If anyone had told me that one of the nicest vacations in my life would occur
a.) when I was unemployed, thus with nothing to actually take a vacation from; and
b.) almost exclusively in my own home;
I would have said they were crazy.
But that is exactly what happened! I just had two of the most pleasant weeks of my life. I scaled back my job search efforts to the minimum required to maintain unemployment compensation, my son was out of school and my husband took the time off work. We just hung out together and did a lot of nothing, and it was GREAT!
I have spent the last three months working to get my freelance writing business off the ground and simultaneously looking for a new full-time position. (At first I thought I'd try to transition into full-time freelancing and just did the job searching to maintain my unemployment eligibility. Over time, though, I came to realize that until my son graduates from college -- and he's only a high school freshman today -- I need the stable cash flow that full-time employment provides. So my mission has evolved to developing a healthy freelancing business as a second-income that I can grow to a primary income a decade or so down the road.) I actually work very hard every day at both endeavors -- the job search and trying to build my freelance business -- but I have to admit, in retrospect, I was doing all that hard work under the cloud of depression. Now, I think I have shaken that off.
I'm sure it didn't hurt any that the day before this "vacation" began, I had a job interview for a position that I am still very hopeful about. It was encouraging just to be called in, of course, but I actually think I would like the job a lot. The interviewer made it clear that after that interview, she would be taking some time off for the holidays, so I didn't expect to hear anything until this week at the very earliest. That allowed me to savor the positive feeling of hope about future employment through the whole vacation.
The first week was largely full of the hustle and bustle of our family's Christmas traditions. No one had done any early shopping to speak of, so we all were finishing that through December 23rd. Then on Christmas Eve my son sang in a teen choir at one Mass while Bob and I sang at two others, so there was a lot of energy in all that. And while some years I might find my mind wandering or feel exhausted by it or whatever, I found the services really uplifting this year. Then Christmas day involved a trip to my mother's home in Zanesville, followed by a trip to Bob's family home in Bryan, Ohio the 26th through the 28th. He has a large family and their holiday observation almost always gives me a lift. Even for them, though, this year's gathering was especially drama-free. (And that's definitely a good thing! Where there are eight siblings with spouses and children and now grandchildren, there is lots of opportunity for drama!)
The second week was even better, as unlikely as that seems! We slept in blissfully late every day, puttered around the house, and watched DVDs we had received for Christmas. (I got a set of the early seasons of the British TV series Midsomer Murders, which used to be shown here on A&E and the Biography Channel. Imagine our delight when we found that the episodes we had seen here in the US had been edited for length, so every single one contains scenes we've never seen before!)
Kind of our last hurrah was a trip to the Lennox Cinema to see Frost/Nixon. First of all, I was proud and pleased that I have a 15-year-old who chose that movie. (A sad observation: there were almost NO young people in the theater, though it was as packed as any I've been in for a long time. The audience members mostly looked like they had lived through the real events, as Bob and I had.) The movie is WONDERFUL. It is almost creepy how well Frank Langella channels Richard Nixon. So we've had numerous historical discussions in which we tried to put the Nixon presidency into some kind of perspective for Sam. What fun.
Today, Bob is back to work, Sam is back to school, and I am back to searching for job opportunities, both full-time and freelance. But I definitely come back to it feeling energized, renewed, and with a fresh outlook. No matter how rough 2008 was, we ended it in good health and still much better off than many people. All three of us truly enjoy each other's company and if that isn't something to celebrate, I don't know what is! I am filled with hope that 2009 will continue the positive trends in our lives and bring the financial stability we need, as well.