Summer’s end

It’s been a long summer.

We spent Labor Day at the park; one last hurrah before it turns colder. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

We spent Labor Day at the park; one last hurrah before it turns colder. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

For someone who doesn’t have a full-time job, I’ve been staying very busy.  Between my kids and grandkids, my mother, my boyfriend, and a couple of part-time jobs, I think I’m busier now than when I was a part of the normal workforce.

My search for work has not been in vain. After being laid off from Hibu at the end of April, I thought about doing freelance work and being my own boss. It didn’t take me long to see that while I am very good at what I do, there are parts of owning a business that I don’t particularly like.

I am not an organized person. I can be organized if I have to, but my personality is such that I can’t keep scheduled hours on my own. I am easily distracted by more important things like driving my son to the store, or stopping what I’m doing so I can help my mom.

My lack of organization was driving me crazy because I couldn’t get anything done. No matter what I did, I couldn’t stick to my work hours. There was always something “more important” to do.

I’m helping Jim Ecker (a former CR Gazette sports writer, now owner of Metro Sports Report) with his website a couple of nights a week, uploading stories and photos, as they come in. I still write for the Marion Times, and now I’m the news coordinator/writer for the Hiawatha Today, a new monthly publication. Times editor, Corey Munson, asked me to help them out. Of course I said yes. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down a new experience.

I like the flexibility the part-time jobs give me, but I miss the benefits and routine of a full-time job. And though, I’ve had several interviews, it seems they are always looking for someone with more experience or more time in the workforce.

I went to college, not only to fulfill a dream, but I also figured that once I had a degree, employers would be clamoring to hire me. However, getting a degree at 46 is different from getting a degree at 22. Technically, I only have two years work experience as a professional writer/editor, but a lifetime of experience in other areas. Doesn’t that count?

So I keep searching.

But really, I can’t complain. I can pay my bills and I’m doing what I need to do. I get to spend more time with my family and volunteer with several different groups. Maybe that was the plan all along.



Even workaholics need a vacation–Week 17

I went on vacation last week…well, sort of.

Grand Mesa

We had a great time, visited with family, saw a few of the sights, but I could never quite get away from work. I guess it’s difficult when my work is also my fun.

The drive over the Rocky Mountains included a lengthy discussion of my marketing and business plan for my newspaper. The trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Garden of the Gods had me taking over 200 pictures because I wanted to get “just the right shot.” But I loved every minute of it.

Meerkat at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

I also learned that an astounding number of trees in Colorado are dying because of a beetle infestation and saw first-hand the devastation it’s causing. As we drove through the mountainous terrain, every other tree was stripped of its pine needles and all that was left was a gray skeleton of a once-healthy pine tree.

Though I’ve been to Colorado a few times in my life, it seems as though there is always more to see. We went to Grand Mesa, where I learned that there are free-range cows that roam around, and the population of the deer in the little town of Cedaredge is almost as much as the number of residents. I also saw my first long-haired Scottish longhorn.

Grizzly Bear, I think his name was Emmett

It was fun, it was short, but it was just right. I have a feeling that once I get busy with running my own paper, vacations will come few and far between.  I guess I will just have to enjoy them that much more.

To visit the Hiawatha Adocate website, click here:

Work is a 4-letter word

This the last night at the umpteenth job I’ve had over the years. I’m  saying goodbye to yet another job and it has caused me to pause and contemplate what it all mean.

I have been working for most 35 years of my life and in that time, there are only a few that I can say that I really enjoyed. I have been a secretary, cashier, kennel worker, pie server, bookkeeper, cook, baker and a waitress. As funny as it sounds, I think I enjoyed being a waitress the most (Somewhere along the way it became politically correct to call us servers, but I can’t get used to it.)

What I liked most about being a waitress was the fact that it was different every day. I never got bored. I enjoyed the people, too, though some of them could really be jerks. Some people don’t tip, as a personal rule; some take their bad day out on you, and some are just plain mean. And people thought we got regular pay plus tips. When I told them that I made $1.96 an hour at my first waitress job in 1980, they couldn’t believe it. I relied pretty much on my tips to pay my bills. When my tips started getting smaller and smaller, I decided I couldn’t do it and switched careers…as a cashier.

I didn’t like it as much. I had to stand in one place all day and count money. I still got to work with people, but it wasn’t the same. I went back to serving for a while before getting a job with REM Iowa, working with mentally challenged adults. The pay wasn’t much, but I enjoyed helping my clients learn how to live independently. It also helped me learn how to better relate to my son, who is also mentally challenged. But it too became monotonous and I began to look at what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Once I started back to college, the choice was clear; I wanted to be the publisher of my own paper. Where else could I be busy all the time, do something different every day, and work with people? (besides being a waitress, I mean) Sounds perfect to me.

So here I sit, a few minutes left of my shift. I enjoyed my summer job editing web pages, but it too became tedious. Sitting for eight hours looking at the computer screen not only strained my eyes, but my back, as well. I need to keep moving. I think I said it before but I will say it again; work doesn’t have to feel like work if you really enjoy what you’re doing. Work doesn’t have to be a four-letter word.