Jun 28, 2020


I remember thinking why am I here? Oh, that’s right I want a job. One that pays every week not just when I finish working on the file. Settled, payment, please!

I remember at this one agency, the woman called herself the “blunt recruiter” but couldn’t remember my name. Couldn’t even remember the job I had applied for, yet had the cheek to say to me, “you know where I am if you need me”.

Who needs someone like that to help you get a job? I decided I didn’t. She was not a blunt recruiter, yet she seemed to have the mining guys thinking she knew her job. I say that the right person applied for the right job and she was similar to a dating site, she just did the intro.

Another agency wouldn’t put me forward for an interview because I didn’t have a passport. “Who doesn’t have a Passport?”, she said, looking at me like I had two heads, yep, that would be me. Why? Well, that’s a whole different story and an entirely different blog.

All this crazy bureaucracy just to get employment. The Government has Agencies that help the unemployed get a job, yet they don’t care what job, as long as you tick their boxes, forgot about ticking yours. There is a really big but, no not mine, the but is all the things you have to do and the waiting, or yes, the waiting. Waiting for a telephone interview. Waiting for approval of your last tax return to be authenticated, waiting for a tick of approval that your bank statements have been verified and finally waiting in the reception area for someone to call your name. “Blair Kirby” -, well I guess he means me. Fill this form out, fill that form out, proof of ID. I feel like I am in an alternate Universe. This is not my reality, this is not where I belong, I don’t fit in, but sadly this is where I landed that day.

All this to get a job. My favourite part was after two months of waiting and juggling lots of balls to get through most weeks, thinking ok, I’ve paid taxes for 35 years, it’s got to be my turn. Nope, Nope, and absolutely NO. I am on my own for 13 weeks, navigating the job scene and lodging evidence of every single application. If I complete my tasks, payment would be received. I was too exhausted, I couldn’t, so I just didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad there are strict guidelines about unemployment benefits, I just never thought I would be standing in that queue.

I have a business, a very successful business. A business is like a relationship, if you don’t take care of it, the other party will look elsewhere. There were so many contributing factors to why I suddenly found myself in that queue. If you have read my other blogs, you would know that I spent several months taking care of an elderly family member. So my business did suffer. Then I had that mini moment that changed my life forever, and again my business did suffer. Then there were changes to my profession and low and behold my business suffered again.

These are the times I wish I had a magic wand, or at least a crystal ball to see the future, to feel safe and know it’s all going to be ok.

Overqualified was the mantra I kept hearing. Too old, too smart, too qualified. They want to employ the unexpected, the naive, the fresh meat, that way they can justify their bad days and rack it up to lack of experience. But was that the real reason, or is the ultimate truth, -that I would cost more than say, a 25-year-old? Age and experience is in fact a big fat negative.

Employing me would mean that they had to accept it wasn’t my first rodeo, so the job had to be as real as the description. Most of the time it wasn’t.

So how to navigate the job scene? Well with me with it started when I didn’t have furniture.

I wasn’t in a good space both physically and mentally. I needed to run away, especially from myself. But I had no energy to run, I was flat and had no money. My headspace was so messed up, I was always exhausted. I used to wake up in the morning and think, how can it be morning I haven’t had any sleep. Or I would sleep all day and still wake up tired. One of the positive things I can say about myself, is that I am good at regrouping. Good at starting over, and in particular, I am good at turning lemon into Vodka. Like I have said in my other blogs, it’s an art and I have a creative gene that just oozes out of me. Not sure who I got this gene from, but ever so grateful I was blessed with it. Another question for my mum right?! I will need to start a list. Yes, I am famous for my lists.

At first I got furniture to fill the empty rooms, then I got furniture in an attempt to make a house look like a home. It took a lot of steps to realise that no matter where we lived it was our home, but I needed to make it homey, if you get my drift.

So what does furniture have to do with getting a job, well you might think it doesn’t, when in fact it was the journey it took me on. Rather than worrying over no job it helped take my mind off things and get over myself, yep I’ve done a lot of that in recent times.

The lack of cash, together with the need for furniture, lead me to a place, where I could collect furniture from the side of the road and throw it in the boot of my car and hope no one would judge. Driving a BMW and collecting furniture is not my proudest moment, but it was borne out of necessity and my reality.

Some of it was bloody awful, no amount of soap suds could make it look any better.

I remember the day well, the boys were all doing their own thing and I was stuck in this large empty house with ugly furniture. Sitting on the floor watching TV on a cabinet that I swore was going to topple over any day, that was the day I had one of those ah-ha moments. I was watching Better Homes and Gardens. Now before you judge me, it’s a cute little show with some good tips. The Interior Designer segment came on and the presenter was talking about Chalk Paint. How you can paint anything, over anything and it changes the look.

I saw the end result and thought wow, that does look good and all that stuff was really ugly and all from a garage sale. I looked around my room and thought, if not, why not, if I paint it and don’t like it, I can always go hunting for more right.

Most of our furniture at the time was donated, found on the side of the road or I had purchased from the Salvos store. The next day, I drove to the paint shop. Colours OMG, didn’t think about that! My world had been so grey, I didn’t really know what I liked. Some might say that I am very Coco Chanel, I would have to agree. However, fast forward, I now realise it took me two years, nine months, four days and 1000 hours of sleep time to realise I had lost my identity. Lost my sense of self and as Visage sings it, I had faded to grey. Not sexy grey, not smokey grey, not muted grey, not trendy grey. It was a cold, dull lifeless grey. One colour, I didn’t expect in my life.

