Itty Bitty’s Moving

Hello my friends, I am in the process of transfering my blog to my new website – please check out the new website, and register there to continue following me while I’m in this strange time of transition!

With any luck within a week everything here will be there …

Thank you!

The Itty Bitty Boomer

Contented – And How Did I Ever Have Time To Work?

I’ve been on unemployment for 10 months now – since February.   I thought, “being forced into a kind ofsemi-retirement” how would I fill all that empty time and space?   As it turned out, it has been an amazingly fulfilling and busy time.  How did I ever have time for work?

The reality of the hotel industry (my life-long passion) is that, though I have 35+ successful years of management experience in operations and sales/marketing, in today’s recession economy, it proved to not be enough.  I “beat myself up” for a while, felt like a failure for not being able to accomplish what ownership wanted – and then decided (partly because I am on unemployment) that after working fulltime, non-stop since July of 1968,  it was OK.

It was O-K-A-Y to take a BREAK and think about what I want to do with the rest of my life.  Reality is that no one is going to hire a 61 year old director of sales … or even a sales manager because hotel sales is mostly young, cutsie women and men … I know, I hired them.  Reality is that I don’t WANT to do the 60 -70 hour weeks the job requires.  Reality is that I am tired in my soul of trying to meet “corporate’s” expectations.

So I decided, with a dose of reality, that it was OKAY to find a direction that I want to go in for a change.

I am slowly building an independent meeting planning business – one client at a time .. and maybe someday I’ll actually earn some money at it!  It takes a year or so to build any new business, and mine is no different.  I enjoy helping “J” with his business – and it helps cover my share of expenses in living with him (he is such an angel to be so generous while I continue paying lease rent on my daughter & my apartment until we can get her moved into a one-bedroom in spring). I enjoy my volunteer time with  my Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America.  I enjoy spending time with my grandsons every other week after school and school vacations while my daughter is at work.

I enjoy the ability to interact more closely with my children and the company of my dear and precious friends.

I enjoy the time I spend with “J” and look forward to us getting married in a few weeks.  I am enjoying helping him change his house from a barren, bland bachelor apartment into a home filled with life and color and his making “his home” “our home”.  I enjoy his embracing of my family and his family.  I watch him grow in trust and vulnerability and love (though he is still afraid to call it that very often).

I could not enjoy these wondrous and joyful things if I was working for someone else those 60-70 hours a week. That is my reality.

My life is not easy (not that it ever has particularly been) – I live unemployment check to unemployment check – I am in the middle of a bankruptcy filing – but my life improves daily because I have someone to walk with me – not to bail me out but to walk with me through the trying times.

It is like watching the seasons changing – watching the trees shapeshifting from summer to fall to winter. In my life, my summer was spent doing nothing more than working – missing my children grow up, missing spending time with my grandchildren, not having the time to tend to my relationships.  My fall is now a time to letting go and shedding the “leaves” of a life I lived for 40 years.  My coming winter is my season of rest and growth and beginning again.

I am contented.

Reflections And Starting Over

My birthday is coming up again in a few weeks – 3 to be exact… Number 61 to be exact … the numbers scare me sometimes … but on the other hand, I have difficulty in visualizing what 61 is suppose to look like.  We are who we are …. age is just a number.
And I have no freeking idea where the hell the last year went.
I did realize just recently that over the last 3 1/2 months, I have had my toes in the Atlantic (Fire Island in July) and the Pacific (Monterrey in August and Maui in September) .. and again at Pismo Beach this week.  What peace this brings to me in a time of uncertainty and new beginnings.
Upon returning from spending necessary and amazing time in Brooklyn this summer with my son and daughter in law,  I moved in with J, my heart friend of over three years now.  We tried it before for a year and realized we both had some issues to work on.  We have been talking about marriage recently but ….  the truth is that I have challenging financial issues to resolve before I can comfortably do that.  After two years of playing ostrich (you know, the head in the sand routine), I decided to file bankruptcy for some unsecured debt that I know will not go away given my current circumstances.
After a lifetime of working (since I graduated from high school in 1968), always being financially responsible despite supporting two husbands in my past life, I found myself about three years ago single, helping support an adult child (single mom of 2, limited income, laid off from a union job in a seniority push) and struggling to make ends meet.  Like many, many others (not right or ok, but real …) I incurred credit card debt.  Through a new job and substantially increased income at the time, I was able to start cleaning up my situation by making double payments.  I was so pleased at where my credit score was headed! 
But, alas, sudden and unexpected unemployment, credit card companies doubling minimum payments, interest rates escalating …. and I found myself surviving month to month again and, honestly, a roof over our head and food on the table takes priority.
A new job at substantially less kept the roof over heads and food on the table – but there was still no discretionary income to tackle the debt.  In 2010 I looked into bankruptcy only to learn that I earned $2k too much a year to file Chapter 7, and Chapter 13 would cost me about $5k …. I found that slightly ironic.  Where was I to get $5k to file? And last November I found myself again on unemployment (after 35+ years in senior management in my industry, the psychological effects of this is another whole blog …).
In many ways, as an unemployed boomer, I know I am not alone in this struggle.  It saves me giving entirely up.  I now qualify for Chapter 7 – and, embarrassed and humiliated to find myself in this situation anyway, I finally filed this week.    My attorney reassured me that my circumstances are the very reason that the laws were written.  I need the clean start … I need to rebuild my credit … I need to begin again … even at 60+ years old and a lifetime of “doing right”.   My biggest fault?  Taking care of my family … being the primary breadwinner for 20 years and everything going to the day-to-day rather than to 401K’s or IRA’s. 
Is that wrong? Or is that real? 
I know you are out there … dealing with the same issues … how do you cope?   How do you not give up? 
I cope by knowing once my “mistakes” are discharged (and if I ever do become truly financially successful my creditors are on my “karma list” to repay …) I will marry the man I love with no encumbrances. 
I just never thought I’d be in this position …. by this time we were suppose to be enjoying the white picket fence and the ability to enjoy all that stuff we put aside while we were working our asses off and supporting our families. 
But here I am … and the bottom line is that I am healthy, DO have a roof over my head and food on the table, AM able to help my daughter recover emotionally and financially from a 2-year marriage to someone who turned out to be a physical, emotional and verbal abuser.  Yes, it would be nice if she were independent – but she, too, has her challenges – chronic and sometimes debilitating health issues (including epilepsy and fibromyalgia as well as an auto-immune blood condition), a special-needs child (though he is hopefully starting to mainstream this year in 6th grade), and has just been laid off from her job as well. 
Life isn’t always fair, but it is life … and I have love, and family … and friends … all the simple and basic things in life that REALLY count. 
Namaste … I honor you …

