Tuesday, January 25, 2011

5 things I've learned

While being unemployed.
(ahem, excuse me: self-employed)

I wish my workspace looked like this! If only typewriters had Gmail chat. Image via

Hey, does anyone remember many months ago when I started my "5 Things I've Learned" series? The series that I only posted to twice, so it was in no way a series? Yeah, I forgot about it too. I liked it, so I'm bringing it back, with a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately for obvious reasons.

I've officially been out of a traditional nine-to-five job for three months, and while nothing would make me happier than a phone call offering me a position I've applied and interviewed for (except maybe a surprise pug puppy!), I feel it's important to focus on positive things. And oddly enough, many positive things have resulted from leaving my job without any other prospects in an uncertain economy, as crazy as that might sound.

1. I have control. Resigning from a job without another one is scary stuff. I learned that I can take control of my life and make big decisions like this. I value the skills I gained and relationships I made at my previous (and first "grown up") job immensely, and I know these  will benefit me professionally for the rest of my life. But it was time to go. It's a powerful feeling, to realize you can make choices and take control of your future like that.

Homemade ravioli!
2. I have hobbies! For months, the question, "What do you do besides write?" really bothered me, because I didn't really do anything. I always answered meekly that I write fiction for fun (which is true, but I don't do this that often) and that I like to read. They were weak answers, anyway, since reading and writing go hand-in-hand. When I left my job, everything changed. Nurse A and I couldn't afford to eat out every meal of every day, so we started cooking from the Williams-Sonoma Bride and Groom Cookbook, and we realized that one of the best part of our day was coming home and spending time in the kitchen together while Sawyer managed to steal butter and get flour all over his nose.

We also incorporated jogging into our daily routine (to counteract the cooking hobby and because it's free), and have a goal this year to run a 10k (a goal I didn't accomplish last year) as well as a 10-miler. I can't believe we didn't realize how great cooking and running were before! No wonder all you crazy kids do it. And I don't know how we managed Sawyer before we forced him to run at least 10 miles a week. 

3. I have a great support network of friends, family and, of course, Andrew. My family supports and encourages me. My lovely friends send me freelancing opportunities my way when they can, encouraging e-mails and kind words and I really appreciate those things. My in-laws have also been great as well. I'm thankful that everyone has been so supportive and non-judgemental.

4. I take pride in my work.  I had felt for awhile that I was emphasizing quantity, not quality of work.  I missed the thrill of reading one of my articles and being proud of it. I'm lucky that journalism is a field in which you can always practice. I've taken on lots of freelancing clients and I've begun producing work that I'm proud to send to my editor. It's a really good feeling.

5. We're ok. It's been three months. My little family hasn't starved, we haven't lost our house. In fact, I've traveled to New Orleans, the Mississippi Coast, Mobile,North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina in those three months. Sawyer needs shots in February, and Sawyer will get his shots. We have a warm house, Netflix, great friends and family (even though they're all spread out across the country!), books, wine, a Labrahound, blackberry Izze, etc. I have steady work (if not always steady paycheck) and my client load is growing all the time. Turns out we don't need much to be happy.

Also on a random note, I've learned that I really like coffee shops, taking walks and watching weather reports. What about you? Has anyone else out there made a big decision recently that taught you a lot about yourself?


  1. I love 5 things I've learned!! AND I LOVE this post!! i hope to be as enlightened as you someday. Too bad I don't have lots of people for freelancing like you do. Oh, and I really want to WIlliam Sonoma Cookbook now too. Heard the homemade ravioli was fab!

  2. Love this! I've always been a fan of running...but now I'm growing to love cooking too. Congrats on taking a chance on work...and learning along the way! :)

  3. It's so refreshing to see how you've taken what would normally be a tough time and turned into a learning experience! My hubby got laid off and was unemployed for a little while a year and a half ago and he had the philosophy: "I can't change the fact that I don't have a job, but I can change how I eat, how I treat my wife, and the other small things in my life." I loved that.

  4. Don't call it a hobby! I mean, you can, and I know you're not spending your days idly knitting things nobody wants or needs. But food especially is no hobby. Gotta eat!

    I'm against the idea of hobbies for the sake of having a hobby. Like art for art's sake ... when art is too good to be hung on a wall or too abundant to hang on one's wall ... share, sell, or do something different. A hobby is the dog tied up in your yard, buckets of knickknacks, books that aren't for reading, plates that aren't for eating, "collectibles" you don't play with or sell or use ...

    Before you wrote this post, I saw you as someone who had a lot of answers to "What else do you do?" — travel, love a dog, analyze dreams, fantasize about oysters, run. Don't become a hobby horse and give up your passions!

  5. So happy that this is working well for you. We're kind of in the same boat while B goes to school and works on his passion, although we're still figuring out our rhythm. Your post made me excited/inspired!