Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring is Sprung, the 'Grass is Riz...

What a glorious weekend we had in Ohio. It was far warmer than usual this time of year, sunny and bright, if a bit windy. We enjoyed a wonderful and long overdue romp with my family, and spent almost all of the day outdoors yesterday. I remember trying to fall asleep and thinking, “I never thought it would be this warm again.”

My mother used to utter this little saying, "Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the posies is?" My best pal from high school recently used that ditty in one of her promos. I had forgotten about it. I do wonder where, after all this time and trouble and this long winter, the posies are for most of us.

I met the weekend weather with a fair dose of disbelief. Part of me was incredulous that my room was not only warm, but stuffy. Part of me suspects I also didn’t anticipate still being in this 15% pay cut situation – forget the other 50%, I’d welcome that second $200 a month off the top back with open arms. Looking down the barrel of summer and the child care expenses that go with it, I’m already bartering with my other part time employer on how I can juggle some work from home.

A giant number of Americans like me don’t show up in the “unemployment” numbers. We are the underemployed, the few and the steady who cobble together two or three jobs where one used to do it all and more. I understand musicians and actors and seasonal construction workers are rather used to this way of life, but for the rest of us, living is getting mighty thin. Still, we hang on to the jobs we have rather than foray into the unknown – nobody wants to be “last in-first out” at this stage in the game. It feels like a game of roulette, and it’s easy to feel trapped.

I have decided to take at least one small step. I’m going to devote some time coming up in the next couple of weeks to developing a personal strategic plan of some sort. Nothing is going to change unless I take action. So I am making myself a priority for a couple of days this weekend. If I can help all these other folks advance in their career development, it’s probably time I spent a little of my time and talent on me. The folks who know me best, also know I suck at this, but I gotta give it a try.

I don’t even have a current resume. I started to work on one back in late fall when the first round of cutbacks took place, but I didn’t get very far. My motivation was a job that turns out most likely not to still be out there given what I’ve heard about the employer. This is what makes me nervous. It would be hard enough to imagine finding work that offered the variety and flexibility I now enjoy – I am hard-pressed to relinquish the support and understanding of an extremely family-friendly workplace that has also allowed me to excel and manage and grow my own client relationships. Cash flow and flexibility run a pretty close race in my circumstances.

There are lots of things I can do, and do well, building on the investment I’ve made in the last five or six years. The one thing I do regret about this downturn is the way it’s taken my attention away from music. There will be no IBMA for me this year, and fewer concerts and outings. There’s been much less time to play since I’ve been working two part time jobs, one of which follows me home more than I like. One of the things I need to spend time thinking about is how I can start a picking circle. Summer is the perfect excuse—and it might give me a chance to meet that banjo-playing Phi Betta Kappa I hope is out there looking for me.

So I gotta tend my own little life and career garden all the while letting the blue-grass grow under my feet and into my fingers.

Here's an old standard for the travelin', it suits a lot of folks right now. It's a comfort, even for an old-fashioned nonbeliever like me. I do believe we all have a lot more ability to see through the darkness and travel further on than most of us give ourselves credit for.

I believe that may be Mr. Ricky Skaggs joining Emmy-Lou Harris on this fine traditional Gospel tune. Hope you enjoy it.

The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn


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