lesson #179: stop looking back


Cannes. Hollywood. Honolulu. Paris. Sydney. Prague. Toronto. London. This is where I worked. In these places, I did what I loved. As a reporter for MSN, I traveled globally and interviewed actors and musicians about their latest projects.  It was exciting and challenging and I was in love with my job. It never occurred to me that one day it would just stop. That's what happened. One day, on May 5, 2009 I was part of the big Microsoft Cinco de Mayo layoff. A job that had been my life for 14 years was just gone.

I was lost. I remember sitting in my car in the parking garage immediately after I got the news. My cel was ringing madly. Word got around fast and several other friends were also part of the layoff but I couldn't speak to anyone. I was shocked and sad. I was displaced.  In the dark garage I squinted out at the bright, beautiful day. I didn't know where to go. It felt weird to be skipping work but I had two weeks to come and go as I pleased. I couldn't have felt more alone. Or humiliated.

For weeks and even months after this fateful morning, I would think back to what I had. On Facebook I read about the adventures that my fellow reporter friends were still going on and I thought "This isn't fair." I spent a lot of time looking back at what I had lost.

"It isn't fair. It isn't fair. It isn't fair." It was my mantra.

The one thing I didn't do was look ahead. I was so wrapped up in what I had lost that I didn't  treasure what I had or what could be. One day, I was holding our dog and feeling sorry for myself (as I had for months) and I realized as I looked at her that I had her and my husband and my health and our home. What else mattered than that? Truly nothing. I had what mattered the most. I also realized that I DID have the coolest job and the most amazing memories and that is something I would always have. It's like the saying "It's better to have loved and lost than never having loved at all." This is so true. I would always be able to go back to my memory bank and remember the way the sea smelled as I sipped an espresso on my walk home from a party at 4am at the Cannes Film Festival. There would always be memories and that was enough. It was time to look forward and see what I had missed when I was busy feeling sorry for myself.

I joined the human race again. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and what I didn't have and started to feel grateful for what I had and what could be. I looked at what happened as a gift. I started The Happygirl Experiment. I spent more weekends at home. For years I had spent almost every weekend away from home working somewhere in the world. I went to brunch with L. I visited Home Depot at 7am on a Saturday and did house projects that I never had time for. I let go of the angst that came with working in a high stress job. I let go of checking my phone in the middle of the night for urgent mail. I let go of what I thought I had lost and I found what I didn't even know I was missing. The future lay ahead of me. Wide open. Anything was possible. I was ready. And happy.