While so many of us are playing the waiting game, walking the thin line between hanging on tight and exploring that worst case scenario, others are business as usual, making the trade, bringing home the bacon. And closer to home, even as our phone sits silent, some among us are even bagging the job and settling in to a new chapter in perhaps a new place, with - finally - a sense of direction.

It's a life lesson. The hard conversations we have with our children when they whine: "but JIMMY has the hyper-multi-band-egon-thruster cell phone..." What do you say? "Is your name JIMMY????"

But it's a lesson we thought we learned ourselves, a long time ago. How funny that here we are, still wrestling with the very same (I guess, as it turns out, human) instinct. Why do good things happen to everyone but me?

I remember walking up 7th Avenue with an old friend who couldn't find a man. I remember saying to her (smugly, I fear) that finding Mr Right is one part luck and the rest a matter of being open and having learned just the right amount about yourself to be ready to share, bla bla blah. Later on, there were many an evening at our house or someone else's, talking over the hard times befalling a distant acquaintance, saying what so many have now said to us: "We all have to deal with it, no one's exempt, it's just a matter of time". Glancing side to side, we'd each retreat to our dark internal closets to count our blessings, noting with a hint of guilt that we were dodging a bullet.

We do all have to deal with it. No one is exempt. Bad things happen to good people. Successful people fail. The book by the same perfect title, "When Smart People Fail" by Linda Gottlieb and Carole Hyatt outlines the process and the road to recovery in brutal detail, delivering the reader, redemptively to the inevitable and only path forward: With our wits about us, be hopeful.

And successful people become more successful in the process. "Failure can teach you compassion and humility. It offers you a new sense of power and a different way to connect with the universe – if you let it", Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen writes in her article "The Positive Power of Failure". She quotes Linda Gottlieb in her article: "Failure is a cleaning of the house. It's an opportunity to reorient your career, to inspect it, to relabel it. You learn to keep all your options in play, be light on your feet. Surviving failure makes you bold… Failure liberates you and gives you the courage to risk in a big enough way to guarantee big success."

But we must see failure for what it is, and be open to its power. We have to practice to really receive its gift.

Perhaps the most profound aspect of the New Now is how we come together, how loose acquaintances, friends of friends, willing enablers, come together to form networks for success. In this way, I've communicated regularly with Nadia, a friend and running partner from our days in Amsterdam, about our fears and our hopes in this dark place. We've traded contacts and connections, and gotten our husbands in touch to build a support network of their own. A few weeks ago, I heard from Nadia that they had landed a great job, had even had the good fortune of choice. After 8 months in the New Now they're moving on. Despite my envy, my intense desire to be where Nadia is, her "head spinning with the details", I am deeply relieved for her, and for us, that there is a light, it does end, here is living proof.

Read Nadia's elation in this paragraph. As the network finds roots, so will we.

Charlotte, after reading your email, both Lorne and I want you and John to know that we are incredibly supportive and understand your situation very well. It is a very difficult time to find a job but John has fantastic credentials, experience and personality and will find a great job!!! Just be patient and keep positive. There is a really low point that comes at 6 months but you have to push it into the far away corner and keep going!!! Because something good will happen. What worked for us was throwing a party in our kitchen every Friday. People would bring food and wine and we laughed and cried and danced and it was great or a real great distraction! I know it sounds wacky but we will have wonderful memories. Lorne had many low points, in the last 6 months he interviewed with 9 companies and some interviews consisted 5-6 interviews per one job, including all the telephone and in-person interviews. The two offers actually came from the places he started talking to in February and March and this is how long it took but as you said, it can also take just one phone call...



As the going gets tougher and the time passes, we are increasingly aware of the workings of the network; the way that some contacts surpass the call of duty while others simply don't come through. Over a sandwich just today, John and I went through our roll call of who's been in touch, who's had good ideas, and with whom we have the most active quid pro quo - "you help me, I'll help you".

The New York Times Career Couch column (6/6/09) called "Helping the Job Seeker without Hurting Yourself" was a direct message to me about the other end of the phone. It is easy to get lost in where we are, our process, the full-time occupation which is getting a job. All the emails, the phone calls, the invitations we send out to our network is a relentless act of true determination. Yet the phone, which rings so discriminatingly in our house these days, is in the hands of someone with her own set of concerns.

Check it out: the Career Couch leads with a drawing of Corporate Joe at his desk, surrounded by water, shark fins and floundering, waving arms. Harsh reality: that's us, the ones drowning, sinking at Joe's feet. Desperation. Ugly as the drawing depicts us, the truth is this: Corporate Joe is likely as desperate as we are. S/he's the one who's still at the desk with more work, fewer colleagues, and often, lower pay. The New Now isn't just jobs taken away; it's what's left, the culture of fear. I remember consoling words from a friend last winter: "John lost his job? Well, if he's this far along and hasn't experienced this event, it's only a matter of time." Only a matter of time.

When life hits the skids like this, it's good to have friends. But what can we expect from them? It's not a fun Catch 22 to be a friend in the New Now. Career Couch says it right: "Those who are looking for work rely heavily on their networks for leads, and often believe that because you have a job, you must know of other jobs." We're at a life-changing moment. Once you've been here, I swear you'll think differently, even if you land in exactly the work scenario you left. Career Couch gives rather heartless advice to Corporate Joe, not to wear himself out counseling and coaching; not to give away too much "political capital"-- Hold it back, Joe, you never know when you'll need that nugget of a lead you're holding on to, wait for the prime candidate -- and even so, in an ever so capitalist way after all the caution, Couch says "it’s a good policy to help if you can, because you never know when the tables will turn." Still heartless, but... Karma.

