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I have been working 2 or 3 jobs for the past 11 years.  I have gone back and forth between being okay with it, and feeling like it’s killing me.  Right now, I’m at two jobs…. and I’m over it.

I have been at my second job for 8 years.  For a long time, it was a labor of love.  But for the last year or so, I have been wanting to quit.  It kept me going when I was unemployed, so I was glad I didn’t quit before I got laid off.   It has been helpful in buying the house, and the extra income made little luxuries (like maybe plane tickets) possible.  Last year, when I thought we were going to go away this year, I was so relieved to think that I wouldn’t have to do the job for another year.  Well, as I’ve said before, life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.

These days, I feel like I’m just not doing a good job at this job.  I let things slide.  I got (another) lecture from my boss last night about it.  And these days, even though we’re friends, I feel like sometimes he’s judgemental of me in ways that I don’t need or agree with.

Then I think that maybe I still need that extra income.  The job has been really flexible from a time perspective, which another part-time job might not offer.  But I almost dread going to work. I am so aware that I’m not doing a good job that it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I keep thinking I just need to be more disciplined, more organized, more dedicated, but nothing seems to work to motivate me.

I don’t know what to do.  I would prefer to go out on a high note, like John Elway leaving the Broncos after two Super Bowl wins, but I think it’s too late for that.  I don’t want to admit that I can’t do it – and I don’t think that’s the problem.  It’s that I’m burned out and don’t want to do it anymore.  I love my full-time job.  The pay is decent.  I’m motivated to go to work, so it’s not like I don’t want to work.  The commute adds a lot of time and energy to my day, and if I didn’t have the second job hanging over my head, I would be okay with that. 

The bottom line is, I don’t want to do the job anymore, but I am scared to let it go – afraid I’ll need the extra money – and I don’t want to admit defeat.  I don’t want to admit that I can’t do it.

So what do I do, readers?  When is it time to let go?

I feel like I am at a fork in the road. 

Yes, I’m having to regroup, to forge new dreams, or decide on pursuing my long-standing dreams on my own – or both.  I need a few winter clothes – I had made a point of not buying any because I had in my head that I wouldn’t really be hanging around for much more cold weather.  Well, looks like I’m here for another season, so might as well stay warm.

But I digress…

I would LOVE to make my own freelancing business work.  I haven’t put any heart into it. Zip. Zilch. Zero.  I’ve been writing a lot, and loving it, but I haven’t been doing business writing.  Just working on the novel, and a chapbook.  And those things are going to pay off.  But for right now, I am wondering if I need to do something different – which translates into a real-life, full-time job. 

I’m not adverse to the idea – not wholly.  I am usually emotionally better the busier I am.  And I’ve been pretty isolated since I left full-time work.  I was just really hoping NOT to have to work for anyone again.  So I guess I’m thinking out loud here, about the different tines on the fork that is in my way.

Tine #1:  I can really set down to find freelance writing work.  That means talking to everyone I know on LinkedIn, doing the whole Business After Hours networking with the Chamber of Commerce, and….cold calling, the thing I hate the most in the universe.

Tine #2:  I can look for a grown-up job in my field.  That has some advantages: benefits (especially health insurance, which is going to run out in August),  consistent income, socialization.  It could lead to me being able to buy a house.  And it would give me some more writing experience, albeit of a different sort, since that’s what I would try to get – a job in the marketing/writing field.  But wouldn’t I be giving up on my dream?  Or would I just be postponing it? 

Tine #3:  I can find a second part-time job.  Between two part-time jobs, I could have a semi-decent income. I could do something different, like be a barista, work in a bookstore, a gallery, or any one of the many things I’ve always wanted to try.  Life would be juggling schedules, and wouldn’t give me much time to travel.  But there would be variety.  I like variety in my work.

Tine #4:  I can start working on articles for publication and just (appropriately) flood the market to get some things published.  I can start looking for an agent for my novel.  This tine takes me most directly towards my future.

Tine #5:  I can go back to school – more specifically, nursing school.  I’ve always wanted to be a nurse.  That would require taking out a student loan, and…studying.  At least Kelsea and I could keep each other company while doing homework.

Tine #6:  I could join the Peace Corps.  Seriously!  They do take people my age.  And it’s the closest I can get to running off and joining the French Foreign Legion, like heartbroken romantics used to do in the last century.  OK, they were men, but you get the picture.  It would be a good thing for me, doing something socially conscious.

Tine #7 (yes, it’s a big fork): I can keep things as is, status quo. I can keep going like I am right now, with one part-time job, for another year.  I can travel.  I’d have to make some more decisions when my lease is up, about  not having a place and just travelling all the time, finding a new place, or staying in this place.

I have a lot of options.  As I said in my New Year’s post, I’m visualizing my future as it already exists.  These choices are avenues to the same place; it’s just a matter of which will make me happiest and most comfortable.  It may not be a matter of choosing one option, either.  It may be a combination of all of them.  And any of them will take some time to develop – it’s not as if I expect to walk out the door tomorrow and have to dodge job offers like I have to dodge birds attacking the Cottage.

This is the sort of thinking and writing I was hoping to do while I was at the Hot Springs last week, and it’s the only writing and thinking that I didn’t get around to, which means that I wasn’t meant to do it there and then.  But I do need to get in motion.  It will be fun, whatever it is.

But I do rather wish it was a spoon in the road.  I have rather a penchant for spoons.

