Finding Passion – Part I

what-is-your-passionA few weeks after being laid off, I sat down with a colleague Shari for lunch in Marblehead. I was looking forward to a good lunch with some good advice. Shari is a recruiter, and we happen to sit on the board of the Northeast Arc together. At the very least, it seems like all the years of working, networking, and volunteering are finally starting to pay off. At a time when I need people, I can thankfully look in my rolodex or LinkedIn and finally say, ‘I got people.’ (Gold star if you can name the commercial…)

About 15 minutes into having lunch with Shari, she asked me the most profound question of my life. “So, what is your passion? What’s the thing that makes you get out of bed in the morning?” Say what lady? It was then I realized that the smallest questions are the hardest to answer. The toasted wheat bread of my BLT had become extremely dry in my mouth, and I felt a knot begin to form in my throat. Not again! I’ve always suffered from a mild to moderate case of anxiety, and two things that make me extremely uncomfortable are: being caught off guard and not knowing the answer to a question…mostly because the two combined oftentimes make you look and sound like an IDIOT.

“Um…” was about all that rolled off of my tongue. I didn’t know what my passion was. While I know that I like to do many things, there was nothing I could say with certainty as to the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Truth be told, I get out of bed because, well, that’s what we’re supposed to do. And passion? Pssh, the most I’ve been passionate about while being a “responsible” adult is collecting a paycheck. Beyond that, I will be 100% honest and say that I had no clue what I was passionate about. Fumbling around for a “passion”, I told Shari that I’m passionate about the volunteer work  I do. And I am. She quickly replied that while that was all fine and dandy, that is social work, not marketing. I wanted to cry. I didn’t know the answer, and I could quickly feel myself…and my appetite….spiraling out of control. In all of two weeks, I had taken a hit to my self esteem so fierce that it had me questioning whether I’m a good marketer, had I chosen the right career, did I made a mistake leaving previous jobs; and, on top of everything else, do I even have a PASSION?

I let Shari do most of the talking after my futile attempts at figuring out my passion in all of an hour. As she talked, I concentrated on swallowing my food and not bursting into an emotional flood of tears. While life was buzzing all around me, I felt like I was a very dark place in my life…and all before my 35th birthday. Way to kick a chick when she’s down. The score was Universe – 1, Mikki – 0. Fortunately, Shari gave me a lot of good advice that afternoon and told me to reach out to her with any questions. However, the only thing that rang loud and clear in my head was my inner voice asking one little itty bitty tiny weenie question, “What is your passion?” Hell if I know, but something tells me I need to figure it out!

Share Your Thoughts and Stay Tuned for Finding Passion – Part 2

Laid Off and Laid Out

Mikki and Kitty

If you think unemployment is the cat’s pajamas…you’re wrong.

Well, aren’t we quite the pair? While I’m sitting at home laid off, Miss Kitty’s sitting here laid out! I’ve been busy preparing for the holidays and spending a lot of time with my family, but I have been working! In the next week, I’ll be releasing some new blog posts on my journey through unemployment. You’ll also be happy to know that I got around to putting my home office together (although now I have piles of paper to tackle!) and getting some new business networking cards printed. On the other hand, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve caught myself sleeping until 11am a couple of days last week. And, I thought last Wednesday was actually Thursday…all day. Do you know how ridiculous you sound when you’re trying to prove Thursday is the 12th using a calendar with cats on it? That’s all fine and dandy, but all I proved was that Wednesday was still the 11th. I need a job…bad. In regard to the home front, Flo is doing as well. We had a small hiccup in her chemotherapy yesterday that allowed us to spend literally most of the afternoon doing blood tests and waiting. So job or no job, my work is never done!  I’m looking forward to Christmas, it’s also Flo’s birthday believe it or not. So, the best gift I can ask anyone to share is to appreciate the time you have to spend with your family. Have a great day and stay tuned for some new posts! I’ve been trying to figure out what my “passion” is… (Hint, hint!)

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]