Don’t Wait . . . Create

I had an epiphany in the middle of the night last week.

It was not a religious epiphany or something that can save the world. I awoke from a dream with a feeling of peace and a moment of clarity.

A clear view of the bend in the river from a bridge in Vermont.

I finally understood what has been holding me down from truly pursuing my dream to reinvent myself and create my ideal career. After several days of deepening depression and frustration, I broke through to an understanding of what is wrong and how to begin fixing it.

It shouldn’t surprise anybody when I say that the thing holding me back the most is

I am not talking about fear of the unknown, because my life has really been a series of unknowns. What I seem to fear is following a non-traditional path.

To put it more simply, while I keep saying I want to create my own career that doesn’t fit the mold, I still am using traditional methods to find work, praying each day that I will discover a job description that matches my dream job. I am still looking for a position that someone else creates and I fill.

But, in my moment of epiphany, a phrase sang out loudly in my head:

Don’t Wait . . . Create! I think this will be my motto for my new company, a company of one that I am giving birth to as I type each word. ¬†I know what I have to do now, and I am beginning to plan. I am still scared, because I am wandering into a completely unknown world, where I have a lot to learn. I don’t really know how to start my own business. But, if there is one thing I do know, I always learn what I need to know to achieve what needs to be done. So I cannot let my fear stop me.

What are the next steps? I’m slowly trying to figure that out, and I even wrote a Hub about it (not a brilliant Hub, but at least I wrote something).

I know that one of the first steps I need to take is to really clarify what services I want to offer. I plan to market myself as a Teaching Artist, Theater Artist, Creative Thinker and Writing Consultant who offers individualized programming to meet the needs of my clients. I’m going to provide examples of things that I can do, such as:

  • Work with students of all ages to create a performance on specific themes
  • Use drama techniques in non-theater classrooms to enhance learning of specific subjects.
  • Work with adults with special needs to encourage creativity and enhance interpersonal relations, as well as build confidence.
  • Work with individual groups to find new ways of approaching problems such as bullying or effective ways of communicating.
  • Use creative techniques to enhance writing and encourage students of different skill levels to find their individual voices.

Whew! Those are off the top of my head. Do they work? Do they sound good? Would you hire me?

Here’s where you, my blogging friends come in. I need help! In so many different ways. I think I’m losing my mind. ūüėČ

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money, I just want advice and input. So, if you have any suggestions about how to achieve this momentous goal, please speak up, or even e-mail me.

I also have a fun challenge. I want to make myself an LLC but I don’t want it to be Lisa Kramer, LLC. I want a name for this company, and a logo. Right now the name I am playing with is “Eclectic Approaches” but I am open to any suggestions from this fabulous blogging community that has such a way with words.

Epiphanies come when you least expect them. Last week I was struggling through the dark wood, unable to see past my depression and my fears.That evening, I had hit rock bottom, hiding from my family in my bedroom and curling up in a defeated ball of emotions, followed later by a complete outburst of tears, anger, frustration, loneliness and fear. But the explosion opened the way for messages I needed to hear. I cannot describe the dream or the image that spoke with such clarity. I couldn’t even remember it when it happened. All I now is that right now I feel like I am on a good path.

I wonder where the path leads?

Photo by Sarah KramerLee

Next Step–Create Work!

  • Job with benefits for Nathan . . . check!
  • House found that will allow the dogs . . . CHECK! (We finally got word yesterday, can I hear a Hallelujah!)

  • Truck rented . . . check.
  • House packed . . . um, check minus. We still have a few things to go.
  • Route planned, including fun meetings with friends from the past and friends from the blog . . . CHECK!! (Look for a blog post later this week after I meet the fabulous Kathy from Reinventing the Event Horizon)
  • Find job for Lisa so that we can actually afford this move . . . X¬†not so much.

So now my search for work in the area begins in earnest (not that I haven’t already started, I have). Which of course makes me reflect on what I really want for a career or a job. What do I want to be when I grow up?

Everyone keeps telling me that I should be able to find work easily, but we all know that in some ways those are empty words nowadays. There are many talented people out of work. There are many greedy people controlling what jobs are available. I’ve written elsewhere about the additional challenges I seem to face as I try to find employment. My education and the diversity of work that I have done makes me both marketable and unmarketable. The fact that I am a woman over 40 adds to the challenges. The fact that I have a child adds to the challenges. All in all, I have lots to offer, but it isn’t that easy.

But, I do not intend to bitch and moan about the above reality today. If you note my title, I am thinking about how to “Create Work!” On September 6th, once I figure out the car situation (we really need two cars for this move, but can’t afford a second car at the moment) I have an appointment at the Career Development Office at my Alma mater to help me on my job search. That means, of course, that she is going to ask me difficult questions. Questions like:

  • What kind of job do you want?
  • What do you look for in an employer?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Etc.

If I could create my dream job, what would it be? I still don’t know the answer, but I do know a few things:

  • I love jobs with flexibility, both in time and approach.
  • I like to have variety in my working, where I take on short-term projects (like directing shows or drama workshops), fulfill them completely, and move onto the next.
  • I like meeting with, working with, and mentoring people who are passionate about what they do.
  • I would love to be able to make a living with words, whether it is writing words, putting words on a stage, or speaking words in front of other. “Words, words, words.” They are my fuel and my passion.
  • I want to be available for my daughter as she grows, but I don’t want to be a stay at home mom. That means I would like flexibility of hours.
  • I am good at organizing, managing, coordinating, and solving problems on my feet. I like those challenges as well.
  • I am passionate about the arts, education, giving a voice to all and following your bliss (although I’m still working on that one)

I probably could keep brainstorming this list, but the reality is that I don’t know what job fits those realities of who I am. So, perhaps it is time for me to Create the Work that I want to do.

