Pages

Living Graciously, Artfully, Frugally.

Consciously taking notice of the gifts each day places in our path.

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” R. W. Emerson

Friday, May 28, 2010

On a Serious Note

I try to be lighthearted and post about fun and "fluff" but I just don't have it in me today.
Lately I have been feeling like Alice, plunging swiftly down the rabbit hole into a world I hardly recognize.


When we had children, my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home to raise them. We lived comfortably on a single income by living frugally. My husband worked long hours and traveled extensively while I cared for our son and daughter. Because he invested carefully
we were able to purchase some acreage by paying cash, a long time dream for my hubs. A few years later, again, because of his diligent saving, we built a home there. It wasn't a McMansion, just a comfortable family home. We sent our children through Catholic elementary and high school and managed the tuition because we were careful with spending. We didn't buy new cars, we became avid do it yourselfers, we didn't travel extensively and we saved. When the kids started school I drove the 50 minute round trip twice a day to take them and pick them up. I worked part time as a decorative painter and muralist so I could be home when they were home and still bring in a bit of extra income.
We enjoyed a few memorable family vacations, raised a multitude of pets, had more sleep overs and birthday parties and family get togethers than I can count. In other words, a normal happy and loving family.
Because we were thrifty, we were able to help pay for college as well. Then, last May, after 30 years of hard and diligent work in the same industry, my husband's company was bought out and he was "downsized". It was interesting that all the people the company decided to let go were over 50, but that is a story for another time. Again, because he saved so well for so many years, we were able to keep our home while he began to look for another position. His company did provide him with a a severence package including insurance, for 6 months. When the insurance ended in December, we were switched to COBRA which is the Department of Labor insurance plan. Because the company was finalizing their take over deal and the buyer had a different insurer handling the COBRA benefits, we got caught in the glitch. We paid what we were told from December through last month and apparently out of the thousands we paid in that period, we were seven dollars short. So they dropped us. We appealed and the answer was basically, too bad.
Back to Alice. I feel like I have landed at the bottom of the rabbit hole where my reality has been altered beyond recognition. This is a new world where loyalty and years of work mean nothing and large companies are gobbled up by even larger ones and doing the "right" thing seems to be wrong. Where a voice on the phone or at a computer keyboard has the power to say"off with their heads"  without regard to the very real consequence it may have on a family. A frightening world in which all the plans and dreams of a lifetime can be changed in an instant. Where friends who have worked and saved just like we did, all find themselves falling down the rabbit hole as well.


I know we will find our way in this new and altered world but at the moment it isn't a very pretty world in which to live. My husband has always done whatever he could to insure that I and our children were happy and well cared for. That has always been his first priority. Because of him we will weather this change in circumstance and climb out of the rabbit hole into the light of a new day.
Still, I am frightened by this new world. I see so many out of work. I see our son within a few credit hours of graduation with a triple major in Neuro Science, Biology and Chemistry yet he hasn't been able to find a job so he will remain in school and begin Graduate studies with hopes that things will be better in a year or two. I see friends still raising children and depending on two incomes, losing both in a matter of months. I see all the hype about frugal living as if it is some great new idea. What about all the people out there who have always lived this way? I understand that some have lived beyond their means and for them the rabbit hole is a very dark place indeed, but most of us have tried to live good, healthy and happy lives, working and giving and serving in our communities, without spending every penny as soon as it hit our pockets. Saving for the days ahead when we could relax and maybe use those savings to fulfill a dream or two. Now it seems that world no longer exists. I am sad to see it go. We will adjust, however I can't help but feel we have lost something of value, some virtue, in that adjustment.
I try not to be discouraged but I just had to get this off my chest. We will be fine.
My husband has started his own business after realizing there just aren't any jobs out there comparable to his old one, for a man of his age. He would probably never have taken the plunge if this hadn't happened. Now instead of working to make money for a global company that exists only for profit he is working to help small businesses save some money, turn a better profit and stay in business. He is working for himself, for us and for clients that he gets to know personally. No more running around like the March Hare, yelling "I'm late". He is happy. He will be successful. I hope it works out as well for all the others out there struggling with the same situation.


