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I Keep Telling Myself: 'It's Not Retirement'

Steve Dulas writes about going suddenly from professionial journalist to house husband following his layoff from the Contra Costa Times.

On May 15, 2012, I became a statistic.

After surviving three rounds of layoffs in four years, my 32-year career in journalism reached an apparent end when I was laid off from the Contra Costa Times.

Who would have thought, when I attended my first journalism class at San Jose State in 1976 that in a few years I would be part of a dying breed.

But we move on to new challenges. Last time I was out of work, it took about five or six weeks until I had a job at Home Depot, selling faucets and telling people how to hook up sprinkler systems. I did that for nearly 18 months and got a fresh view on what was really important in life. There was something about helping people, even though this was in retail, that was gratifying.

Now, at 56 (which I swear is the new 40) I am looking once again, and finding, what is important in my life.

That's not to say that this period of unemployment hasn't been without its frustrations. Of course I want the phone to ring from one of those couple of dozen jobs I applied for. Heck, I wasn't even getting a response from my offers to do volunteer work.

Was it something I said?

During this time, my indescribably lovely partner in life, Jeanette, has been a pillar when I've needed her to be, and she's put up with my occasional rants and tantrums. I hope I've been as strong for her, because I know she's feeling pressure because of all this.

She is wonderful about pointing out some of the messages that come along. For example, we caught a matinée showing of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and came away with a wonderful concept: "Everything will be alright in the end. If it's not alright, then you're not at the end."

What I've been finding is that while I have continued my job search, looking at new career options, there are other things that make life so very important.

A year after roof rats chewed up everything in my vegetable garden (I'd never seen a tomato plant chopped off above the root and carried away), I now hold my head high when I pull a zucchini casserole out of the oven, made from zucchini that was in the back yard a day earlier. I've kept the flowers on the porch blooming all summer and we have a house that we look forward to coming home to every day.

There's been more to the past two months than just housework, flowers and vegetables. But that's for another post.

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