Funemployment, Week 1

I was let go a week ago. I am recovering. I am no longer wallowing. And I am keeping busy…

DAY ONE: Embrace all the outrage, anger, sadness, and humiliation in the world. Cry in husband’s arms, call/text all girlfriends for support and vent until I can’t vent anymore… then vent more. And cry more. Wanted- in every last fiber of my being- to open several bottles of wine and anesthetize from all these horrible feelings but, I didn’t. Instead, I called more friends and ate chocolate.

DAY TWO: Couldn’t sleep all night, woke up still feeling horrible. Wrote blog post about getting fired to try to feel better about getting fired. Kinda felt better. Kinda didn’t. Started applying for jobs. Successfully stayed away from the Wine Witch but did not escape the Chocolate Chum.

DAY THREE: That horrible, gut sinking feeling remains. Damnit. But holdonwaitasecondhere my job applications are getting responses! Two interviews scheduled already! Also got to the gym and listened to all the angry break-up songs while I attacked on the elliptical and did weights for an hour and that felt great. Rage seems to be abating but pretty sure I need a little more chocolate just to be sure.

Finding truth on the trails.

DAY FOUR: Still not okay. Went on a long, quiet, contemplative hike. Kept reliving the warning signs I should have recognized at my former place of employment, ruminating on the lessons learned therein, and finally realizing there is nothing to be ashamed of here: this is not a reflection of my work ethic or of me personally, people get let go everyday, this time it was my turn and I can accept that. After my hike, I Google articles on celebrities getting fired and what they gained therein, how they used that situation to propel them forward rather than hold them back and- holy wow look at that!- inked my third interview!

DAY FIVE: First interview went well but I am too expensive for them and that’s 100% okay as I know my worth and am willing to wait for the right job to come along eventually. I welcomed the practice of addressing, “Why did your last job end?” and being completely honest about it. Again, no shame here, “They let me go and I am glad they did as my skills are better suited for the role I am currently interviewing for.” Virtual high five- I got this!!!

Yoga mat in my hand, smile on my face, optimism in my heart!

DAY SIX: Finally feeling much better, I greeted the beautiful day with an Outdoor Yoga class- very awesome and very much needed. Met up with a former drinking buddy/friend for lunch I hadn’t seen since quitting alcohol and that was interesting. Luckily, I am content with my choice so any shade that comes my way about drinking I can easily deflect but I am still kinda wounded from the whole former job trauma so I felt very much on the defense. My salad was delicious though. Healing myself from the inside out, indeed.

DAY SEVEN: Second interview and I was offered the job on the spot. Get ready, week two…

Today’s Reason: Fired

Yesterday, I was fired. I was working in the hospitality division at one of the most esteemed colleges in the country and after just a year, I was let go. “We decided to go a different direction and today is your last day.” I keep replaying that moment over in my head with disbelief that there was no warning prior, no concrete reasons as to why just, “Today is your last day.”

Anger took over. As soon those fateful words were spoken, I said nothing in response, turned away from my (former) boss and started calmly shutting my computer down. He also said nothing further- no thanking me for the long hours and 6-day work weeks I had put in, the myriad of successful processes I had created, the team of nearly 80 people I had built from zero, no tidings of good luck in my future, no offer of a reference even- instead, he left the room. I placed my badge and keys on the desk, said, “Wow, really? Really???” to the HR rep, picked up my purse and walked out.

I didn’t even clean out my desk, just left all of my personal effects behind and exited the building for the final time as fast as I could. Now, here I wallow sit in the feelings that remain: anger, sadness, disbelief, rejection, worry, shame, humiliation just to name a fun few. But, on the other side of this new hurdle I can see a glimmer of relief that it’s over and excitement for what’s to come.

I am also taking stock in a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in this first 24 hours of being let go and I admit I didn’t listen to my instinct- I really hated that job from the start. Even after a year, when I would explain to people what I do, they would say, “Sounds horrible! So sorry to hear that!” Over my time there, I leaned into the things I was grateful for- I liked my schedule, short commute, total autonomy, very simple work- to just get by everyday. I put up with a great deal of stress given constant understaffing, absence of communication, insubordinate employees, malicious gossip/rumors, supply chain, and faulty equipment issues yet somehow still showed up everyday with a smile on my face, and now here I am- unemployed and dejected. (At Will Employment at its finest- am I right?!)

