Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Job Challenged Year

2011 has been one of the most challenging years that I have faced throughout my work-life.

It didn't start out that way (though the process was well underway). I remember the point-of-no-return very well. I just didn't know what road that I would end up travelling between then and now.

When the time came to shop for a new job, my Middle Son wisely advised me to open my mind to any and all possibilities. To walk into places and look within, to keep my eyes open for a job that I had never considered before.

I searched an online 'jobshop' site. I scanned through the ads from beginning to end. I wrote a list of the jobs that spoke to me. The list was not very long. Other than one job, there was an underlying theme as to what classified as a job-I-added-to-the-list. Hours of work.

Being an 'available parent' to My Youngest has been my way of life for the past 13 years. Running a daycare so that I could be an at home mom. Working from home so that I was still present, available and an 'accessible parent'. Even when work started filtering out of my home, I did everything in my power to work (as much as possible) within the school hours.

I considered any jobs that would allow me to continue that way of life. I would have worked through the nights and slept through the school days if that is what it took, to retain the flexibility that I was looking for.

The greatest gift of all, was to find a job within the school system. My dream was to work at a school, where my holidays would mirror My Youngest Son's holidays.

My first position within the school system was a 12-month position. I would have stat holidays off, but other than that, my holidays would be based on how long I worked for the school and booking them when time was available. It wasn't what I dreamed of ... but a full-time pay cheque was worth the sacrifice. I was in!!

When that position didn't work out and I found myself on the substitute list, the idea of getting time off during the upcoming school Christmas vacation was slowly becoming a reality.

With that reality comes the fact that if I don't work, I don't get paid. But if there is no work for me ... then I will end up with a Christmas vacation! Not a bad trade off.

Today is Day #1 of Christmas Vacation. There is a remote chance that I could be called in to work, but highly unlikely. If I want to go out of town, I just have to 'book myself out' and I am free to go. I can almost turn myself 'off'.

I felt like a young school girl when I walked out of the school after work yesterday. I could have skipped down the sidewalk, feeling light as air with the feeling that I am on holidays!

I have been fortunate to work (primarily) within four schools for the past eight weeks. The final three weeks of the year, I worked (almost) full-time at one school. I learned so much. I was encouraged to call, reach out and ask for help. People were generous with their knowledge. Gentle and encouraging with their words. I was treated with kindness and respect.

The Job Challenges of 2011 have turned my world upside down and back. There were many times that I would have given up and cocooned myself inside the safety of my home and family if that would have been a viable choice. But it wasn't.

I was forced to continue to forge ahead. I cringed in fear as I faced my new reality on the substitute list. My self confidence levels were in the negative numbers when I found myself in a world where every day was a 'first day'. It was not a good place to rebuild my self esteem. But I didn't have a choice in the matter. If I wanted to pursue my Dream Job, I must continue to take forward steps. So I did.

Before I left work yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with the Principal of the school where I had spent the vast majority of the past three weeks. I told her how grateful that I was to have been given this opportunity, the stability to remain in one school for weeks on end and how much I appreciated working with her and all of the staff at the school.

2011 has been a very Job Challenged Year. But it ended on a high note. And I believe with my whole heart and soul, that the best is yet to come ...

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