Unintended Benefits of the Current Recession

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(Author’s note: When I wrote this piece, originally posted here on February, 2010, my financial situation was dire. It was the same — and, sadly it still is — for millions of Americans. I have been employed for over a year, and things have improved a great deal. I have a lot of gratitude for the change in circumstances and I thought of reposting this piece to spread a little hope and encouragement for anyone still struggling. Remember, don’t give up before the miracle).

It has been almost two years since I decided to close my six year-old business because the economic realities were all pointing in one direction: downward. At the end of the line, I felt about my business as I felt at the end of my previous marriage: sad, disappointed and frustrated but I was convinced that I had done all that I could to save them both. It just had not worked. On both instances, when I walked away, I felt that I was not going to look back, except occasionally, to see if there was something to be learned that would help me navigate the current waters.

I make it a habit of not complaining about my situation because I know that there are so many more families that face equal or worst problems than mine. Besides complaining never got me anything, unless I was dealing with Costumer Service at a department store, and even then…

What I have tried to do instead is look for the silver lining — not in a pollyannish, but a practical way — in this economic Waterloo.

Silver Lining in the current recession

I’ve come up with some evidence of silver. I would love to share it in the hope that it might help some of you deal with your own storm clouds. I know that it will certainly help me to talk about it as I move forward.

I never suspected, when I closed the doors to my business, that I would be almost two years without employment and that I would be facing the dire financial difficulties I have faced.

I’ve heard the expression “Every cloud has a silver lining” a thousand times and I’ve never looked up its meaning or origin until I sat down to write this. According to Wikipedia:

The origin of the phrase is traced to John Milton’s Comus (1634) with the lines, “Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?”

I am not going to talk much about the cloud part of the expression because I don’t want to bore anybody. Besides, we all have our own misery quota. I want to talk about the silver lining component instead, as I have come to understand it.

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Low-Life Magnet

That’s what you call a crisis. And the mortgage crisis has had it’s share.

Nonprofit housing counselors, approved by HUD will help owners negotiate with their mortgage companies for free.
No need to deal with “Foreclosure rescue” companies. Nonprofit housing counselors, approved by HUD, will help owners negotiate with their mortgage companies for free.

During the go-go years of the real estate bubble, shady mortgage brokers thrived, thanks to the sluggish response of regulators and law enforcement agencies. Amid the ruins of the crash, there’s a new boom attracting unscrupulous mortgage professionals: “Foreclosure rescue” companies promising — in exchange for a large up-front fee — to persuade lenders to modify desperate homeowners’ mortgages. And authorities are again finding themselves ill-equipped to deal with the deluge.

And what are the authorities doing to stop them?:

In a giant game of whack-a-mole, law enforcement agencies at all levels across the country have filed suit against 150 such companies, but they continue to proliferate, and the number of consumer complaints continues to rise.

“This is a very big scam,” says California Attorney General Jerry Brown. “They’re all over the place, and as soon as you get one, they migrate to somewhere else.”

There’s more from Pro Publica

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Searching for Work. Emulating Job.

Job SearchI have been unemployed — and actively seeking employment — for about 17 months. I took some time for retraining in the middle of this work drought, and the certification I earned has increased my job prospects.

I’ve had a few interviews and a couple of good leads since I was upgraded. But nothing has materialized.

I remember hearing Jimmy Stewart telling Johnny Carson something about himself that I found incredible, given Mr. Stewart’s long and illustrious film career. He told Carson that in between movies, he would panic and loose heart, fearing that he would never work again. That the last film he had completed would be indeed that, his last film. Of course, the call from the agent would come in and the feeling would dissipate. Until the current project was done. Then the cycle would begin anew.

I fall into the Jimmy Stewart Syndrome at least once a day. When I realize what’s going on in my head, I take a deep breadth and try to return to the present moment, looking for peace and safety. I then look at my To-Do List and I take the next right action towards improving my financial situation.

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