Monday, July 12, 2010

My Ups and Downs Being Unemployed - July 12th

I got fired on Jan. 3, 2010. Seven months ago. Before that happened, I've only been unemployed for two months in my whole adult life. It felt weird not to have a job to go to. 

At first, I really enjoyed the time off and getting to sleep in everyday. I love having nothing to do. I enjoying being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. 

By the end of the first week, I doubled the number of friends I had on Facebook. The love and support from everyone was overwhelming. It really helped to lift me higher and keep me there for a number of months. People kept asking if I was depressed. Amazingly, I wasn't.

I had been using the principals from, "The Law of Attraction" and "The Power of Now" to help make positive changes in my life. I learned I didn't have to wait for something to happen in order to feel happy. I could choose to be happy every moment of every day. I was familiar with this concept, but I never knew how to actually make it happen before I read these books. So, despite losing a job I loved, I wasn't depressed. Just the opposite, I accepted it and was grateful for everything I did have. I focused on the positive and ignored the negative. I was focused on what I wanted, rather than on what I didn't want. That thinking, combined with the love and support made me feel truly happy. Until April.

I'm the only person I know who waited a month to apply for unemployment. I guess it took that long to realize it was real. I no longer had a job. A job I loved on a radio show from which I received so much joy. It was hard to believe the show was really over. We weren't going back to work.

Being on unemployment in a state that's broke was quite a challenge for me. They sent me exactly one check in my first four months. They said I was disqualified, because I didn't look for work and even refused a job offer. Both were lies. I spent hours everyday looking for a job. I didn't get one interview, let alone any offers.

When I read that letter, my hands shook and my heart sank. I started to cry - hard. I don't have a husband or anyone to financially support me. Would I end up homeless? No, my sister Melanee said I could live with her in  PA. That was a relief. It's always good to have a Plan B, although I love San Diego and consider this my home now. But that's when my depression started.

Unemployment said I had to attend a hearing, but I could reapply in 6 weeks. Gee thanks. I filled out the form to appeal the hearing. A few weeks later, I got a letter that stated my claim wasn't filed for a hearing and instead, I was scheduled for a phone interview. It claimed I would be disqualified again if I didn't answer the phone. But it didn't give me a date or time when that phone interview would take place.  This letter also said I would be disqualified, because I had gone to school during this time and that would make me unavailable for work. Another lie. You can imagine my frustration.

So I searched the official unemployment website for a way to respond to this. I found something in the drop down menu's and sent an email asking when to expect my phone call. I got a response two days later and then a letter, a few days after that. My phone interview was on the following Saturday. Okay, now we're talking.

A man phoned before the appointed time, but spoke in a friendly, easy to understand voice. From what I've been told, that's not always the case. He asked me a lot of questions, which I answered. Things were cleared up quickly and easily and he said I would be reinstated and should receive my back pay in the coming weeks.

So how does one live without being paid for 4 months? I spent my 401K and my tax return. Thank God for both of them!  I also sold some paintings. I was able to stay current with all of my bills, until one week before unemployment started sending my checks. Even then, I was only late with my rent and managed to pay half.

When I shared some of this experience with others on Facebook and Twitter, I was surprised to learn how common it was! I head all kinds of horror stories from others who got the same treatment. Some of them went to the hearing and won. Others did not. Some won their case at the hearing, but then had the decision reversed and had to pay back all the money! Thank you to everyone who helped me get through this. I was happy about the outcome and now get my unemployment checks regularly.

But somehow, I couldn't seem to shake off the depression. I spent most days on the couch watching TV and movies pretty much non-stop. Or I slept a lot. I ate junk food. I wasn't taking care of myself. I stopped trying to have a routine everyday. I slept on the couch. I did all the things most depressed people do. I don't have medical insurance, so I couldn't afford the medicine. I acted like someone who had given up on life.

My only respite during that time came on a number of Thursdays, when I drove myself to La Jolla, to paint with my girls at my friend Sally's house. Sally, Diane and Kat have no idea how much they helped to save my life during that time. I get tears in my eyes remembering. Otherwise, I isolated, stayed home alone and didn't reach out to anyone for help. I did all of the things that don't work. I didn't try to change my depressing thoughts, therefore, I felt depressed.

