Day No. 77 is a big day, indeed

Working out late Friday afternoon at Warrior Crossfit Muscatine.

Just about anyone who is superstitious considers the number 7 to be lucky.

So am I superstitious? Not really. But this is the 77th day since my job as editor of the Muscatine Journal was eliminated — an organizational change prompted by economic circumstances, not anything related to performance, according to a vice president for Lee Enterprises, the newspaper’s parent company.

Those 77 days rank as my longest — and only — stretch of joblessness since I started working as a boy on my parents’ farm 30 years ago. And I hope that 77 will bring a double dose of good luck today as I interview for the first time for a new job — and career.

In the past 2 1/2 months, I’ve kept busy by working out, blogging and doing some volunteer work. I’ve also been applying for jobs — and networking with anyone and everyone who might be able to help write the next chapter in my work life.

This weekend, I spent some time researching the organization and people I will meet with today. My shoes are shined. My clothes have been picked out. I even bought a new pair of pants for today’s interviews.

Last week on Twitter, I read and shared a quote I like to think could summarize my approach to today: Good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up.

It’s been an interesting 77 days — a time filled with anger, sadness, fear and anxiety. The good, bad and painful personal lessons I’ve been learning leave me feeling like a caterpillar in its cocoon. Whenever I emerge, I may not be a butterfly. Nor will I likely emerge as the editor of just another newspaper in another community. And I won’t be the same person I was 77 days ago.

There have been jobs for which I applied and the application was never  acknowledged. There have been other applications, which, after giving it some thought, I withdrew and did not interview. Further still, there are applications I have prepared and will be submitting.

To be honest, I’ve benefited from some time off. The extra time it has allowed me to spend at the Muscatine Community Y and Warrior Crossfit Muscatine gym has been life-saving in more ways than one.

A few weeks into this new phase of my life, Elly Lloyd, owner of Elly’s Tea & Coffee, told me I looked healthier and happier than I had looked in months.  Saturday, she teased me about my smaller waistline. “Look at you,” she said.

Perhaps most important of all was learning how many friends I really have and the impact I made on many Journal readers.  After my job was eliminated, their emails, Facebook comments, other comments posted at this blog, cards and phone calls poured in by the hundreds. Words can’t express my gratitude.

It has been good to learn I have so many friends.

But I want to go back to work. That I might have a chance to do so in a place filled with vibrant and dynamic and successful, happy people makes this opportunity doubly exciting.

And that makes this a day worthy of a double-dose of luck, which is merely the residue of hard work and design, according to Branch Rickey, the Hall of Fame executive who helped integrate Major League baseball.

I just hope I’ve worked hard enough.