On this Sunday (and it is both a literally and metaphorically sunny one!), I have happy news to report. My temporary return to work is now a permanent one! My saga of unemployment has ended with the son of the company's founders buying it out of bankruptcy. I can't even begin to do justice to how wonderful it is to work for a company owned by what appear to be lovely, ethical people. I couldn't be happier about this turn of events. Even with the stress and pain of it all, I am starting to feel like it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
There is nothing like a cataclysmic life event (or even just a small earthquake!) to make you stop and take stock of who you are and where your life is going. While I am so grateful for the happy work ending, what I am really grateful for is that having the time off reinvigorated my commitment to the goals I’ve set for myself this year and made me stop and reclaim some of the passions and even some aspects of my personal health that have taken a back seat to work over the past years.
All this taking stock has helped me reach some important epiphanies:
Lesson One: Health is not just about what has become my constant battle to lose weight. Yes, it’s about living and eating healthfully, but it’s also about feeling good, finding happiness, having a good quality of life and enjoying it. I think that to really be healthy, one has to have a balance of mind, body and spirit. It’s not just about diet or a number on the scale.
Lesson Two: Sometimes the worst thing that could happen is the best thing. In my month off, I started writing again, joined a monthly music jam, started exploring new spiritual paths, and have come a long way toward figuring out a solid game plan for reaching some personal goals.
Lesson Three: Feeling in control is really important. One of the first things I did after my break up with employment was to cut off all my hair and dye it bright red. While this might sound a little shallow, for me it was a symbolic act of reclaiming control. My life might suck, I might have no job and no prospects, but I can change things.
Lesson Four: If something isn’t working, change it. The truth is that while I have grown to love my job over the past few years, I've known for a long time that it was negatively affecting my personal sphere (read that as the polite way of saying “it was becoming soul sucking”), This is not because of what the job was, but what I had allowed it to become. I had allowed it to overshadow everything and wasn't making too much effort to change it or to set strong boundaries. Reclaiming myself over the past month has made me realize that I don’t want to lose the whacky, creative parts of myself that enjoy noodling around with music and words and life ever again. No job is worth that.
Lesson Five: It is okay to fail as long as you keep trying. After returning to work, I learned that the founder’s son had been quietly trying since January to buy the company from what I now like to think of as the evil empire. He made multiple bids that failed to be accepted. In the end, he had to change his strategy to buying the assets out of bankruptcy. Even there, things did not go smoothly. There were delays and overturned trustee recommendations, but in the end he prevailed. The lesson of flexibility here applies as much to any goal as it does to corporate finance.
While I was off, I decided despite January declarations about eating whole, real foods) to go back on a pre-packaged weight loss program I started a year or so ago and abandoned. I still had almost a month’s worth of pre-packed foods in my cupboard and in my new budget economy, it seemed really wasteful to not use them. While the program absolutely works, if you stick to it, I’m going to be really honest and tell you that I really struggled with it. I struggled with staying on the plan. I struggled with not wanting to disappoint my sweet friend, who is a health coach for the company. I struggled to the point that started feeling like a big, fat loser.
Then, the other day, I realized that I was creating my own hell. There are plenty of diet plans that work. The mechanics of weight loss are the same whether you eat food from medical packets or the grocery store. In the end it is my life. I am captain of my own ship and need to find a sensible program that works best for me. If there's one thing losing my job in a battle between two megamaniacal billionaires has taught me, it's that you can't live for someone else's goals. In my heart, I really believe that what I need to learn is to eat properly using real foods, so I signed up for Weight Watchers (mostly for the support aspect, but I find I’m actually really digging the points system) and am again just focusing on eating whole, healthy foods.
So, in the end, I am actually grateful to have lost my job. As important as it is to have right employment, it is just as important to focus on the things that make life healthy and happy. What we feed our souls is just as important as what we feed our pocketbooks or our faces. If that epiphany isn't work a month of unemployment, I don't know what is!