For the last seven weeks I have been one of the roughly 30 million (give or take a million) Americans that are unemployed. Being broke is a bitch. There was a report on CNN recently that there is a direct correlation between the newly unemployed and the development of new physical ailments from an increase of common infections to more serious life threatening diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and arthritis! The potential for depression and anxiety increases exponentially. And being the only kid on the block that hasn't seen Wolverine, Star Trek, or Underworld 3 is totally sucky.
Seven or eight years ago I found myself in the same position I am in now. I was unemployed for almost seven months. That go round I sat on my couch, applied for jobs, and drank. A lot. I basically fell into a giant depressive hole. I vanished from society in general. Hell, my best friend lived across the hallway from me, and she barely saw me. I gained roughly 30 to 40 pounds topping out at 210 pounds. By the time I returned to work, I was depressed, fat, on medication, and my apartment looked as if Oscar the Grouch was my decorator. Nasty.
This go around I was determined not to repeat my personal history. I am going to let you in on a little secret: I am quickly approaching the best shape I have ever been in (my ass is gettin' so muscular that I did a squat today and blew out the seam in my boxer shorts), I am eating damnedly well, and though I have no money...I manage to even have a social life. There are some things you can do to make sure that your unemployment doesn't kill you. It is damned hard to pay off those students loans from Purgatory.
It's called the GOYA Philosophy (named after that delightful company that makes everything from spices to black beans). GOYA= GET OFF YOUR ASS!:
1. GOYA and Exercise: If you have a gym membership that you haven't had to ax yet...it should be the last thing you consider getting rid of after rent, food, and utility bills. I am dead serious. Now is the time to get into the shape that you have always wanted to get into. You have nothing but time...and no excuse not to make the time in your day to exercise. Committing one hour each day minimum that includes 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 30 minutes of lifting weights will change your world and your outlook. Extensive research shows that cardio exercise and weightlifting when done every day is as good as psychotropic drugs that control for depression and anxiety (DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR MEDS IF YOU ARE ON THEM!), but, as a person that does take psych meds...I can tell you that psych meds plus exercise has changed my world and my outlook.
If you do not have a gym membership but can afford to get one. Do it.
If you can't afford a membership then contact your local YMCA or YWCA. Both organizations have fitness in their mission and provide subsidized memberships or nearly full scholarships for low income folks and students.
Also, at any gym you join the staff will give you a free orientation to the gym and most gym memberships come with group fitness classes where you can do fun workouts with other folks and meet more peeps in your community. Networking networking networking.
2. GOYA and Eat!: I love to eat. Now is the time to train yourself to cook for yourself. Explore new foods. Experiment in the kitchen. Vegetables are cheap and good for you. I am a meat eater...and I have had to cut down on my meat intake because of the cost. I have discovered, however, that I LOVE many more veggies than I thought I did. I have also had a chance to explore with different foods and food combinations...and guess what...I am eating cheaply, well, and in copious amounts...and loving it.
3. GOYA and Go to the Museum: One of my favorite pastimes with David is to check out the fantastic museums in New York...for free. I have lived all over this lovely nation of ours, I promise you that if you live in or near a major city said city has cultural institutions that have FREE nights. Find out when the free nights are at your local museums and check out some art. No matter who you are...you will surprise yourself by what you find and what you find that you like...even I the grand hater of most modern art...has found artists whose work I adore. You never had time to check out that exhibit of Ancient Babylonian Dildos...now is the time to do it.
4. GOYA and Network: All over the U.S. folks are putting together speed networking events and other mixers where folks get together and exchange information. The best way to find a job is to find out from somebody who knows somebody. At a time when PhDs are fighting for manager positions at Taco Bell...who you know is just as important as the letters you may have after your name. Talk to anyone and everyone anywhere you are. That crazy lady sitting next to you talkin' to her reflection in the bus window might just be an eccentric crazy lady who owns an investment firm. Well...maybe not...but at social networking events you are guaranteed to meet folks that may have a connection to your area of expertise. Sitting at home watching Grey's Anatomy re-runs may keep you up to date with who has gone dyke this season but it probably won't help you get a job.
5. GOYA and Write: Or draw, or paint, or sing, or dance, or clog, or drag out that old saxophone...whatever it is that you used to do or haven't done in a while that lets you express your creative self...do IT! When you engage your creative self you get the hell up out of that part of your brain that keeps you fixated on what you don't have. Engage other parts of your brain that will help you think creatively and send out positive energy into the world or capture your negative energy and turn it into something positive. If you have ever wanted to learn how to do something...now is the time to do it. Take a free community class or dance class. Who cares if you aren't a pro at it...if you feel good doing it...do it...it keeps your outlook positive, your energy up, and your thinking fresh and invigorated...all things that will help keep you on the right path to finding what the universe is trying to send you.
I am no guru. I don't pretend to have a magic answer for you. I have lots of love and support in my life right now (if only I could cash that shit in and pay rent)...but I do know that by taking advantage of the time I have both to look for work and to enjoy the free time I have by filling it with productive, fun, and exciting experiences...I am able to stay away from dwelling on the fact that my bank account is as empty as Rush Limbaugh's head. Remember...GOYA...live by it...and you will be aiight.
Credit: The painting above is by Francisco GOYA.
Credit Update: My friend Rookie Scott has informed me that he just viewed this painting in Madrid. He also says that the thought is that GOYA may not have done it. Thanks for GOYA and letting me know Scott!