The question then remains, where do I begin? Perhaps I have already begun.

Pursuing Passion and Creating a Life in a World Gone Mad

I have never really followed a traditional career path.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had tons of jobs, and have been successful at each one. Give me a challenge and I live up to it and surpass that challenge. Most of my employers would hire me back in a second.

But I’m not really a ¬†9-5 kind of gal. I can work 40 hour weeks, and I often work more than that, but I function best in jobs that offer variety and flexibility. When I do have full-time office jobs with regular hours, I tend to fill my other time with other kinds of work to fulfill this need for diversity. At the same time, I try to go above and beyond expectations at the job itself so that I get interesting tasks assigned to me and get diversity in my regular work.

In academia, I’ve never had a tenure track position. It has nothing to do with the quality of my work, as I’ve been nominated for teaching awards, given classes and opportunities based on my work, and very rarely receive negative evaluations. Yet, when it comes to interviewing for tenure track positions, even if I make the cut of the top three, I don’t usually get the job. Why? I think it’s because people can sense that somehow I function better in a more fluid type of position, where I follow projects with passion because I choose too, not because I have to. Of course, this usually means that I work as hard or harder than many of the faculty who are tenure track–for less pay, fewer benefits, and less recognition. I do it because I care about my work and the people I work with–and at least I usually don’t have to attend quite so many meetings. That is a definite plus. I mean, meetings with a purpose I’m all for, but meeting to have meetings–not so much.

Why am I talking about this? As you know, we are planning a move to Massachusetts, which has its challenges. Finding housing seems to be the biggest one, so we are looking at the possibility of buying again. We have good credit. We have a down payment. Nathan has a job. But, as of yet, I don’t and that could limit the possibilities of what we are able to buy.

So, I spent the morning updating my LinkedIn profile, creating an on-line portfolio, sending letters to a few people, working on expanding my network, and trying to establish a more professional presence as I search for work to help us with this move. [I’ve been working so long on this computer that I just had to scrounge for a replacement battery for my mouse ;)] Of course, working on this project forces me to think about what I really want out of employment. Do I want the traditional regular hour job that comes with a secure paycheck and benefits? Or, do I want the gypsy lifestyle of a freelance worker that comes with no security, a smaller paycheck, and no benefits– but does allow for options, a flexible schedule, and projects that I choose?

The truth is I want both. But, I may not have a choice in the matter. Trying to take a little break from the work, I wandered over to Facebook only to stumble upon this thrilling news “‚ÄėUnemployed need not apply‚Äô” from PBS. Now I’ve never been unemployed (except for a few months after I graduated from my MFA program, and for a semester after having Sarah) or collected unemployment–because I’ve never been fired or downsized. I’ve always walked away from jobs because of moves or starting school or something legitimate. I’ve always left a job without burning bridges. But, ever since I graduated from my doctoral program, I haven’t had a traditional contract either. ¬†I have worked full time for the most part, sometimes teaching more credit hours than tenure track faculty while directing shows and teaching outside classes. I have been given year-long contracts that can be renewed yearly. But I have not followed a traditional path of employment, so it looks like I’m a scattered gypsy that might be an insecure risk–even though anyone who has ever employed me would probably sing my praises.

Yet, today we live in world where people lose jobs while the rich get richer and get tax cuts. Then those same jobless people cannot get jobs because they have been unemployed, or because they have passed an invisible age line that seems to get younger and younger. In a ridiculous reflection of American society, which values youth and beauty over wisdom and learning, the system gets tougher as you get older. ¬†Life-wise, 40 may be the new 20, but job-wise 40 is closer to retirement and redundancy–somehow out of touch with the fast-paced changes of the world.

I am not out of touch. I learn and I grow and I challenge myself on a daily basis. But on paper, I am someone who has gaps or a non-traditional resume.

So what is one to do to help secure a life and a home for a family while also living a fulfilling life in a world that doesn’t seem to want hard workers to work? Only time will tell in my situation, but the adventure is going to be an interesting one.

The Most Complicated Job in the World

 

I Don't Know If I Can Do This Anymore

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

 

I’m sure there are many jobs that fall under the most complicated, but I have to say that I think the most complicated, and perhaps the least appreciated, is parenting. Why? Well, you don’t get paid anything. You don’t know if you will ever be completely successful at it. Every day, heck every minute, offers you a new opportunity and new challenge. You may think you are doing the right thing, only to discover that somehow it was completely the wrong thing to do. More often than not someone is telling you that you are wrong or mean. Your employees (aka children) often show you little to know respect, and can rebel on a regular basis.

The rewards of a hug and love, when they are achieved, are the most precious reward in the world–but you have to work hard to get them sometimes.¬† Sigh.

Dear Future Employer

 

E-mail

Image via Wikipedia

 

I would like to say, Thank You. Thank You for deciding to put me at the top of the pile, instead at the bottom of the top. Thank you for recognizing that my “excellent credentials . . . accomplishments and talent” are actually something worth hiring.¬† Thank you for not sending me another kind rejection that tells me how wonderful I am, but I am just not wonderful enough to actually¬†offer the job.¬† Thank you for taking advantage of all I have to offer, and not settling for someone else. And finally, thank you for knowing that hiring me is not a risk, but a reward.

Sincerely,

Your Future Employee

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