dreams, and wonderful surprises beyond even our wildest expectations.

    I’m in !!!

    • Jane~
      Sign us up for superstardom! Letting our little lights shine! And wonderful surprises: yes…let’s have some of those, too 🙂

  4. I sense a new level of boldness…it’s been under the surface, but this post is like the fish leaping out of the water, or should I say dolphin, maybe even an orca? Sounds very good to hear you so confident. I really like the new look to the site too.

    And, see, life is hard, but only when we’re working on worthy challenges. And it’s the only kind of life you’re willing to live!

    • Cara~
      Thanks, I DO feel bolder and more confident, & more clear, too. But I still say that life is beautiful, and can be easy (so long as we’re not resisting), but that some things are hard, meaning they require dedicated effort. I agree with you on the worthiness of living a life when we’re challenging ourselves…so rewarding! xoxo

  5. I really enjoyed this post! It’s well-written and you make great points. Risk-taking is the way to go–and it does pay off. I’m so happy to see you following your dreams and making them real…right now!

    • Lisa ~
      Thanks, fellow risk-taker! How great is the life of climbing out on that limb and plucking the fruit? Hope to count you among my subscribers soon 🙂 Glad to reconnect!

  6. Carolyn Y. Stewart

     /  11 August 2011

    Thank you, KB!- a great post from beginning to end. Makes me feel better about being one of the many unemployed. Love your spirit and drive!

    • CYS ~
      Hello miss mama! Means a lot you stopped by, knowing how busy you must be lately 🙂
      Besides, we may be unemployed in the traditional sense, but aren’t we hard at work in so many other ways? I know some of my drive has been influenced by you 🙂 Love you! xo

  7. Nancy Meagher

     /  11 August 2011

    Your writings and insights just keep getting better and better. I feel fortunate that I am able to share in your life this way. Keep up the great work.

    Blessings Nan

    • Nan ~
      Thanks for watching me grow! I feel fortunate to have you as one of my witnesses, and encouragers 🙂 Means a lot to me…xo

  8. Oh how I love you girl…! WELL DONE! Here’s a little Jack Canfield quote that I like a lot: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got”

  9. Joe

     /  15 August 2011

    Kelly..what a beautiful page, concept and representation of who you are. Inspiring writing. I almost sent you a message the other day. I was thinking of you. Lets keep going. Much love!

    • Joe ~
      Thank you so much! Supporters of the Creative Economy unite! Love right back to you…

  10. What a wonderful post, Kellie. You’re an inspiration!
    I, too, walked away from a terrific job to live my creativity. And what a great decision it was!

    • Brandan~
      Congrats on jumping! I bet you’re an inspiration to many for taking the leap…thanks for checking me out + becoming a subscriber. Glad to have you around.

  11. Your words are very inspiring. Now I am also going to do something. Don’t know what, but hope I’ll figure out soon.

  12. V ~
    Thanks for stopping by & commenting 🙂

    Agreed, we all WANT to do something, but it’s not always easy to know WHAT. Funny to say, maybe, but a part of my path (perhaps too much) was to find out what I didn’t want to do, what didn’t feel good. I’m still refining ways to express myself to the highest degree of authenticity. But the most important thing I’ve done – is to JUMP. Take action. Do something, as close as I can get to what feels really good to me.

  13. I walked away from a job that was making me ill (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually). Great salary & benefits. But not worth the pain I felt every morning when I didn’t want to get out of bed. I have been dog walking for the past 4 months, using my savings to supplement my income and working on creating a business. In addition to leaving the job, I cut a 185 lbs male ball & chain from life (a relationship, like my career, that wasn’t going anywhere). I am now free and loving it. I am not stressed because I know I will be okay. I have faith I will be able to cover my bills. Ironically enough, I am eating better now making less money than I was making 4x more. I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire adult life.

    • Brenda~
      Brava! Your story fills me with joy! Isn’t it funny how scared we are to make that leap, that we wait until we are miserable? And then on the other side there is so much relief… I, too, am eating better, exercising happily, and pretty darn stress-free. Thank you for sharing your success – may your courage spark others to follow your lead!

  14. wow, what a post! your passion comes through. are you really living on $12k a year? what is that like for someone who had such a glam city lifestyle?

  15. Betty,
    I must say, moving to the country (from where I originated) helped enormously. As well, paring down, significantly and repeatedly, both my material belongings and my emotionality, was an essential (and ongoing) component. It’s amazing to realize that we need very little. Liberating myself from outdated mindsets, lingering wounds and stained college books has taken me far! Of course, I do miss walking into Gramercy Tavern and ordering whatever I want 😉 but I’ve replaced that with simply delicious home-cooked meals. Taming my desires has been fascinating, for sure. But, like we all know on some level, it’s all about love, people, presence. Happy New Year and best of luck on your new job!

  1. To Resume Or Not To Resume? Bullet Points, Job Descriptions and Little White Lies « off~peak

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