Adventures in Unemployment

Patterns

Two years ago I was drowning. It was a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving and I had to deal with a crazy family emergency that forced me to make some tough decisions and left me a little traumatized in the process. One week later my dog suddenly and unexpectedly died. Tarzan had been the first dog I ever owned and I loved him like he was my own child. I was devastated. I was  also at a passionless job which didn’t help things. I would go for walks three times each day to stay sane or escape. Landing a new job at the nonprofit I have now been laid off from saved me in many ways and reaffirmed that I was good and that I was talented and that I could lead.

Fast forward to the present day 2016. Again a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving I am laid off from the job that saved me and my dad is diagnosed with cancer. What the fuck? I’m starting to think November in even years and I don’t do well together. So November 2018 I think I’ll pass.

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Credit: tiffanyepiphany.net

I was talking to a good friend about this recurrence. Her sons were both recently diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. She said that almost every time her family received bad news about their son’s it was on the 10th of the month. It got to be so often that she and husband decided to reclaim the 10th and turn it into a holiday to make it an occasion to celebrate instead.

This got me thinking about pattens. Patterns of catastrophes, natural disasters, historic events, all around bad things. If the world’s history repeats itself  does history also repeat itself in our personal worlds? Throughout history there have been  patterns in man made and natural disasters. I tried to research these topics, but it was tough to find much of any credible information  between the conspiracy theory sites put up by free masons and self proclaimed experts on patterns of catastrophe. I am in no way trying to compare my personal tragedies to horrific events in history, but I did come across a few examples that I found interesting and worth sharing. Coincidences or patterns? I’ll let you be the judge.

The community of Codell, Kansas was struck by a string of tornadoes that occurred in 1916, 1917 and 1918 that all touched down on the same day – May 20th. The first two tornadoes caused minimal damage and didn’t claim any lives. The last one was much more powerful causing massive damage to the town, but again fortunately no fatalities.

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Credit: Weathersnapshot.com via Pinterest user Jan Wilson Hollifield.

Prominent assassinations also have eerie similarities. For years conspiracy theorists have filled the internet with connections between the assassinations of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F.Kennedy. Both were killed on a Friday by a gun shot wound to the head after they had been warned not to go out. Both were succeeded in office by men with the last name Johnson – Andrew Johnson and Lyndon B. Johnson. Both assassins went by three names each with fifteen letters – John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. After shooting Lincoln Booth escaped from the theater only to eventually be caught in a warehouse. After shooting Kennedy Oswald fled from something that resembled a warehouse only to be caught at a theater.

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Credit: Snopes.com

Genocide also has cyclical traits. From 1915 to 1917 Armenia’s Ottoman government took the lives of approximately 1.5 million people. Adolf Hilter’s Nazi regime claimed about 11 million lives. Since the Holocaust there have been at least two dozen genocides that resulted in as many if not more lives lost than during the Holocaust. The communist Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia executed as many as 2 million political dissidents, roughly one third of the country’s population between 1975 and 1979. More recently, the Hutu government in Rwanda killed nearly a million  if not more Tutsi citizens in just 100 days. Today, the world continues to watch and determine how to act as mass killings continue to unfold in Syria.

If you want to continue down this rabbit hole check out How Stuff Works Culture for a countdown of the 10 Worst Ways History has repeated Itself which is where I found most of the info above.

Philosopher George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So what happens when you  realize your own bad history is repeating itself and there isn’t anything you can do about it? Learn what you can from it, take time to grieve, pick yourself up and move on. Nothing bad lasts forever. Just as our world experiences chaos and disaster we also experience these in our personal worlds.

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For me when I feel like I am falling I like to go somewhere I can feel small. For me feeling small reminds me that there are things bigger than myself and that I am really just a drop in our infinitely awesome universe. Being laid off has its good days and bad days. Yesterday was one of the former for me so I went to the ocean. I went to one of my favorite spots where I imagined I was sitting on the edge of the world as I stared out at the never ending water before me and felt small. As I sat there I began to notice patterns in the waves. Most of the waves were calm and friendly, but every so often more destructive waves would roll in swallowing up the nice waves as they crashed into the cliffs. Our world and our lives operate in patterns and waves and its up to us to learn how to be strong swimmers so we can anticipate the next big one in time to rise with it or redirect it before it reaches our shores.

~ Liz

UPDATE: My dad received good news that he has a slow growing form of cancer that likely won’t need treatment for a few years!