I did go to work here and there, filling in doing radio traffic reports, but I faked it the whole time. I hid my depression as much as I could. Fake it 'til ya make it.

I think it was the last day of June, when I wrote on my Facebook status, "I got nothin'." 44 people responded, mostly telling me how much I did have and telling me to write a gratitude list. Well, it worked. It was the catalyst to get me to turn things around. Once again, I started focusing on what I loved and was grateful for and changed my thinking. The Law of Attraction says if you change your thoughts, you'll change your feelings and hence change your life. 

Seriously, nothing has changed except my thinking! I still don't have a job. But today I'm happy. Every day I get another chance to make choices to feel good about my life. I don't need to wait for something to happen. I can choose to feel good right now. Every day. But that's the trick. I can't rest on the laurels of the past. I have to choose again and again. Each day. If I do that, I'm good.

I don't know when The DSC will be back on the air or even where. I accept whatever happens is meant to be. I know God has a purpose and a place for me. Right now, I have the patience to wait and find out the answers. 

What I really want to happen is this: I'd like to have one more go at radio. One more contract, say three to five years. That will give me enough time to get established as an artist and be able to support myself that way until the day I die. In the meantime, I'll continue to make art, take an occasional art class and keep my blog up to date. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped me through this challenging time. I'm learning a lot on this bumpy ride. But that's what life is all about. Everyone falls down now and then. It's what you do when you get up that matters.

~Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself ~Swedish proverb~


  1. Dear Ruthie/Nina,
    Thank you for such an honest, open blog! I am a big fan of your art and your voice! I wish I had half your talent. I'm a "Bob Ross" kind of painter, and a poor one at that. (And my husband is currently unemployed so I can totally relate to the crap you are going through!)

    I anxioulsy look forward to hearing your voice back on the air, and I wish you the very, very best.

    Hang in there, and don't let this temporary crap get you down.

    With love, and respect,

  2. I wish all the time that you could see yourself as I see you. You are loved. And more importantly, you are my friend, as as long you want to, you never have to leave San Diego, because you have me. Love, Nicole

  3. Ruthie, one of the things I loved about you on the radio was your willingness to speak of your lifelong battle with depression. I have never suffered from anything more than the occasional blues, but I felt when you shared your experience you were able to help others understand what they might be experiencing. You made people feel less alone.

    Just before I started listening to the DSC, around 1996, I was struggling in life with anger. I was mad at everyone and everything. One day I was at Bookstar in Point Loma and came across a book called "Conversations with God." That book changed my life. It started my process of spiritual evolution. Since that time I have read "The Secret" and Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth." These great authors and their words have helped me become who I am today. I woman at peace and very happy even though I'm a divorced woman, with no children, no health insurance, waiting tables, barely making it, going back to school to reinvent myself for the next twenty years of my working life. I too am the sole provider of me. That is scary Ruthie. I feel ya there. But everyday, I take my dog to a beautiful park. I enjoy nature very much. I thank God everyday for the pleasure of my life. I am so grateful for my good health, my great friends and family, for the ability to experience all that I have and all I will. I let God and my guides know that I am ready to give love and receive love in whatever form it comes. But Ruthie, what I'm trying to say is I understand how uncertain it can be to have no job and no mate to back you up. But what I've come to realize is, you're never alone. Ever. Even when you're on sofa watching endless hours of t.v., there are countless people out here who are sending you love and support and want the best that life will bring you. Just close your eyes,take a deep breath and feel the embrace.

  4. God, Ruth... I've never said this to anyone I have never met, let alone don't know well, but I love you. I've listened to you on the radio for years and have been on your facebook and blog since the horrible day you guys went off the air.

    I just know things will work out, but I sure hope they will work out with me being able to hear your voice every day. I've always loved your views on life and miss hearing them.

    Albertine Feurer-Young

  5. Love you glad you are feeling better. Can't wait to hear you on the air again. I have every bit of confidence that you will be on the air, you'll get that 3 to 5 year contract, your art sales will start booming, and you'll get the retirement you so want and deserve, enjoying your painting! Take care my friend :)

  6. Ruthie...I've listened to to you from the beginning...and the DSC since 1991 (I was all of 16-17).
    I've suffered from anxiety and depression since my 20's. It's HARD. I was on meds for 8 years and got off them a year ago. And oh my god did I have crap to deal with. The voice in my head I wanted to mute for 8 years came back with a vengeance... but I dealt with it and faced it. I practice yoga and it's helped heal so much in me. But you, you my friend describe your darkest days and I am right back there. Because I've been there this past year too. Sometimes you have to allow yourself to just BE there before you snap out of it.

