Offering advice in a Vlog

Recently, for night school, I had to create a Vlog on the topic, “My advice to you.”

I prefer being behind the camera – not in front. Worse, I dislike the sound of my voice and have issues with my appearance. This was not something I wanted to tackle. What’s more, who am I to give advice? I thought for weeks about what I could talk about and I tried to take an inventory of any topics or aspects of my life I have confidence around.

First, I thought of motherhood. Although I don’t for one minute think I’ve done everything right or have all the answers, I do think being a mom is probably the best part of me. So, I entertained the idea of providing advice for perhaps new parents. Again, as I worked through that idea my feeling was that I’m not an expert and not qualified to give advice. Truthfully, a person can receive an endless amount of parenting advice but in the end, they know their child better than anyone else. They’ll make mistakes and learn but it will be a process they can never truly be prepared for. So in this regard my advice would simply be to savour each moment and don’t wish any stage of childhood away. (I can’t wait until they are out of diapers or I can’t wait until they are in school can evolve into I can’t wait for them to call or visit.) Each stage of childhood brings opportunities to become a better you, to love, to appreciate, to be challenged and to be together.

Next, I thought about what I’ve learned in life and if there is any advice or wisdom I could pass along. What works for me though, may not apply to others. My experiences are unique, my personality, perception, it’s not global. So here my advice would only be this, when given the opportunity to choose how to react, choose kindness. I also think it’s important to remember that if you have a strong drive to win, remember for you to win, someone else must lose. Is the cost to them worth the win to you? My relationship with those I love far outweighs my need to win and that’s comfortable for me.

Finally, when talking with my daughter in the car I finally decided to try to get some originality into my assignment. I chose: My advice to you – is to not cheer for two CFL teams – especially when they are the Hamilton Ti-Cats and the Toronto Argos. The rivalry between these teams is well-established and no one could ever be a fan of both! Except, I am. I take a lot of heat for it but I feel like both teams are local to us. So I travel upstream confidently cheering for both only conflicted when they play each other. The assignment required a three-minute post, which I thankfully completed and submitted. What I learned was there is great relief in just getting it done. Vlogs won’t be part of my blog anytime soon; I still prefer the written word and being behind the camera – not in front.

How to survive unemployment

(I had to create a How To post for a night school assignment, thought I’d share it.)

Have you been downsized, restructured, laid off or let go?

Let’s face it, unless you hated your job and had another option lined up or a stockpile of savings – it sucks. But you can survive it. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and you can find ways to light the path until you get there!

I’m not a human resources specialist, nor am I an employment coach, but I have experienced restructuring three times in the last 15 years. This post is intended to give you the benefit of my experience by providing a view of how to survive unemployment from someone who has been there, done that!

  • Step One: It’s Okay to be Angry

Even WikiHow acknowledges that being unemployed isn’t fun. They call it a “difficult state of being.” Unless this is something you’ve been hoping for, and I must acknowledge there always seems to be colleagues who hope they will be chosen to receive a severance package, it is difficult to accept any time your work relationship is ended without it being your choice. In fact, the experts say it is natural to grieve the loss of your job and one of the stages of grief is anger. Once you’ve had a few days to shed some tears or punch some pillows, it’s good to remember that being without employment is not the end of the world. If you had some crystal ball that would reveal when your next job would start, you could possibly even enjoy the time in between. However, since bills still need to get paid and the pressures of life don’t go away, it’s normal to feel stressed.

Forgiveness can be a gift you give yourself. Once I forgave my manager for all my perceived wrongs, I freed myself of the resentment I’d been carrying. It was like I’d been carrying a big ball of anger and I was able to toss it away. The forgiveness didn’t excuse his behavior but it freed me from being tied to it.

  • Step Two: Accept Help

File for Unemployment
If you haven’t been lucky enough to receive a severance package, file for unemployment online. You don’t have to wait for your Record of Employment. Your company will file that online and the information will be matched up. If you do have a severance package or salary continuation, you will likely have to wait for that to end before Employment Insurance (EI) will kick in.

