Monday, November 8, 2010

Unschooling Leads to Unjobs

I was working on a post last night with a storm raging outside. The sustained gusts of wind were so intense at times that the house rattled. Around 2330 with the wind raging, the rain blowing, and nary a car moving on the road, the power blipped off - everything, inside and out, including the streetlights, went dark. Usually, there's a squeal from a UPS or a squeak from a smoke alarm, but this time, nothing. One minute there was the constant, underlying hum of electrical equipment, and the next minute the only noise was the storm outside, and I was plunged into darkness.

I sat for a moment with my hand on the mouse, trying to figure out what happened - one very brief and slightly bizarre moment when all of my worst fantasies converged and I found myself contemplating what my next step would be if, indeed, this were the beginning of the Apocalypse about which I often write in such a cavalier fashion.

Like a cat who has finally succeeded in killing its toy, I let go the computer mouse, lying lifeless and dark under my hand. I stood up and found some matches, and lit the oil lamp wall sconce.

It's bright (comparatively) light flooded the room, and I found myself enjoying the soft amber glow of a non-electric light. It wasn't nearly as bright as its hardwired counterpart, but it was adequate for doing things like darning socks or piecing a quilt or knitting ... or playing a quick game of Scrabble on the laptop. It is enough light to beat back the darkness.

I went to bed shortly after the electricity went out, and as I drifted off to sleep, I pondered how my day would develop if I didn't start it with a morning tea, email and the Internet.

Alas, the power came back on (for us) around 0500.

It's a bit of a disappointment.

It would have been nice if Deus Ex Machina could have had an unexpected day off ... like a snow day. It would have been nice if we could have had a day when things just slowed down and anything on the calendar had to be postponed or canceled. It would have been nice to have had a taste of what life could be (will be??) if we were really living the "un" life.

The post I was working on when the lights went out was about unjobbing. I had been reading an article on Yahoo! Finance entitled 6 Careers You Can Do From Home. Most people know that I work from home. My job title is "Virtual Assistant" (number five in the article), but I also do some web design (number four), and as a certified teacher, I serve as a resource teacher/tutor (number six) for the homeschool community.

I loved the last paragraph of the article which asserts these six careers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to at-home careers, and it's true - absolutely. In fact, back in its heyday (the late 90s just before the DotCom bust), the home-based business was the fastest growing industry in the US. Books about working from home and being a home-based entrepreneur (in particular a Work-From-Home Mom, or WAHM) flooded the bookstore shelves.

Today, those of us who opt to work from home aren't anything as glamorous-sounding as yesterday's WAHMs, and in fact, there are likely many more work-from-home Dads (WAHDs?) and work-from-home single people (WAHSPs?) than there are WAHMs. Today the term is "unjobbers", and the folks who are creating these sorts of unjobs are the people who grew up when working moms were having their epiphanies and coming home to work and be with their children, too (having and eating the proverbial cake ... which explains why our butts are so big). These are the people who grew up knowing that the traditional 9-to-5 work life does not offer the types of freedoms (in particular financial) that the previous generations had been promised.

Further, with the economy shedding jobs for the past two years like my chow-chow losing her winter coat, people (in particular the fresh-out-of-college generation and the over 45 crowd who've lost jobs, but still need to work) have been looking for other options.

What interests me most, though is the knowledge that unjobbing is probably the perfect solution for those of us in the suburbs - designing and creating our own jobs, which will allow us to live and work where we are, rather than needing to commute. In short, unjobbing helps us get more local, which will be the only way we can continue to thrive in a lower energy world.

In an article about unjobbing, the author states that unjobbing is a natural extension of unschooling. I thought that was pretty interesting, and the fact is that Deus Ex Machina and I don't just "unschool" our girls. We are also "unschooling" ourselves ... and in what we hope will be the very near future, both of us will (finally) be unjobbing, as well.

In the meantime, I'll just have to keep hoping for a power outage so that Deus Ex Machina can get a free day off.

Several years ago, I began collecting books about working from home (many of which I found at Book These are some that I found particularly useful. Some of them are out-of-print, but copies might still be found at your local library, on Paperbackswap, at a locally owned bookstore, or even at Goodwill.

**Finding Your Perfect Work: The New Career Guide to Making a Living, Creating a Life

**The Entrepreneurial Parent: How to Earn Your Living and Still Enjoy Your Family, Your Work and Your Life

**The Work-At-Home Mom's Guide to Home Business: Stay at Home and Make Money With

**Mompreneurs: A Mother's Practical Step by Step Guide to Work at Home Success

There are dozens of others, but these are ones that I actually had and read.


  1. Heh, we had a power outage at work last week that lasted about 1/2 hour. Such a pity that the laptop happened to have a low battery at that moment… I closed it and was considering wandering around for a while, when three Indian women gathered at the window near my cube. They pulled me into the conversation, and I noticed that they had all drawn abstract designs on their palms — turns out it's part of a festival (Diwali?) that goes on this time of year. I was shocked at first, I thought they'd all tattooed their palms and that would have hurt!

    Sometimes, I can relate to your feeling… c'mon and crash already! ;-)

  2. I don't know that I'm wishing for a crash, exactly. I do want that Deus Ex Machina can come home and work from home and leave his job - for a lot of reasons, but in particular, because I think that our quality of life would be significantly improved if we weren't so focused on the "making money" aspect of his employment.

    If we could make the unjobbing thing work for him, I think we'd all be a lot better off ;).