If you have never had to look your children in the eyes and tell them that you “lost” your job, then you have never truly lived. You search for the right life lesson as you are explaining to them that life sometimes deals you a bad hand and you didn’t do anything wrong to deserve it. It’s hard to explain to kids that you are being punished for doing nothing wrong. For being so good that they paid you the most money and that’s why they eliminated your position. When the company you work for is more than 22 BILLION (Yes, with a “B”) in debt, they have to make difficult decisions. You have to explain that the people that still work there are still our friends and not bad people. Because kids only really understand good versus bad. Black or white. Grey isn’t a color that is truly understood till you get older.
You teach them to take the high road. You explain that God is telling daddy that he has a lot more to do and a bigger reach of people to influence; and he needs to change jobs in order to do it. You tell them that you’ve been unhappy at your job for a bit now and the company you worked for prefers to do things that daddy doesn’t respect. You tell them life is too short not to want to do and achieve more and be happy while doing it. You need to live in situations where you are thriving, not just surviving. You tell them that we need to be thankful for all the moments and opportunities we are given. Thankful is a difficult feeling to embrace as you sit down and try to figure out your next move and how to feed your family, but thankful is how you should live your life.
Yes, thankful is the answer and thankful is what I am. Not just for being released from something difficult, but thankful for the experiences that come with where you have been and the journey to what is next. “Next” is always exciting! 115 days ago my now former employer decided to eliminate my position and not renew my contract. It wasn’t personal, but it’s hard not to take something personal when they make it difficult for you to provide for your family. So, in all reality, yes, it’s personal. Yet, Instead of taking this opportunity to unleash the negative dragons, and believe me it is tempting, I’m going to do the right thing and tell you why I’m thankful for the past 115 days.
I’m thankful for the time this break has provided me. I’m thankful for my first pause in more than 15 years. To just work on me and not anything or anyone else. Thankful for a stretch of time where I could truly be alone with my thoughts and not have my day, schedule or train of thought disrupted by someone else putting themselves ahead of me.
Thankful for the time I spent trying to build a better me. Not often are we given these moments, so I didn’t want to squander this opportunity. I read more, tried new things, gave myself new challenges and pumped more education, iron and spirituality into my body. If I am being honest, some of my soul had been stolen from me and I needed time to repair it. I’m now in the best shape of my life on so many levels. The cobwebs and mental roadblocks have been removed and my vision is better than ever before.
I got to drop my kids off at school and pick them up every day. I’m thankful for these little moments and the extra minutes here and there with them, the added knowledge of school line protocol and how I can now understand and relate to the things my wife screams about when it comes to the parents that do it wrong. Especially the guy that drives a sports car and repeatedly breaks the rules by cutting the line. I used to blow it off when my wife would unload about him and now I share in the hatred for this guy. I give him “the look” every time I see him in traffic.
I’m thankful for being home with my kids more. I enjoy being able to hear the words “I love you” a few more times each day. My heart is full and I love them more than I have ever loved them. We have a greater bond because of this “bump” we experienced together and you can’t put a price tag on that. Our ride to school or ride home topics of conversation are epic! Being a father is my favorite thing in life and will eventually be my life’s work.
I’m thankful for sleeping better. For the past 18 months I have woken up with an aching jaw from clinching my teeth at night due to the buildup of stress from the day and the expectation of that stress in the next day. Two days after my work release, that pain went away. One would think I would be even more stressed out during this process, as I try to figure out where my next paycheck is coming from, but I can tell you that loss can be freeing. I’ve never slept better.
Thankful for church mass at 12pm on weekdays. I’ve been a struggling Catholic for quite some time now and with my new found free time, and fewer excuses on why I can’t make it to the service, I have found myself in church a few times a week. I have always been religious, so it’s not like I “found God” in this process. I’ve always known where he was. We talk all the time, but I now swing by his place more often. Also, when you’re asking him for a little guidance in life, it’s polite to put forth a little more effort and come see him at his house. I’m thankful that I now know my priest on a personal level. We actually text each other and have lunch.
I’m thankful for the 5lbs I’ve lost in this process. I eat less, workout more and sleep better these days; it was bound to happen. Dropping a few inches and getting into better shape can do wonders for your self-esteem and helps in the building of a better me.
Thankful for the fact that I never cracked. I truly believe being vulnerable is important in life, but I never allowed this challenge to break me. There were times when I would get choked up because I felt like I let my family down. As a family man, you tend to be harder on yourself than those who are depending on you to bring home the bacon. Truth be told, I mentally pushed myself close to the edge of tears on purpose, but realized how useless that would be. These 115 days were just a speedbump and took no true negative toll on my life. If you know my life story, then you know that I’ve survived WAY worse.