There is light at the top of the rabbit hole, slightly altered light, but still bright.
This blogging community has been such a source of strength and encouragement. Thanks for being there.
How is life in your world?

Have a marvelous Memorial Day weekend, P.
Pin It!

24 comments:

Theresa @ 612Riverside said...

We are in the rabbit hole also. My husband has sold his insurance agency because the rates just keep going up and when you are not competitive well then you can't sell. It was/is his dream to an entrepenuer and he will do it again. we just couldn't see continuing to drop more of our money into a company that really didn't support the little guy but if you were someone who will mortgage your house to save your agency well then they were all ears. We have paid for our own health ins. for too long now and so I can relate to that as well. We have always been frugal. I love going to the thrift store and have raised my children to do the same, but when buying a newe tshirt at target is a big deal, well you realize how often you buy 2nd hand clothes! Mind you I'm not complaining, our life is good, we have eachother, our home, fodd in our bellies and I thank God for the gifts he gave me of making our home beautiful with very little $. We chide eachother by calling ourselves the King and Queen of Startiing Over. My husband used to be in human resources so I'm sure that in the big business world you can imagine how appreciated that is. He was always the first to be let go when they were "cutting back" and then his staff was left to divide his jobs and do them without a director. That is why he decided to go into the ins. biz, he could be his own boss (or so we thought) and be home at night. I don't dwell on it, and neither does he mostly we just put our heads down and press on. The fact that your husband has the talent and knowledge that people need is wonderful. The fact that he loves doing what he is doing is even better. I wish you only the best and hope you climb out of the rabbit hole soon. Remember Alice did make it out! Theresa

Theresa @ 612Riverside said...

I really can spell better than that comment shows, but once my mind gets going it's sometimes hard to keep up! Have a wonderful weekend, Theresa

Lisa said...

Bless your hearts! I will keep you in my prayers as that is what we all surely have an abundance of that can NEVER be taken away!!
Hope YOU have a great weekend! Relax and forget your worries and enjoy some sunshine and good food for the holiday!
Lisa Hodge

Marilyn said...

Oh Sweet Pam..... The Rabbit Hole comes to all of us during this hideous financial time one way or another. We lost some of our retirement as my Hubby will be 60 this July & we were starting to think seriously about it. Retirement has become more than a fleeting thought.
He has been with his company almost 35 years. BUT we know if anything happened it would be impossible to get a good job at his age.
So we hold out breath....so far, so good. Now with me with this cancer history who do we think would pick me up again, insurance wise??? No one.... What a mess....What a mess we are all in.
My prayers to you & your family.
Love,
Marilyn
xxoo

Sonya --Dime Store Thrift said...

Oh my Dear...all of us have fallen into that Rabbit Hole now and again. And it is not a fun little trip.

I am covering you in prayers and good thoughts...while there is so little I can do, please know that I am here and thinking of you.

Sonya

Leanne said...

Prayers for you, Miss Pam...

Debby said...

Oh Pam, I can so relate to your story. My husband had the same thing happen, he worked at John Deere Welland Works for his whole working career. They employed 800 people and had been there since the early 30's. They just came along two years ago in September and announced they were closing the plant in October 2009. Nothing more than pure greed, moving to Mexico. The entire community was devasted, couldn't believe this was happening. They had just spent millions on a new paint system, but that meant nothing to them. They at least gave everyone a years notice, they offered an awesome severance package, they gave everyone a year of health benefits. We were lucky as my husband had enough time in to retire with full pension and benefits, but 55 is a bit young to be retired. We have had to make some adjustments but everything seems to be working out. I am worried about the young people trying to find work out there, there is just nothing, nothing that will support them for a good life now or companies are just not offering anything for the future. IT is very sad to see our children have to work 2 or 3 jobs and struggling everyday because no one wants to hire full-time due to pensions and benefits.

I will hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

I just posted a sneek peek about our Summertime swap.

Debby

Snappy Di said...

I feel extremely lucky at this point in my 50's to stay at home and not have to work. Hubby is 59 and I worry about how much longer the company he works for will employ him. They had sent some of their work to India but the engineers there proved to be inferior to the home-grown USA engineers, so that was a sign to the company to bring the work home here to the USA.

I wish you well with Frippery. It sounds like a fun business. Giving you a big thumbs up!

