At 38, I was armed with a BA in Finance and a pathetic resume.
I’d never had a full-time job; married and had children right out of college. Once a married homemaker, I was suddenly a single parent with two children, a couple of dogs—and zero career prospects. Things looked grim. Hell, my own husband traded me in for another model and I’d known him for half of my life.
In 2008, Northeast Ohio didn’t need another single mom looking for an opportunity. The job market sucked. Our local economy tanked along with the housing market and I wondered if I’d need to leave the area to find a job, or a career.
But…This is CLE.
In 2015, I’m an Artist, Writer, Marketing/Communications Specialist.
My First Job
When I badly needed a full-time job, Tec, Inc Engineering and Design hired me as a Production Assistant to set up projects in AutoCAD.
Why? I have no idea…
I’d never seen AutoCAD and wasn’t at all technical then. As I headed to the job interview, my then husband (an IT Specialist) said, “You can’t do that.” He suggested I skip the interview. I sashayed into the house afterwards with an, “I start next week,” and it felt great.
Despite my inexperience, those at Tec were patient, encouraging, professional and welcoming. I gained a love for technology, along with the understanding that “everything is learn-able.” I certainly wasn’t the best Production Assistant they’d ever hired, but holding my own was an empowering experience. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity, and I carry lessons learned with me to this day.
It didn’t take long to realize Tec wasn’t the right career path for me. I wasn’t an engineer and the suitable roles were filled with talented people who’d long been with the company, but I was there for two years.
Something of Nothing
Several months into the job at Tec, the kids and I loaded the minivan and moved into a rental house in the same community, and school system. The big house, pool, and trappings were gone, along with any safety net. That was seven years ago—and it was the beginning of quite the adventure. We chose to view it as an adventure, embraced the challenges.
In the beginning, our new/old furniture came from auctions, resale shops, garage/estate sales, and was sometimes plucked from the curb. Turned out I had skill for refinishing and upcycling furniture. Who knew? As our new digs came together, visitors made offers on items. It was like a showroom and I was always working on something. I took to Craigslist and then eBay to extend my reach, became an eBay Top Rated Seller and PowerSeller.
I’d always followed the rules; graduated college, got married, had children, bought a house, and life hummed along until it didn’t. With the expected path gone, I’ve used these years to figure out where my talent/skills lie. I spent time as a Marketing Manager at Taylor Made Home Care and was an Obit Writer for The News Herald, among other things.
My resume is a crazy mix of jobs and freelance projects. It’s impossible to chronicle where one job ends and another begins, such is the chaotic overlap. Working for a company feels a little too much like a marriage, like putting all of my eggs in one basket. I’ve maintained connections outside of my day jobs, kept working projects and freelance even while formally employed (I’ve always been honest with employers.) I’ve managed to carve out a life that includes my favorite things; writing, art, and marketing—while raising two wonderful children. And I’ve kept us all housed and fed.
Playing with Perfect
In 2010, I began documenting my journey in Playing with Perfect, a blog carried on The News Herald’s website. It reads like a series of train wrecks, one disaster after another. I hoped that sharing my imperfect life might inspire others to do the same. When we drop our guards with friends, family, and community, we truly connect with each other, find commonality. Over the years, countless friendships, jobs, and freelance projects have come from writing this blog. (Trust me, I’m a private person—I was terrified to post those early blog posts.) I’ve been busier lately, haven’t posted as much as I used to.
Thriving in Transition
My life has been in a constant state of upheaval since 2008. Thankfully, Clevelander’s accept and understand, continue to extend opportunities. Many have stories that mirror mine.
I’ve always loved the outdoors and walked in the woods and on the beach to maintain my sanity. And I’ve always dragged nature into my homes. Vases of fresh flowers, jars of acorns, pine cones, and twisty stick bouquets make me happy and peaceful, as do driftwood and beach sea glass.
Several years ago I stumbled upon Collective Upcycle, which is now Upcycle Parts Shop. Inspired by the cause and eager to be a part of it, I used my outdoor finds to create simple graphics on canvas. I housed my art in salvage vintage and antique frames. Though I cannot draw a stick figure, I somehow became an artist?? Even have a basic website.
In fact, I’ll be part of It’s Cleveland! Gallery Show this Saturday night. I could have never imagined this…
My divorce was the biggest failure of my life; destroyed my family unit, financial security, and everything I knew. After a failure of that magnitude, any fear of failure I harbored was gone. I was suddenly free in ways I’d never been. Failure has brought a wealth of wonderful people and opportunities to both my children, and my lives. I’ve never been and still am not a believer in divorce—but mine has been a gift in ways I never could have imagined.
Why I love the CLE
She in CLE got me thinking about the reasons I love living in Cleveland, and whether sharing my experiences could be of value to others who are walking similar roads. Really, where else could a chunky, single, broke, ex homemaker evolve into a solid, head of a household with a promising career as an artist, writer and marketing specialist?
Only in the CLE.
10 CommentsLeave a comment
Amy, your amazing! Never stop trying! Your neighbor next door!
Thank you so much, Mary!!
Incredible journey, all done with grace, dignity, humor and talent!!
You set an amazing example for your children and everyone who has the pleasure to read your articles, and those of us lucky enough to know you
Thank you so much for the compliments, Heather. Same could be said for you.
Hey Amy, this was a wonderfully written article and as you say experienced by many other women around the country. You have displayed that “never give up spirit” even in the worst of times and I am extremely proud to be your father!! My prayers will always be with you, Nick and Katie! Keep on truckin’. Love You! dad
We are all given opportunities to have monies or testimonies. It’s the testimonies that make us stronger. And somehow, by the graces of God, we find ourselves sharing our journey; adventures, seasons, lessons with hopes of shedding some light onto another; neighbor, cashier, waitress, or friend in the mist of their storm.
Thank you for sharing! xoxo
You ‘get it’ and I so appreciate your taking the time to comment. Thank you!
I saw your piece at the It’s Cleveland” show. I’m not exactly sure how I came across your blog or just how I arrived here. That piece stood out to me it spoke to me. I too have pieces in that show and I would love to meet you. My path is being led I am merely a follower so I find myself reaching out in ways I never would have before. I do know that exciting things happen when I follow the path that has been designed for me.
Loved your pieces in the “It’s Cleveland!” show, and realize now I walked past you several times. Had I connected you with your art (which I’ve seen around town), I would have introduced myself. I struggle with the “artist” label, Saturday was my first gallery show and I was quieter than usual, way out of my comfort zone! But I’m also following where this path leads me, forcing myself not to fight it, to simply create what feels right. Would love to get together at your convenience. Appreciate your reaching out to me-thank you.