    You rock Ruth.

    Erin H.

  7. Ruthie,
    Thanks once again for sharing you... with... us. You have so many times helped me to get through some tough times. Even though I only know you over the air and occasionally -Twitter- You have countless times made life a better place to be. I'm not much for words just wanted to say thank you and good luck . Thinking of you!
    Love Ya!
    Brian (a.k.a. Justanrpls)

  8. Ruthie,

    I too live with depression. I have to say thank you for your willingness to talk about it and tell everyone what it's really like. I wish I was as brave and strong as you are. I am thankfully under the care of a great doc and in a very good place. But knowing that others know how I felt is a comfort beyond words. Whatever your future holds know that you are light to all of us long-time listeners and will be to those that become fans of your art. I know I already am.

    Keep up the good work Ruthie! LYS!!


  9. Hey Ruthie!

    Hang in there! I too have been denied the EDD check, but thankfully the misunderstandings got cleared up and I got some backpay too...yay for us :) The unemployment thing is tough, but when you get your radio gig, it'll all be behind you.
    Keep your head up Ruthie!

    Love your show,

  10. Thank you to everyone for the wonderful feedback! I tend to forget how sharing the bad stuff can help others with similar struggles. My intention was just to put it out there what I've been going through - nothing more.

    I've learned SO much these past months, but I gotta tell ya - I'm thrilled to be going back to work Aug. 2nd on Jack 100.7 FM! The structure will do me a lot of good.

    A feeling of renewal is sweeping over me and I know a lot of good things and positive changes are coming my way. Love you guys!

  11. A job and health insurance are always a good thing. It's hard not knowing when the next permanent position will be, no matter how positive a person is, or tries to be.

    It's especially difficult if a part of you is identified by your work. 4 years ago I stopped working for the first time in my life (I was 48). It took time to appreciate myself for who I am, and not what I do or did. It still throws me at times, but gets easier.

    Since I didn't have DSC to listen to in the morning, the facebook pages have been fun to follow.

  12. I'm so happy that you are going to be reunited with your radio family again and can't wait to hear your voice on the air. I've listened to the DSC since 1993 and, luckily, saved so many podcasts of your show that I could almost pretend like you never left. I listen to different pieces every day at work, even if I've heard the same part a hundred times it still makes me feel better and helps me keep my spirits up. I wish you the very best and hope that this new station will treat you as well as you so deserve. I love you very much as a fan and a friend you've never met and thank you so much for all the good times.

  13. I know how you feel! I was unemployed for 8 months (only had been 4 months long six years ago before this!)Got a job I thought would be wonderful, only to find out it was not even close to being right! I struggled with lies, and evil people and finally was fired (I needed the unemployment!) six months after being hired. I am back on unemployment, and my husband just found a job too. He became unemployed when I got the prior job! We have gone thruogh half our savings, and are lucky we have that! His new job is at 1/3 the pay of his last one. We may be able to make ends meet, but I need to find a job again. This is so very frustrating! I am soooooooooo glad you and the DSC are coming back on the air! It will make my mornings worth getting up to again! I can't wait to hear you all again!

  14. Ruthie,

    So glad you will soon be back on the radio. I didn't realize how tough it was for you, but I certainly understand. I found myself unemployed after over 25 years of consistant work. It was tough, and I too got into a rut I had to dig myself out of. I never went back to corporate America. I'm selling Real Estate now. It's a very challenging way to make a living in this market but we're getting by.

    My wife was laid off two weeks ago, so she is now looking for work. When she got laid off, we los tour medical benefits. First time in our lives we have been uninsured. It is a frightening thought.

    This is a tough economy, many of us are struggling but as evidenced by the response on Facebook, we are not alone. Even if it's just a kind word from a FB friend, it can be enough to get your going in the morning.

    Congrats on starting back to work Aug 12. You and the rest of the gang will brighten the days of many who need it. Keep smiling sweetheart and know you are loved by many!