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

I'm Lindsey Lou! said...

Oh gosh, I'm so sorry about all of this. My mother was laid off after nearly 10 years with the same company just before Thanksgiving 2008. She said to me basically "Eff working for other people," because as you said, there's just no dang loyalty anymore. You give a company your sweat and tears and all they can ever give back is a 6-month severance package. She decided to open her own catering company and me and my little brother are helping out in any way we can. I had been helping her out financially up until I was laid off a month ago. It's rough out there for a lot of people and I can only hope that there's no where but up from here.

Jan @ bobbypins boardwalk said...

Pam, what an excellent post. You spelled out what is so commonly occurring with our generation. I can relate on so many levels, starting with my own current unemployment, college graduate who cannot find a job (Dean's list every semester), doing the right thing and NOT spending beyond our means, which meant doing without on many occasions, (which I believe is why we are so good at creating -- we learned to make do with what we had).

I've told my children that their life will be very different than mine, and I don't have the advice to give them to "succeed" in the same way that we judged success. The measurements have changed, the signals are different, the values, sense of right vs. wrong, objects of respect -- they're all different now.

The reason you and I and others like us will survive is that we have learned to be resourcesful throughout our lives.

I think we had the very best. So, where did it all start to go wrong?

Christine Edwards said...

Pam, sometimes things aren't all fun and fluff, and your post rings true for so many in similar situations. It is discouraging for those that do the right thing, and think they are working to provide a better future for their families, only to have it dashed away in the blink of an eye. Things will work out one way or another, and I wish you and your hubby the best. Hope you have a bit of fun this holiday weekend.

gail@myrepurposedlife.net said...

how awful! $7.00 and that person on the phone, not caring! I am so sorry for all the trouble. But what doesn't kills us makes us stronger.
I hope for the best for you.
gail

Geralyn Gray said...

Your post was was very insightful and I know you will overcome all of this.......easier said than done.....having the last two weeks off from work....I had plenty of time....lots of what ifs......well we all have the American Dream......and you know what....if it involves early retirement.....maybe it is part of our dream and we have to accept it and move on.....I am not ready to settle down....but, maybe that is just the answer is to be forced into it......and then revel in it!!!! I hope the rabbit hole isn't such a bad place to be.....you know having a tea party and just enjoying where you are isn't such a bad thing.......so Alice I know you won't be down there too long......because it is just the beginning of summer and once you get some sunshine---it's going to be alright........sunshine is free.....and enjoy your backyard......I know there is so much to do before you can enjoy it.....I know tomorrow morning the veggie garden is how I will start my day....not my favorite thing to do(I'll be sore for a couple of days)but.........I love the outcome....it is all worthwhile......I love looking at your list....I hope you feel you have accomplished a lot my friend.....because you have!!!!!!

Nita {ModVintageLife} said...

Pam...I came home tonight and read your comment on my blog telling me you'd just posted something similar. I quickly came over to read it. I had sworn almost 20 years ago to never work for a company again because they will just throw you away and I did freelance graphic design and artist dolls for about 10 years while I lived in Atlanta. Then due to circumstances beyond my control I moved back home to Oklahoma. My parents are of the generation that...thinks you just have to find a good company to work for and stick with it. Well, I have done that about four times now since moving back here 10 years ago. Each time something beyond my control happens and I have to start over.

I do not want to be at the mercy of poor management decisions any more. I swear I am going to figure out away to be in control of my own destiny from now on.

I read in these comments that others are experiencing the same. I wish I had gotten six months severance...I got one month.

I have lived frugally ever since moving back to Oklahoma because my salary has just never been what it was in Atlanta. My Mom said to me today....you'll just have to do without. I have been all along.

I remember when the recession hit...they said on tv that we should all cut back...don't go out to eat so much...cut out those daily trips to Starbucks...are you kidding? A Chai Tea latte is a big damn treat to me....like a twice a year thing and I always feel guilty for spending $5 on tea. Starbucks everyday is something I could never consider. Eating out is also few and far between, always has been. Except for the six years I lived with a man.

I drive a used car...always have. I have never had a new car and when I get a car I drive it for like 10 years. My only splurge is my house...and I could have bought a little new one for what this historic one cost me. So it was a very smart investment as it has appreciated greatly.

