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MamaBlogger365 – I Lost My Job. Now What? by Diane Lang

Losing your job is hard, and maybe even more so when you’re a mom. But how do you deal with it, both carer-wise and mentally? Diane Lang’s advice can help you get through, whether you’re worried about getting laid off or if it’s already happened to you.

Dear Diane,

I just lost my job a few months ago but I already feel the stress of being unemployed. I know my family is feeling stressed and concerned also. Any thoughts on dealing with being unemployed and keeping my sanity?

Thank you,
Unemployed Jane

We know that the country’s jobless rate is more than 9%; this is a very scary number. We have the highest jobless rate in more than ten years and many living in fear of losing their job. Here are a few career and mental health tips to help you move forward if you lost your job or know layoffs are coming.

Career tips:

1. First things first – File for unemployment, If you have been laid off and you qualify for unemployment, make sure to take advantage of it. This money can help you make it through the tough transition of finding another job. It could take six months to a year to find a new job. The unemployment check can make you feel more secure and cover your necessities until then. Unemployment can now be filed for online from your home so there is no excuse not to file immediately.

Also, know that it will probably take two to three weeks to get your first check so the quicker you file, the quicker you will receive your first check.

Remember, to be eligible for unemployment, you had to lose your job due to no fault of your own. So, if you quit or got fired, you can’t receive unemployment benefits.

2. Options – You don’t need to have the same position or same salary to work. Remember, this is a transitional time. The next job you take doesn’t have to be permanent. Try other options such as temp agencies, part-time, consulting and freelance jobs. This can help you make extra money, keep your skills fresh, and feel confident while looking for the right job. A bonus to freelance work, temping, consulting, etc., is that it allows you to build on your resume so you don’t have to worry about the “gap” on your resume.

3. School – Use this time to go back to school to finish your degree, learn a new skill, get a certificate or just to refresh your skills. There are many affordable options, including financial aid. There are certificate programs at community colleges, adult programs and non-credit courses. Libraries offer classes in computers at a very affordable rate, if not for free.

4. Volunteer – There are many organizations that need volunteers. You don’t get paid but it’s a great way to get training in a new skill, keep your resume updated and feel confident while helping others. It’s proven that the happiest people are altruistic so get to volunteering and boost your happiness level.

5. Positive – Stay confident. Employers can sense low confidence. If you’re feeling embarrassed by your jobless situation and it effects your self-esteem, it will show on interviews. Positive attracts more positive and it’s the same for negativity – it attracts more negativity. Use this time in a positive manner. Volunteer, spend more time with friends and family, find your true passion by temping and freelancing at different companies, go back to school and remember, this situation is only temporary — you will find a job!

6. Network and be patient – Finding a job takes time and even longer that may be typical in this economy but you will find one. Just keep at the search and network. We know that most people find their jobs through networking. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job, what type of job and your experience.

7. Be prepared – Make sure to have an updated resume on your computer to send out ASAP. Be prepared for the interview by doing your homework on your trade, the company you’re interviewing with and its history. Make sure to practice interviewing — mock interviews are a great way to warm up for an interview.

Mental Health tips:

8. Find Support – Having the right support group there for you through these tough times is key to beating unemployment stress. Make sure to have friends and family members that are supportive and non-judgmental who will listen. If you don’t know anyone in your situation, there are support groups for unemployed individuals, where people in the same situation discuss their feelings and offer suggestions on how to cope. You can also get professional counseling if you would rather have one-on-one support.

9. Keep to a routine – This keeps a sense of normalcy. Since work has been taken out of the picture, try to structure a day around other activities. Wake up at a designated time and carry out tasks on a schedule to stay occupied. We are happier when we have a daily routine/schedule. We feel more organized and productive. Looking for a job is a full-time job in and of itself so treat it as such by spending your work day searching, networking, and planning your next steps.

10. Exercise – Start moving around! Three or four times a week of walking or running is enough is reduce your stress hormones and increase your endorphins, which naturally makes you feel happier.

Exercise will also help keep you healthy, mentally and physically, especially if you’re not eating or sleeping well due to depression and stress. It’s important to make sure your basic needs are met.

11. Have fun – Take the time to enjoy life. Call up a friend, indulge in your hobby, read, cook — whatever you want! Looking for a new way to have fun? Try volunteering for a local charity. Volunteering also brings us joy and allows us to meet new people and take risks. You can also volunteer with your kids, a great way to spend quality time together while helping others and teaching respect. It also helps kids develop self-esteem.

