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What I want in a job

5 Dec

I just found a list I created after I was laid off from my last job. I wrote down all the things that were important to me, job-wise.

  • flexible schedule
  • WFH
  • vacation time
  • team environment
  • creative and progressive
  • drama-free (or at least drama-light)
  • smart coworkers

I found every single one in my new job! (Which, by the way, I just accepted as a permanent staffer.) Yay for me!

Well, that was fast

23 Sep

End of summer. Photo by Night Owl City.

Roughly 7.5 weeks after I was laid off, I had my first day of work at a new job. I really did not expect that to happen at all. I honestly expected to spend the next five months fruitlessly submitting resumes and having countless phone interviews while in my pajamas. Instead, I applied for a handful of jobs, spent 11 hours total interviewing for two of them, and got a three-month contract from one of the first places I applied to. I am ridiculously lucky.

Part of me focuses on this part:

Stuff I wanted to do while unemployed

  • Write a screenplay
  • Develop an editorial blueprint and a business plan for a new online magazine
  • Sew curtains for the storage shelves in my kitchen
  • Visit my friends John and Annie in Portland
  • Visit my friend Kerry in LA
  • Hem two pair of jeans, two dresses, a pair of pants, and a skirt
  • Sew my Union Jack pillows
  • Get in awesome shape
  • Become an amazing mandolin player
  • Write roughly 20 songs
  • Vastly improve my cooking skills

Now that I look at it, it seems a little overly ambitious. What I’m really focusing on is this:

Stuff I actually did while unemployed

  • Spent a week with my dad (and most of my extended family) while he recovered from surgery that removed all the cancer! Yay Dad!
  • Took trips to Carmel, Fiddletown, Santa Cruz, and the Jersey Shore
  • Tried a couple of new (to me) coffee shops
  • Took time to let a new relationship develop
  • Caught up on sleep
  • Almost taught myself how to perfectly poach an egg (I could use some more practice)
  • Wrote a couple of freelance articles
  • Saw first-hand what it was like to work at a ramen stand
  • Baked my best pie ever and some other decent ones
  • Learned a lot about Bialetti Moka coffee makers
  • Panicked about my ability to find a job, pay rent, pay for gas
  • Ended my more than year-long search for affordable champagne coupe glasses
  • Put on and promoted a show at Amnesia, with three bands (and a poster!)
  • Caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and missed too many chances to hang out with others
  • Realized how big of a role IM (and being on IM all day at work) had in planning my social life
  • Went to three bluegrass festivals
  • Spent a couple of the warmest weekdays this summer in my backyard

It’s true that you either have time or money, and I haven’t had a gift of time like that since my last summer break in college–though, even then I was working. Come to think of it, I was working two jobs that summer. OK, I haven’t had a break like that since I was 15.

In many ways, I wish I had used it better, but I really can’t fault myself too much. I became myself again. That’s really what I did. Not a bad way to spend 7.5 weeks.

Lettuce, a lesson in abundance | My laid-off life

3 Aug

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with Pat, who has spent the last two summers building planter boxes and planting vegetables and flowers in our formerly city-sparse concrete-covered backyard, transforming it into a peaceful garden where tasty and beautiful things grow.

Pat invited me to pick as much of the lettuce that he’s growing as I’d like.

“We need to pick it,” he said, “because the more we pick it, the more it will grow.”

“Isn’t it amazing how that works?” I said, thinking of how my friend grew to appreciate deer once she realized that the plants in her garden that they nibbled on were the ones that were thriving.

“A lesson in abundance,” he said.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot since I was laid off a few weeks ago. The morning before I was laid off, I found out that my dad has cancer. My biggest concern was getting the time off to come home and see him. When I heard that my position had been eliminated, my main thought was, “Problem solved.” I worried about work, and after sending out a few emails, ended up with three freelance assignments and offers from friends who were already looking out for me. After some plans fell through, my new (fabulous) boyfriend found himself with a free vacation week not long after I found myself with this abundance of time. We took our first trip together. Actually two.

I took the opportunity to host a French woman through CouchSurfing. She used to live in the United States. She was married and had a child, but couldn’t find interesting work and developed a series of health problems. When the doctors here told her she might have MS, she knew she had to make a change. She moved back to France with her son and started her life all over again. With her new job, she is able to travel–fulfilling a lifelong dream. Her health problems have disappeared, and she uses Skype, email, and other technological tools (as well as side trips on her business trips) to make sure her ex-husband stays actively involved in their son’s life.

We talked about how sometimes you have to give up everything in order to get the life you want or need. You have to allow creative destruction to happen, and to do so, you need to believe in an abundant future. I don’t know how I’ll feel in a month or two, but right now, for the first time in a long time, I believe in an abundant future.

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