Budget Review
Next, no matter how frugal you are, there are probably expenses you can trim. For me, I’m continuing to dye my grey hairs but I’ve also gone into “play-off mode” by growing my hair until I get a job! This is saving me money. No eating out, purchasing cheaper product brands, and focusing on necessities only. Guess what? When you aren’t driving to work you are saving on gas! (I know that’s really not a comfort is it?)

Employment Counseling
If you received an offer of employment counseling or coaching, take advantage of it. There’s usually at least a nugget or two of helpful information they can provide even if you do consider yourself and expert. If you have not received this offer through your former employer, check with EI or online for resources. Even Service Canada offers information on their website.

  • Step Three: Prepare Yourself

All your well-meaning friends and relatives will start sending you job postings. Ones you have already seen as you will, no doubt, spend much of your time scouring the Internet for opportunities. When this becomes irritating, and it likely will, smile, thank them and examine them because they might just contain something you’ve missed!

Note: my favourite job search sites are Eluta.ca and Indeed.ca.

Almost everyone you meet will have some helpful advice – whether you want it or not. One person I know even suggested I go to every employer I could think of and demand to see their Human Resources department to ask for work, even if I made a nuisance of myself. Like anything, some advice you keep, some you discard.

Try to smile and not be insulted when someone asks if you’ve applied at the local dollar store or bakery or some other place that would pay a third of what you are making. After all, they mean well! Prepare yourself too for the phone calls and greetings of, “So, you have a job yet?”

The days can be long and sometimes lonely and you might feel like you are drowning. Be prepared to not only miss your paycheck, but to miss your colleagues and the social interactions of work. Guilt can come to visit you along with self-doubt and plenty of other emotions. Accept that this is part of the process but remember your skills, education, experience and the unique qualities that are the foundation of what you have to offer.
Remember to invite joy into your life and take time for activities that feed your soul and help you to feel like you are contributing.

And if you have a day where you are in a funk, take a lesson from the youtube video Jessica’s “Daily Affirmation”!

  • Step Four: If At First You Don’t Succeed…Persevere

There is a deluge of tips on the Internet provided by employment experts including the perfect resume and cover letter, performing informational interviews, self-assessments and inventories, interview preparation, self-care and career planning. Seek this out and take that which feels like it fits your personality and try some things that are beyond your comfort zone too, as they might just work.

I don’t think anyone has that crystal ball or magic answer as to how long it will take to get a new job. There are too many factors that can’t be predicted. They key, I think, is to persevere. Keep moving forward. The light at the end of the tunnel exists. It might take longer, maybe even a lot longer, than you’d hope. But it can happen suddenly as if things just seem to magically align and you are back among the employed (enter the da-da-ta-da sound.)

I know someone who was out of work for almost two years and finally accepted a one-year contract but she’s happy. The last time I was out of work for exactly one year. Currently, I’ve endured my “difficult state of being” for six months. And there are still days when the tears threaten to spill out and my outlook is less than sunny. Overall, though, I try to remember that it won’t last forever. And although it’s cliché, I also remind myself there are worse things than unemployment. I remain hopeful.

  • Step Five: Get a job!

If I can express one thing to those who are currently without employment, it’s that it can’t last forever! Remember you are on the right side of the ground! You’ve got skills, if you need to update them, find a way to do that. If you need help with any aspects of the job search, seek them out. But know that you have value and when the timing is right you will land that job.

I’m hoping to remember gratitude when I am working again. Every job has those less-than-favourable aspects whether they be colleagues or tasks and I’m hoping when faced with them, that tolerance and perspective will come from my gratitude.

I also think it’s fair to celebrate. When you have that new job, tell all those who have been supporting you. Express your gratitude for their support and share your good news. Your story of unemployment survival might just inspire someone else in their journey!