12. Communicate – Make sure to talk with your spouse and kids. Have an open dialogue with them about your struggles and triumphs during unemployment. This will keep them informed about what you are going through and how you are feeling. They are probably feeling stressed and worried, too. It’s normal for both the unemployed spouse and family to feel stress and concern BUT if there is no communication it can lead to arguments, resentment and isolation.

Good luck!

Diane and Daughter

Bio: Diane Lang is an educator and Life Coach. Diane has dedicated her career to helping people turn their lives around and is now on a mission to help them develop a sustainable positive attitude that can actually turn one into an optimist, literally. A therapist and educator of Positive Psychology, she has seen that it can provide a strong foundation for finding great happiness and is gratified that it is becoming a mainstream method of treatment. As an expert in her fields of therapy, Diane has been featured in the Daily Record and Cookie Magazine, seen on NJ 12 TV and the national television program “Fox & Friends”. She has also participated in a reality based Internet show, ourprisoner.com, hosted Generation X-tinet and appeared in various educational videos. In addition Lang writes a bi-weekly column “The Balancing Act” at www.thealternativepress.com and sharing her expertise on parenting and living a positive lifestyle on The WTBQ Expat Show.

For more information visit Diane’s website, www.dlcounseling.com or e-mail her at Lifeline36@aol.com.

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

Photo credit: Coins by Peter Griffin

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MamaBlogger365 – When the Dust Settles by Shira Adler, Diva Mama

Looking back to last weekend, I have to admit I really had NO idea what I was getting myself into organizing and running a multi-family tag sale. Yet as suddenly as the tempest hit, it was over. The only telltale sign is the tent at the bottom of my driveway covering a motley collection of unsold items including clothes, toys, furniture, and miscellaneous knickknacks piled high ready for donation pick up. Boxes are precariously perched atop each other draped with large trash bags and plastic tablecloths now covered with a week-old sheen of pollen and fallen whirlybird green things from surrounding trees.

But there was simply no way any of it was going back into the garage. After all, the whole point was to make room for the incoming collection of boxes and knickknacks my boyfriend was moving in this weekend.

Never mind the fact that the house is already a five-star disaster area, overflowing with “stuff”. True love requires, no BEGS, accommodation. But I’m happy to say, the sensitivity and sacrifice on my part matches the dedication and devotion he showers upon me on a daily basis. And so, it shall be!

It’s the least I can do, really. Despite this being the week of the move, my honey still took the time to help me complete a piece for iVoices on iVillage. I was recently selected as a finalist in their national search for 10 new iVoices, but we only had a few days to submit a 3:00 audition video. How lucky am I that in addition to my honey being a ridiculously talented writer/producer, in a previous work incarnation, he was a top producer/editor (preditor) in NY. Asking him for help in writing a script, shooting video and editing is as natural as breathing for him. But, as he said more than once: “The timing couldn’t be worse.” That simple yet painfully obvious statement was the closest thing to a complaint that I heard, even through the two nights he spent hours packing up his own place and then stayed up to work on my piece into the wee hours of the morning.

So now the move is done, the video is in, and the dust is finally settling. I am the first to admit my relationship history has gone from torrid to surreal yet I am here, somehow standing, still breathing and even smiling through the multitude of blessings and burdens that are the cumulative hodge-podge I affectionately call my life.

I have stopped wondering what comes next and have learned to accept and embrace whatever curve balls are thrown my way. But thankfully I have someone, an awesome, equally-exhausted best friend, lover and partner to hold sacred witness to and share all of these adventures. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, let the love in. Because it’s only love that makes all the tag sales, moving nightmares and everything in between infinitely more tolerable.

BIO: By day Shira Adler is a cantor, spiritual vocalist, certified pastlife regressionist, voice-over artist, producer, performer, writer/blogger and mompreneur and by night… well, she is actually the same person at night though she does admit to wearing fuzzy socks when no one can see her and hiding a secret stash of Mallomars somewhere near her writing desk for those late night pick-me-ups. In, around, and between her various work activities, she is raising two beyond-the-spectrum children as a single mom (though lovingly gives a shout out to her best friend, editor and soulmate whom she considers the bees knees). Is it any wonder her website’s tag line is One Voice Many Paths? Seriously, look up the definition of a multi-tasking Mama and you will find her picture there. But when it comes to living a life of connection, faith and consciousness Shira is the gal to call — or if you’re fresh out of Mallomars — she’s always happy to give you one. For more information visit: ShiraAdler.com, read her blog at Diva-Mama.com; Social: Twitter (1DivaMama), Facebook (DivaMama1), Tumblr (not really sure, but the name is cute) and LinkedIn (because doesn’t everyone?).