But, like I said, I hated that job. Because of that, I started the Yoga Teacher Training program in order to bring something to my life that brought me joy as my (former) job was only providing the exact opposite- my work took oh so much more than it ever gave back. The constant drama and stress resulted in my resting heart rate raising, frequent bouts of insomnia, and such a drain on my mind, body, and soul that I was left with no energy for my family or friends or exercise 5 days every single week for over a year. I was beyond exhausted and realizing that something needed to change but I was truly struggling to make that change successfully.

I thought if I just start putting myself first while keeping work boundaries in place, but I just couldn’t do it- I couldn’t stop giving to work and start giving to myself, it’s something I have always struggled with and obviously took a toll on my professional life. I now see- and actually feel thankful- that this significant problem has just been solved. (In a super shitty and abrupt, out of the blue, completely blindsiding me kinda way, yeah, but hey- getting fired sucks no matter the circumstances!)

And now what do I do? Well, a lot more yoga that’s for sure! I am sure I will start running again as well as blog more, make more memories with my husband and kids, and reach out to all the friends and family that I was too stressed out from that stupid job to spend quality time with this past year. I also know even more clearly what I need from a job and what satisfies my soul- that place never gave me what I needed and I am not sure why I was hopeful they eventually would. Work is a means to an end. Work is not where I need to find my identity- that happens outside of work, on my own terms.

Getting fired is giving me that exact push I needed to go full throttle towards the pursuits that I love and that lead me to a fulfilling life that is balanced and peaceful. This push was little more aggressive than I expected but that’s where true resilience and strength is built- in the getting back up. I’ve been pushed down before, and every time I have gotten back up.

This time included.

Alcohol Free Me

Drink (one of many) in hand, making it all look oh so fun!

I started drinking my freshman year of college, fall of 1992. That word “drinking” means a lot of things to different people but my version was the sober-all-week-party-all-weekend-Sundays-are-for-hangovers kind of binge drinker. No social event went without an alcoholic beverage in hand. As soon as that warm, intoxicated, pain-free blanket of escape was wrapped around me, I only wanted more. One of my most epic drinking days started at 10am with vodka smoothies, followed by mimosas, margaritas, lots of beer and tequila shots, and then of course red wine once the beer ran out. By 3am I attempted puking/sleeping only to get up at 5am to run a half marathon. (Said half marathon had me vomiting at mile 1, 6, and 9, then walking/ crawling/ cursing the final 5K only to grab a glass of champagne once I crossed the finish line. Yeeeeaaaaah.)

Drinking in college, makes sense. Post-college, I continued my weekend partying ways. Stopped drinking when I got pregnant, had both of my children back-to-back and once I stopped breastfeeding my second, I went back to drinking but this time it was different… the Mommy Wine Culture was very real and I jumped right in (as evidenced by my shirt in the above photo). Met a great group of like-minded moms who also loved to party and we took turns hosting “play dates” which amounted to us drinking and chatting while the kids occupied themselves. We insisted on our Moms’ Night Out every month, wherein we would go out to a fancy dinner, indulge in the best-of-the-best, and go dancing all because we sacrifice and work so hard as stay-at-home-moms, we felt we deserved these nights to ourselves even if we blacked out and couldn’t recall any of our “good times” the next day.

208 days since my last drink and counting!

So what changed and why did I decide to stop drinking? I am not sure what the exact moment was but something in me just said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” The older I get, the higher my tolerance builds and the longer it takes to recover- I can drink more and drink longer than nearly everyone I know and finally viewed that as more disturbing than a badge of honor. Watching an episode of SATC, I picked up the same book Miranda did- as did millions of other female SATC fans- and it changed my life. (Ironically, this being the same show that got me hooked on cosmos now also responsible for me giving up all those ridiculous pink drinks!)