 

 

Adventures in Unemployment · Favorite things

A few of my favorite things…

Being unemployed has given me the gift of extra time. What I have been doing with this time (besides applying for jobs, updating my résumé and cover letter, filing unemployment, etc.) is  checking out some of the things I never had time for before. Since those of you employed readers also likely struggle to balance your time between work and life I decided this week to share about a few of the things that I have been into lately. I tried out podcasts, TV shows, and even food so you don’t have to. Below are my favs.

My Favorite Murder
Podcast

It only seems appropriate to start off a list about favorite things with something that has the word “favorite”in its name. My Favorite Murder is the true crime podcast hosted by comedienne’s Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark and runaway success for independent podcast network Feral Audio. Friends have been asking me what I have been doing for fun or for myself since I was laid off. I usually get the same confused blank look when instead of saying I’ve taken up something like underwater basket weaving I respond that I’ve been really into this murder podcast. The reason I love this podcast is that I am one of many Murderinos fascinated by mysterious and often sick and twisted stories. Each week Kilgariff and Hardstark pick an intriguing murder to research and recap. Murders have included infamous ones like child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey and Latina pop sensation Selena Quintanilla as well as lesser known but just as gripping ones like the “My Way” karaoke killings in the Philippines and the Zankou Chicken Murders. The podcast also includes shorter minisodes where the hosts share hometown murders submitted by their devoted listeners.  However, My favorite Murder isn’t just witty banter followed by horrific happenings, Kilgariff and Hardstark also often discuss important policies and advocacy groups that came about as a result of the murders they feature and common sense safety tips for women. So if you are looking for new alluring audio to help break up your day – stay sexy, don’t get murdered, and check out this podcast!

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Credit: Feral Audio

13th 
Documentary

Netflix continues to dominate the documentary game with 13th released in October of this year. This documentary explores the challenges of being African-American in the United States by examining the 13th amendment that ended slavery and resulting historic events that have led to the present day mass incarceration of African-Americans. Experts in race, economics, education, government and civil rights leaders intelligently and eloquently give viewers a hard look at the history and the policies that have continued our country’s oppression of minorities including segregation, the war on drugs, and the Clinton administration’s 1994 Violent Crime Control Act. I cannot stress the importance of this documentary enough. The information and statistics should be a wake up call to all Americans (1 in 3 African-American men can expect to go to jail). This is our history.  We must acknowledge it and actively work to make things right.

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Credit: Netflix

Parks and Recreation
TV Series

Okay I know I am late to the Leslie Knope fan girl meeting, but I have just discovered the delightfulness that is Pawnee, Indiana’s Parks and Recreation Department. NBC’s Parks and Recreation officially ended in 2015, but I just began watching it a little over a month before I was laid off after reading the star Amy Poehler’s book ‘Yes Please.’ I love everything about this show. I love every character on this show. The beauty of this show is that it is  several love stories that all center around one woman, the caring, neurotic, workaholic, and always optimistic protagonist Leslie Knope. This show is a love story between Leslie and her job/her community, Leslie and her best friend Ann, and of course Leslie and Ben (siggghhhhh). I recognize that I posses several Leslie-like qualities, especially when I was working, so now watching the show I wonder how she would have handled being laid off. This show has saved me in so many ways. It has been like a warm blanket always ready to comfort me, make me smile, and remind me of the value of hard work and the beauty of good breakfast food.

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Credit: Heben Nigatu

Arugula on Pizza
Food

If you haven’t started adding arugula as a pizza topping stop what you are doing make plans to have this as a meal TODAY! I am obsessed. This subtly salty leafy green is the perfect complement to your pie and all around treat for your taste buds. Leave the arugula plain or lightly toss it in a vinaigrette or drizzle balsamic dressing on top once its on the pizza to add an extra burst of flavor. The result it always the same – delicious. So get over your preconceived notions of this unlikely combination (salad on pizza?) and do yourself a favor and try my new favorite flavor fad!

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Walking
Activity

I should start by saying that I live in San Diego where the weather is nearly perfect  and I am able walk all year round. I am also a pretty healthy individual and have no physical ailments that make walking difficult or impossible for me. I am grateful for both.

I typically try to stay pretty active. For years I have been an aspiring yogi and runner (emphasis on aspiring). However, despite having more time available to work out now that I am unemployed my activity level has definitely decreased. My energy is down and I’m often glued to my laptop applying for jobs and making strategic LinkedIn connections. Due to this I have gravitated back to one of my favorite activities – walking. I love walking! My ideal morning would be waking up, grabbing a cup of coffee, and walking for a few miles somewhere scenic while listening to a podcast (probably My Favorite Murder). Walking calms me down. It lets me zone out when I need to or focus and create a plan when I need to. There’s no pressure with walking, no competition, no right way to do it. It’s an exercise in carving out time to be with yourself outdoors, plus its free! So if you are stressed, angry, sad, bored, annoyed, or wired  my advice is to make time in your day to walk it off.

