My week has been primarily devoted to the beginning of the academic year and to work with an enterprising group of students who are working with me to start a communications agency to serve our campus departments and organizations. We have a lot of enthusiasm and are feeling our way into how all of this is going to work. I will let you know how things go with this project as it develops.

Today, however, I would like to share with you the story of a Useful, Pleasant Lives reader who is also my friend:

RR tracks

At the age of 41, I am starting over.

After an incredible financial disaster, brought about in part by a mentally ill husband, I left my home, car, and marriage and moved back to Illinois.

Unlike many people in disastrous situations, I am fortunate that my family was instrumental in getting me out, as well as housing me until I am able to get back on my feet fully.

My job search took on a completely different tone once I started looking in Illinois.  Previously, I had been looking for a job that could support the house, all of the bills, two cars, and a husband that was virtually unemployable.  Now, I had the luxury of looking for a career that I would enjoy and be able to grow with.  I was having a very hard time remembering the last time that I have felt successful or valuable, and with the help of a dear friend, I am getting my professional groove back.

I am working as a bookseller at O’Hare Airport for $9.50 an hour.  In another two months, I will be eligible for my own medical and dental insurance.  I work 4 10-hour days each week.  The hours are long, getting there is a challenge, and the paychecks are miniscule.  But, I am working hard and doing something that I love.  I have been a bookseller since I was 15, and I am thrilled to have come full circle back to my roots.

If it was not for my loving and supportive family, I certainly would not be able to afford to work this job.  I am surrounded every day by people that work long hours as janitors, fast-food workers, and even booksellers, that are scraping and pinching to pay the rent on their meager salaries.  But, because my expenses are small right now, I am able to dive in to the job and focus on getting promoted as quickly as I can.

The challenge for me now is to determine what kind of life I want to lead.  I need space for my cats and me.   I want to entertain.  I want to travel.  I want to splurge occasionally on a great bottle of wine.    But mostly, I want to be self-sufficient again.  I am well on my way.

Useful, Pleasant Lives is generating really interesting conversations here on the blog, on Facebook and even around the office. I have such thoughtful and brave readers and friends. Thank you all for your willingness to consider the idea of Useful, Pleasant Lives. Thank you for inspiring me.

Photo © Copyright Roger Dean and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.