Your Invitation

I invite you to:

  • try and shake it off – unemployment sucks but we can’t stay stuck there
  • wake up tomorrow and the next day – and remember the sun will come out
  • don’t be too hard on yourself, your unemployment most-likely was the result of a business decision and not a reflection of your performance
  • remember – nothing lasts forever – employment or unemployment
  • keep doing everything you can to gain employment and eventually it will pay off

Extra Tips:

  • I have discovered guided meditations on YouTube and have made meditating part of my daily routine.
  • Know that you are not alone, perhaps connect with a networking or support group.
  • Journaling an help you express how you are feeling.
  • If your former colleagues don’t connect with you, try not to take it personally and seek the fellowship of your family and friends.
  • Fill your time. Try a new hobby, take a course, and exercise – it all helps keep you healthy.

Remembering my first tattoo

The first time my husband suggested we get tattoos I was shocked. We were strolling down the main drag in Vegas and I think I almost stopped dead in my tracks. “Yeah, right!” I thought. I’m not that kind of girl.

Strangely enough the idea grew on me. Eventually, we got brave. We asked for recommendations and settled on a place. I was so relieved to see the staff cleaning equipment, sterilizing, and caring about the customers. We looked through some albums, chose a design and booked an appointment. All totally in secret, keeping if from our four kids.

The day of the appointment I was pretty nervous at work waiting for the day to end so I could meet my husband at the tattoo shop. My appointment was to start about an hour before his as my piece would take much longer. I had so much nervous energy and felt a bit like a rebellious adolescent about to embark on some sinful experience. Adding to my nervousness was the fact that I was there all alone among the tattooed, pierced, staff with their pants strapped to their hips and the crotches of their pants hanging to their knees.

After several smoke breaks and a delay of at least 45 minutes we got started. I didn’t take any drugs for any of my four child births so hell I can handle this, I told myself.  The stencil was on my back. The smell of his recent smoke break was on his. My bare back was exposed and I was completely in his hands. The machine started to buzz and I was ready for the worst. He started to tattoo me. He paused and waited for a reaction.

“Is that it?” I asked.  “Is that how it feels?”

He laughed and told me I was going to do fine.

What about all those screaming girls needing to hold someone’s hand I’d seen on tv? Drama queens I decided. I will survive, I laughed to myself.

The tattoo took around three hours and was spanned by several more of his smoke breaks. At some point my husband came in and his work began. I remember still having that feeling that nice girls don’t get tattoos but thinking hell, this is me, it’s my choice. Besides, how bad ass is a cherub who is writing on a scroll with a quill anyway?

I’m not going to say it was a breeze. There were several times when the discomfort grew to the point I winced – especially when the needles worked over my spine. It wasn’t pain exactly but rather it felt like someone was scraping a nail over my skin, sometimes more deeply than at other times.

When it was completed I was exhilarated and tired at the same time. I wondered what the kids would think. Since both my husband’s and my tattoos were in places easily covered by clothing we didn’t have to say anything when we got home that evening.

Sleeping was a bit tough since my back was feeling sort of sunburned. And the morning shower felt soothing. It was then that I summoned up my courage and showed my first son. I anxiously awaited his reaction. “Wow, mom. What a beautiful piece of art!” Ahh I could feel the tension moving out of me. One after the other my kids reacted positively and I was happy for their acceptance.

My father who was in the navy and always seemed ashamed of his naked-lady-tattoo on his arm had forbidden us to get tattoos. He had passed away a few years before but what would my mother think? Here I was at 38 wondering what my mother would think.

I finally showed her, prepared for the worst.

“Oh, Janet,” she said. “Maybe now I’ll have the courage to get one!”

What?

She was 68 when she got two tattoos! And I gave her a gift certificate to call her bluff.

My husband forbid me to get anymore. Since he had one, one was the number of reason when it came to tattoos. Oddly, I had never thought of getting more but in that moment of his forbidding I knew this would not be my last!