In times of want activities formerly viewed as necessary maintenance become luxuries. I’m not talking about facials and pedicures. I’ve only had one of the former and two of the latter in my lifetime and they were all for special occasions. No, I’m talking about things like gym memberships, biannual teeth cleaning, oil changes, annual physicals and haircuts – all of which were once a regular part of my life. When you have a very low and restricted income the expenses that rise to the top of the list are housing, food, gas, and car insurance. These are the most-haves, the rest go by the wayside.
Lately it occurred to me that deferred maintenance, while ostensibly saving money, has its own costs. Certainly the car would be in better shape if I could keep to the tune up and service schedule. The mechanic issues dire warnings whenever I come in to have some necessary thing fixed – “One day,” he tells me, “The steering will just go out, and you better hope you aren’t on the freeway!” Since he admits it could be a year from now (and will cost about $600 to fix) I’m resigned to hope for the best, and I stick to side streets more often than not!
And after all the talk about a career makeover I took stock of just what I’m trying to sell. Since I’m branching out, I’m no longer selling the resume, degrees, experience, client list, and references – all of which served me well in the past but no longer mean much to the employers I’m approaching now. Now I’m just selling me. And the deferral of maintenance is showing. I haven’t been to the dentist in nearly two years (luckily the broken molar hasn’t been an issue), and my glasses are a little under strength and scratched. A couple of years of fretting have added a frown line between my eyebrows and foregoing workouts for the same length of time have added more than a few pounds. I no longer fit into my ‘career’ clothes and I’ve aged more than the two years that have passed.
Looking in the mirror I see a slightly overweight, frumpy, anxious woman. Not looking so good in person! So in addition to making over the career I’ve decided I need to work on looking more worthy of hiring. Considering my options and the costs of any sort of ‘makeover,’ and inspired by the book “Younger Next Year,” I have opted to start training for a 5k race. I downloaded the novice training plan for a 5k from the Mayo Clinic website and joined the Couch to 5k group on Sparks People. I found some New Balance running shoes on sale and bought shorts and a sports bra on clearance. After I drop my 8th grader at school I hit the beach. Three days into my training program I’m, well, I’m IN PAIN! OY! My poor shins, and ankles, and knees. I have to admit I’m starting slower than I like so I’ve decided that any progress is good progress – I’m not going to quit just because I can’t quite manage the daily routine of the training program. Maybe it will take me 8 weeks instead of 7. One way or another I’ll be running in a 5K on May 3rd.
I’m hoping the running program will not only help me lose the extra pounds but will also give me more energy and just make me feel stronger and better about myself. It’s hard to be unemployed – I can tell you its hell on the ego! And the constant anxiety and hardships and deprivations wear one down. I can cheerlead for my kids but I find it harder and harder to do for myself. I’d like to be in a better frame of mind (and body) when I attend the conference/job fair for the ‘green military’ on April 21st.