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Credit: Camino de Santiago

Free time is a rare gift. We spend too much time waiting for free time to present itself instead of carving out a space in our busy schedules for it. Making time to go for a walk or listen to your favorite podcast is a small daily getaway everyone deserves. So do yourself a favor and take a page out of Park and Recreation’s Tom Haverford’s book and find small ways to “treat yo self!” daily and don’t feel bad about it afterwards.

~ Liz

Adventures in Unemployment

Rumors, Predictions and the Inevitable

Rumors had been swirling around the office for a few weeks, another restructuring was coming. After several staff meetings had been postponed a heavy sense of uncertainty weighed over several employees including myself. Communications and marketing services are usually among the first to go when something like this happens. They are easy to outsource and are often viewed as non-essential. I usually have a pretty good gut when it comes to these things. When I sense something is going downhill I’m proactive about abandoning ship and coming out ahead. I had witnessed a few restructurings during my nearly two years with the organization. It never got easier seeing friends and all around super talented individuals being forced to leave, but my department had never been affected so I continued to stay. Once the staff meeting was finally rescheduled it created an ominous  cloud over the days ahead, but  I welcomed whatever rain came from it hoping it would wash away my paranoia.

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Abandon Ship by artist KingofNod. Purchase here.

Two days before our staff meeting I scheduled a call with a psychic. I’m not the kind of person who believes in all spiritual beings, but I do believe some people are more in touch with their intuition and more consciously elevated than others. I see speaking with a psychic like therapy with a supernatural twist, if anything I’ll gain a fresh perspective and maybe some good guidance. Plus, one of my guilty pleasures is the show Tyler Henry Hollywood Medium on E! so I had been looking for an opportunity to participate in something spiritual and mysterious ever since season 2 started. Now seemed like a good time to pursue this. I had a lot on my mind. I was uncertain and uneasy about the future of my career and my husband and I were about to meet with a realtor and broker to start looking for a house to buy, but was this the right time? Real adulting issues.

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I would have preferred to do this type of consultation in person but this psychic was based in the Bay Area and came highly recommended from a couple of co-workers. So I decided to follow their referrals and scheduled a 30 minute tarot card reading over the phone with the intuitive spirit guide who I will call G. (If you want to get in touch to schedule your own reading with G message or email me and I will send you her contact info.)

Monday afternoon I was greeted by G’s delightful voice on the other end of the phone and was promptly told not to tell her anything. She worked best receiving as little information as possible in advance. After explaining how the next 30 minutes would go, G asked me to focus on the subject I would like to talk about first. For me, that would be the most imminent, “career,” “career,” “career,” I repeated over in my head. I could hear her shuffling her deck of cards on the other end of the phone line. The first card she flipped represented “rock bottom” (Crap!)  She quickly flipped over subsequent cards and  put a somewhat of a positive spin on things. She interpreted this as I had outgrown a current position or situation I was in. I had been trying to recreate a past success and wasn’t going to be able to continue this where I was. However, rock bottom wasn’t entirely negative she assured me. It also signified an opportunity to move up. I filled her in on what was ahead at work and how I felt my position could be in danger. G could see that a change in my position was coming but couldn’t tell in which direction. This change would involve a sum of money (which could either be a severance or a raise) and would open me up to do something more creative that I have always wanted to do (I started at rock bottom, now I have a blog!) I took a moment to take this in and decided from that point forward I would be open to whatever happens with my job and welcome the new opportunity.

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Credit: Wikipedia Rock Bottom: In Your House

On to the next topic, buying a house. This entirely depended on my job so I was interested to see what related information G could pick up. The first card she turned over signified moving on, but G said she was receiving  images of packing up a car and literally moving somewhere (okay now I’m hooked). Without any information from me she said  her “crew” of spirit guides kept pulling her back to the first focus topic as if the two were related. After I shared some more of the details she pulled some supplemental cards and saw that my husband and I would still buy a house, however, the timing depending on the outcome of my job. She also urged me to really check in with myself throughout the house hunting process and listen to my gut. If something was making me feel uneasy that was likely because I was experiencing something new not something bad. I needed to trust myself, but also really evaluate what a house represented to me. What goal did I hope to accomplish with it. Was this just the next step up some social ladder or did I want to own a home for something more worthy like comfort, connectedness, and stability.

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Credit: Everyday Grace

At the end of the session she did a general check in on anything else she felt her crew needed me to know. Their message to me was to just go for it. Go after what I want to do, pursue a new creative endeavor, be open to a new possibility. However, I had to make the moves. They weren’t going to do it for me, but they were going to support me. Sure this could be a nice fluffy way G wraps up all of her convos, but it was what I needed to hear in that moment. It gave me confidence and reminded me that I am in charge of my own success.

