I was laid off in February of this year, 2010, having been in the Printing industry for over 26 years. It has been for me a very tough and emotional time of a lot of questions and very few answers. I find myself confused, frustrated, and most of the time just plain numb from it all. I know I am not alone in this, but I am the one that is in this time, in this family, with my own personal battles from finances to food, trying to make ends meet and stay sane in the process.

I signed up for the Illinois Dislocated Workers Program and am currently neck deep in there red tape and hoop jumping that would make even the most sane of men go nuts. To hear someone tell me, a 48 year old man, to reinvent myself was a surreal moment. For 26 years I thought I was an offset pressman running four to six color printing presses. It’s not like the printing industry was the dream I had for my life it just ended up being what I got into and learned how to do well, and the pay was good enough to raise a family on.

So here I am, unemployed. That in itself is enough to write about for a long time, from the feeling of uselessness to boredom to trying to find things to do to the all encompassing joy of the job search. Wow, it gets a little, no, a lot overwhelming. Which gets back to the reinvent yourself statement! How does one reinvent themselves?

I really haven’t got a clue! But at least it is giving me something constructive to think about and dwell on. I have started the process of, Hey Bob, what do you want to be when you grow up? I must admit that at 48 I thought perhaps I might already be grown up and doing that dream job that everybody else seems to have, or at least it seems to be to me. What do I want to be, or better put, what do I want to do for a living?

The dislocated workers program gave us a list of what they deemed approved occupations to look into. There was a lot on the list but it sure is difficult to pick one and know that at 48 years old you are literally starting all over from the bottom. As difficult as all this has been to a guy who just wants a job that will take care of me and my family, I have started to actually dream, if I dare use that word, about a new career. A career that I might actually like, one that will be more than just a place to punch a clock and get a paycheck. A place to belong, a job that is fulfilling, doing something that is meaningful to me and to others. Whoa, sounds a lot like hope, doesn’t it?

Hope, such a fragile and yet powerful thing. I need more of it in my life, truth be told we all need it in our lives. Hope keeps us going. Hope keeps me from giving up and throwing in the towel. Reinventing ones self takes hope. It keeps me getting up every morning and keeps me going through the day even when no one responds to my emails or my resumes or phone calls.

In the movie CastAway with Tom Hanks, there is a scene near the end when Hanks character has been rescued from being stranded on a deserted island for over four years all alone. He is sitting by a fireplace at his friend’s house and talks about wanting to take his life on the island. He tells his friend that He had to just keep breathing, that the sun would rise the next morning. No matter how bleak things look, I remember those words, The sun will rise tomorrow, and I must keep breathing.

Things will change, it will get better. It may not be the same, but it will be ok.

I am not a writer, but here I sit at my computer typing my thoughts and struggles in hope that it will touch someone and hopefully help and encourage someone who is where I am today.