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Why I didn’t sleep last night

467832154_fxtbo-o1I’m going to go long today. Hang with me.

If you know me at all, you know I am a endless optimist. I believe that things happen for a reason and everything works out in the end. I believe that you can see light when it is dark and that there is joy even when there is sadness and…

Right now, I am shaken. I had a very disturbing e-mail exchange yesterday with a woman I have worked with in the past who is an accomplished, respected consultant. This was the first round:

“I am trying to survive the challenges of the worst year of my life.  I am the poster child for Obama’s economic recovery: downsized in July, unemployed for seven months, no unemployment benefits, no medical insurance, no money, at risk to lose my home of eighteen years.  I work two part-time, minimum wage jobs (both of which I actually enjoy) because I can’t find gainful employment in my field and haven’t had enough consulting work to keep me afloat.  My husband is in real estate – a story too bleak to repeat.
“We prop each other up emotionally, take great pride in our daughter’s accomplishments as a freshman in college, live life one day at a time, and try to feed our souls with various creative pursuits … Anyway, life goes on and you realize that you’re not your job, your title, your latest press release, your money, your clothes or many of the other characteristics we use to define ourselves.  You lose enough ‘stuff’ and you realize that you now have the clearing to reinvent yourself.  That’s what I’m trying to do.”

 My response:

“I truly think that this chaos is happening so we re-evaluate what really matters and is important. The good thing is that we know we will never starve. We all have each other. And life has shown us that we have to trust the universe. Whatever bad we go through now will lead us to the next step and the next. I think we need to have faith that we will wind up going where we are supposed to go. But, I do know it is hard having faith when everything is so rough. These are dark times when we really see the beauty of family, our pets, nature, our memories, our faith. It’s either good or it is bad. I choose good. I think we will find out how strong and shrewd we are. I had an event in Chicago last night where I looked at all those women and said, ‘Our mamas didn’t raise us to be sissies.’ We will get through it. We got through last year, we will get through this year. Hang in there, sweet woman.”

She wrote back:

“Philosophically, I happen to agree with you.  And all those little platitudes and truisms usually get me through the dark soul of the night. But it’s also hard for me to look out into some of those audiences, most of whom still have very privileged problems, when they have not got a clue what it is to be me right now.  People think they know what hard feels like, but it’s been 30, 40, 50 years since their bank account only had $10 in it and they didn’t know where the next $10 was coming from.  I’ve been working since I was 15 and never found myself in this situation before where neither I nor my husband have an income, haven’t had one for months, and there’s no reserve left.  I used my last money to pay my daughter’s tuition and medical insurance and when that runs out, I don’t know what we more we can do for her either.  My car will be repossessed next month and I guess I’ll pretend to be Abe Lincoln, walking six miles to work-my humble part-time minimum wage job.  I worry when my daughter calls from school that she’s going to be calling for money and I won’t be able to send her any. As for starvation, I’ve actually lost 8 lbs.  Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.  But it’s a function of anxiety and let’s face it, how many PB&J’s can one person eat?  And chicken soup for the soul only goes so far. Be well.  Keep the faith.”

I have had at least 30 friends, relatives and acquaintances lose their jobs in the last few months, and I feel guilty when I start feeling down because of the cumulative weight of their bad news is so heavy. It is hard to hear it — but imagine living it.

This woman’s e-mails were harder to digest than anything I have heard or read in this crisis because I know her professional caliber and see so much of myself in her, and vice-versa. If this could happen to her…

I’ve started sending her resume around. If you know anyone who can use a marketing /communications expert, event planner or project manager, let me know asap at . If you don’t, ask around. Or, at least, keep her in your thoughts and prayers. It’s 2009 and it is going to be a long, bumpy ride.

1 Comment
  1. Fawn,

    I’ll keep my eyes open. I usually run around in the high tech community and they tend to pick up talent that has a high tech background. Not sure of the background of your friend, but will let you know if something turns up!


    p.s. Found you on twitter. My twitter ID is jeffworth

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