Don’t worry, I’ll get back to seashells tomorrow – it takes more research than you’d think!  I love doing research for that kind of stuff.  Come to think of it, I’ve always liked doing research for term papers and such.  It’s like hide-and-seek or detective work – which are rather similar, aren’t they?

I watched Deadliest Catch this afternoon while working out.  The Captain used to like it, but I had never seen it.  The skipper of the Wizard, Keith Colburn, looks and talks a lot like the Captain, so it’s kind of nice to watch.  But in the episodes I caught today, Captain Phil thought he had a punctured lung and spent considerable time contemplating his own mortality.  I found that interesting, ironic and foreshadow-y, considering his death from a stroke this past February.  I wonder if the two were related?  At any rate, he seemed like a really good dude, someone I would have liked, and his passing, which I took note of in February even though I’d never watched the show, saddens me.

I woke up so incredibly depressed this morning. I feel better now, after the workout and getting out a bit, but I swear I could have just sat on the couch zoning out in front of the TV forever.  I attribute this to several things.

1.  Getting so sick right when I was gearing up to start my new business was a very bad thing.  I lost a lot of momentum.  And I am having a very difficult time getting it back.  Hey, didn’t I whine about this just last week?

2.  It’s hard for me to work at home.  Since I’m not good at keeping in touch with friends, I find myself very isolated.  I don’t miss going to work everyday, but I do miss interacting with people.  Perhaps a part-time job at Starbucks is not a bad idea.  Isn’t barista a transferable skill?At least I will be sure to go write at coffeehouses this week, just to get me out of my own house.

3.  The lack of income makes me feel unsafe.  Yes, I have enough to live on for a while.  But just as I was tired of working so much and taking care of everybody, I find that even taking care of just me is a real drain on my soul.  I have always been so independent that this feeling is truly alien for me, but catch myself tearing up, lamenting my lost childhood, where someone else was taking care of me and I was always safe.  Not that I want to find a man to take care of me, but … but … oh, I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter.  It is what it is.

I have no plane ticket in hand.  I HATE it when that happens.  Kelsea and I are planning to drive to Topsail this year, which should be an experience and a half.  But I was toying with the idea of a month in Paris.  Why not now?  If not now, when?  OK, how about a week in Sanibel Island?  But this is where the lack of income becomes a huge boil on my spirit.

Duke is in the Elite 8.  I don’t watch basketball, but my parents loved it before they died (and perhaps still – who can be sure about the afterlife?), and they were hardcore Dukies.  So I pay attention to March Madness in their honor.  They’d have been so pleased and excited.  And my Dad, with his West Virginia roots, would have been happy about that team as well.

Why is it so often cold on weekends but warm during the week?  And why, since I am not working (how weird is that?) should it matter to me, as a weekday is the same as a weekend?  Old habits die hard.

Once again, I have missed the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington. This year was the perfect opportunity, as E-Bro had so generously offered to fly Kelsea and me out for Spring Break.  But I couldn’t justify the other expenses just now, so I sadly declined.  Her Spring Break hasn’t worked out the way either of us thought, but at least she hasn’t had to go to school.  A promise: Cherry Blossom Festival next year for sure.  Life’s too short.

That’s just it in a nutshell, isn’t it?  Life’s too short.

I spent a lot of time last weekend reading up on how to start my business, get clients, etc.  I would get very motivated, very excited…and then very intimidated.  It became positively overwhelming — making lists of potential clients and contacts, finding a web hosting service, considering brochures, letters, business cards, direct mail, sample, and on and on.

I retreated to the safety of the same book that inspired the angst – The Well Fed Writer – and it was somewhat comforting.  There’s just so very much to do to create a business presence in the freelance world.  But I’m doing it.  I spent this morning working on a website – hosting through FatCow is fairly easy, but I don’t really like the template options that they’ve offered me.  Still, it’ll do for now, until I can upgrade to something spiffier.  At least it’s one bite out of the elephant.

So what’s on the agenda for this afternoon?  I guess it’s the next bite – starting to look for possible jobs and making that client/call list.

Last night, someone told me I looked “radiant.”  I haven’t heard that for years.  To what do I attribute my newfound radiance (apart from 10 fewer pounds and a lot of cold medicine)?

Yesterday was my last day at my full-time job.  Yes, my 8-month contract ended yesterday.  I had been there almost 9 years to the day (except for a relatively brief hiatus.)  And I haven’t shed a tear.  I haven’t felt awful or depressed or overly scared.  As I said before, I will miss the people and the paycheck, but not the job.

As I’ve been talking to people about my new business, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback and encouragement.  In fact, I am meeting with my first potential client on Tuesday.  I’m excited!  And nervous.  As he described the project on the phone, I realized that it was something I could actually do.  In fact, it was very similar to a project I’d done before at my half-time job.  So I’m cautiously optimistic.

I met with my financial advisor (yikes, that sounds pretentious, given the teeny tiny amount of money I have) yesterday morning to talk about other things, and we wound up talking about starting my business.  He gave me fatherly advice, and asked me a lot of practical questions that I need to be able to answer for myself to make things run smoothly.

This weekend, I’ll be putting things together for the business-end of the dog.  Next week, I’ll start working on the barking-end of the dog.

I’m just feeling very, very positive, and after such a long dark spell, that’s a very good feeling.

October 2014
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