I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t decide, so I did exactly what you would expect, I left, no paint, just chest pains, it’s not supposed to be this hard!

A week or so went by and I was telling my Counsellor about my grey and she suggested I put a little sunshine in my life. Fast forward my first painting project. A yellow fruit bowl. It’s a lovely bowl, bright, cheerful, and sits in pride of place on the bench to remind me that when you need a little sunshine in your life, just paint your world yellow. Funny thing is, a few weeks later, she told me that’s not quite what she meant, but she was happy I was no longer attached to grey.

Do you know how hard it is to find yellow accessories? All the rage now, rewind three years ago
and the only thing that was yellow was a large plastic banana. A squeaky toy for a dog. Nothing trendy and certainly nothing I wanted to look at every day.

I needed to find alternate employment to pay for my family and that included the fussy royal cat!

So, I was thinking about how much enjoyment I felt, from a yellow fruit bowl and wondered if I could paint other things around me. I started with a set of drawers. First, they were yellow of course! Then they were Sydney harbour blue and finally, now they are just me. All those emotions, sunshine, the calm before the storm, was I painting the furniture or was I painting my feelings? I felt like Goldilocks, only not with porridge, but paint. This first one is too harsh, and the next too soft, yes the third colour is just right, and so I painted my world. I looked around the room and thought, wow, all that higgledy, piggledy furniture painted in the same palette, all of a sudden, looked great.

I was excited I wanted to share and share I did. When friends came over to visit they would say how amazing it looked, the more positive the comments, the more my confidence grew.

I started watching UTube on painting furniture and how to upcycle old furniture. I loved it so much, I was so happy and grateful that I forgot about my woes and started to focus on the wows. I knew that paint wasn’t cheap, so, how to paint on a budget, well that’s the secret, you need to sell the furniture to paint more to get what your heart truly wants.

As my confidence was growing, so was my taste, my taste for a happy space, my taste for a funky space and my taste for my space. Where no one else could say I want this colour or that colour or this couch or that couch. Then I suddenly realised, it wasn’t the colour grey that I didn’t like, it was what is represented, my life, not 50 shades of grey, just 50 shades of empty. Empty spaces for work I wasn’t getting, empty spaces of feelings in my soul, empty spaces for food I couldn’t buy, empty spaces, rooms so empty you could hear the walls talk. What were they saying, you’re nuts I bet!
I had to shake myself, get over myself and think ok grey, I will give you another chance but this time, be my calm. Be my inner peace and be the one thing that someone wants to buy. Off to the paint shop I went, this time I knew, 50 shades of grey please and this time, I want the oh my 50 shades. Hot and sweaty and not for those reasons. It’s hard work sanding furniture by hand. I sanded in the morning before school, I sanded after school, after dinner and sometimes I sanded all night. I sanded a set of drawers, I sanded so hard that I had blisters on my hands. Don’t feel bad for me, I felt great, sore, but great. My first piece was ready to sell. I was daydreaming about owning a furniture business with a café on the side. People would drop in their piece and come back days later after I had transformed it into the wow factor. Yep, I could do that, I thought.

The drawers turned out fantastic, I took so many photos, I was so proud. Perhaps a pro painter might have done a better job, but it didn’t matter, I loved it! And sell it I did! I painted a lot of furniture over the course of the next few years. I painted and Afterpay’d my world, until one of the boys said to me recently, “Mum, no more furniture!” I took it as a compliment. I had finally filled all of those empty spaces, even the one in my heart. So furniture painting became my thing, and to this day, it’s still my thing. I no longer paint furniture for sale, and I have moved on from the simple chalk painted furniture and use different techniques and different paints. No longer do I look at a piece of furniture and think, wrong colour, won’t work. Now I look at the lines, and the shape and think you would look good if I painted you………. Yep, into the car it goes and honestly, I never spent over $25 on furniture until a few months ago, when I saw a piece on Gumtree that I had to have, well not had to, more like wanted to.

My most favourite piece is the two side drawers, I purchased on special for $2.50, not a typo folks, $2.50 each. Big spender that’s me. They have three drawers and it was a tight week, you know the week when the phone bill is due, the power bill is due and little Jimmy needs new shoes or shorts, or socks and the royal cat’s food is not on special. So, I went to my paint cupboard and thought, challenge accepted. I used my 50 shades of grey with some spice on top and then I thought outside the box and used on one of the drawers groovy paper napkins left over from a BBQ. My groovy side drawers have had a few excursions around our home, they have finally settled in the lounge room, they look great. Just to show off, they only cost $2.50 and a little bit of imagination. I was offered $250 for the pair, again not a typo, I passed, like I said, I painted my way to a happy heart and these drawers helped me do that. Maybe it’s because I’m sentimental or maybe it’s just because.

Did I tell you I needed a job? I was so busy painting my way to a happy space that I didn’t realise that the vacancy was already filled.

So apply yourself, become the best you that you can be.

If you don’t get the first job, then apply for the next one, or better still, make your own.

Life is a journey, it’s not where you end up but how you got there. Thanks for coming on mine.

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