58: Crisis, Opportunity, and Change

58: Crisis, Opportunity, and Change

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Crisis, Opportunity, and Change

When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.

~John F. Kennedy

I was in my late forties and I was happy and healthy and had a great job. I was a single mother and I was quite proud of myself for what I had accomplished. I not only owned my home, but I also owned two rental properties. I had experienced great financial success throughout my professional career so I was not quite prepared for what I was about to face.

The day that I was laid off was actually the catalyst that propelled me to make life changes. I was completely blind-sided when I was laid off in January of 2007. I worked in the financial industry and always had a well-paying job—not having a job was foreign to me. I not only had extensive work experience, but I had an excellent work ethic and interpersonal skills, which I knew would help me land another good job.

I started my job search immediately. There was no reason why I could not get a good job. I had a great resumé, I interviewed well, and I was always able to establish a great rapport with anyone almost immediately.

After a few interviews, I had a feeling I was not going to land the right job anytime soon. I am not sure if this was due to the impact of the economic crisis in the financial sector, or if it was because I needed to make changes, or possibly a combination of both.

Since I had no idea how long I would be without a job, I put myself on a very strict budget. I only bought the essentials and I cut out all entertainment. I felt very sad for my son because this crisis was affecting him too. I feared using up my savings, so I decided to sell one of my properties. It was on the market for six months and only two serious buyers came along, but due to the credit crunch, they were unable to obtain loans, and I was unable to sell.

I had to stay positive. I knew I had to depend on God’s guidance now more than ever. I had a responsibility to my son and my mom who was staying with us temporarily. My mom came to stay with us after my father died in October 2006.

In April, a few months after I was laid off, my mom became very ill. She began experiencing excruciating chest pains. We were constantly at the hospital or with her doctor. Shortly after that, my autistic son began having behavioral issues in school. I became consumed with worries about my mom, my son, and finding a job. I began to have frightening dreams. I prayed for guidance and for strength to deal with everything that I was facing.

My unemployment benefits were about to end and I seriously wondered how I would make ends meet. Since I was also living on my savings and watched them deplete every month, I looked at what other funds I could access. After some careful thought and meditation, I decided to liquidate a small IRA account. If I budgeted carefully, I knew this would get me through at least another year. I knew this was a good decision because I felt a sense of calm.

Since I was allowing my inner voice to guide me, I made a conscious decision to start enjoying life once again. I also shifted my focus from my job hunt and money worries to my son and my mom. My mom was getting better and I began to feel good about myself again. During my quiet moments, I was saying these words, “I have money for everything.” I started to take my family to dinner every once in a while. I took my son to the movies, the park, for walks, and to visit friends. Overall, I spent a lot more time with him and with my mom. This is something I would not have been able to do if I had been working.

One morning after I had said out loud, “I have money for everything,” I looked at myself in the mirror and a little voice said, “This is your life now.” Emotionally and spiritually I accepted it, but logically I still wondered how this could be. I had to pay my mortgage and my bills. How could I do this without working? I prayed for more guidance and faith. I knew that my situation was temporary and that my break would come soon.

My mom went back home to South America in March of 2008. My son and I got used to having her around, and we felt all alone when she left. Now was the time to find a job. I needed a job where I had the flexibility to spend time with my son. I decided to get a job in the school district, possibly at an office in one of the school sites so I could have the same time off he had.

After five failed interviews I almost gave up. Even though I interviewed well, they felt I was over-qualified.

I saw a part-time job as a teacher’s aide and I decided to apply for it. I knew it was only part-time, but I felt compelled to apply for the position. I had a bachelor’s degree in sociology and during my college summer months I worked with children in a head start program. I felt this somehow qualified me for the job.

Three months later, I received a letter from the school district advising me that my application had been accepted. However, before they would even consider me, I had to go through their process of testing, background check, medical exam, and an initial screening interview. Their screening process consisted of a group interview conducted by a few teachers from the school district. If I passed those components, I would then go for a second interview that would determine whether or not I would be hired.

Lo and behold, I was hired. I am now working with children and I love it. It is certainly a shift from the corporate world, but I am very happy.

Due to the economic crisis, interest rates fell to a record low. This positively impacted the loans I have for my two rental properties.

The interest rates fell dramatically, and my rental properties became income generators. My part-time job and my rental properties are now providing me with income to live on, and I have more time to spend with my son. He and I are much happier.

I know that this is just the beginning of my recovery. I know that better times are on the horizon and I am looking forward to those times.

~Pat Hurtado

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