I haven't written much about my unemployment. Partially because I didn't want my blog to turn into nothing but whining and mopey-ness (is that even a word?!), but also because it's taking me a while to come to terms with the situation and to figure out what to do next.
Now, as always, I need to pre-cursor this with the fact that I am eternally grateful that I don't have BIGGER issues in my life. My health is fine, my family's health is fine, and that's really all that matters. However, those of you that have been laid off will understand that it very much is a grieving process. I haven't worked all the way through that yet.
I do have plan! (and a to-do list to match.. imagine that!)
I started my masters degree in Public Administration & Non-Profit Leadership in 2007. I got about half way through the program when I got married, and then got my full-time job at GAAH. With the wedding planning, house-buying, and new job, I took a break. It turned into a year break!
So I figure that while I'm unemployed, the job market and economy are crummy, and to be honest - I'm not ENTIRELY sure what, specifically, I want to spend the rest of my life doing, that now would be the time to go back to school. Full time! Yup, I'm going to be a college kid again. Well, sort of!
Lucky for me I have an awesome mentor/professor at WMU (Go Broncos!) who is bending over backwards to help me get things in order. After all, we're fast approaching mid-August and classes start very soon. I have to re-apply to the school and the program since I've been gone a year, and I can't register for classes until all that gets approved. The program has changed its curriculum since I was last in school so I had to map out what all I have taken, and what I still need to take in order to graduate.
Additionally, my graduate program qualifies for the "No Worker Left Behind" program. Essentially, because I have been laid off and am going back to school for an "in demand" career - I get $10,000 towards my schooling. Part of me hates the fact that I am falling back on government programs like this (yup, I'm a snot - never thought I'd have to take advantage of stuff like this) but at the same time its a relief. I probably won't have to take out loans at all - since I'm working with the department to secure a graduate assistantship for my second semester there which will cover tuition as well.
So good plan, right? I can collect unemployment for awhile (again, the thought of this makes me a little sick to my stomach - makes me feel like a loser - I am a snob) while I get back into the swing of things school-wise, and then if I want to I can get a part-time job in a non-profit to keep my foot in the door. The sad reality is that non-profits are looking for excellent part-timers because they can't/don't want to pay for a full-time staff person. Although, if I get the assistantship, I may not even need a job.
If all goes to plan I should graduate in August 2010 - as long as we can get a scheduling kink or two worked out.
I figure going back to school will give me some good thinking time and the ability to get really specific about what kind of organization I want to work for and doing what. Additionally, it's going to give me the opportunity to play around with some other things. So many people, when they heard I lost my job, have encouraged me to pursue something artsy, crafty, or cupcakey. A lot of folks see the things I produce on my craft blog.
While I have no idea where to start with something like that - the thought of being an entrepreneur and small business owner definitely appeals to me. Heather and I have started getting requests to do cupcakes for peoples' events and parties - so we're going to put some business cards together and see where that takes us. And I'm going to start building a stock of crafty creations in preparation for opening an Etsy shop.
It's something fun and creative for me to do. Maybe it will stay as a hobby - maybe it will someday be more? Who knows.
The bottom line is that I am doing okay. I still get sad, but I think I'm allowed to. I ran into a board member from my old job yesterday at Costco who was lovely and greeted me warmly, but it was still awkward - because neither of us really knew what to say. As much as I would whine sometimes about getting up and getting into work - it feels worse to know on Sunday night that I don't have anywhere to get up and go to in the morning. It would be one thing if I had CHOSEN to not have a job, but I didn't. I'm a bit of a control freak... : )
So I'm trying to enjoy the downtime. Take advantage of it while I have it, you know? Do some projects around the house, enjoy the summer (ahem!) weather, spend time with friends and their babies while they are still young. It's a good thing, right? Everything happens for a reason.