By Bernadette Bowman, Comedienne and LuxEco Advocate who writes the LIFE GOES RETROGRADE series.

This week marks the one-year mark of my being out of work.
Out of work since working pretty much non-stop for the past thirty-two years, when I made my first move into the working world by scooping ice cream at Swensen’s.  My then-boyfriend worked at Swensens’s competitor, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor, so this was also my first experience of partaking in a “scandal.”
Never mix your Sticky Chewy Chocolate with a cute boy’s Pig’s Trough.  People talk.
I’m actually feeling kinda cocky this week because when I think of how far I’ve come (without being medicated – and chocolate mint gelato doesn’t count) in  just (!) one year and the fact that I’m finally embracing “the unknown,” I must say that I’m quite proud of myself.

Because a year ago?  Puleeeeeze….can you say Sybil? And I have witnesses.

So, I thought it might be a nice idea on this momentous anniversary to share some of the wisdom and insights I’ve learned from living from (or at least trying to) a place of gratitude these past fifty-two weeks and three days.

Here goes:

  1. You’ll have more control over your life if you stop trying to control your hair. (I never even knew that I had wavy blonde locks until I didn’t have an ongoing flat-iron wrestling match with them and a morning beauty deadline to deal with every frigging day – what a nice surprise)
  2. Starbucks and Peet’s one-pump vanilla lattes mean so much more when you indulge in them once a month rather than once a day (the average difference of spending $1 a week as opposed to $28 a week and $1,044 a year – hello?!)
  3. With the lack of work comes the abundance of time. Time you haven’t had since childhood, and time you may never be lucky enough to have again. Embrace it instead of fighting it. And cursing it.  Oh, and napping through it….which is way too easy and you never really wake up feeling anything but depressed and foggy.
  4. Your pets and your parents will not live forever. Get used to the idea that if they’re still around and you are given the gift of time to spend time with them that this might be the nicest gift of all. I learned this six months ago when I said good-bye to my beloved cat, William. More on Wills in a future post, but suffice to say that I was very blessed to have been able to be home with him the last year of his life.
  5. Feng shui-ing your house doesn’t do sh*t except help you spend money you don’t really have on ridiculous items from Cost Plus Word Market and scary flea markets.  Items such as gold rope, blue balls….and red ribbon that may stop the water from leaking out of your bathroom sink but will only annoy you when you see it while searching for a razor and then remembering that you shouldn’t have wasted the two bucks on the red ribbon in the first place. A pack of bubble gum would have been a more reliable investment. At least it burns calories.
  6. Well-meaning friends with the best of intentions do not pay your bills. These friends mean well but they are often people-pleasers who are best loved from a distance and treated like an Etch-a-Sketch (remember those?). Listen to what they have to say, smile, and then shake your Etch-a-Sketch screen clean – with all of the love in the world, of course.
  7. You will hear about other people’s good luck and new jobs and opportunities.  Don’t resent (one word that begins with re that is best to avoid – now and forever) them and think that everyone else is getting all of the pie. There’s enough pie for everyone and until you learn to bless others for their good fortune, you won’t appreciate it when it finally comes your way.
  8. If you’re lucky enough to live close to nature (the ocean, the forest, a park) don’t waste your limited funds on keeping up a gym membership. Take an energetic walk and watch how it will clear your head and heart, and often leave your mind free enough to receive some amazing inspiration and ideas. I set my iPod on what I call my “God Shuffle” and see what cool messages I receive by just seeing and hearing what pops up, with no input or controlling from me (a whole other lesson to be discussed at a later date….).
  9. Even if you didn’t vote for our current president (which I didn’t – I wrote in Hillary’s name with the biggest Sharpie I could find and still have her bumper sticker on my car….oh, well….someday….), bless President Obama daily for signing the extension for Unemployment Benefits. And bless the person every day whose hiring of you made you eligible to collect these coveted benefits – even if they were the worst boss you think you’ve ever had.
  10. “Divide by twelve” in matters of your mother freaking out when you tell her for the five hundredth time that no, you still don’t have any job leads. She’s your mother and she’s worried. She can also be annoying and pushy and a know-it-all, but she’s still your mother. And she loves you.
  11. “Divide by twelve” in matters of your boyfriend freaking out when you tell him for the five hundredth time that no, you still don’t have any job leads. He’s your boyfriend and he’s worried. He can also be annoying and pushy and a know-it-all, but he’s still your boyfriend. And he loves you. This man is on your side and because he’s a man, he just wants to fix the problem, even if he really can’t. And graciously receive his generosity and say “thank you” when he springs for dinner…..a lot.
  12. If you wake up in the morning able to hear, see, speak, walk, breathe, taste, scratch that itch, and feel your cat licking your head as he helps you greet another day, you’re much better off than a lot of other people. Start here and work your way back up that Gratitude Ladder. The view from up there is pretty great once you get out of your own pile of Pity Poop.

(If you’ve succumbed to the Pity Poop, wipe it off your shoe and keep moving forward.  It’s still easier to remove than gum)

All contents copyright © Life Goes Retrograde by Bernadette Bowman. All rights reserved. No part of this column or the related blogs may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.


  1. Another great perspective that hits home and hits home hard..been out of work off and on over the past several years and now have full time employment that’s helping me get by. Is it the ideal gig? Hell no! Am I way over qualified for such trivial crap? You can’t even begin to imagine! but I REALLY needed these words today and I will re-read them every day because I can’t forget that others are struggling just as much as I and once I lose my perspective or my ability to see the big picture..nothing in my world will evolve and the universe will not send me those opportunities of change. Thanks Bernadette..I needed this reminder..I am forever grateful and btw you are welcome to stick your Sticky Chewy Chocolate in my Pig’s Trough any day!

  2. This was the perfect day to read Bernadette’s brilliant blog…wow…it sure spoke directly to me. I am completely surrounded by pity poop in my life right now….and i need to get my head out of my butt (even though my butt is a nice place to hide). I do realize that I am much better off than many, however, I must admit that it is a daily struggle to convince myself of that…at the same time, I also know that drowning myself in the struggle will only keep the messages from God (who I believe is in control) from coming through loud and clear and moving me in the right direction.
    It’s a conscious effort to wake up in the morning and convince yourself that it’s going to be a grand day. But with the help of Bernadette’s wisdom and wonderful writing, I think I may just have a chance of “getting it”.
    p.s. Chocolate might also work wonders on occasion!

  3. Thank you miss b. all 12 steps – ? – funny how that works – suggestions – hit home with me. i work only part time and the best apart about that, is the time you have to enjoy what else is around you. so that being said, since i have walked today and am walking later, because i have held or petted all five of my cats, because i had a lovely lunch with two of my friends…i am going to the gym!

  4. Great stuff! So funny and I can surely relate, especially to “mother freaking out when you tell her for the 500th time that you still don’t have any job leads”. My mom still tells me, “you can’t make a living by just doing art” with a very worried look on her face. I tell her she couldn’t possibly be more worried than me, but I’m living my life the best way I can without jumping off a cliff. LOL. I spent too many years in a cubicle.

    Bernadette, if you worked non-stop for the past 32 years.. hey.. you deserve a break. Yeah, I know there is the little concerns like money.. Ha! but it sounds like your discoveries and renewal in the process is already enriching your days. It may just be time for you to slow down and relax in a way that you haven’t for a long time. Be good to yourself and have fun.

    Loving your column!


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