Why do folks help each other, why is one contact so much richer than another? Is it really that we don't realise the power of the network? A dear friend, one of the most productive women I know, finds herself at a complete loss when friends find themselves without their employment identity. Why is it so hard to know how/when/if you should help?

If I can be a zealot about anything, it is this. We are only as good as the sum of our parts. Wrack your brain, people, what would you like to hear? How would you want to be helped? When you're in the New Now, you know for certain that it will take a many-minded-mission to regain solid ground. Indeed, it is my firm belief that the entire economy will take this kind of mission, every one of us needs to put our new headsets on and think - create - change - support - enable, in order to bring us to rights. The New York Times Career Couch may speak to you if you're Corporate Joe, but from this perspective I remind you of the mantra your Company X will never repeat - Karma... Karma... Karma.... Practice Karma.



Last week, from hitting the deer to listing the house on the floundering real estate market, was a desert. The spectrum of emotion ran from Sadness (the high) to Breakdown in the Fast Lane (low). I think all of us operate somewhere mid-range no matter what our range is. Thinking back, I wonder if I even had a pulse last week. My boy asked me at one point: "Where's the Joy, Mom?"

Friday came (amazingly), and I couldn't take the pain anymore. I made a desert decision to Offer it Up. It was so totally not selfless, new age or zen. It was a function of not being able to live the sadness any more.

We go through denial in this process, we go through anger. The sadness is a drag, and in this everlastingly dreary job market, the sadness, or "lack of hope" phase feels like it will live on forever.

BUT... we all have our digits, we have our sense and our intellect. We can brew a cup of coffee, we can scoop a bowl of ice cream. We have friends around who offer respite. Guess what people, everyone will tell you that "we have to go through the process" - but what I realised last week is this. Sadness can be a choice, not an obligation.

Here's the reality. Events will take their course regardless of whether we get sad or not. So try this along with me this week. When the sadness strikes and threatens to define your range of emotion, blow it off. Literally, blow, with your lips, blow it away. Say to yourself what's true - You Can't Take It. The miracle is that if you say it, and then you purse your lips and blow, it'll go.

Go now and read Anne Lamott's piece in The Daily Now about survival in the desert. Anne Lamott cannot help but get you through. http://the-daily-now.blogspot.com/



The thing about inspiration is that you can't predict when, or where, or even how it'll hit.

Often it takes anger and confrontation to put on a new headset. After one of the worst down-days to date in our New Now, John and I met in the ring this morning. Each of us were backed by 24 hours of soul searching - which meant we approached one another with a fresh, pointed and undeniably individual line of thinking. And we were prepared to "share it with eachother". That is, if sharing means someone wins and someone... doesn't.

Understand, we are at a turning point, that place when a decision is not arrived at, it's forced. Hence the 24 hours we each spent figuring out how we felt about where we are. I woke up clamoring "Creativity" - let's liquidate and move to where we want to be -- good luck will surely follow and we'll be more fulfilled than ever. Peace Corps, Key West, the Riviera...

John, though, had steeped through the night, in "Conserve" - let's liquidate and head for the hills, move in with Mom & Dad, hide out and spend nothing until the storm passes.

Two very different corners, where shall the twain meet?

We parted having made our arguments, indeed, argument was the process. We are in this together on no common ground.
I turned to the New York Times looking for inspiration. Here's what I found.

Two entrepreneurs from Colorado sell their copier cartridge business to some Cistercian Monks in Wisconsin who've decided they want to be in the cartridge business. You see, monks are charged with making money, supporting their order, but this group had the big idea (cartridges?) but no head for business (rather make honey and sculpt), so after the deal was made, it becomes clear that the women from Colorado were at the Monastery - to stay - to run what's become a multi-million dollar enterprise, LaserMonks.

The irony of it is what makes is so inspirational. What monk wants to be in the cartridge business? What urban woman of a certain age dreams of her small-beans computer supply company being run to support a Cistercian Monastery? I'm thrilled by how UNpredictable it all is, and it made my morning.

How can you not feel the power of this: “Good morning, LaserMonks. Greetings and peace,” Victoria Bench answers the Monastery's phones. Apparently she's a zen-like presence but the humor doesn't seem to escape her. She says that more likely than not, what she hears on the other end of the phone is “You don’t sound like a monk.”

We're in a tight place in The New Now, and we don't know where we're headed. But I'm starting to realize that we'll likely end up in a place where "we don't sound like a monk".



Today's been a tough one. I hit a deer at 7:25 on my way to take Cassie to school. I took her broadside with impact, and though she didn't live to know this, I sent her hurtling into the side of a school bus in the other lane. The experience was brutal, and what I realized in an instant was that in The New Now, we cannot afford brutality. We cannot withstand brutality! We must create, promote, what makes us feel better.

I came home, put on running shoes and headed out to come to terms with it. In about 5minutes I had a handful of images that made me feel better. Beauty (not perfection). Resonance (though not too sweet). I didn't want to lose these images, so I created a space to hold them and share them.


Go to my new blog, http://www.the-daily-now.blogspot.com I've built the site to provide a quick hit of momentum. Of beauty, maybe, of comfort. You'll see me there with something every day. And I welcome your ideas, please comment on The Daily Now to share images or thoughts that will help guide the way for so many of us still struggling in this new space we're living in.