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

Photo credit: Empty Cardboard Boxes by Vera Kratochvil

MamaBlogger365 – Sending Support and Love by Jennifer Andersen

Why is it that after so much talk, writing and sharing of the concept of stay at home parenting so many of us still feel so alone? Many of our partners still do not get it and sometimes even blame us for the emotional disturbances of our children.

I was reminded of this recently when at a play space, a woman shared with me that her son had been “kicked out of preschool” the day before. She teared as she told me about the toll that it is taking on her marriage and how, though he tries not to, her husband blames her, because she is at home with her son. She also has a nine-month-old daughter. She shared with me that oftentimes she thinks that if she had had two of her son she surely would be residing “on a funny farm” instead of sharing her woes with me. She spoke of being embarrassed, shunned and bewildered. Going back to work is her desire, but she doesn’t want anyone else to raise her children. She spoke of the envy she felt toward her husband, for going to work daily and accomplishing things, for being able to grab lunch when he wants, and use the bathroom alone.

As I shared with her that stay at home parenting is, without comparison, the most difficult job, she began sobbing. “It really, really is,” she said. “I would give anything to be back at my high stress job, working 70 hours a week and barely sleeping. That was simple compared to this.”

“Anything,” I said, “except staying at home with your kids.”

“Exactly,” she responded.

I watched her son, older than the rest of the children in the play space, and saw him through her eyes. This was her baby. To the uninformed moms in the play space, he was loud, hyper and difficult to control. Yet here was one of us, standing in front of me, nursing her young daughter while diligently watching her son to make sure he was behaving appropriately.

At that moment her son may as well have been mine. I felt such empathy toward her. I thought of her nights spent arguing with her husband, and the added guilt that gave her daily. She already blamed herself for her son’s challenges and did not know where to turn for advice. She stopped going to play group because she was embarrassed, and did not like to visit these spaces for the same reason.

She was isolated, confused and deeply in love with her son.

She had to leave shortly thereafter, and I have not seen her again. I think of her often, and hope that somehow, and miraculously, she has found support, and that life is better for her and her family.

Bio: Jennifer Andersen is excited to be involved with a project like M.O.M that will bring some visibility to the realities that mothers face. Then we may be able to start to define it, making it demanding of respect and awe. Jennifer lives outside of Boston, with her two children ages 1 and 3. You can find more of her musings and suggestions for making life easier at www.ponderingjane.com, Honest Musing on Family Living. www.jenniferandersen.com voice over artist.

Support MamaBlogger365 and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

Top photo credit Mary R. Vogt | MorgueFile; author photo courtesy Jennifer Andersen.

MamaBlogger365 – The Secret to Sustaining Change and Preventing Relapse by Julie Donley, RN

Lots of us seek to make changes in our lives so that we can be our best, both as women and mothers. It’s hard to break old habits and change our lifestyle but MamaBlogger365 contributor Julie Donley, RN, success expert and author of Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.?, offers her tips for sticking with changes we’ve made — whether they’re related to diet, exercise, family life, etc. — with the goal of re-framing our lives.

 

“I don’t understand; I use [a diet system] to lose weight and am generally very successful, however, as soon as I come off the diet and starting eating regularly, I gain the weight right back. This has happened three times now. What am I doing wrong?”

This is the sad the story of relapse. You keep doing the same things over and over again expecting different results. Certain actions will bring about certain results and no matter how hard you ‘wish’ things would turn out different, you produce the same outcome yet again: you are back to your old habits — smoking, eating, gambling, drinking, screaming…

Relapse is not a mystery. In order to make a change and sustain that change there are certain things you must do — these are mandatory if you want to sustain the change. If you are not willing to do them, then you will most likely return to your old ways and produce the same results as before.

The missing ingredient to sustainable change is to become someone new. You cannot take the old habits and put them in a new environment and expect things to be different. For instance, you cannot move to a new city, new house, change jobs, change relationships or change addictions and expect things to be different. YOU have to change. YOU go with you everywhere you go. Your self-image and how you think of yourself needs to change. You have to develop new characteristics, practice new behaviors and become someone new in the process of your change or else, eventually, you will bring about the same old results in a new landscape.

