(Written yesterday but still feeling the effects today!) Today I am doing something I NEVER really allow myself without feeling guilty that I should be working on something else. I am sitting on the front porch at 11:30 AM, eating chocolate cake, Diet Coke nearby, Jip at my feet, and computer on my lap while blogging without, for this moment, another care in the world.
I've had a horrible couple of months full of self-reflection, self-doubt, a bit of guilt, and a lot of insecurity about the future. Now, that's not really a bad thing for me because I tend to be a hopeful person and am always looking for remedies and what I can do to keep moving forward, and sometimes I need to just be quiet, stop, pull myself together, and rearrange my focus. Every so often though, the silence is deafening and the unknown bears down on me and I can't remember anything good or important that I've ever done. I haven't had steady work in over a year, and slowly a feeling of failure of not planning well enough and doubting that I have been on the right path has been building. On one hand, I really have used the time I've been without work this year to work on my studio business plan, learn software, begin to create my own patterns, build my website with a designer, and move toward the creative-business dream I've had since a kid. On the other hand, no real income.
I'm the part-time sort of girl. I don't really handle a 40-hour a week job well, not even before children. I can work hard and probably work more than 40, but the being scheduled every single day doing the same job every single day holds no joy for me. I'm so thankful that I learned to be a transcriptionist so long ago and that it has sustained me in a home business for over 10 years. I was very fortunate, especially because I needed to have a flexible work schedule with over 20 surgeries in my household between 2004 and 2007.
The hard part of being self-employed, though, is staying ahead of the game and always having new prospects and keeping up with the market. I knew my market was changing with voice recognition and electronic medical records coming into play and have been preparing by building my studio and thinking about what I might need to do in the future if transcription wasn't going to be my game anymore. I was sort of blindsided, though, when two of my accounts that sustained me both switched to a new platform nearly at the same time, and that was it. I had nothing, all at once.
My hopeful, get-it-fixed self started scrambling. I do have other clients on my list for whom I do all kinds of project work, so that was something. I picked up a p.r.n. position at the hospital, so that was another thing. I worked on my calicodaisy handmade website, and that's done, though I still have to figure out how to load the products there. I've formed a new network with some local direct sellers, and we have big plans for 2010. I've increased my product line and have gotten better and better with certain skills. A number of folks have come to regard me as the go-to person for special gifts. I put out my first pattern. One of my products made it into a the One Yard Wonders book, which comes out this week!
All those accomplishments really have been great strides in a year, but no real income yet, and, in the end, you know, it all comes down to money when one has a budget to meet. I've got to work! I've applied for all sorts of positions, refashioned my mind to think that I can go to work 40 hours a week, as lots of people do. It's not like I have small children anymore, no daycare is needed. However, it seems like I'm not a good fit or the right candidate for anyone or any place. All of a sudden, I'm wondering, "Who am I?" All my brains are gone. I have nothing to offer this work world. I'm obsolete. No one wants me. And yet, I have all this talent and opportunity right in my home for the sewing/embroidery and computer project work.
After a particularly horrible week last week that coincided with the flu and my being told that "apparently you are not a good fit for our team," I was at the end of myself. I coughed and cried for an hour or so, and then I said, "That's it. Get up. Go to the computer. Start networking with every person and company you've ever worked with from home and get working." I did it. I wrote, I took the crazy first-timers' tests required for some medical transcription companies, I offered back-up help on an as-needed basis. It took all day and my head hurt, but it was something I could actually do, and I didn't have to look pretty or talk nice without sounding desperate because it was all by computer.
Again, though, the silence was deafening. I heard nothing through the weekend. Monday, I worked with one of my clients who just tried my patience that day, but I sat there and was thankful that every 15 minutes was another quarter-hour of billing. Then Tuesday, one of the companies I've worked with in the past has a new account and got in touch. I went to a small business leads group I had been invited to join and heard my successful business friends give a glowing introduction of me listing their versions of my accomplishments and networking talent. Then Wednesday, while cleaning house and cooking an early Thanksgiving Dinner for an international guest, a pretty firm, long-term offer for transcription was e-mailed to me requesting a formal phone interview on Friday.
The relief that swept through me! It was twofold: 1. It was a real offer with a reputable firm I'd worked with for four years before. 2. The firm wanted ME back. (It's always about the relationship for me!)
Geez! The sun was shining, the house was clean, chocolate cake had already been baked and decorated, and I have options again, actually, I will have steady income again.
So, I had the phone interview Friday morning, the work doesn't have to be full-time but does include a weekend day (they all seem to now, as the market is so tight in that area), and the production pay rate is tops. At this point and after all my self-reflection and hunger for steady work, I have no complaints, no wishes for tweaking anything, no nothing. Just a sense of peace that I'm valuable to someone in the workplace and that I can have a good income doing what I enjoy and still work from home and still have time to carry on with my sewing and embroidery studio without being overwhelmed and exhausted.
And, the icing on this situation is a third company whom I have worked for in the past now has new accounts and contacted me Friday as well. After more than a year of silence building to this deep-set fear as well as a new perspective on my financial goals and willingness to work wherever I can in these middle-aged years of my life, three companies that I enjoyed working for and which let my services go due to the market and normal business cycles have come around with work in hand and are seemingly glad to use my services again. The steady income is still at least six weeks or more away from now, as one has to wait for billing cycles, etc. However, from dead silence to more than enough choices; I'm very thankful.