Time to Start Spring Cleaning

The first-ever article I had published in a newspaper column was titled Time to Start Spring Cleaning.

In January 1990 I proposed doing spring cleaning at the start of the new year to get rid of your mental clutter as well clothes and other items.

In this first week of February, I filled four donation bags to have the Salvation Army truck driver pick up in the spring.

Letting go of what no longer serves us in our lives is the gateway to setting our intention for what we want to achieve in the coming year.

What I discarded in terms of clothes was telling: a lot of gray and brown items. Realizing that those dark drab colors only served to make me feel tired and depressed.

Bring on magenta! Hello yellow! Blast off in blue!

Injecting color into my wardrobe was one method to give me the energy to go after my goals with gusto.

You might look stunning and feel great wearing gray and brown.

Figuring out what to trash and what to keep is a personal decision. This will require taking an honest look at what you’ve bought–and the myths you’ve bought into–over the years.

Letting go of weedy overgrown thoughts. Changing negative perceptions about what you can do.

Replacing the old and outdated. Getting into a new frame of mind. Seeing clearly that you have options.

This I’ve found for me starts with cleaning out my closet and drawers. A clothing purge is the first step I take to improve my thinking. This enables me to feel that I can achieve what I set out to do in the coming months.

In the next blog entry, I will talk about finding things to be grateful for even when your job might be challenging.

On the cusp of my birthday, I’ve figured out ways to have fun on my job and outside my job.

I’ll talk about this in more detail as regards measures to improve our mental health. What I firmly believe is that you don’t need to buy and own a ton of stuff to feel happy.

The opposite I’ve learned is true: having an overstuffed closet of clothes can make you feel depressed and overwhelmed.

Enjoying life is as simple as the connections we make with other people. It doesn’t cost a ton of money to talk on the telephone or meet on a park bench.

Pandemic Life Lessons

Showing up to a job through the pandemic has taught me life lessons about the nature of work.

Sadly emotional labor is often relegated to women. Working in a “pink ghetto” you’re often not paid what you’re worth.

What I’ve learned is that starting to fund a retirement account as early as possible–ideally by the time you turn 25–is the difference.

This is the difference between retiring when you’re 65 with a wad or cash. Or having to wait tables when you should be winding down all paid work.

The goal should be to be able to retire by the time you’re 65. The current age to take your SSA retirement benefit checks is 67. Signing up at 62 for this monthly check you will receive a reduced SSA income.

Watch out for a cheery letter from the CEO or President or Executive Director praising you for your hard work and dedication at the job through the pandemic.

Where is the hardship pay you might ask when you read this flowery email?

Part of being tied to our jobs is the result of engaging in consumer culture. Books have been written about this extensively.

While I don’t drink tea I intend to heat up hot chocolate in the winter.

Little things can perk us up and give us pep when we come home from the daily grind.

I intend to write more in the future about having gratitude in the face of working at a grueling job.

Coming up insight into how doing spring cleaning in January can help us beat the winter blues and blahs.

Letting go of the things that no longer serve a purpose in our lives is the start to setting our intention for the New Year.

One for All – All for One

I reviewed the book Betting on You in here before. In this book the author talks about the right way to be a “slacker” on your job.

Elsewhere I’ve read that there cannot be justice for one person without justice for everyone.

Banding together in the workplace to exercise your rights is called for.

Have any of you like I have had your physical health savaged working 5 days a week at a job during the pandemic?

Entering the 3rd year of the COVID outbreak is no joke.

In a coming blog entry I will talk about the life lessons we can learn from surviving on our jobs without getting economic reparations for risking our health.

This ties into what I’m writing in a book about money health for peers.

So much of what sparks joy in our lives doesn’t come from a Prada purse or Jimmy Choo shoes.

Working to spend money on things isn’t the way to live. Living to spend time with those we love is.

At the start of 2022 in this blog I will also talk about doing Spring Cleaning in January to clear the cobwebs of thoughts out of our heads.