A dieter choosing any weight loss method who does not change their self-image or how they view themselves, their value structure, their lifestyle and their priorities, will revert back to the way things were before. Diets are not forever. Diets are short term fixes to jumpstart a long term solution.

Think of a car; let’s say you are the kind of driver who likes to slam on their brakes. You drive very fast and then slam to come to a stop. After a short while, your brakes need replacing. You ride them hard and they wear quite rapidly. This can be expensive. You don’t want to keep spending money to replace brake pads and rotors. Or perhaps you have a newborn baby or had an accident and this prompts you to examine your driving practices. Whatever the reason, you decide that something needs to change.

That ‘something’ that needs to change is YOU.

You actually need to train yourself to become a different kind of driver, one who drives cautiously and slower, who approaches stops with more care and uses lighter pressure on the brake pedal. This will require new behaviors and consistent attention to those new behaviors over a period of time. You will need to practice so you can become a different kind of driver.

So you begin to examine your behaviors and choose new ones that eventually develop into new habits — no more slamming on your brakes. You need to slow down, take your time and enjoy driving at a different pace. Maybe, you have to give yourself more time to get places.

You don’t like change but it’s good for you so you slow down and things are good for awhile, but unless something else shifts internally for you, you might forget and start driving fast again. Habits are not easily changed.

In the process of practicing these new behaviors, however, you may start to see yourself differently. You change how you define yourself as a driver and the role driving plays in your life. There are certain characteristics of a good driver and you are beginning not only to define them, but to adopt them. You begin to view yourself as a ‘good driver’ possessing and practicing these qualities.

You notice other benefits as well. You feel less stressed. Perhaps your blood pressure goes down. You begin to appreciate driving and owning a car, the freedom it affords you. You are grateful for the privilege. After all, it is a very different lifestyle to travel by bus, train, bike, foot or taxi everywhere you go.

Gratitude and appreciation for your new way of life is one essential element for sustainability.

Gratitude then fuels your value system. You will always do what you perceive is of greatest value. In the past, driving fast and perhaps not as carefully was more important for whatever reason. You may not have consciously chosen this value; you just learned to drive fast and it became habit. Over time, it produced unfavorable results such as accidents, premature wear and tear on your vehicle and even tickets.

Now, after consideration, you realize there are other things that you value more. Whereas before, you valued driving fast and rushing to get places, now you value your hard-earned money, your child or your license and insurance which will be gone if you keep getting tickets and having accidents. Driving slowly and more cautiously becomes more important than anything else. This then motivates you to behave a certain way. Your values power your behavior. This is the impetus you need to make substantial changes in how you drive. A change in values produces sustainable results as values are less likely to change without careful thought and consideration.

Change requires a stimulus or a ‘kick in the pants’. We need to be motivated to do the work in order to change. Change is hard work, after all.

An upcoming event such as a wedding, prom or vacation may motivate you to lose weight but it won’t be enough to sustain that weight loss unless you see the value in staying thin and embarking upon a new life. You have to be willing to embrace new habits and become a new person in the process with different values and priorities. You must be different. If you cannot accept that, then the change will be short-lived, you will regain the weight or resume the old addiction — you will relapse — and things will return to the way they were.

This is why dieting is often referred to as a ‘lifestyle change’ because you really do need to change how you live and how you approach and think about food and fitness in order to sustain a thinner body.

So the secret to sustainability is to ‘Become a New You’. How you get there is through:

1. Developing the characteristics you need in order to succeed.
2. Being grateful.
3. Choosing your values and what is important to you. This will motivate you to succeed.

Bio: Julie Donley, MBA, BSN, RN knows firsthand what it means to conquer adversity. Having overcome addiction, a grave illness, divorce, single parenthood, obesity, indebtedness and being laid-off three times, Julie brings a wealth of experience to her work. Tired of life being SO hard, she went in search of an easier way. What she found was quite intriguing: “Hard or easy, it’s how you think about it!” Julie has worked in psychiatric nursing since 1993 and founded her company, Nurturing Your Success, to empower you to achieve your goals and work through change by educating, inspiring and motivating you to succeed. She is the author of several books including Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? and The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance and is named one of the top 100 thought leaders in personal development. For resources and to learn more, visit www.JulieDonley.com. Contact Julie at Julie@JulieDonley.com to have her speak at your next meeting or conference.

Support MamaBlogger365 and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

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