Laid off & crazy happy

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stacytaylor,United States,Professional
Published Date:31-07-2017
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Prelude Y ou’ve worked your whole life in a career you enjoy and do very well, when suddenly you’re laid off for the third time in six years. Now you find yourself struggling to get people to respond to your applications, and you rarely get to an interview. When you do, your best efforts fall short and you find yourself at home a lot more than you ever expected or wanted to be. I hope that doesn’t describe you. But the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (June 2013) said, “Among married- couple families with an unemployed member, the proportion of families with at least one unemployed family member was 80.2 percent in 2012.” And even worse, it also said, “Among the 34.6 million families with children, 75.5 percent had at least one unemployed parent in 2012.” Has anything like this happened to you or someone you know? Clearly, the chances are pretty good the answer is yes. It has happened and is happening to more people than you can imagine—millions— and it has happened to me. And like me, I’ll bet you’re wondering if laidoff_crazy_final.indd 21 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaid off & crazy happy you’re ever going to get back into the workforce, doing what you’re good at and getting paid what you’re worth. I know this place you’re in. I’ve lived it several times over the last 10 years, and I really do understand exactly what you’re feeling. I’m writing this for people like you, not just those who may be out of work and facing some real fears about it, but also for those who are working and miserable about it, either because they’re in a job they no longer have any passion for or they are working much harder for less pay than they would like. Striking a balance between work and rest of your life is more difc fi ult than ever, and a whole industry has grown up around helping people be happier and healthier with both. There are classes, therapies, programs, “Life Coaches” and dozens of other services that didn’t exist a decade ago. And along with telling you my story, I want to offer you some guidance in sorting through some of those challenges to get you to a place where you’re not afraid or angry all time, and where you can be happier whatever you’re dong. Or not doing. In this book you will learn the most important thing you can do for yourself and anyone around you: how to enjoy your life more and, as a result, be more successful in any endeavor. Part of this is to help you become “Corporate-Free”, and shake off the fear that 22 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 22 10/11/13 4:25 PMprelude leaving a particular job is as terrible as it might seem. Every job will eventually come to an end, for a variety of reasons, and you can manage that reality badly or you can manage it with all the passion and enthusiasm you had when you first got that job. Helping people understand the mechanics of change and managing that process better is something I’ve been doing for most of my life. But there’s another part to enjoying your life more, and it’s the challenge of being happy no matter what the circumstances. This is one of the trickiest and most enduring challenges we face, and everyone deals with it. The funny thing is, it’s not that hard to do But it does take practice and a willingness to experiment. This book will show you how. So how am I “Laid Off and Crazy Happy”? And what the heck is a “Houseband”? Well, first of all, Houseband is not a term that I made up. I don’t remember where I heard it, but it was a reference to a married male who has found himself predominantly at home, either by choice or by circumstance, and who is doing most, if not all, of the domestic duties associated with that role. He is a housekeeper and a husband, and that can apply to any kind of marriage or relationship. (I’m going to write that in Wikipedia.) And as far as “Laid Off and Crazy Happy”, let me be clear that I’m not trying to paint a picture of how being out of work is a bowl of 32 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 23 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaid off & crazy happy cherries. Or even prunes. It isn’t, and there are definitely times of no fun at all. But, if anything, this book is about having more fun than not, even in the harder times. As I began writing about a year ago, it was my second anniversary of being laid off the last time— exactly two years. I had exhausted my savings, chewed up my 401K, and cashed in all but one of my insurance policies to maintain my family’s quality of life (and keep our house), as well as to be able to continue to apply and interview for high-level corporate jobs. My unemployment insurance had run out, and I had no further options. As you can imagine, this caused some serious stress. While my wife’s income had increased, so had her workload. I was honestly not at all sure what the future held for us. (Not that anyone ever is.) But the upside is that by applying the ideas and behaviors I describe in this book I’ve been able to get some consulting work and, amazingly enough, I’ve gotten more professional speaking jobs in the last two years than in the last 10 combined. Probably because of shameless self-promotion like this: Check out my website at But it’s also because I have a whole new attitude about my work, and I’ve come to realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. 