Have you ever “re-invented” yourself? Were you an employment casualty in this Great Recession, or do you know someone that was?
Before December 2, 2008 my life was pretty much that of a typical middle-class American citizen. My husband and I owned a pretty typical home, in a pretty typical small town, and our daughter was involved in pretty typical activities for a girl her age. Not a lavish lifestyle by most means, but we had been fortunate enough to take vacations, let our daughter try any activity she wanted, and give to our favorite charities without worry. We were comfortable enough that I took flexible, and most often non-profit work, to be available to our daughter through her younger years. The plan had always been when she entered high school, I would go get a “real job.” Ironically, that occurred just as our national economy “shifted.”
My husband had a job in middle management for an industry-leading transportation company. He worked his way up from an entry-level position, earning promotions and a transfer out of state from our original location. In the 19 years he was with the company he had near perfect attendance and no disciplinary letters in his file. He had become a go-to guy for training and technology within his region…A boy scout; a model employee. To this day I still do not understand how someone of that stature earns dismissal from employment. The words “I’m coming home – I just lost my job,” still ring in my ears like screeching wheels in car accident. I know I share this with others. Like many Americans we were not in the position to fight it or not sign the letter of separation. In the matter of moments, we were part of a very large “club” emerging in our nation.
My father had experienced similar in the early 1980s. I understood what it meant to re-adjust your lifestyle and find a new set of priorities – at least from a kid’s perspective.
In 2008, it happened to be that our family struggle occurred at the same time our town was suffering from an unemployment epidemic triggered by DHL’s pullout of their American operations hub headquartered in our town, Wilmington, Ohio. Many have call it a “double-whammy”: The Great Recession + The DHL Pullout. As I discussed in a recent radio show interview, I honestly cannot think of any local family that has not had some interface with joblessness and unemployment.
As people very involved in our community it has been an interesting balance for our family — continuing to serve our community while in the position of facing the need to be served. Our family has been blessed with kindness and support.
What have we done? How have we coped?
We have budgeted and weighed every decision carefully. We have traded services for goods, and we have even showered less to save water. The consistent question has been, “How do we make it to a year from now on what we’ve currently got?” Personally, I’ve set aside a lot of what I did and how I lived my life. In my mind, I had to always be doing something – making some effort – to propel our family forward. As someone very determined and with high self-expectations, I can’t remember the last time I slept more than four hours in my bed. My husband has continued in his leadership roles. He jumped into several committees to shape our region’s future. His job search…spanned the globe! Meanwhile, we started a business in a unique niche and a partnership that had been in formulation for a time. My daughter – now a high school junior, has found new skills, new leadership abilities, and has a keener grasp on being frugal than I ever did!
How has the community coped?
Just like you see and hear on TV! Most individuals have the greater good in mind, and strive for the benefit of everyone…the larger family. People ask how others are doing, and genuinely want to know the real answer. Church groups have not stopped reaching out to those in need. Business owners have found new ways to collaborate and form partnerships. Buy Local First has taken off. Handfuls of new businesses have been started and seem to be taking shape. Energize Clinton County continues to work on Green Development and energizing people. Wilmington and Clinton County have taken slogans like “A Great Place to Call Home,” and “A Great Place to Do Business.” Not a bad place to be!
Personally, our situation is looking up. After almost two years, my husband is employed in a new industry – one where he is exploring new technologies that encourages economic development. My daughter is succeeding at school and in her exploration of bronze sculpting. Me? I’ve taken my casual consulting company, kept what was working, and trained on new media to launch a division on the cutting edge of what’s happening in this world!
Tomorrow Glenn Beck comes to our town to celebrate “America’s First Christmas.” His visit has spurred a great deal of national attention, and the town is buzzing with new activity. Shops are seeing surges in business. Phones do not stop ringing. I’ve seen smiles I haven’t seen in awhile, and giggles that are music to my ears. Most people I know are making plans for their Wednesday. My family has been working their butts off trying to nail down all the details of our personal logistics and finalizing our presence at Wilmington General Store online!!
Am I excited? Yes. For me, this has been an opportunity to get past the negative, and start anew with some positive. Like a new colorful sunrise shining the way to a brighter path. Do I feel broke? Sometimes. Yet the spirit that has come from all of this led me to use a Twitter hashtag: #werenotbroke. Because I’m not…we’re not. The excerpts you have seen on television about Sugartree Ministries are real. We are a community of determined and heartfelt people. How can we be broke??
Glenn’s expecting to find something like Bedford Falls. Wonder if that is what he’ll experience… I for one, will be in town – come visit me at Books ‘N’ More on the lower-level!! I’ll be greeting visitors and promoting my services. Look for me in the violet T-shirt. If you want to meet my husband, he’ll be running the outdoor entertainment at the City Stage. My daughter will be at South Street Gallery sculpting her newest piece.
I’ll be tweeting throughout Wednesday, December 15, 2010 with the hashtag (#werenotbroke). Several have picked it up – I invite you to join the conversation! Share what you think of Glenn’s visit to Wilmington. Or what drives your spirit. I genuinely want to know. If you’re on Twitter follow me at @ideagirlmedia, or more personally at @connectyou.