As well as how editing the contents of our closets can not only spark joy.

Weeding the old and outdated the outgrown and no longer useful elements of life will pave the road forward for success in 2022.

Rekindling from Burnout

A real-life scenario:

You receive in a plastic pouch 2 tea bags and 5 sheets of 3″ X 3″ patterned origami paper.

This token gift is given as compensation for the burnout you’ve experienced working through the pandemic.

You question the mentality of the coworkers that thought this kit was the right and acceptable way to treat staff. How will this gift alleviate your chronic fatigue that strikes when you clock out at 5:00 every day?

How will making origami suffice when management doesn’t pay you what you’re worth?

Coming to your workplace soon will be this kind of benefit that you’re supposed to be grateful for.

In light of this trend, I’m keen to advocate for worker’s rights.

Even Alphabet workers at Google have lobbied to create a union at their workplace.

One remedy is to band together as coworkers and exchange your personal non-work email accounts. You can then talk freely among yourselves via email about actions you can take to get paid what you’re worth. You can come together on the same page to demand changes like a 7-hour workday or 4-day workweek.

During the pandemic workers were quitting their jobs in droves. Jumping ship for better opportunities elsewhere.

One good thing about the pandemic is that hopefully with the rise in WFH or Work from Home jobs a person can live wherever they want to in the U.S. and work for an employer in another state.

Is WFH here to stay? In one of the coming blog entries, I’ll talk about working from home in more detail.

The status quo is over. It’s time to advocate for our rights as workers.

Coming up in the blog entries I’ll talk about my own experience and how it has framed what I think of the world of work.

You can love your job. You should simply be paid what you’re worth. Then you could afford to get a massage. Which in my view is a better way to rekindle from burnout.

I don’t drink tea. Do you? And do you think 2 tea bags is a magnificent showering of concern from management about how to rekindle from backbreaking or emotional labor?

No–I didn’t think so.

Work Won’t Love You Back

Reading the above book has gotten me interested in advocating for worker’s rights.

In here I’m going to write a blog carnival of entries with my concrete ideas about how to take back your life.

Sarah Jaffe the author claims that work cannot ever be seen as the source of love. That a worker can only find joy and happiness outside of paid labor.

In my view it’s okay to love what you do on the job. It’s not okay for management to pay workers “poverty pay.”

The Jaffe book expounds on the other books that have exposed the myth: Do What You Love and Other Lies. We Are All Fastfood Workers Now: The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages.

I read these two other books years ago. What the three books fall short on doing is that they don’t offer alternatives. They don’t offer solutions to taking back your life.

In the coming blog entries, I will detail positive techniques for enjoying what you do on and off the job.

One thing that Jaffe states at the end I do agree with: instituting fewer hours in the workday. How about a 4-day workweek? This is a move in the right direction.

Coming up in the next blog entry: how to rekindle from burnout.

Numbing yourself with alcohol or going on a vacation you can’t afford is not the way to cope with a soul-crushing job.

It’s my contention that a job doesn’t have to be drudgery.

Disability Visibility

This book I checked out of the library. The Amazon.com book description testified that the first-person accounts were told “with love and hope.”

A lot of the stories in this collection feature events that dehumanized the disabled person.

The word is Crip to talk about this movement of disability justice. Other people can use the word Crip because I won’t.

Elsewhere in an internet article a person living with a disability compared the pros and cons of viewing your first-person experience through a lens of Positivity or Negativity.

In this Forbes.com essay the author signaled that the distinction between the two views often comes down to your socioeconomic standing in society.

If you live in poverty and have a disability this could alter your frame of reference. Dealing with daily struggles you might focus on the negative parts of your life.

If you are better-off and your finances don’t limit you it might be easier to have a sunny-side up view of your disability.

What do I think? I’ve been in a frenzy of reading Disability and Social Justice first-person accounts. The next book that’s coming my way is Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice.