Two days later when my wonderful boss stumbled bewildered into my office to tell me I was one of the ones being let go I smiled through my shock and remembered my conversation with G. Then, I immediately emailed our realtor and broker to postpone our meetings.

What I got the most out of this psychic session is that I need listen more to my gut and start taking more risks. New experiences should be welcomed not avoided out of discomfort. Like G, I also have a whole crew watching and they won’t let me fall.

~Liz

 

Uncategorized

Losing my job. Finding myself.

Last night the first woman was supposed to be elected as the 45th President of the United States of America. I went to bed shocked as maps on the 24-hour news station’s green screens became increasingly red. I woke up the next morning with an election hang over after learning that our country favored the misogynistic, racist, homophopic and all around unqualified asshole Donald Trump.  It felt like America had shouted “FUCK YOU” to me and every other woman, minority, Muslim, LGBTQ, and disabled person.

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I’ve actually been in a state of shock for over a week now. I was just beginning to emerge from this cocoon when the results of the 2016 Presidential election violently shoved me back down into the numbness. Last week, I was laid off from my job, a job that I loved and was really good at. The nonprofit organization I worked for needed to restructure in order to make up for fundraising deficits and my position was eliminated. The night before I had been celebrating with members of my team for receiving  two local awards for projects I had led for the organization. The next morning, I was reduced to being a number on a spreadsheet. None of my accomplishments and hard work were taken into consideration when letting me go. Or at least it felt that way.

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While I know departments like mine, communications and marketing, are typically among the first to go when a restructuring occurs, and I had sensed it might be coming, learning that I was soon to be unemployed still hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve stumbled through the past week moving between being ultra productive keeping myself busy by applying for jobs, following up on potential leads, filing for unemployment, etc. and forming different variations of a blob wrapped in blankets on my couch. I needed to get away.

I decided to embrace my introvertedness and booked myself a ME-cation. The night after the United States’ historic 2016 Presidential election I was tucked away in a  cozy lake front hotel room three hours north in Big Bear Lake, CA polishing off a bottle of $10 Pinot Noir while Anderson Cooper’s voice softly recapped the unprecedented election results and resulting protests springing up across the country in the background. I had ugly sobbed a few hours earlier watching Hillary Clinton give her concession speech.

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You would have to be a cold hearted monster to not shed a tear when she addressed young girls and told them they were worthy! (photo credit: Self.com)

These lines particularly resonated with me –

“I have had successes and I have had setbacks. Sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional public and political careers. You will have successes and setbacks, too. This loss hurts but please never stop fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

What I realized was that I was suffering a setback of my own that was beyond my control. I had been trying to find the emergency brake on a rollercoaster of emotions when what I actually needed to do was give in and enjoy the ride.

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I don’t have children. I’m a 31 year old, happily married, and until recently a successful young professional. I’m not sure if I even want kids. When I lost my job I realized that the way I demonstrate my value is through my career. I have always thrown myself into my job and taken pride it in because I have chosen not to take on other responsibilities like raising children (much respect to all the mamas out there, especially those who balance a career and children every day!) Doing a good job for my employer makes me feel good. I believe the quality of my work not only reflects who I work for, but also reflects my abilities and validates my self-worth.

Being laid off feels like being punished for something you didn’t do. You feel shocked, sad, angry, confused, and bitter. It’s a grieving process. Right now, I take a little comfort in knowing that one of the most qualified and powerful women in the world is also having employment issues. I’ve also come to realize that grieving doesn’t have to be lonely or sad. Giving in to this new found freedom is the perfect opportunity to get in touch with ME. Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go from here? Being laid off has helped me realize how much I have let my job define me. Being a bad ass communications and public relations pro is a big part of me, but I never want it to be all of me. So I headed to the mountains to spend a few days of solitude in nature hoping to be inspired, seeking a new passion, and finding ways to challenge myself.

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I decided to start this blog because I felt like others could relate with my experience. As of October 2016 the U.S. was boasting about low unemployment rates hovering around 5%. While unemployment trends may be heading in the right direction, that’ still approximately 7.8 million individuals out of work. In a society where we are told that if we work hard we will be rewarded and hard work is necessary component to achieving the American dream, losing your job not only affects a person’s financial stability it can take an emotional toll. We all too often disguise this as failure and embarrassment instead of what it really is –  opportunity and optimistic uncertainty. Losing my job is helping me find myself and I’m excited for that journey.

~ Liz