Today, I join the ranks of millions of other Americans as I am now furloughed from my law firm. I’m not sure which has the larger suckage factor – the loss of my job or my yard being blanketed by a sheet of ice and snow at the end of April.
I’m going with the job loss because the ice and snow will probably melt before the furlough ends. Although, this is western New York so I wouldn’t bet the farm on that one if I had a farm, which I don’t, which is a constant source of disbelief for those who think residents of upstate/western New York ride cows to work.
Except for an 11-year stint as a stay-at-home mom in the early 2000s, my job as a paralegal has been my only job since 1992. Almost two decades out of the last three.
I’ve known for weeks that it must be coming and I’ve been a stressed out ball of sweaty mess for the past month anticipating the formal announcement which came two days ago.
I kept saying that not knowing the “if” or “when” was the hardest part, right up until the second I was formally told the “when” at which point THAT became the hardest part and I’d be lying if I said I did not break down and experience all five stages of grief in the two minutes immediately following that phone call.
I allowed myself a few panicky hours of wallowing in self-pity and fear, texted my friends who ALWAYS lift me up and then I told myself to knock it off and I reminded myself that I have survived two divorces, two children, an ill-advised perm, eight years of post-divorce dating, cellulite, and the seventies so I can damn well handle a furlough and I can do it with grace, dignity and a jar of Nutella with a soup spoon.
I may not be able to control these circumstances but I can control my reaction to them and I’ve decided to view this time as an opportunity rather than a loss.
Now, I can remove all the work paraphernalia from my makeshift desk and see my gorgeous, hand-made dining room table again.
Now, I can order art supplies and remember what it feels like to create something quirky or beautiful out of nothing.
Now, I can spend more time smooching my EllaBellaBean when she, together with her parents, become my new roomies this weekend.
Now, I can find time to write.
Now, I can take a breath.
And, at least for a little while, enjoy my days without worry that they’re not filled with the requisite number of billable hours.
Life is about the journey, not the destination, right? Clichés are clichés for a reason.
I am choosing to look forward to the future. I have no idea where I will end up but whatever path I forge, I am determined to travel it gratefully with faith, optimism, and hope.