The drawback to the Positivity crew’s stance according to the Forbes article is that it can be seen as being critical of disabled individuals who don’t make it the way others do who have disabilities.

My own compassion is rare. My literary agent told me once: “It’s remarkable. You pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps. Yet you have compassion for people who are unable to do that.”

The bootstrap myth is just that–a myth. “It Takes a Village” to live with a disability every day. Those of us who struggle deserve to be given help and compassion. On our terms. Not the terms of the do-gooder who decides they want to help us or thinks that we need their help.

At my job whenever I see someone come in a wheelchair I don’t ever ask: “Do you need help?” The distinction is that I ask them: “Would you like help?” This signals that I understand they are not so disabled that they can’t do things on their own if that is their choice.

As regards focusing on the Positive instead of dwelling on the Negative I’m guilty of this. Not telling anyone how hard my life is. Not expecting outsiders to understand what it’s like to have a disability.

I’m an Optimist. That is my nature. I’ve had to be an optimist, or I wouldn’t have survived what I went through.

In my life I soak up like a sponge what has come to be called “inspiration porn.”

Give me joy and cheer and hope.

The reality is that not all disabilities are equal in severity. This doesn’t matter. Whatever your disability is it’s plenty hard enough for you.

So–I wouldn’t be quick to minimize or discount what a person goes through when they are in remission or have a less chronic illness.

In the coming blog entry I want to start to talk about a topic I’ve become inflamed about: worker’s rights. I’m going to use this blog to expand in detail on what I wrote about in the Working Assets book.

It’s a fine line: who to trust to tell the personal information about your disability.

A book like Disability Visibility is necessary to bring to light the distinctive perspectives personalities and experiences of those of us who have a disability.

Barriers to Employment

One in 5 Americans has a disability from what I’ve read in a book and online.

In the RespectAbility internet article one woman wasn’t getting job offers. She disclosed on interviews that she had a disability. After not getting job offers, she stopped disclosing to hiring managers.

Having an invisible disability is no better. Given the choice to “pass for normal” would you want to? A friend pointed out that a lot of peers don’t want to hide in a closet for the rest of their lives like gay people who pretended they were straight.

“This is part of who I am” is the war cry of many people living with disabilities.

The term used is ableism to refer to how outsiders view a disability as a liability that is aberrant.

Unlike a lot of disability rights activists, I’m okay with being called “courageous” and “inspirational” in the face of adversity. This won’t win me any fans.

To people who use wheelchairs, for instance, rolling around is a normal part of their lives.

What do I think?

The interview is a sales pitch for how you can solve an employer’s need with your service. You want to “close the sale” and get a Yes in the form of a job offer.

As a candidate across the desk, you wouldn’t dwell on deficits and drawbacks.

Sadly, this is how having a disability is perceived: as a limitation on what a person can do.

I have a Visionary archetype. As a Visionary, I had the audacity to think a person with a mental illness could hold a job. In spring 2022 my goal is to publish the book Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers – Finding and Succeeding at a Job When You Live with a Mental Ilness.

How to risk identifying as a having a disability:

If you’re compelled to be honest you must frame having a disability as giving you the mindset, creative problem-solving skills, and competitive edge to get results for the company. Try quoting the following statistics to make this case:

            A 2018 Accenture study revealed that firms with the best practices in hiring individuals with disabilities saw:

  • Twenty-eight percent higher revenue
  • Double the net income
  • Thirty percent higher profit margins

On average over a four-year period.

I talked about this Accenture study in a prior blog entry.

The fact is that a businessperson might be thinking about the increased health insurance costs that a staff member with a disability could incur.

How to prove you’re a capable and competent worker to a hiring manager in a half-hour interview?

It’s obvious to those of us living with a hardship that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

A lot of us have grit, strength, and resilience in the face of adversity. How could we not perform better than lazy coworkers or rude coworkers or entitled coworkers?

