Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cowls and Change

I noticed at the Knit Club that all the women wore an item they had knitted be it a scarf, sweater, wrist warmers - and there were a lot of cowls/neck warmers. So it made me want to wear something too and with a $3.00 skein of yarn I created my own cowl which I wore last night.

At the meeting, I sat next to a woman whose daughter soon leaves for a mission assignment overseas. She also talked about her 55-year-old husband having lost his job in June. He has been on the job hunt but nothing is in the works and they are thinking of moving to Texas for a cheaper cost of living and to be closer to some family there. I think of my difficulty in finding "real" work, not the part time stuff I've been doing just to make ends meet. At times with this hostess job I am so bored I want to scream! I felt the same way cashiering at the big box store.

This all leads up to Obama's State of the Union Address on Tuesday. It was an interesting speech for me because the beginning of it reminded me a lot of widowhood. When Obama talked about the middle-aged population struggling to find employment he used words such as reinvention and having had known worlds collapse around you. Both of these descriptions so aptly fit widowhood as well.

The references to reinvention are really bothering me. Because having lived a life that has pretty much totally collapsed on all levels, I know first hand how difficult it is to reestablish oneself and start anew. Obama really didn't offer any examples or ideas of how people are supposed to "reinvent" themselves except to go back to school. This is troubling because I can't afford that option now except for a program at a community college because I have to concentrate on getting two kids through college - their education is the number one priority. My educational goals are secondary, yet I need to make enough to find a job where I feel emotionally fulfilled and economically stable.

Obama also talked about the health care crisis. Today I received notification that although my sons will still be covered under the State, I will lose my coverage. How am I supposed to afford medical insurance for myself now? It seems as though I can never get caught up (I'm assuming my insurance will run about $300.00 monthly). We can barely make it on the pension yet we qualify for no benefits other than the insurance such as for food and utility subsidies. My rent alone costs $1,200.00. I need a full time job with insurance benefits. But like so many other mid-lifers out of work am at a loss about how I go reinventing my work and career life.

I heard a horrifying statistic. I seem to recall that it was something along the lines that 85% (it might have even been higher) of people ages 55 and older currently out of work will never find work again. The suggestion was for mid-lifers to somehow try and create their own consulting type jobs and become independent contractors. Easier said than done.

This is all very gloomy and distressing. No one seems to have any real solutions. I want to try and remain positive that despite my outdated and defunct master's degree I can somehow turn my experience around and add some kind of training to it so I can work in an office again as a professional and actually have a health insurance plan. That will be the focus of my efforts at this point. But it is so hard with so much else always on my plate...

I wish it were as easy as simply taking an evening to knit a cowl. But therein perhaps lies the answer. I did knit a cowl to adapt and fit in. I have to continue to believe that it will happen on the major fronts too.


  1. That is a horrifying statistic, that we baby boomers have so few employment opportunities. I have no solutions either. Some support I am.

  2. Just got the Chicago Tribune where they did a story about three women who start second careers. I will report on what they did after I read the article. I don't normally read the paper anymore (no time) but felt it was worth getting because of this article.