Holly Whitaker’s Quit Like a Woman is more than just a book about quitting drinking, it’s part addiction history, part memoir, part feminist rally cry. Her voice is honest and real and turned me into more of an informed consumer than I have ever been, helping me realize that I was playing right into Big Alcohol’s scheme: not only was I a full-fledged participant, but I was even their free marketer and PR rep, blogging and posting all about my Instagram perfect cocktails, swoon worthy trips to wine country, and the alcohol-laden fun social events had by all- it looks so nice on the Internet’s surface but Holly’s words got me seriously thinking about what lies beneath; how I am choosing to, or not to, spend my time and live my life.

I started asking myself, “Why? Why did I even start drinking? What does drinking represent to me? Why do I continue? What am I feeling when I open that first bottle of wine? Why can’t I just moderate?” I didn’t like a lot of the answers to those questions but finally seeing things as they are and realizing the power that alcohol had over me, my choices, and relationships only strengthened my resolve to quit.

Cheers to positive change and tasty mocktails!

Alcohol represented maturity, belonging, and status. I drank when I was happy, sad, angry, stressed. I drank to make friends. I drank to avoid. I drank to feel free. I drank to escape.

But life is beautiful and short and I do not wish to escape it any longer. My reasons behind quitting drinking are sundry but primarily, I want to live this life to the fullest and not lose any more memories to black outs nor time to nursing hangovers. I want to keep the commitments I make to myself, my friends, and my family. I aim to take back control over my life in order to be on this earth as long and as healthily as possible.

These 208 days haven’t been all easy. At first, I couldn’t even be around alcohol I felt so triggered but now I am in a spot where I am completely committed to this decision that it doesn’t bother me even one bit if you are drinking and I am not- that’s your choice, this is mine, and it is alllllll good. That first concert, that first wedding, that first holiday were nerve wracking but I got through and had more fun 100% sober than I’ve ever had drunk. I’ve lost friends along the way, but I’ve strengthened the bonds with those that remain. My kids hated seeing me drunk, now they see me setting an example for positive change instead.

Of course, I still have lot more work to do and a lot more demons to face but I am ready for it all and constantly grateful for the opportunity to be on this earth and share my story. If you are on a similar journey, I would love to hear yours…

New Goals, New Blog

Helloooo new blog!

Hi, I am Laura and hail from the Bay Area here in Northern California. In 2011 I started a blog called Running4theReason to document my fundraising and marathon training efforts for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program and found a good amount of traction and success therein but my life priorities changed, running took a backseat, that blog got a virus, and I found myself in a very different mind frame thanks to all that the pandemic taught (much more on that later…).

I’ve made a lot of adjustments in my life since then and even recently- my biggest accomplishment therein being quitting drinking. As of today, I have not had alcohol in over 200 days. Wow. If you were able to read my old blog (damn virus!!!), you would think I was the poster child for drinking. Most of my races ended with wine and/or beer, I planned life events and all celebrations around drinking, I was even fairly boastful of the next day’s hangover- the more horrible I felt, the better time I had, right?

Nope. Not right at all.

Pretty, painless and all alcohol free!

Giving up alcohol is an interesting ride- really forces you to face your inner demons and teaches you to become your own best friend. I realized quickly how much I was using alcohol as a crutch for nearly everything: if I felt stressed, sad, celebratory, bored, and/or lonely I would reach for a bottle. Removing that option has improved my physical being, but my emotional state can often teeter, forcing me to look to my spiritual side in order to navigate without the anesthetic I was so used to relying on. Plainly put, I’m feeling all the feelings now and some of them are beautiful and some, downright ugly (much much more on that later as well…).

Seeking to gain more inner peace, while missing running as an athletic endeavor and desiring to connect with people on a similar path of enlightenment, I started a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification program here in Berkeley and will “graduate” in February 2023. There is an abundance to learn and I am loving all that I am taking in; but, I am feeling a tad overwhelmed balancing work and life with my studies right now- I am behind on homework and have yet to actually try to teach anyone yoga (other than my fellow classmates) but I am working on a plan for all that (you guessed it, there will much much much more on that later too!).

Oooommmmmm…

And with that I say YAY ME for returning to the blogosphere and YAY YOU for joining me on this journey! Where this path will lead, we have yet to know but the bricks we lay to get there is what life is all about… so much more to come…