Sidewalk – 1, IttyBittyBoomer – 0 (or) Stumbles and Falls And Jumping Back Up

I’m good! I’m ok … I said as my son helped me up off the sidewalk.  I would like to say I jumped up! But, alas, that was not the case.  My lip was bleeding and rapidly swelling, and the abrasions on my knees were covered with dirt and gravel and quickly starting to burn. … quick check – no broken teeth, I could stand ok and even walk.  Let’s just get home I said, with my ego bruising as quickly as my knees and lip.

Last Sunday afternoon we were leisurely walking the dog-on-Prozac in the beautiful neighborhood across the avenue from where son and daughter-in-law live in Brooklyn.  There is block after block of delightful, huge houses built at the turn of the century and early 1900’s.  I love looking at them!  The problem is that the sidewalks are also ancient and are uneven and full of cracks. I’ve developed a really bad habit looking UP at the houses, rather than DOWN at the sidewalk. And every time I trip, I have told myself that I do, indeed, need to look DOWN and not UP!

I’ve spent the last four days nursing my wounds and resting these aging knees – and am healing quickly except for maybe that tendon at the back of my knee that I’m too stubborn to have looked at.  Or maybe the reality of not having health insurance is convincing me that with rest and time, that too, will heal.

I’ve also had time to ponder other ways we sometimes stumble and fall – and after nursing our wounds, jump back up …

EMPLOYMENT – There are many of us who are currently unemployed (not in the retirement sense) due to lay-offs, cutbacks, not meeting financial/goal/quota expectations of our employers,  etc.  After years or decades in our chosen fields, we find ourselves suddenly needing to re-invent ourselves. After dusting the gravel out of our knees and letting our egos heal, how can we best utilize our skill sets (or learn new ones) to survive until we qualify for social security (hopefully)?  Are there jobs out there for us? Do we decide to become entrepreneurs at our age and start up a home-based business?  Downsize our lives?  Embrace multi-generational lifestyles to minimize expenses? If you have a 401K, or other retirement plan, did you escape losing too much of it to help see you through or are you living unemployment check to unemployment check?

RELATIONSHIPS – They change on us at this stage of our lives, don’t they?  Through empty-nesting, divorce, spousal deaths, parental deaths – our family unit dynamics are shaken to the core at a time when we finally feel we can enjoy our free time or time together.

TODAY’S ECONOMY – And some times, even though our employment situation and family unit dynamics are in tact, this economy simply sucks us dry and changes the way we look at our future – realizing we cannot afford college for our kids, that we will have to work longer to afford retirement (if we ever do), that the rising cost of living is seriously impacting our day to day financial existence.  Are you dealing with debt due to skyrocketing interest rates?  Looking at bankruptcy to have that do-over?

No doubt there are many other “stumbles & falls”, too – but what I want to know is …

Have you experienced any of these or other stumbles & falls?  How are you nursing your wounds? How are you jumping back up?

I don’t have the answers (though I have some of the stumbles ….) but I’m sure someone out there does … care to share them?

Oh – and make sure you have a good supply of sterile gauze pads, band aids, peroxide and Neosporin!  And a big smile when the folks on the subway are staring at you and you know they are wondering what the heck happened that gave you that huge, purple lip!

Namaste …