Everything happens for a reason


Quote by Oprah Winfrey

As much as we don’t want to hear it, it is one of the few pieces of advice that we place our hope in when times are tough. Just minutes after being laid off, I couldn’t help but think, “Uh oh. Why is this happening right NOW?” The timing couldn’t be worse. It was just weeks before the holidays and only two months before my 35th birthday. Great way to ring in the new year, right?

And now, only one week after being laid off, my mother and I were back in the oncologist’s office at Mass General. Flo had been fighting cancer for about six years now. It started with DCIS, the precursor to breast cancer, and then a mastectomy. Five years later, in November 2012, as we were getting ready to celebrate her being a survivor, she went in for a normal checkup and was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. She went through a major surgery, several hospital stays, major transfusions, and five intense rounds of chemotherapy. When I wasn’t working, volunteering, or attending board and committee meetings, I did everything I could to make sure she was well taken care of. In a matter of weeks I became nothing short of a home health aide/nurse, managing meals and medications, giving injections, cleaning wounds, and monitoring her overall condition.

When I got the offer for the “better opportunity”, her health was on the upswing. I really thought things were coming full circle for all we had been through. As Flo and I walked back out of the oncologist’s office just one year later, I looked back over my shoulder to see the doctor say, “I’m sorry.” I told her it would be okay, because that’s what I always say. Standard response, I guess. But it really wasn’t okay; we were just informed that my mother’s cancer was back exactly one week after I’d been put out of work. Who throws a party for that?

Truth be told, I felt like my glass was starting to look half empty. If everything happens for a reason, I dared not to think about why I would need this unexpected time off. Deep down, I had already given way to a personal gut feeling. And quite randomly, all that came to my mind was the lines of a Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

No crying over French Onion soup!

french onion soup

Click the pic for the French Onion Soup Gratinee recipe that comforted me.

“Shhh! I gotta focus. I’m going into soup mode.”

~George Kastanza, Seinfeld.

It was Saturday afternoon, the day after I’d been laid off. As predicted, my eyes were puffy and swollen.  Reality had set in the moment I splashed cold water on my face; the pity party was over. I sat on my couch remedying myself with a steaming bowl of French Onion soup, complete with cubes of toasted French bread and oozing cheese. I spent about $20 on the ingredients for this soup and thought about how I’d went out of my way to stay up late and make it. I imagined the only thing that could have possibly made me feel better was if I had stormed out of the office yelling, “No soup for you!”  in my best Soup Nazi voice. That would have been epic, but a bad decision had I done it nonetheless. As I continued to stew over my soup, I started putting together my own personal marketing plan in order to stay out of the soup kitchen! 

Some of my worries were washed away with that yummy bowl of soup, and I knew how to control those that were not. Maybe it’s the overachiever inside of me, but it is funny how something as simple as a To-Do list can restore some sense of purpose.  For me, it provides comfort…as if everything will be alright as long as I focus and complete tasks that need to be done. On a pad of paper, I penned a To-Do list that would keep me focused on my journey to RE-employment.

10 Things to Work On While Unemployed:

  1. Set up a home office
  2. File for unemployment
  3. Inform colleagues of the news
  4. Update social media profiles
  5. Update resume
  6. Start a blog
  7. Attend networking and social events
  8. Create business networking cards
  9. Make an appointment at your college’s Career Services office
  10. Make an appointment at your local city/town Career Center

There’s no easy way to say this…

no easy way to say this

“We’re eliminating the Marketing position.”

Images of a sit-down meeting I had with the president only nine months ago flashed before my eyes. I was asked to join the management team, leaving behind a secure job for a “better” opportunity. Now I was being laid off. And there it was, over as quickly as it began. On a Friday morning, I was kindly escorted out of an office that I would no longer call home, with boxes and a pot of freshly made French Onion soup in tow. Oh yes, to add insult to injury, I was laid off on the morning of the office’s Soup Day, unbeknownst to the Human Resources manager.

I sunk into the driver’s seat and politely sped off. There was no looking back. ‘What am I going to do?’ ‘How am I going to pay my bills?’ ‘How do I file for unemployment?’ ‘Did I do something wrong?’ ‘What will my colleagues think?’ ‘What’s my DAD going to think?’ Shocked, incensed and disappointed, the 45-minute drive home was a long, tearful one filled with phone calls to my boyfriend, family and closest friends. Fair to say that they were as shocked as I was. By the time I made it home, I was numb with fear, doubt and uncertainty. I was officially unemployed.

By 12:30pm, I was at Fountain Place in Salem having lunch with my mentor and colleague, John Boris. I tried to maintain my composure, I was having a hard time. Tears traveled down my cheeks and onto my portobello panini, which I was having an even harder time swallowing. I must say, this was the first lunch that I’ve ever had with John where he barely spoke a word. I was a mess, and all I could do was apologize. Repeatedly.

“It will be okay. You get one day of grievance and then I expect weekly progress reports,” he said.

John was right. I knew I wouldn’t cry after today (for the record, I’m not much for crying). It’s just been  a tough day. By 4pm, my boyfriend tried comforting me with an early dinner at Kowloons. Truth be told, all I wanted was a Mai Tai. Just one. The last thing I needed was to be sobbing over fried rice. But I couldn’t even enjoy that in peace, as my phone vibrated with a call from the Vice President. She apologized and said she was sorry that she couldn’t be there for the meeting this morning. That was awfully nice of her.

By 7pm I was back home, now sitting outside of my house in the passenger seat of Chickie’s car. Chickie is my dad. He stopped by to drop off some junk mail; it’s his way of visiting and checking in on me. Embarrassed and wanting to get it over with, I told my dad that I had been laid off and recounted the day’s events. I knew he wouldn’t be angry with me; but, you have to know my dad, he’s not a “warm and fuzzy” kind of guy.

“I know how you feel though. I got laid off in the 70s before I found this gig. Been there ever since.”

I was born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, a small city that once thrived on manufacturing and industry. My dad is a crane operator for General Electric, going on 43 years. In her earlier years, my mother worked the assembly lines in the shoe factories. A modern day Norma Rae that one there. As he proceeded to tell me how the job I do doesn’t “produce” anything, I thought about how boring it must be to work on an assembly line. The same thing, over and over again, day in and day out. “Well, Mikki… I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t wish that on anybody. Well, you’re not going to find a job sitting around in front of the TV. ” Wait, what?

After an hour of listening to some good old-fashioned (very old-fashioned) fatherly advice, I told Chickie that I’d be alright. After all, I’m a Wilson. Between you and I, I’m pretty sure my dad has no clue what I actually do for a living. He just knows that I go to work to do…work. God bless him. I love him to death. By 10pm, I was definitely ready for bed. As I lay my pounding head on the pillow, I knew only a few things that were certain after a day filled with uncertainty:

  1. I will wake up with eyes so puffy that may land me an audition for Mike Tyson’s “Punch Out”.
  2. I now have the perfect content to start that blog I’ve been trying to start for years.
  3. I am unemployed, but I will get a new job!
  4. Those two Aleve will kick in any min…. [snore]

Your ambitious nature will help you…

Your ambitious nature will help you make a name for yourself.

Do all fortunes come true? Do you find the fortune, or does the fortune find you? Either way, this fortune cookie quote fluttered from an old wallet as I made space for new things in my office…and in my life. Unknowingly, it serves as the inspiration behind this blog.