Hello! My name is Pat Malarkey and I was recently laid off. Again. The purpose of this blog is to help me process this experience by writing about it. My hope is that what I write will help others going through the same.
There is a spiritual component to work. For most of us, work is the major component of our self worth. Indeed, in past times, we humans became known by our occupations and passed our work identities on to our offspring in the form of surnames: Jaeger (Hunter), Cartwright, Cooper, Brewer, Smith, Bauer (Farmer) – the list goes on and on.
From an early age, we’re focused on what we will do when we are “grown up.” At some point around the age of 16, the list whittles down from, “Fireman, Astronaut, Doctor, CEO, Priest, President and Engineer,” to, “Pick One and One Only.”
We have no idea of what the working world is like and rely on parents, older siblings and friends to guide us through a maze of possibilities until we finally pick one. Sometimes our choices are limited by expectations, finances or other constraints; sometimes, we try things on for size for a while and then move on, but there’s always one thing we do to earn a living and try to seek fulfillment.
I have worked in Corporate America for over 30 years. During my tenure, I have been laid off four times, worked in toxic workplaces three times, and been sexually harassed twice. I’ve seen corporations go from guarantors of lifetime employment to employers-at-will who lay off in one division and hire in another on the same day.
I’ve always been interested in religion and theology and toyed with the idea of attending seminary for years. Two events got me off my rear end and into Starr King School for the Ministry: The suicide of my best friend’s sister, Mary McInnes, in 2007 after a year of unemployment and the suicide of my (then) employer Freddie Mac’s CFO, David Kellermann, in 2009 during the financial crisis. No job – or lack of one – is worth a life!
I graduated from Starr King with a Master of Arts in Religious Leadership for Social Change in 2015.
My calling is to work with Americans who are being / have been laid off; are in toxic work situations; are over-stressed and to work with executives and business leaders toward a more democratic, inclusive and less stressful workplace. I believe the key components of my calling are helping workers to establish borders and helping executives understand the differing motivations of their employees.