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Not so many years ago, I had a "great job" working for a software company. I had a compe ive salary, good benefits, and bonuses when we had done well that quarter. I got along well with my boss and co-workers. Sometimes I traveled. Otherwise I worked from my home office.
My job had evolved to be mostly handling disgruntled clients. When I answered the telephone, when I opened my e-mails, when I checked voicemail – I knew what most of them would be.
I continued on this way for about 3 1/2 years. I enjoyed occasionally being the hero, but over time, with more and more clients with more and more problems, and with less and less money at my disposal to address those problems, I found myself less able to be the hero.
More often I was a punching bag. I was frequently upbraided, yelled at, cursed at – even physically threatened on a couple of occasions.
I came to really beginning my work day. But like a good soldier, I hunkered down and kept at it.
I think most of us get caught up in our situations, our jobs, our lives, and begin to believe "That’s just how it is," that there’s not another reality available to us. So I plodded on day after day, ing it up.
The company I worked for had been bought. My boss called to tell me that she had been ordered to make some personnel cuts. I was senior, so she was giving me a choice: Did I want to take a severance package, or did I want to stay on as part of a smaller, leaner department.
I asked what the severance package was. My boss said she thought she could get me 6 months salary and benefits. I jumped at it.
And so, for the first time in years, I was unemployed. I wasn’t worried. I had money in the bank and in investments. I decided to coast for awhile.
However, I was living in South Florida, and a lot of my money was invested in real estate: my house, a rental property, two pre-construction development deals.
Yep, you guessed it: Almost overnight, the real estate market crashed. The stock market followed soon after.
I took a hard look at the economic situation. People were saying it would take 18 months for things to recover.
So what was I going to do? I did some serious thinking one afternoon on the beach. I could stay and wait and hope that I could find another job in the worst job market in years, when people were still being laid off right and left.
Maybe. But to me, being nuts is staying put in a crappy situation day after day and expecting that somehow, by some miracle, it’s going to magically get better.
Well, I had one skill that I knew to be in high demand in Brazil, a skill that would allow me to find work immediately.
Look, I’ll be honest with you: It hasn’t been my life’s goal to teach English as a second language (ESL).
But you know what? I’ve discovered that I really like it. I’m good at it. It’s not that tough. And the people here really need English, they want English. Students are appreciative and super nice. (For you teachers reading this: Wouldn’t it be nice to have students who really valued you, and told you "Thank you, teacher" at the end of every cl ? Remember when?)
Instead, I now live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. (And I’ve been to 25 or so countries, so I know what I’m talking about.) And the Brazilian people really are some of the most welcoming and accepting people you could hope to find.
I woke up early. My first cl wasn’t until 10:45 today, so there was time for an early morning workout at my gym. I slipped out of the penthouse where I rent a suite, took the elevator down, and exchanged friendly pleasantries with the porteiro on my way out.
The aroma of fresh coffee arrested me as I p ed a small boutequim. Yielding, I decided that my workout could wait five minutes. I ordered a café com leite, media and dosed it heavily with sugar. Supercharged for my workout, I arrived at my gym and began my workout with some sit-ups.
Since the beach is only two blocks from my gym, when time allows I typically head there after my workouts. Carefully crossing Avenida Atlántica and the bike lane, I found myself on the calçadão, the wide sidewalk of pedra portuguêsa, or "Portuguese stone", with its undulating bands of white and black stones…
Life is much better for me these days. … now I sit in the… Read more…