42 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 24 10/11/13 4:25 PMprelude I’ve been a professional speaker ever since I started my corporate career, although it has always been a sideline, a way to continue doing some form of performing, my first love. Now, being at home and having the time to write this book and develop my business, I’m doing better than I ever imagined. I have a renewed sense of hope, faith and determination to make this everything I want it to be. But even more important, I get to spend much more time in my home, playing with and caring for my youngest daughter and my wife. And it’s the best decision I’ve made yet. At this moment I’m at the very beginning of what I’d like to achieve, so I promise you this is not one of those “You Can Make Millions from Home” things. But I’m doing pretty well, and by growing my business while loving what I’m doing I know I’ll soon be right where I want to be. That’s why this is important to you. I know what I’m talking about, not just because I’ve lived it but because I’m the proof in the pudding, if my life could be considered to be some kind of a creamy dessert. My background, in a nutshell (another part of the dessert), is that I graduated college with a degree in Theater and English. For the next eighteen years I waited tables, performed, and taught at several colleges and universities. As my family grew, I found I needed a more stable income. So, when an opportunity came up to teach Presentation Skills at a large computer company, I went for it. Over the next twenty years I rose from Corporate Trainer to Organizational Development Manager to Director of Talent 52 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 25 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaid off & crazy happy Development. In the last nine years I have been laid off three times, each instance with increasingly longer intervals of time between jobs. As of this writing I have not had a job in the business world for three years, and apparently I am moving on to my next career phase: writing and speaking about my experience. When you finish reading you can tell me if you think there’s a future in it: I totally understand your probable apprehension and skepticism. This was not always a fun process. As described above, there were times of stress and abject fear. I really do know what that knot in your stomach feels like, and the constant worry that you may not be able to provide for your family. But there are two things you can do. One is to understand that regardless of what’s happening around you there are still options for your attitude and the way you do things, and these choices can make the difference from barely surviving to being just as happy as that person with no problems at all, if that person exists. (He doesn’t.) The other thing you can do is to use that joy to move forward into the life you really want, and be more of the person you really are. It may take some time, and you might not want to make some of the changes in your life you may need to make. But as corny as the saying is, it really is the journey that counts. So why not make it as enjoyable as possible? 62 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 26 10/11/13 4:25 PMprelude I’d like to help you get there. I know that I can make a difference in the way you do what you do, whatever it is. All my years of teaching were focused on just that – the things that make us better communicators, better at relationships, better teammates, better husbands and wives, better parents, better people. We didn’t get any help with this stuff in school, and I rant about that later on in the book. But I’m dedicating the rest of my working life to helping those that are struggling with things that they shouldn’t have to be struggling with, and hurting about things that they shouldn’t have to be hurting about. I’m in the process of redefining my whole life, and if you’re thinking about anything along those lines, I know that I can help you do that, too. At the end of this book you’ll find my contact information. Call me, email me, contact me. I have lots of resources, and a lot of experience doing this stuff. And if you’re ready, I’ll do everything I can to help you get to where you want to be, and have fun doing it. 72 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 27 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaidoff_crazy_final.indd 28 10/11/13 4:25 PMBefore you begin… I told my ten-year-old daughter that I was going to write a book about all the weird stuff I do around the house that drives everyone in my family crazy. She shook her head, rolled her eyes and said, “That’s going to be a looonnnggg book.” So now I feel personally challenged to be somewhat brief. And the description of those activities is not so much about being weird, as it is defining the way I am trying to live my life as an art form. If there’s a difference. I guess part of the reason for doing this is also to prevent me from becoming that crabby old guy who yells at kids to get off his lawn. (The whippersnappers.) Now, if you’re anything like my wife, your tendency would be to just skim through this and jump to Chapter 1. I strongly encourage you not to be like my wife here, but to be more like me: slow. Well, not “slow”, just diligent. Because what I say here will give you some context for all that comes after. Think of this as a road map and imagine you’re completely lost. This will help you. laidoff_crazy_final.indd 29 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaid off & crazy happy Whether my background, as described in the “Prelude”, qualie fi s me to write on the subject of housekeeping or not, I’m not sure. But as far as I know, there’s no BA for Domestic Engineering. I checked. At some point while reading this book you may think, “This guy has too much time on his hands” And you would be right, which is why I wrote this book. It’s all about