I’m thankful for daily trips to the grocery store. Sometimes just to get one or two items, but it’s important to leave the house, breathe some different air and watch all the stay at home moms walk around in yoga pants. I would deliberately not buy things we were close to being out of (milk, bread, etc.) just to have a reason to go back tomorrow. Also, my grocery store puts out the fresh samples around noon, so I occasionally get a free lunch of cheese, sausage and crackers. I used to do that when I was a kid, my siblings and I could wipe out an entire tray of cheese, so it was fun to relive those days. If you need to know how to make gourmet dinners for a family of four, while spending less than 7 dollars, let me know. I saw it as a challenge each day and not as a punishment. It’s healthy to push yourself to be more resourceful at times.
I’m thankful for the time I spent in coffee shops. I don’t drink coffee at all, but when I was networking with people and drumming up some side projects, coffee shops always seemed like the place people wanted to meet. I’m thankful for those side projects, as they kept me somewhat sane on the days when the doubting voices in the back of my head started to get the best of me. I’m thankful for those voices, because shutting them down helped make me stronger.
Thankful for the time I got to imagine doing something different for a living. After 22 years of working in the same industry, I got to imagine and daydream about careers that allowed me to utilize my strongest skills, but could also teach me so much. I imagined going to different offices or working from home and I got to weigh out the pros and cons of each. They say you change careers seven times in a lifetime, so the time to dream about new challenges was exciting. It also made me realize that I need to create more revenue streams in my life so I have other financial outlets to fall back on. Look for me to own a business in the future. Look for my writing to be featured beyond my books and blogs.
Thankful for the new anticipation of Mondays and the possibility of what could happen next. When you work, you dread the new week approaching on a Sunday night. Instead, I welcomed every Monday because it allowed me to get back on track and chase down my dreams. I will no longer dread Mondays. Mondays are the new Fridays.
I’m thankful to have been home for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and my daughter’s 10th birthday. Those holidays gave me great time for reflection and preparation. Being present and enjoying the moment is easier to do when you don’t have excuses.
Thankful for new friendships and the release of old friendships. After you lose your job, some people will avoid you like the plague. For some reason, unemployment can be perceived as contagious? When I was still new in the business, I didn’t reach out to people who got fired. Almost like I’d catch what they got, so I’d go months and sometimes years before connecting. Some I never connected with again. As I got older,
I realized how dumb that was. During my period of unemployment, I took a bit of inventory in my life and paid attention to who reached out and who didn’t. I had the time! If you knew about my lack of employment and didn’t reach out once in 115 days, know that I noticed. If you didn’t know about me “losing” my job, and I was very quiet about it, no worries. It’s not like I went on Facebook looking for people to pity me. I am thankful that life gave me the space and bandwidth to find new and possibly more caring people to add to my life. I’m not bitter, but the old expression of “you find out who your friends are when…” certainly rings true when you go through something like this. I don’t keep score in life, but I do pay attention. If you are feeling guilty while reading this, then chances are you made the list.
Thankful for the opportunity to connect with more of my readers. I did some freelance writing, connected with more authors and spoke with a couple of people I had never met. They wanted to talk to me because my writing meant a lot to them. It’s amazing to influence people you know. It’s mind blowing to make an impact on someone you’ve never met, especially the ones overseas.
I’m thankful for my family that allowed me to lean on them during this time. I never asked for a dollar, but it allowed me to let my guard down and be a little more vulnerable with the most important people in my life. Knowing that I have their support makes my decision of staying in Texas (and I was offered a lot of jobs out of state) even more gratifying. My wife was extremely supportive and never doubted me. There is no substitute for a great support system and another reason I will NEVER leave Texas.
#Tryharder to be thankful for the rare pause that life gives you. Do your best with those moments and look for ways to turn the potentially negative into an opportunity. God, or whatever higher power or energy you believe in, is providing you this time for a reason. You are refilling and refueling for something greater. Obviously, you won’t know this going into the pause in life or career, but have the foresight and sensitivity to know that there is a reason for everything. Take inventory of your life, relationships and why you keep doing this or that. Look for reason and focus in your day and stop going through the motions. Tighten up your loose ends and use the pause as an opportunity to build a better you.
I start my new job in a few days and I never would have gone after this opportunity, or lived up to my career potential, had I still been under contract with my old job. The world has a funny way of pointing you in the right direction and sometimes you have to just let it. Yes, the process can be painful and filled with doubt, but you have no choice but to let it happen. You can only control so much. For a kid that grew up in one of the smallest towns in Texas, “next” is going to be bigger than I could have ever imagined! Like dreams come true big! Sit back and watch what I am about to do and know that I’ll be attacking it with the healthiest version of myself.