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  • Christine Shuck

In All Things Be Flexible

I'm happy, folks. Mainly because I choose happiness.


Even in the worst of times, when faced with financial instability and loss, I have found that attitude truly is everything. So is flexibility and dogged determination. That helps too!


A month ago, the two weeks following our return from a trip of a lifetime to London were filled with massive car issues/repairs, a stolen iPhone, and the collapse of our Airbnb and cleaning business income.


The rest of the world wasn't doing much better. From watching the entire world lock down, schools being closed for the remainder of the year, millions filing for unemployment, a dearth of toilet paper and cleaning supplies disappearing from store shelves, and this undercurrent of fear gripping everyone in one form or another - it felt very dark and grim.


I let it get to me. Taking all the financial hits wasn't easy. Seeing my cleaning customers come through, one by one, to tell me they either were canceling due to health concerns or financial issues, was hard. I stayed professional, but I just wanted to cry. Did they know how much my cleaning income was needed? To them it was likely a small amount, but added up with everyone else, well, it was a big amount to me and when it was combined with a sudden sound of wind whistling through my empty Airbnb, the one we had worked so hard to finish - it was hard to take.


So I punted, I ducked and bobbed, I veered. And I did something I hadn't done in nearly fifteen years...I got a job working for a company that I didn't own.


I learned later that my happy coincidental luck of finding the Customer Service position at Amazon was blindingly good luck indeed. Out of 20,000 applicants in less than 24 hours, they pulled the position off of the board and chose less than 300 people.


A week of intensive training later, and they tossed us into the chats and watched to see who manage to stay afloat, and who sunk. A week after that, they put us on phones with around zero minutes of warning and watched again to see who floated and who sunk.


As I posted on Facebook, it was a "Separating the wheat from the chaff moment. But then again, I've have never been, and never will be, chaff." When the going gets tough, I dig in and work harder. And I have continued to do that, for three weeks now.


Next week is week 4, the last week before the training wheels come fully off and whatever we do is hung in the fiery matrix of the almighty algorithm.


And despite the fact that I am now working around five times as many hours as I was before, running my own businesses, I actually hope to stay with Amazon for a few years. It's given me a far more rigid schedule, one that I am using to my advantage to get the following done:


- Daily writing for one hour

- Exercise (a sedate pace of 1.5 mph on the treadmill turns into up to 13 miles of walking in a 10 hour shift)

- The ability to help others - the one thing I have always enjoyed about customer service

- Overall better health, weight loss, near elimination of body pain and aches, better sleep, and better posture.


I can see a future of writing at least two books per year, getting my body into a healthy, happy place and using this extra, more dependable income to move me forward into a place where we have paid for the Airstream, Cottage East, and now have all three properties earning income and moving us forward towards a good future.


I used our stimulus money to create a buffer in our checking account, making sure we had a balance that would cover all expenses and maintain a minimum balance at least 30 days in the future at all times.


Next will be the goal of a healthy amount of savings in easy reach in case of emergencies as well as regular contributions and growth to our 401k's and an investment portfolio with Vanguard.


I want to make sure I've done everything possible to ensure that economic woes don't devastate our finances like this again.


The other day, while working on the phones, I answered calls and asked people how they were doing. One customer asked me in return, "And how are you doing, Christine?"


I answered, "I'm doing really well. A month ago, I had two businesses and they are both dead in the water due to COVID, and now I work for Amazon, but you know what? That's okay. I actually really enjoy what I am doing and things are turning around. I feel really lucky."


He took a deep breath, let it out and said, "Your attitude is kind of amazing. Most folks are really down about everything and you are a breath of fresh air." Later he asked to speak to my supervisor and that's when I had to tell him that my supervisor wasn't nearby because I worked from home and I had already walked ten miles on the treadmill and was feeling super healthy and doing great.


When bad times come...pivot.


When you can't smile and things suck, think about what you do have and appreciate them.


Good moments are just around the corner. Look for them, they're there, just waiting for you to accept them into your life.


My husband, being silly.

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