what some people would call “too much time”, but I see as something else, like just the right amount of time to have fun, do the best job I can, take care of what I can take care of, and love my life. Or, you might say, “Okay, he thinks way too much about nothing” But this time you would be mistaken. I may think too much, but not about nothing. I have come to believe that this job – housekeeping – is second only to parenting or teaching (which I believe are the two most important jobs a human being can have on this planet). Taking care of the house has the potential to be incredibly fulfilling. And I think it’s those who approach and perform the job as a mere “bagatelle” (great word), or as something less valuable or important than other types of work, that do the crappiest job of it. The house, the household, and the soul of the housekeeper suffer for it. 03 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 30 10/11/13 4:25 PMbefore oyu begin... This is no different than working a paying job that one has no belief in, no personal investment in, and no commitment to. While I understand that an increasing number of employers don’t do much these days to help create environments that promote engaged and committed employees (hence my Housebandry), doing just that was a huge part of my work over the last twenty years in Corporate America. The role I always had was part of Training and Development, and was always directed toward helping people grow personally and professionally. It was a natural extension of the college teaching I did for two decades prior to that. And I ALWAYS ended up in discussions with people about why they were unhappy – because most of them were. And our discussions ALWAYS turned to how work was taking the life out of their lives. My role was as much therapist as it was “Training Guy”. Maybe more so. And although I was practicing without a license, I think I did some good, if for no other reason than I listened and I cared. But in the end, it was always up to these people themselves to try to see things differently, do things differently, and live life differently. I’m certainly doing that these days, and I’m incredibly happier. Here’s what I’m not trying to do with this book: I’m not making any claims of doing things better than others, and certainly not 13 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 31 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaid off & crazy happy of any kind of perfection, just that I do things differently. I am, however, proud of what I’ve developed both in my home life and here in this book. And, as some people have told me, I am “ridiculously” happy, “unreasonably” happy, “unnecessarily” happy, and even “inappropriately” happy, or at least more happy than I should be. With which I disagree. In the spirit of a true memoir, I wrote the chapters as I n fi ished one of the activities listed on the Contents page. As I worked, I would often be thinking about what I was doing and how I was doing it, and when I was done I would write about it. As such, it didn’t necessarily have a “o fl w” to it, and the majority of the work of putting it together as an actual book was just that: trying to give it an overall narrative so it doesn’t come off as, “Hey, guess what I just thought of??” Although it does some of that, too. So it’s not exactly a diary or certainly not a dissertation, but a bit of everything. My oldest son, Zon, says it’s like a podcast of one. Some chapters get preachy, and some den fi itely seem to indicate that I may need psychological help. But they’re all very genuine attempts to capture my approach to both the household tasks themselves and what they have come to represent to me. If anything, I may be attempting to raise the bar for housekeeping. But I’m not making any proclamations. I only ask that you consider 23 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 32 10/11/13 4:25 PMbefore oyu begin... what I’m describing as a different way of looking at things and doing them. You should definitely find your own way, however. That’s the tricky part of any kind of a “Self Help” styled book, if that’s what this is. (I’m told that’s my category.) Even if an author actually has some brilliant and inspiring ideas, (which is entirely possible here), the reader’s inspiration has to become motivation to find their own way to… whatever they’re trying to get to. Always. To that end, I have supplied exercises at the end of every chapter. I hope you’ll try them, because by actually doing something to change the way you think and do the things you do around the house (or anywhere), you will make that change. And if you want to be happier, to enjoy your life more, and, as a result, be a pleasure to work with or to just be with, try some of the things I suggest. Everyone likes someone who is spontaneously happy, playful and has taken control of their lives to create the best situation they can. This kind of person is naturally attractive, to family, friends, strangers and employers. And their happiness is contagious. For those that are scared about a transition, miserable at being unemployed and not finding work, or just can’t seem to get past a general crankiness, these exercises can help change that. And I’d love to hear about how they work for you. They are a big part of my life, and I have made a success of implementing the lessons they can teach. You can create 33 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 33 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaid off & crazy happy the life you want, if you make the effort to bring out the best you have to offer. This whole thing, the unfolding of my life, has been completely amazing to me, and I feel blessed and very lucky. But I know