Thursday, April 12, 2012

bombshells

I had this whole post written up for today about peace.


I was struggling, you see, about writing about the rest of my Colorado trip.  It was wonderful to spend time with Sonja, I wish I could just walk around her all day and absorb the mojo that flows off of her in waves.  And I came back to DC trying desperately to hang onto the peace that I felt inside of me.  Peace that I've been searching out over and over in this training cycle, along with the realization that while triathlon training isn't really changing my life that much, the mental work I've been doing for the past few months has been making an enormous impact.


I hate it when people talk about struggling to write posts, mostly because generally, they are just being ridiculous.  However, I honestly struggled over whether to talk about this, what I'm about to talk about, on the internet.  I believe in a very strong separation between work and personal life, and in the years I've had this blog, I've talked about my career very little.  And who wants to read about my personal life when you come here for ass shots and puppy pictures and rants about running and annoying bloggers?  But this blog stopped being about only those things at the very beginning, when I talked about my divorce, when I talked about losing weight and the struggles with my family and when the poet proposed and I said, hmmm, you know what, maybe not. So I decided that I'm going to talk about this, because it's going to affect my entire life and that, to me, is what this blog is for, plus most of you probably know about it anyway.


I lost my job yesterday.


I've been working for a start-up company here in DC for almost three years now.  When I joined them, I left a very stable company and leapt at the chance to be a part of something pretty great.  And for the most part, it HAS been pretty great.  The people I've met, most importantly my direct supervisor, are smart and kind and easy to work with, and while there have certainly been times that my stress levels have been abnormally high, for the most part it's been a good job.  I have worked my tail off in this job, I've worked with every single person in the company pretty intimately over the past three years and I've enjoyed it.  And now they no longer have the money to pay me.


Over the weekend, I had a lot of good talks with Sonja, but one that stands out is when we were talking about things that can happen to a person, and whenever I hear about bad things that happen in families, I desperately want to protect my own.  I have dogs instead of kids and my family may not look like your family, but it's what I have and I wouldn't change it for the world.  And now I have failed to protect it, and that is the theme that I just can't shake from my brain, that has been playing over and over since yesterday afternoon.  I have let my family down.  


We sat down and went through all the numbers when I got home.  Neither one of us can support our family on just our salary, so while I'd love to slide into my premiere role as a trophy wife (full-time lifestyle blogger??), that isn't realistic.  I went through and removed all of the optional extra payments we make every month into our student loans and car loan and mortgage, and I halted all the extra retirement savings, and trimmed down everything I could to the bare bones of our expenses, and we're still not even close to making it.  And I'm so glad I hadn't yet mailed out that five-figure check to the IRS and can now file for an extension and that we didn't buy a new dishwasher on Tuesday.  I don't know how long it's going to take me to find another job, and that is scary.  We have money saved up that we can make it for a little while, and we've already started to roll out plans to bring in some extra income (does anyone want to buy a road bike?) so we aren't going to starve this month, but it is all very, very terrifying.  


My first thought when we started going through all of this was to fire-sale my entire life, and that includes triathlon.  Selling my QR can help us pay the mortgage for a few extra months.  Not paying for my coach, not buying running shoes and cycling shorts and Gu chomps and EFS will help to put food on the table - or little brown circles in the mouths of my puppies.  And the poet said, for now, no.  Because at this point, just about everything has been paid for through Ironman in June, and to bail on it now would be a waste of all that money.  On the one hand, I can and do see his point, but on the other hand, I can't imagine going out and training - I can't imagine walking into Bonzai to spend $45 on nutrition - I can't imagine ordering another pair of running shoes from RRS - when I'm not bringing in any money, when we are going through our savings in order to keep a roof over our heads.  It feels incredibly short-sighted and selfish.  So I don't know what I'm going to do about triathlon, just yet.  I don't have an answer to that question.  


A lot of people have reached out to me already - to help, to offer leads and links and names or even just words of comfort and support, and I can't say how much I appreciate that.  And everyone has told me that I'm strong, that I'm a fighter, that this is an opportunity to maybe move out of the legal field and into a place where my heart truly is, that I will land on my feet, and I appreciate that too, but holy mother of destruction am I tired of that being my line.  For just once, I would love to not have the rug pulled out from under me.  Just once, I would love to not have to fight.  


I promise you, I'm not asking for anything here.  I've never made a dime off of this blog (except a few weeks ago when I turned on ads by accident and couldn't figure out how to turn them off for three days and made $0.04) and I don't intend to try to start now.  I will take all the good karma and thoughts and love you can send my way, I will ask you to take just a second, to pause and send hope towards our family.  And if you do stumble across some freelance writing work or an IT job or an analyst position or you want to pay me ten dollars to coach you to a 5K or you find a five hundred dollar bill laying on the street and you DO decide that you want to hook it my way, I'll take it and be grateful, but I promise you, I'm not asking for anything but acceptance here.  A place to talk about what's going on in my life, to try and get rid of the fear.  Because today I wanted to talk about peace, I wanted to write about how calm I was feeling down to my bones, and now that is gone.

60 comments:

  1. Oh Katie, I am so sorry. That really sucks. And having lost a job before, I know the terror it strikes in you.

    I think I agree with Thom -- get thru this Ironman, it will give you a place to work out your stresses (especially this new one) and it's mostly paid for as you said.

    Take in another renter (I'm sure you already have thought of that one) and try eating nutrition you make at home. A lot of ultrarunners use regular food (dried apricots, gummy bears, etc) and you can probably find some that will work for you even though triathlon is more intense so you don't have to spend as much on Chomps, etc. Some make their own energy gel by buying maltodextrin in bulk. I'll get more details if you're interested.