This is obvious to me. On one interview I went on over 11 years ago the HR person asked me: What hardship did you experience that made you who you are today?”

Sorry, talking about having had a breakdown when I was 22 wasn’t the answer I gave. I talked about what it was like when I was 22 and my grandfather was in a coma hooked up to a respirator in the ICU.

Having a mental health issue or diagnosis is [intractably] not seen as a selling point.

Not that any illness should be more acceptable than another. Every illness should be seen as an ordinary part of the life of a person living with a disability.

Folks: I don’t live in hiding. Google me and the truth is out there: in my memoir Left of the Dial, in my blogs, and on my website.

In the coming blog entry, I’m going to review the book Disability Visibility. Twenty-first century voices talking about living with a disability.

Diversity Equity and No Inclusion

In this and coming blog entries I’m going to talk about disability and barriers to employment.

First up in here I’ll talk about my experience having a disability and working at a job.

I say: Good Luck advocating for yourself and others once you’re hired. My story is a tale of Diversity Equity and No Inclusion.

In June I filled out the online application to join the DEI Council. On the form I identified as person living with a disability. My platform I advanced had this 3-part agenda:

Giving employees hardship pay for working during the pandemic.

Creating a one-month paid time off option for staff who had been employed for 15 years.

Starting an internship program for teens and young adults with disabilities.

Readers, I was rejected for admission to the DEI Council. Was it possible that because my goal of economic reparations would benefit every staff person that the members of the first DEI Council rejected me out of hand?

Sadly, the current DEI Council didn’t connect the dots that paid time off would benefit BIPOC staff who experienced microaggressions on the job.

I wondered if a person with a disability was chosen for the second DEI Council.

According to a RespectAbility internet article corporate leaders don’t think about disability when forming policies on diversity. Race, gender, and sexual orientation/identity are examined.

Per RespectAbility: “Disability needs to be a part of every conversation that the business community has about diversity and inclusion.”

Five months later I still can’t get over the fact that the current DEI Council failed to see as I did that economic reparations should be part of the solution.

It was like they rejected me because my platform didn’t focus only on BIPOC individuals.

In the next blog entry in this carnival I will talk about the reality of barriers to employment when you have a disability.

Getting in Indie Gear

The career guide in the photo above is the best quick read on how to create an independent income for yourself.

In my view it’s the best book in this category. I plan on buying a copy to read over and over.

In tandem with this practical business book I recommend one other book wherever I go and in whatever I write:

Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

Ben Arment the author of Dream Year reinforced what I’ve always realized: Those of us who choose a different path in life or a unique career can become riddled with self-doubt.

Strive to conquer the self-doubt which is a natural feeling to have when you’re an Artist/Creative or other maker or person in business for yourself.

Use the self-doubt as the catalyst for examining how to overcome this fear. In Dream Year you will be given the confidence to “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams / live the life you imagined” as the famous quote implores.

I’m getting ready to publish Working Assets the book in print and e-book format. My goal is to have the book go on sale in the early spring.

I checked Dream Year out of the library which you can try to do if you don’t want to buy it.

Dream Year is a sharp, succinct, and cohesive collection of action steps to take.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another way to drum up cash to start a business or fund a project.

The 3 main crowdfunding sources are GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and IndieGoGo.

Kickstarter is for creative projects. GoFundMe can be for human interest projects like supporting a family whose house has burned down in a fire. IndieGoGo is where you can find the latest in cutting-edge tech projects.

See GoFundMe here. See Kickstarter here. See IndieGoGo here.

For all of these funding platforms you must start strong on the first day your project goes live on the website for funding.

See each source’s terms and conditions. You might have to raise all of the money you seek or you won’t get any of the money given to you.

You can go on YouTube to watch videos about how to execute a successful crowdfunding campaign.

With Kickstarter you offer your funders something in return for their money. Like a copy of your book when it is published.