I would rather have the coronavirus than have what it has done to me. I’m used to my body enduring illness. It’s my everyday life. Having something that’ll actually go away sounds nice. What coronavirus has done to me is going to take much longer than two to three weeks to recover from. It might even further damage my body.
If you’ve read much of my blog, you know I get really personal sometimes. I share stuff that’s a little beyond comfort for the sake of teaching or connecting. Sometimes, we can do a lot of good by sharing our crap. That’s why I do it for a living. Well, I used to.
I’m not sure how much good sharing this is going to do. I know it’s very, very personal. It’s my vulnerabilities and shortcomings. I won’t say failure, because I can’t deign to call the countless other people in my same situation “failures.” I call them much greater things, like “artists” and “servers.”
I’m exposing myself here because once again, I believe my story matters.
COVID-19 has put me out of business. I earned my living as a speaker, and most of my clients were colleges. They’re all closing and canceling. (Mind that I’m not just losing income for now. This is also the time I normally stockpile savings for the summer.) Even my corporate clients are pushing off bookings because of travel restrictions, employees working from home, and being just too overwhelmed with the logistics of this thing to bother with a non-essential training or wellness workshop for their staff.
To add insult to injury, I recently picked up a new side hustle, to build up a little cushion for slow times (no, I didn’t see THIS coming), and that side hustle? Substitute teaching.
In simple terms, I’ve lost my job.
But it’s not that simple. This is more than just making my living and buying dogfood and coffee. It’s emotional.
I don’t do fear much. It’s not my thing. I’ve been through so much, done so much, achieved and lost and won back, restarted time and again. I can do it again. But things are different now. For one, I’m disabled, which has substantially worsened since my back injury last fall. I improved, but I did not heal. I can’t jump into the easy fill-in of bartending or other service work like I’ve done in the past (and I’m guessing those service jobs aren’t very lucrative right now). Also, I can’t jump into a basic temporary office gig because they have the desks and the chairs and sitting is extremely painful. What I can do for work is limited now. Which is why I busted my butt these past few years to build this business: so I can work from home, in a space set up for my physical disability, so I could have flexible days off to accommodate the unpredictability of my chronic illnesses, so I could live with osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome without my life being totally miserable. In fact, my life was awesome!
Now I’m in this limbo of not knowing how I’m going to provide for myself. By the way, no, I don’t have a spouse or a partner or even a roommate. I’ll figure it out, though. I always do. It’s going to be difficult. Who’s even hiring? It might involve a job with sitting or lifting and causing further damage to my spine. I’ll probably take it anyway. Then again, who knows if I can even cover my monthly bills as a 40-year-old homeowner while starting from scratch?
Naysayers might call me irresponsible. I should have planned for this. This is the risk I take being self-employed. I should have gotten a career and stuck with it. I should be making a hefty salary at my age. I should have gotten a degree in anything besides creative writing.
But sorry, folks, that’s not my path. That’s not my calling. I always tested higher in math than English, but the arts have always called me. I live alongside other artists in our high-risk, low-income lifestyle, serving the world with our best magic. And note, they’re going through this hell, too. Musicians and comedians are crushed by this. Even other small business owners have totally lost their means to support their families. We are all just as worthy as human beings as everyone with a mainstream career who is currently “working remotely” and making fun memes about it.
That brings me to the rest of the emotion. Like I said, this is my calling. I know in my heart I’m doing what I’m meant to do and I think what I’m doing is really important. To see my purpose and my passion slip away, to think of giving it all up, even if it’s just for a few months, is soul-crushing.
I won’t give it up. I’ll keep doing whatever I’m able to continue with my message. I’ll rebuild my business. I just wish it hadn’t all fallen apart.
What can you do to help?
1] Well, it wouldn’t hurt to buy a copy or a thousand of one of my books:
www.SplatTheBook.com … for people with hidden disabilities
www.Splatvocate.com … for everyone else
2] I sell bracelets, too. I keep meaning to make more just haven’t had the time:
3] If you know other artists or speakers, buy their books, buy their CDs and video specials. You’ll start missing your live entertainment when we all go away.
4] Share this article.
5] And if you need a book ghostwritten or edited, hit me up! I’m really good at that stuff. I actually have a “creative services” page tucked away on my website on the off chance someone wants a freelance writer, because I do that. http://www.christinairene.com/wp/about/creative-services
6] I’m totally open to any full time job offers. I can commit to a new career and keep this going on the side.
7] There are so many groups who are hurting and maybe losing everything because of this outbreak: poor and disabled children losing the services they get at school, business owners losing their entire client bases, speakers and performers who can no longer get a gig, the Broadway actors and crew with no venues, bartenders and servers who are out of customers, laid-off airline employees who can’t feed their kids…. Everyone has a unique story as important as mine. Many have additional/compounding stuff (like my disabilities). If you’re a person of faith, please pray for us all.