the unemployment part has been much harder for others, and in no way do I mean to diminish that. This book is as much about how to get through that kind of stuff as it is how to be happier in general and live your life as a form of art, whatever you’re doing. Probably the most difc fi ult thing of all for me was that there were times when I would be deep in that revelatory “zone” I describe in Chapter 14, and thoughts of these grimmer realities would leak through, spoiling or even preventing the reverie. When I couldn’t let go or get past it even for a minute, it was especially hard. And it still is. But that is exactly the work that needs to be done. Not to ignore those thoughts or pretend that those responsibilities aren’t real or serious, but to truly understand that dwelling on them to the point of depression serves nothing—no good, no purpose, no salvation. My favorite quote of all time is “Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” (Dan Zadra) I invite you to really think about that sentence before you read on, because it’s at the heart of everything I do. Once again, it’s not to say that you shouldn’t be concerned, pay attention, or take 43 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 34 10/11/13 4:25 PMbefore oyu begin... care of what needs taking care of. It’s about worry, which is only destructive, and not helpful or virtuous in any way. We can use our creativity in better ways than that. This is a very hard thing to overcome, especially if you had any religious upbringing, the strong inu fl ence of any ethnicity or just strong personalities in your life. I know, that’s just about everyone. (Did I mention that I was raised Jewish?) For example, my sister does this thing where she drags into the present moment any and all of the potential disaster or pain of some imagined, unpleasant future event, such as going back to work on Monday. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon she’ll suddenly get all exasperated and with a deep sigh say, “Oh, God…. I have to go to work tomorrow…” The power of that imagined future, which I must point out hasn’t happened yet and has no guarantee of misery, destroys her ability to enjoy the beautiful afternoon she’s right in the middle of. I’m sure there’s a specic fi mental disorder to describe this, but nevertheless, it’s insidious. This is a definite misuse of her imagination, and people do this kind of thing all the time. Oh, and by the way, she is self-employed. A big piece of this is about how we use our imagination, for better 53 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 35 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaid off & crazy happy or for worse, in the application of even the simplest, most mundane tasks. We always have a choice, and some choices are a lot healthier, more fulfilling, and a helluva lot more fun. So for all of you who are recently out of work, and for those who have been so for much longer than you should have been, I hope you’ll be inspired to make the happier choice. Or at least be willing to try it. If you let it, it can re-connect you with what it was you were working for in the first place. Please read this book slowly. I write the way I talk, and although I often talk fast I hope you will savor it a little. This is a fairly short book and it would take most readers only a few hours to zip through it. But then the book wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as it could be if you just slow down a little and take your time with it. I worked hard to condense a lot of my thoughts and feelings so as not to ramble on too much, and to keep this an easy read. As a result it’s packed with a lot of stuff, calling for some thoughtful consideration, encouraging rumination, and humbly appealing for a good mulling. My dream is that this little book will simmer in the back of your mind, and you will think of some of the passages from time to time, and even pull it off the shelf and refer to it to refresh your memory of the wording of 63 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 36 10/11/13 4:25 PMbefore oyu begin... a particular concept, or the turning of a phrase. That would actually mean a great deal to me. Throughout my entire life it has been my hope that others would share my delight and joy in the simplest, most every-day things. Even housework can be something other than what most people imagine it to be. There is a magic in it, as I believe there is in all things. And surprisingly, housework—yes, housework—has led me to one of the deepest joys I’ve ever known. 73 laidoff_crazy_final.indd 37 10/11/13 4:25 PMlaidoff_crazy_final.indd 38 10/11/13 4:25 PMr 1 etpahc Home I have completely rediscovered my home. The end result of being home so much is that I have fallen in love with the house—managing it, caring for it, and being in it. And since I am stuck here so much I’ve decided to make an art form out of being here. Everything that I do, whether it is cleaning or working or being with my family, I am going to do with as much grace, skill, attentiveness, spirit and playfulness as I can muster. Really. It is more than just deciding to make the best of things. And you could argue that I don’t have much choice. But I do. I have two choices: be constantly stressed out with the unending search, self- promotion, and all-too frequent rejection that goes with job hunting (and the associated worry that goes with it), or make it a process that is in some way gratifying, fulfilling, and evolving in and of itself. I chose door 2. Learning about and appreciating my house was a side benefit. It has happened slowly, and it started with painting. laidoff_crazy_final.indd 39 10/11/13 4:25 PM

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