One year ago next week I was given my walking papers from Hackensack, where I had worked for over 17 years. It’s been a fabulous ride with only one complaint…it’s gone WAY TOO FAST! It’s mind boggling how quickly one year has flown. As I think about the weeks and months that have blown by it occurred to me how much that I’ve learned in the past year since being laid off.
Here are the top 10 things I’ve learned so far. Number 10 is for you Rory who wanted me to write a blog that was a bit more Martha Stewart-esque.
- Love: It sounds corny but the week I was laid off, I had never felt such an outpouring of love from family, friends and colleagues. It was truly a blessing. As my friend Brian said, it’s like an Irish wake without the dead body! There were calls, emails and even a going away party. I felt and still feel truly blessed.
- Present and accounted for: I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my family and friends now. No more “sorry I can’t be there, but I’ll be out of town on business, or I have an event that night, or I’ll be in the middle of a huge project, or…” I am now present and I won’t let work rule my life again. My friend Adam, who was laid off a few years back, told me that when he got his new job he now enjoys his life more and doesn’t let work be the boss of him.
- Attentive: I leave my smart phone in my purse and enjoy the conversation I’m part of. No more looking at my phone and ‘kind of’ listening to what the person is saying across from me. I check my emails a few times during the day when I’m alone. If there were a code blue emergency, I’m sure I’d get a call. The only important thing happening is the time I’m spending with a friend.
- Meeting new people: What an eye opener this has been! I moved into my condo four years ago and hardly knew my neighbors three years into living here. During the time I’ve been home, I’ve met so many terrific people in my neighborhood. I frequent several shops down the street where people now know my name and I know theirs! It’s amazing what happens when you become part of a community instead of living like a transient.
- Volunteering: Over the years I’ve participated in one-off volunteer events. A walk-a-thon here, a holiday help the underprivileged kids day there, etc. I never had the opportunity to truly give time weekly to an organization. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s that my schedule was so crazy week to week that I couldn’t commit. Now I pack and deliver for Meals on Wheels once a week. They liked me so much they asked me to join their Board of Directors. I’ve also been volunteering with the Venice Family Clinic helping them acquire items for the silent auction at their gala fundraiser. They’ve also asked me to work with them on this event permanently!
- Exercise: The thought of sitting behind a desk and not standing up for three hours makes my legs cramp up! That’s what I used to do though…now, I practice yoga 2-3 times per week and ride my bicycle all the time. I love being outdoors!
- Lowering the bar: There were a few people (not many) who I knew I should lower the bar on so they could meet it. And they didn’t disappoint. It’s ok, I had a gut feeling on them to begin with and never heard from them again. Which brings me to…
- The unexpected charms: These are the people that have come out of the woodwork to call, email, ask me to lunch or teach me how to make sugar flowers (thanks Val)! Wonderful human beings that I wasn’t necessarily close to while I was working but have been so generous and lovely to me. How incredibly wonderful these unexpected charms have been!
- Realization of what I want and don’t want: I want to be the boss of me! I don’t want to sit in an office from 9AM-9PM ever again. I’m starting my own business and excited about what this new career will bring. Yes I may be working twelve hour days, but they will be MY twelve hour days!
- Banana Bread: I’ve been making banana bread a lot lately. It’s been warmer than usual in LA so I guess the bananas aren’t staying fresh as long. A few days ago I decided to freestyle with the recipe so I added candied bacon to the batter. My former colleague Rory wanted my blog to be more in line with my work as an event producer. So far be it from me to disappoint a loyal reader, below is my special Candied Bacon & Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe. It sounds sick, but it’s sooooo good!
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
4 ripe bananas, finely crushed
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 slices candied bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar to sheet. Layer bacon strips on top of the brown sugar. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of brown sugar ton top of bacon. Bake for 18 minutes at 400 degrees until crisp. Cool bacon on rack and crumble.
- Cream together butter and sugar.
- Add eggs and crushed bananas. Combine well.
- Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture.
- Add vanilla.
- Toss bacon and chocolate chips each in a tablespoon of flower to coat (so they don’t settle to bottom of pan).
- Mix bacon and chocolate chips into batter.
- Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. Keeps well, refrigerated. ￼
When life hands you rotting bananas, make banana bread!