I had been seeking employment since February 25, 2019. In March I almost started selling life insurance, then changed my mind, believing that I would find something else that was more closely aligned with my goals. In May I started this blog and in August, while continuing the search for employment, I officially started a business, Legacy Builders. That’s also when our family started our homeschooling journey.
Though I kept myself busy, my desire was to replace at least 2/3 of my income, so I kept looking for a job. It wasn’t long before I felt comfortable just trying to replace half of my income, then just a third of my income. I applied for jobs of all kinds in various fields – community services, program management, fundraising, education, clerical, retail – anything I knew that I was able to do and believed I might enjoy.
I didn’t seek the same type of position, a Nursing Home Administrator, because I had grown to appreciate being free from the stress of that position. I liked spending time in our garden and our city libraries and parks. Summer soon arrived and for the first time in over eight summers I was free to be with my children. Still, I sought employment, certain that this was a temporary situation – a financial bump in the road.
In the fall I had what I believed to be two very successful interviews. Both times I was told I’d be called back promptly for a second interview. Though I followed up, I never heard from either manager again. That’s when the drizzle of insecurity and the gentle, consistent breeze of anxiety developed into a heavy storm from which I could find little shelter.
I kept blogging and journaling but writing no longer helped me process and move beyond my feelings. Prayer stopped feeling purposeful. Talking to friends was not a relief. Sleeping, which I’ve always enjoyed, became my solace. Normally a social drinker, I began swapping a cup of tea for a glass or two of wine or a cocktail before bed. My business brought in a nominal income, mere spending in comparison to what I once had. Our savings dwindled, my credit limits shrunk, and my paid for, thirteen-year-old vehicle struggled for months, then died. The children outgrew their shoes and clothes and one began to need money for college applications. I shared my sadness with my books, my friends, and my husband, smiling more often, hoping to disguise my pain and fear.
Christmas day came and went like a breeze. I didn’t take any pictures and I didn’t call any loved ones. I sat in the midst of my husband, children, and mother, hoping they enjoyed their gifts too much to notice my appearance. I felt sad, yet content. I didn’t feel like trying to be cheerful but I also didn’t want to make anyone else feel gloomy on Christmas day, so I celebrated the best way I could, quietly. I struggled to feel good but I remained thankful that the people I love seemed content.
Most days I felt as though I was swimming through mud, struggling for every inch forward, barely catching my breath. Blogging became a chore, not a solution. Everything made me tired. In near desperation, I continued looking for jobs with a resigned willingness to accept almost anything, much the way I imagine a lonely person looks at dating sites. On the second or third day of the year, I quit.
I accepted that there is either a well-connected team of haters, secretly tracking my job hunting efforts and personally calling all managers to malign me, or God really intends for me to build a legacy that includes a prosperous business, alongside the flexibility to enjoy my family and develop my talents. Maybe it’s both. Either way, since then I redirected the effort I spent researching job opportunities, refining my resume, adjusting cover letters, and writing thank you notes to interviewers. Now I’m pouring that energy into our two businesses and our children’s education.
I started this business with a vague goal of using my talents and expertise to help others while creating a legacy for my children and community. Writing for local and regional publications, writing another book, providing guidance for long term care and successful aging, connecting people to services, public speaking, educating, creating and implementing systems and processes that benefit specific groups… I’m good at those things. I like doing those things. I’m still figuring out how to build a business that earns money from those things but for some reason, now I really believe I can do it. So I’m doing it.
Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods
Thaddaeus, my husband, has been growing food for early twenty years. He started selling it about ten years ago. While working with SENO (Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans, now called Propeller) we established Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods in 2011. That’s also when I plunged into the fulfilling but stressful world of long term care. Thad built his food business while I built my post-baby career. We helped each other as much as we could and our endeavors were fruitful.
Though Thaddaeus farmed during our two years in North Carolina, Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods was essentially dormant in New Orleans. Now that we’re back and settled in, we’ve reimagined the business and added a nonprofit arm. Without the demands of a 50 to 80 hour per week job, I’m free to use my administrative and operations experience to help my husband build the food business of his dreams. So I’m doing it.
I believe in public school systems. My children have been enrolled in public schools for most of their lives. What New Orleans now has, a hodgepodge of private businesses managing (or manipulating) varying numbers of primary and secondary schools, does not feel like a public school system. It feels like an experiment in which the city’s children are disposable lab mice. There are a few islands of excellence or at the very least, decency. If the magical mystical OneApp grants children with the privilege of attending those schools, or children have the ability to pass certain admission exams, great! They’ll reap the benefits of the lovely islands. If not, they’re languishing on rusty barges, drifting on rafts, or worse, drowning in sinking ships. Many of the private schools aren’t much better, or their tuition rivals that of some universities. Lacking employment gave me the time to homeschool, which feels like the best backup plan ever. I’m free to continue homeschooling for as long as it’s necessary, so I’m doing it.
I’ve discovered that my natural inclinations toward nurturing, helping, and loving were severely limited when I worked in skilled nursing facilities. Free from those limitations, I’m beginning to enjoy the journey that caused me such anxiety and dread for much of 2019. I can’t see very far ahead of me but I’m learning to enjoy the beauty that’s right in front of me. My efforts to rejoin the rat race have been repeatedly thwarted. I was fearful, but now I’m thankful. Instead of sprinting to build someone else’s business and legacy, I am free to move at my own pace toward ours.