Sunday, July 10, 2011

To every season: growth, change and gratitude


Many of you already know this – my husband was laid off a little while ago. It's been a madhouse of re-adjustment since then - adapting schedules and needs, opening our minds and changing plans. Despite everything we have tried to be positive and grateful. We have so much to be thankful for, so many new opportunities to consider and an unbelievable support system. Job hunting is ever humbling and no need to add to that challenge. Though I am positive that my husband is talented, highly creative, and an asset to any organization the job of convincing others is not mine to do...


And so, as always, I have turned to a talent I have always had but often take for granted: industriousness. Some of the work has already been done and for that I am glad. Some is left to be done, and for that I am excited to be challenged. We were lucky, in some sense, that when faced with the blow to our budget we were not painfully impacted - we have worked diligently to reduce unnecessary spending and live within our means. Those crazy Luddite tendencies: turning off cable or switching to pre-paid cell phones, those eco-friendly choices - no paper towels or napkins and homemade laundry detergent  - it all adds, or rather, subtracts from, the bottom line.


One of the first things I considered after re-working our budget was food. We are knee-deep in a plentiful season of beautiful food - a time I usually take to stock up for winter and preserve the freshest, closest, most delicious harvests. Living only a short distance from a set of cooperative organic farms couldn't be more ideal and so, relying on the community I have worked to know, I called a farmer I adore. I asked her, Meg, if there were more work shares available and explained why I was asking so late in the season. Ever true to form Meg not only opened her farm to us, she gave us a bit of relief and a re-affirmation of why I believe in knowing your neighbors, your farmer, and your community.


Friday came and my husband was out the door by 5:45 am, picking soft-neck garlic in the furthest fields. He came home sweaty, dirty, and happy. Happy. In a time when we are explicitly expected to be stressed. The physical labor balanced out the tedium of resumes and portfolio building and the man that came back to me was more whole. A little vitamin D, a kind gesture, a few hopeful opportunities on the horizon, a lot of dirt under the nails and some of the best broccoli I have ever eaten - this is what food, community and an open heart bring: completion in incomplete times.


Meg sent an email out asking for help from the community at large to finish the garlic harvest, and so I went. Not as early and with the hard-neck variety of garlic waiting. A slather of sunscreen, a full water bottle and a bike ride later I was out in the fields listening to trains go by and brushing dirt from the roots of plum speckled German garlic bulbs. I too am completed by this. The quietude and camaraderie, the conversation and stewardship; the opportunity.


To everything there is a balance. There are upsides to unemployment and we are working to cultivate the positive: to appreciate time together as a family, wearing sandals in summer, riding bikes and splashing in a pool for a break, making homemade meals and working farmed lands. The monetary helps but it is not what matters. Going forward with a new frame of mind, finding a career that fulfills as well as supports, that is important work in itself - for that we are grateful.


Tara said...

Ok, I feel seriously out of the Golden Girl loop! WHAT?!? I see, as usual, you are weathering the storm gracefully and thoughtfully. And you will not come up empty-handed. Just not possible. As a book I love says: "we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame..."

Your paradigms are shifting along with your lifestyle and finances. But ultimately, hope is always there at the finish line. Whether you're sailing through the fast lane tog get there, or nursing a clunker along a country road. Hope...I can see you're working hard to embrace it. :o) I'm so proud of you guys. Gosh I miss you.

Please call me if I can ever be of any encouragement. In fact, maybe I'll just have to call you. Hugs!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. It sounds like you've found ways to cope, hopefully it helps you through! If you need any help...

Krystal said...

i'm sorry about your husband :( i've been out of the blog loop this past month. i'm sure you guys are learning through the experience, if i know you at all :)

Melissa@EyesBigger said...

Lovely photos Tricia :)

and yes, there is something about being outside, touching earth, and getting dusty and sweaty that makes other problems drift away and feeds your soul.

mary shouvlin said...

great post- so sorry to hear about your husband but so inspired by your focus on the positive & on balance. thanks for sharing

The Cilantropist said...

What a beautiful post, and so inspired with how you have turned hard times into happy times. Truly, getting out and putting your hands into the earth is a way to reconnect with life, and remember that no matter what job losses or financial hardships come your way, that the most important things are steadfast.

Deli said...


I "stumbled upon" your blog today. After adding your neat envelopes to my pinterest page, I read your main post. I'm compelled to share a resource that may help your husband.

I use to work for my county's liaison organization to the Federal Workforce Program through the Department of Labor. Basically, every inch of the U.S. is cut up into workforce areas. Different parts of the country run things a little differently, but all have called something similar to "career centers".

This is where Federal training dollars are distributed and Federal stimulus money to create jobs goes. They also do all they can to help people in the job search and they network with local employers to locate jobs. In this market it is tough, but I know a LOT of money has gone into training and I believe further rounds of funding will be forthcoming given the economy.

Your husband could apply for one of various vocational programs that are on the list approved locally (everything from trades, chef training, etc.) He could continue his search while training for an alternative career. (So could you, for that matter!) There may be a waiting list, but it would be worth it.

Anyway, I just thought I would let you know. If you are rural, and it sounds like it, I am not sure how far the career/job center would be, but they have to have one because everywhere in the US is within the boundaries of a work area.

Somewhere on the Department of Labor Web site you can drill down to your locality.

Best of luck!

Mary Cate

Valerie said...

Ahhh, what a beautiful post. I completely understand what your family is going through... My husband has his own business, which came to a complete, screeching halt two years ago in this economic "coma" (as my husband refers to it). We are "city-folk", so farming isn't a neighborhood option. We have had to put renters in our home (doesn't cover our mortgage), and move to a family member's home, take out a family loan, and try to stay as positive as possible while we navigate living in the poorhouse. I've definitely been inspired by your upbeat attitude, and resourcefulness. I am going to take a new attitude today.... And maybe even think about planting a late summer garden out in the back yard!
Thanks ever so much for the uplift.
x, Val