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.

This entry was posted in 2nd Career, frugal living, job search, running, unemployment. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Maintenance

  1. Ciaran says:

    Thank you for sharing your running plan. I have thought about running for awhile now, and you have given me some much-needed inspiration. I went to the Mayo Clinic site and their plan is developed by Jeff Galloway. (2 for the price of one.)
    I have been reading your blog since shortly after you started writing and I am always heartened by your resoluteness and courage. I will continue to pray for you and your family that you find employment that allows you to support your family and find a more stable place in which to live.

  2. Debby says:

    Good for you! I think if you get results here, it will no doubt begin to spill over into other areas.

  3. V's Herbie says:

    I am soooo not a runner, so good for you for doing what I’m not willing to!

    Did you say you have a Netflix account? There are some workout videos on there that might be a good guide for pre-run stretching.

  4. Lynn says:

    If you are running in sand at the beach, it’s really hard . Though it is softer than pavement, it is uneven. Our City College lets anyone run on their track; anything similar in your area?

    I admire your plan, though. A toned body always looks better, and if you are fitter you will no doubt make a more positive impression in ways beyond muscle tone–energy for example.

    I need to take a page from your book and figure out what I CAN do to be healthier, and start to do it. So hard to start…

    • Tiffany says:

      Actually walking on sand is really good for your knee health. My uncle cured his knee problems by walking on the local beach everyday. It can help with back problems too.

      You might want to switch to walking instead of running, particularly if you don’t have easy doctor access. Running, especially over 40, can produce problems for some people.

      If you’d like to get free dental cleanings and earn some money, check out craigslist and local dental schools. Especially if you haven’t had a cleaning in a while, some dental students will give you a teeth cleaning for free and you usually get some cash if you can be available to get your teeth cleaned during their final exams. One friend did this and made $400. It does require time, but it certainly can be profitable.

  5. Corey says:

    This might sound crazy, but you may want to look in to barefoot/minimalist running. The shoes are certainly well priced 🙂 And it’s easier on the knees and shins.

    Great blog, and I hope you find a rewarding new career.

  6. We’ll be your cheerleaders! Keep up the great work!

  7. Becky R says:

    I just went to the dentist after over 2 years for a cleaning and exrays, only to be yelled at that my teeth are bad and I need to come sooner. They had no empathy that I do not have dental.

    I am overweight and the stress of living paycheck to paycheck makes it hard to lose, even thouh I have the time to exercise. It is a hard battle, but you are right we have to invest in ourselves as well.

    • boxcarkids says:

      I know I need to go to the dentist – just cannot afford it now. No excuse not to do all the brushing and flossing and antibacterial rinsing but sometimes that gets missed in the haste to get kids out the door in the morning. I am getting much better at taking my vitamin supplements and eating more salads, snacking on nuts instead of crackers, drinking lots of water…it’s a job! 😉

      • Maryl says:

        Is there a school who has a dental hygiene program nearby? When I was in college, the girls in dental hygiene needed patients, particularly ones with “issues.” It is time consuming, but you could get a cleaning and x-rays, at least there.

      • Maryl says:

        Same thing goes for either a high school cosmetology program or beauty school. I think locally I could get a haircut for five dollars, and a good haircut can do wonders for your looks and your self-confidence.
        As for the running on the beach, if it’s hard packed it’s great, running in loose sand can really be tough on your balance. Are there local college or high school tracks you can run/walk on? I’m working toward a 5k after being out of running for eight years and it’s a longer road back than I want it to be. But I’m pleased for you that you are doing some things for yourself.

      • Definitely look into dental programs nearby. In San Francisco, there is a dental program that does hygiene as well as dental work for way less than dentists, with 0% payment plans; there may be one in your area as well.

  8. Nota says:

    Ditto on shin splints – don’t ignore them. They’re usually a result of poor form, badly fitting shoes (ie, wearing a neutral shoe when you need a stability shoe), and/or overuse.

    I encourage you to also google the “Couch to 5k (C25K)” running plan and “Galloway Method”. I’ve tried both and have found the Galloway plan works really well for me – I use it in half-marathons to keep me from feeling like I’ve been beat with a stick at the end. There’s also a shop in Cincinnati (that I run out of) with some excellent articles on form and shoes called The Running Spot. You might want to check them out online also.

    • boxcarkids says:

      I did some research before beginning and found I have a high arch so I tried to get a shoe with support; according to the salesman the New Balance all terrain was good – and it was on sale for $35- so that’s what I got. Maybe I need an insert. Or it could be poor form (never been a runner – more into yoga and when younger, martial arts). I looked at the C25K plan but thought the Mayo Clinic plan would suit me better. But I have to say right now I’m doing more walking than running thanks to the shin splints!

  9. I meant “I gave up and applied for and got a disability.” I could have gotten the disability 20 years ago but chose to work.

  10. Don’t keep running with shin splints! Can you bike or swim? Yes, I know, the beach is free! Oh shin splints subject–I think I was told not to resume activity until the pain went away.

    I do understand the need for personal maintenance. Right now, my weight and a limp from a knee problem make me look like I don’t want to look. However, I gave and applied for and got a disability, so maintenance for a job is not necessary. It is necessary for my own mental health. Age alone without the looking aged is enough of a handicap. I know you will accomplish your maintenance or revitalization!

    • boxcarkids says:

      No bike (or place to keep one safely) and I can’t afford the membership at the Y ($80 a month for family – they’ll let you have a $50 membership for 3 months if you are ‘needy’ but we used that up at the beginning of our saga when we really needed the showers and pool)! In the summer I can swim in the ocean (too chilly for me right now).

  11. Mary says:

    Running can be very hard on your body, especially as one gets older. I know a few people who ran religiously in their 20s and 30s who had to give it up completely (and reluctantly) in their 40s, due to problems with knees, backs, etc. You may want to consider something like walking, biking, or swimming for an ongoing exercise plan, all of which are good for your but have less impact on the joints. (PS It is always OK to walk a 5K!)

  12. docdave says:

    good for you–you’re facing the accelerated aging thing head-on and in a way that is likely to have good outcomes not only for you but also for your children.

    It is amazing what we moderns can forego in the “maintenance” department but the problem is that we end up competing for work and respect with individuals who haven’t had to defer so much of that personal maintenance. And what’s deferred shows; we can call it “character” or “experience” or even “weathering,” but oh, it’s there. good for you to fight back directly!

  13. Jerry says:

    I think that some joint pain is normal, but shin splints can be a sign that you’re doing something wrong. Wikipedia says “Patients may be advised to decrease the duration or intensity of their exercise and then build it up slowly, as well as to exercise caution on high impact surfaces, until the muscles re-condition.”

    All I know is that abusing shin splints can lead to long term hobbling and wincing.

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