Monday, February 23, 2009

Hard times seem to be everywhere

I don't know quite what has changed in the universe, but things sure feel bleak right now for us and for everyone. I'm working to keep some perspective and to find blessings, and I do -- but boy, there doesn't seem to be a lot of light at the end of this tunnel right now.

Freelancing is always a bit of a feast-or-famine gamble: when you're busy, you don't have time to do a lot of marketing, and when you're not, it is a hurry-up-and-wait game. Freelance journalists are all having a hard time these days because so many of the markets -- like print newspapers -- are drying up, or groups aren't doing newsletters, or they're making do with volunteer efforts rather than using professional help. And often freelance rates aren't set by the individual, but are paid by the hiring organization. They, like salaries and benefits, are subject to cuts as well. Try 40 to 50 percent. Ouch.

Illness of any kind demands a new set of rules and requirements, and it takes time and persistence to go through the system to get what you need. Meanwhile, living expenses continue. Symptoms can be distressful, but doctor appointments don't always happen when symptoms flare. It's also a hurry-up-and-wait situation, and one only hopes the medical attention will happen quickly enough to prevent more severe consequences.

Today I've talked to friends whose businesses are non-existent, or cut back considerably, and they're all struggling with bills, how to afford medical costs, fuel, etc.

Do you take whatever you can find for a job and tough it out, even when stress and unhappiness clearly affect your mental and physical health? Or do you pay attention to what your body tells you and find ways to tighten already tight budgets?

What happens when your business is going downhill because of circumstances beyond your control -- hackers take down your online business site, for instance, causing you to lose money, or manufacturers place unreachable sales goals on their sales force because of their own desperation? You can do all you can to stop it, but it may not be enough. It may not work.

Many, many people do not have any wiggle room or rainy-day resources to help them, so requests for help from "the system" are increasing, yet those budgets are also decreasing. And it is a "hurry-up and wait" system: you can fill out applications to start the process, but what do you do in the meantime?

Times are not fun right now. It's one day at a time for all of us. Time to do all you can where you are with what you've got. And pray that you see a way to make things better. That's what I'm doing.

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