Thursday, December 9, 2010

Season of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is the time of year that gets most people thinking about everything good that has come their way in the months past. For me the quickly approaching year-end truly solidifies thoughts about where I've been, where I'm headed & all that I'm thankful for.

We live in a time where so much that many of us take for granted & think of as necessities are pure pipe dreams for others.  Just read the headlines from the past week & you'll see that you never know what tomorrow will bring or how much you could literally lose in an instant.
  • A man's home burned down in the city next door from ours & he perished along with it.
  • A driver racing to flee the police crashes into another vehicle, taking the life of a Mother & her two children.
  • A soon-to-be-homeless 50+ long term unemployed 99er writes a suicide note after being on the brink of despair & hopelessness, not knowing what to do next or where to go.
  • A woman contemplates placing her kids in foster care so that they don't run the risk of being homeless along with her, seeing no other options or saving grace.
I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. After a lifetime of taking the ability to quickly find good jobs & maintain them for many years with great pay, bonuses, benefits & good opportunities for advancement, I found myself & a number of close co-workers suddenly displaced. There was no advance knowledge of exactly how far the economy would slide clues that this would not be a short-term situation.  Days turned into weeks, then months, then a year & several months of unemployment & no real "good news" coming from hiring circles in the industries I knew so well.  

"An overnight sprinkling of snow - our doubts, chased away by morning as faith climbs even wintry skies." - Modern haiku from Paris, France

Thank God for severance, savings, then unemployment checks, not to mention realigned priorities and expectations forever changed.  Twitter & Linked In has kept me in touch with people experiencing similar challenges, including some tweeps which I've yet to meet IRL, but certainly plan to. There are those I follow on Twitter because of their intelligent thoughts, positive messages & magnetic personalities. Others I look forward to reading in my timeline because they resemble who & what I am very proud to be - a working mother.

We all get excited for the holidays & do what we can to make memories & long standing traditions for our families.  We adopt families & play Santa, buying them gifts.  We contribute to gift causes through our churches, or bring food so that the homeless can be fed.

"Eternal goodness, you want me to gaze into you and see that you love me.  You love me freely, and you want me to love and serve my neighbors with the same love, offering them my prayers and my possessions, as far as in me lies..." 
- St Catherine of Siena ( 1347-1380), Italy

I'm thankful that contract work can turn into full time work - as so many others are still looking for something - any type of work to help them get back on their feet. I am fortunate.

I'm grateful for discounts offered to alumni that put me over the edge & gave me the justification to spend money on continuing education, so that I can continue to work towards bigger & better career goals. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know the people in my class - some employed but the majority still are not. All are very intelligent, highly educated individuals that deserve some peace of mind & the means to be able to support their families. 

One in particular is soon to be a 99er & hasn't has a single face-to-face interview in almost 2 years & is terrified of what tomorrow won't bring. He desperately just wants to work - he'd move his family anywhere in the country to do it. Every week we have tried to encourage him not to lose hope.

I'm thankful to have a supportive husband, extended family & good friends, who had faith & said prayers that kept me from giving up.  I'm grateful for my child's unconditional love & the fact that he's resilient & at his tender age, never really knew all that he missed out on while I was out of work.  

Things could ALWAYS be so much worse & the light at the end of the tunnel, though it still seems far away at times - it still burns bright.

We've all been guilty of "doing our part" when the decorations are up & the holiday music plays, & then we quickly become self absorbed in our own personal goals & resolutions for the new year. My holiday wish for you is to find a way to extend yourself - volunteer, well into 2011 & be a champion for a worthy cause. You truly can extend this season of gratitude & keep others hopeful in the process.

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