A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Unemployment


The story goes like this:

I was living in Comfortable World– the place where you live not because you love it and it’s right where you want to be, but rather because it’s, well, comfortable. It’s what you know.  It’s a place of pragmatic choices and little risk.

We were living in a rental house after the sale of our much beloved townhouse trying to decide our next move. I was on year thirteen of teaching English while mulling over a career change and/or a move back to Jersey for the bazillionth time. The husband was working at a comfortable job of his own, and I joked (although not really) that we were two middle children on the road to nowhere.  But we weren’t miserable; we were blessed with a nice life with a wonderful family, a loving relationship, and a beautiful daughter. And we were comfortable.

Then came the blog post that got me fired. (Officially, my principal claimed it was not the post itself, but rather that I was blogging during class time. I shouldn’t have been; of course I know that. But don’t tell me that content had nothing to do with it. Yuh-huh. And no, I did not know my principal knew about my blog, but that story is another post for another day.)

Anyway, prior to this, I was ambivalent about teaching. Oh, I enjoyed it some days, and even pretty good at it when I put my mind to it, but I always thought that I was supposed to be living some other life with some glamorous  job where I was super creative and wildly overpaid and challenged and appreciated and oh so fabulous. The kind of life that makes for interesting dinner conversation and people are envious and find you fascinating.  (Yeah, that doesn’t really happen when you say, “I’m a teacher.”) But I never did much about it except continue living in Comfortable World while I pined (and whined) for Fabulous World. I always thought if I left teaching, it would be on my own terms. I would simply move on and happily leave the stacks of essays for someone else to grade and the behavior issues for the next teacher to discipline. If someone told me I could no longer teach, I would hardly be crushed. But then someone came along and did just that, and it kind of turned my world upside down.

I was sad and relieved and bitter and confused.  After a fair amount of time feeling sorry for myself, I tried to look at is a sign from God that it was finally time to pursue that new career I had always dreamed of. But what was that new career to be? That, my friends, was the million dollar question– the one for which the answer had eluded me for years. Maybe I just needed to be forced to find my answer. Perhaps this story would end with my saying, “Getting fired from that teaching job was the best thing that ever happened to me!”  Hmmmm.

So I broke out What Color is Your Parachute? and some other career books and workbooks and started on this new journey hopeful and excited. I sat down with my highlighter and my pencils and read the books and answered the questions and completed the exercises with a giddiness I can’t quite explain.

Time passed. Exercises were completed. Still, no revelations. I worked through the books. I visited Internet Sites. Still no answers. It wasn’t long before I found my hopefulness all but drained. That’s it? I thought. Where’s the rest? Where’s the part that gives me the answers I have been so desperately seeking? The part that wraps it all up in a pretty bow and tells me, “You like this? You’re good at that? Well then, THIS is the job for you!”

In the mean time, I sent resumes to job postings I thought might interest me and even applied for teaching jobs as a back-up, but all to no avail.

More time passed and I really began to miss teaching. Or was it just that I was missing work?  Or missing the kids? Or missing Comfortable World?

I thought I was being bold and daring. No one said it would be easy, but was I kidding myself thinking that at my age a career change would be wise endeavor for me? Or do I just have to redouble my efforts on this journey and stay the course?

I guess that’s what you can say happened on the way to unemployment; I got lost. And I am trying to find my way back.


  1. Lisa Kelly says:

    It is so nice to have you writing again!

    And I am duly impressede with your new-found diligence!

    Let’s make “diligence” our motto for 2010 and keep each other honest.

    Love & Hugs,


  2. Helenie says:

    I try to live my life such: When you don’t know what to do, do NOTHING. You’ve done the footwork of searching for an alternative career path. Are you looking for a job HERE or in New Jersey???? Be STILL for a little while, the only way you are going to “hear” the message is if your head isn’t rattling with thoughts, worries, should ofs, could ofs, etc. Now, I know this is NOT easy. When I left St. Patrick’s I had NOT A CLUE what I would do with myself. As a stop-gap measure, JJ asked me to home school him for a while and that is what I did. And then………….. while I was sitting quietly, trying to still my mind, a funny thing happened. PART TWO OF MY LIFE BEGAN and I didn’t even see it coming. When I stopped trying to force the issue (after I had done the “What Color is My Parachute” kind of exercises) it just happened. It may not work for you quite like this, but I believe in my heart that if you get “still” for a little while, answers will start showing up… as long as they don’t have BEAT their way into your brain because there is so much noise from other STUFF. STUFF is our biggest enemy when trying to make a change…. when you don’t know what to do, do NOTHING. At least for a little while :) I love you!


  3. Sharon says:

    Kelly, be a writer! You are wonderful. Maybe writing for an online magazine?


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