Sometimes a girl just needs to get laid off.

After two years and as many attempts, I finally finished Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”.  Don’t get me wrong; I found the book to be an easy, engaging read from the start. I immediately identified with the author. I just made the mistake of lending it to my mom, who took it back to Illinois and then gave it to my sister in Wisconsin. I found it at my sister’s house in May, as I was trying to prevent my newly-cruising toddler from pulling every object off the bookshelf like a miniature Godzilla.


The timing for rediscovering the book couldn’t have been better. For starters, during that trip I turned 35, which prompted some personal inventory-taking. And another significant event had occurred a couple weeks prior: I was laid off from my job of six years. Now, this may be confusing to some of you who continue to see me at work every day. And though some days it feels like it, I assure you that I am not pulling a Cosmo Kramer. (Guys, this clip never gets old. Ever.) I was asked to stay on the job for two more months to, like Kramer, TCB. My last day is July 15.

Layoff FAQs

Are you ok?


What are you going to do now?

I’m going to stay home with my boys for a while, probably through the end of summer. Depending on how that goes (financially, emotionally, mental health-ily), I may look for another job, or decide to stay home for a while.

What kind of job would you look for?

Honestly, I’m not sure. But this is key.

Interviews, here I come!

Oh, aren’t you so glad that you get to stay home?


I am really happy to have more time with my kids. To be there for them and get to witness the little moments that I often miss during the day. I’m glad to not have to miss dinner or bedtime because a flight was delayed. I am really fortunate to have the opportunity, because not everyone does.

But I’m scared.

I’m scared that I’ll be the tired, preoccupied grouch to my kids that I often am on weekends. (Just last week I threw down my cards in the middle of a game of War and declared “You’re going to have to go find Daddy. Mommy needs a nap.”)

I’m scared that I could be one tempter tantrum or up-the-back exploding diaper or dog-who-refuses-to-come-in-during-a-thunderstorm away from a nervous breakdown.

I’m scared of having to reevaluate our budget, and make some changes.

I’m scared of the guilt I’ll feel if I miss working.

I’m scared of trying to get back into the workforce after being away from it for a while. (I imagine myself interviewing in a boxy power suit, carrying a briefcase, like when I tried to get back into exercising in college after a five-year hiatus and ended up in a step aerobics class wearing bike shorts.)

And I’m scared to not have the support of the childcare providers that I’ve relied on so much over the last several years. Without Megan, Noah may have made it to preschool without wearing shoes. Calissa captured some of my all-time favorite baby pictures. I owe Roxana and Jennifer for having Noah potty-trained by 2 1/2. And I don’t even know how to begin the list of things to thank Kelly for. But her last day is next week, so I’d better start writing it.

So I have mixed feelings about the layoff.  Along with the worry about staying home, I’m sad about leaving a job and people I love. But on the other hand, I’m relieved that I’ve been pushed to a place where I have to make a decision about what to do next. (“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”) In some ways, I’ve been on autopilot for the last five years. Afraid to change course, even if I wasn’t always sure that I was on the right one. Being laid off is forcing me to pause and reflect on who I am, who I want to be what I want to do. Here’s where The Happiness Project comes in.

To best handle this change, I decided to create some structure for myself. Some guideposts that – in the midst of a chaotic or lonely or frustrating day – can help me regain a sense of self. In the book, Rubin – who likes lists as much as I do – makes different resolutions each month for a year, and formulates all kinds of “secrets,” “commandments” and “tips.” They’re great. What I’m doing here is much simpler.  Basically, I’ve identified ten things that tend to make me happier. The point of the list is to remind myself to do them more, though I’m not explicitly “resolving” anything.

So, without further ado, my list (in no particular order).

1) Write, write, write

2) Get sweaty

3) Go to bed earlier

4) Cook most days

5) Books > TV

6) Have a plan

7) Make an effort

8) Do it now

9) Try something new

10) Stop at two

Some of these are self-explanatory, some clearly could be open to interpretation. I’m going to explain each one in future posts (as #1 hints, I am going to be increasing the frequency of posts to more often than every two years).

Please bear with me; the list is a work in progress, and may even change slightly as I go.  But if I waited for it to be exactly right, I would never be done. As Rubin says, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” 

Here’s to the good.