Saturday, August 22, 2009

Five Months, 11 Days and Counting...

Last night the news said that unemployment in the Charlotte area had dropped from 12% to 11.8%. Sadly, Daniel is not a part of contributing to the 0.2% drop. Maybe I am jaded but I don't know that such a tiny drop is cause for celebration.

I haven't written much about our unemployment in a recession experience. It is hard to know what to say. I have heard that if you are among the employed, you experience recession. If you are among the unemployed, it is depression. I suppose we are somewhere in the middle since I remain employed while Daniel is in his 5th month of unemployment (repression/decession maybe?).

Early on, we had a friend tell Daniel to expect to not expect more than a 5% response rate during his job hunt. At this point, we would be thankful for 5% worth of response. Daniel has only had 1 interview after applying to more than 100 places. It's hard not to get your hopes up when opportunities are so few. It's tough when things don't work out. I just remind myself that there are plenty of others that need the job just as badly.

Daniel recently read somewhere that Civil Engineering is dead in the south east US. I don't know if that is true or not, but based on the last 5 months, we can attest that things aren't looking so hot.

So how do I feel about unemployment? Mostly I am thankful that I have a job. We have buckled down and tightened our finances even more. Ironically we paid off all of our credit debt (home improvements) right away and managed to save quite a bit since then. It's hard not to want to go out and spend that hard-earned safety net - a 2nd vehicle, furniture for our empty (yet finished) basement and a new non-bubble-screened TV are all pretty tempting...

The government programs in place to "help" the economy are of little consolation to us. We already bought our first home. Our "clunker" does not meet the requirements of cash for clunkers (the gas mileage is too good for a trade). Not that we would buy a new car anyway. And the government offer of cheap Cobra insurance for unemployed is only useful IF you don't have the option to sign on (expensively) under your spouse... So since Daniel can get his med insurance through my company for the "bargain" of ~$400/month, he doesn't get the option of having 65% of his Cobra premium payed by Uncle Sam like some of his friends have.

I am not writing this for pity, just to give some perspective through the eyes of someone living with unemployment in tough economic times. However, if you happen to know of any civil engineering jobs, feel free to give Daniel a shout.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

On Being Content

It seems that in recent weeks/months, Daniel and I have really struggled with being content. It is hard to pinpoint what exactly keeps us from being truly happy. Is it wrapped up in our jobs (or lack thereof)? Is it the desire of wanting more things? It is related to the fact that we are so far from so many that we love? Do expectations of what life should be like play a role?

It is hard to say. Based on talking to some of our friends and reading various blogs, it appears that we are not alone in our search.

I recently started reading the book, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. The author travels the world trying to understand if where you live plays a role in your level of happiness. While the premise that geography has an effect on happiness is an interesting one, I personally believe that, regardless of where one resides, it is up to the individual to choose to be happy in their shoes (to borrow a phrase from a friend).

Hopefully the future will bring us closer to family (geographically speaking), but for now, I will try to be happy in my shoes. For me this means being thankful for the things I am blessed with. I have a job. We have a house. I have a wonderful husband and great family. I have a sweet dog - that I don't have to train. I will work more on appreciating and doing the things I love and and spend less time dwelling on the things that I want or think I need.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...