I wish I could cut back but I've already cut back, there is nothing to cut back moere to. I've never had a new piece of furniture in my life but honestly....I probably wouldn't want one.

I felt hesitant to be so open today on the blog about my turn of events. Because is wasn't cheerful. I came home tonight and it made me feel so much better to find out others are struggling right along with me and don't have the perfect lives that sometimes their blogs portray.

So sorry to hear about your situation. Working for yourself is the best...I mean it can be so hard...because you feel like you can't turn away any opportunity and lots of times you don't make as much...but you have control of your own life and that is fantastic.

I hope I can find away to be in control of mine again. I don't have a husband and no money saved...so I only have myself to do it. It's going to be a struggle. But reading your comment and then post...truly made me feel like I'm not alone.

Thanks!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Your post today truly brought tears to my eyes. There is no question that all of us know that 'there but for the grace of God go I.' In America today, it can happen to anybody anytime. A lifetime of work and industry and responsibility no longer seem to be enough to guarantee anything.

I wish I had words of wisdom to make the rabbit hole less dark. Alas, I don't. But know that you will remain in my thoughts and prayers. My absolute best wishes for you and your family.

oh - and good luck with the new business!

The French Bear said...

Oh dear, I really feel bad and dishearten when I read posts like yours, what is this world coming to? I am so sorry you have to go through all of this, it just makes me cry when companies do this......
How will our children survive in this cold and uncaring world? When will the greed and madness stop?
I can only say that I wish you luck and hopefully things will get better....if you are at the bottom of the rabbit hole...you can only look up? Right?!!!
Take care and know that the people out in blog land care!!!!
Hugs,
Margaret B

Hopemore Studio said...

Pam, What a insightful post. It must be hard to hold this all inside, thank you for sharing it. All the thoughts and blessings that will come your way will be positive and I know your family will find the security you seek.

Our family is still at the beginning of the journey. I did stay home for 5 years, when it was time to pay tuition it was back to work part-time to cover the expense. We're trying to be savers because we assume the reality we have today will not be the reality of the future.

So I have to add...I just love that your son's going to triple major! Obviously you instilled in him a desire to learn. I wish him the best and I'm confident that not far in the future he will find a rewarding position.

Angie

Emom said...

I am so sorry....You know that I understand, my sweetie is now employed again....but a whole year of using his retirement was tough. We are both naturally frugal, so our lifestyle was not diminished, but our faith in the life we grew up knowing was irreparably changed. I guess we are no longer naive to what money has done to us, as a culture. You have every right to feel a bit lost.....I still do too....smiles.

Kathy said...

Pam - There are so many of us that are going through changes in our lives due to the economy - but, from the sound of your post you and your hubby are going to come out of it stronger... Stay positive and have faith! (It was so nice meeting you at Springfield - hang in there!)

Kathy

Marilyn said...

Stop by my blog for My Summer GiveAway ! !
Love,
Marilyn
xxoo

English Rider said...

Bravo to your husband for his entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity. Although ageism may have raised it's ugly head in the downsizing, this is still an amazing country where people are as old or young as their hearts and can reinvent themselves and be credible at any age. In much of Europe he would be written off at fifty and everyone would find curious that he did not accept defeat.
As a self-employed, naturalized citizen who is used to the struggle, I hope you know that a business, with two or more members cannot be turned down for group insurance coverage no matter what pre-existing conditions. We are a sole proprietorship with one employee and got into Kaiser this way years ago. Cheaper than Cobra, I'm sure.I hope this helps.

Holly said...

I am so sorry to hear this. There is no rhyme or reason (or so it seems) to the misery that continues to surface every day. This post hit very close to home because my family may find ourselves in a similar situation soon...with 2 little ones

chantal johnson said...

Heartfelt words that touch us all..You are brave, courageous and loving. The world is changing... but some things remain...faith, hope and love and friendship. Thinking of you my friend...see you soon!

Chantal

for the love of a house said...

It's all so frustrating, isn't it? My husband is constantly fighting with the insurance company to cover what they supposed to cover. It's always a fight.
So sorry for your visit to the rabbit hole....
Wishing your husband huge success in his new venture!
joan