    But enough "helpful suggestions" -- I'm here for you if you want to talk, drink my wine, whatever. You'll get through this. You'll find another (probably better) job. So many great life changes often start off seeming like the worst thing that could happen. Then you rise from the ashes and emerge as something even greater than before.

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  2. Keep your head up, these things happen. Jobs come and go, I've been there before and pray that I never have to go back. I sent you a facebook message this morning with a good lead. I know you'll figure something out.

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  3. I'm so sorry, hang in there! I know it's scary but we are all wishing you the best of luck! I hate cliches, but things can only better from here right?

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  4. Katie,
    I am sending you a Tweet with something to read that I have found helpful over, and over, and over during difficult times. I think you will like it. You will find peace again...in fact, finding peace in the midst of the chaos is what any type of spiritual/meditative/contemplative practice is about, right? You are in my thoughts.
    Ann

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  5. I've been wracking my brain since I saw your FB post yesterday. Unfortunately, I have very few contacts left after 7 years out of the work force.

    I agree with Thom. Don't give up your Ironman dream. Get through that before you tighten your fitness belt.

    And I'll pay you to paint my hallway. Kidding. Sort of. (But if you need a beer or wine, I can definitely help you out there.)

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  6. I am sorry Katie. That is a punch in the gut, for sure. I will keep my eyes open for any opportunities. In regards to IM training - DON'T YOU DARE STOP! You will need a diversion from the job hunt and an outlet for inevitable frustration. "Life" has tended to creep into my last couple training cycles and it sucks, but it does make it more meaningful and you will be stronger because of it. Let me know if you need anything.

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  7. That sucks!! I'll be praying for you and your family.

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  8. Bollocks! So sorry to hear this. I'll definitely be thinking about you and your family and sending y'all good vibes!

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  9. It's been almost one year since the same thing happened to me. I hadn't interviewed in a thousand years but I was able to find employment and I'm sure that you will too.

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  10. UGH, I was very close to losing mine last year and the terror you describe is exactly how I felt. I'm definitely thinking of you and hoping you find something quickly.

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  11. I'm so sorry Katie, I've been in a similar position much too recently, and it's terrifying. I'll definitely be keeping you guys in my thoughts and sending you all the good vibes I can find.

    P.S The company I work for always has open IT and analyst positions, if you're at all interested I'm happy to pass along leads

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  12. I have a feeling the IM training will help you deal with some of these feelings so I'm glad to hear you haven't given that up! It's going to be some tough times and I will send all the positive energy I can your way! The mental strength you've been learning with your training will really come in handy now. Best of luck and keep us posted I'm glad you share with us it's not always puppies and rainbows in blog land!!

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  13. Oof. I have no words other than that makes for an awful day. Please know I'm sending you really uncomfortable hugs from Texas and that you've been in my thoughts and prayers. I'll keep an eye out for anything that might work for you.

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  14. I hear Denver is hiring :)

    Keep your head up, and go through with the Ironman.

    Also, stop buying cheese at the grocery store. But in all seriousness- Phil and I have been on a strict budget since we have moved and at first I thought it was awful but truth is, we still have a blast with each other even when not spending money. You and Thom will get through.

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  15. What's that song? I've been down that road before.....Yeah I have. It sucks and nobody can sugar coat it for you no matter how hard they try.

    Just keep your eyes and ears open at all times and good things will come out of this unfortunate situation.

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  16. Just sending virtual hugs from a stranger. I went through this in the past month and had the exact same thought - that I was letting my family down. For me, it's turned into a chance to go back to school and do something I really love (when I wouldn't have otherwise, out of an obligation to continue earning what I was at a job that I hated), and my family has been ridiculously supportive. I know your situation isn't the same, but I'm convinced that it will (somehow) turn itself into an opportunity that you hadn't seen before.

    Besides that, I am now an expert at supermarket flyers, if you want any tips! And if you've already paid for everything IM related (aside from extra shoes and nutrition) then hwy wouldn't you go ahead and do it? It's a mental health investment (FWIW, I had the same thoughts about my training and racing but my husband was pretty adamant that it was an important priority, and it sounds like the Poet is the same.) I also figured out how to make homemade Lara bars out of dates, other dried fruit, and nuts in the food processor. Good stuff for bike nutrition, and way cheaper.

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  17. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

    I do hope you choose to stick with IM. You've worked so hard for so long and you really deserve it.

    Sending positive thoughts your way.

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  18. Katie, I am so sorry to hear about this. Hopefully you are able to find another job soon, but until then try do keep your head up high and stay as positive as you can.

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  19. Katie, I don't know you but I feel your pain. Almost two years ago I was laid off and ended up losing our health benefits (husband is self-employed). It was the single worst time of my life. I have never felt so worthless, so useless, so depressed. I can only offer you what worked for me:
    1. Have a side project. I had suspected my layoff was coming and had taken on some freelance work. It helped. I also used that time to train for my first marathon. I figured, hey, I have the time off, right? There are times that, believe it or not, it is "funemployed."
    2. I don't know how it works in Virginia, but apply for unemployment. If you didn't do it yesterday, do it today. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it's demoralizing. Yes, it's humiliating to go into the job center with the addicts and dropouts and other people with whom you've probably never interacted before. But it will help. And it's the least your company owes you. I cried every other Wednesday when I had to call in to report my earnings because it was horrible... but honestly it helped make ends meet. I put it off for a month because of my pride and I really wish I hadn't.
    3. Rely on your friends. Take them up on their offers for dinner and drinks. Network, network, network. I found a temporary job within a few months through a friend. They are your friends for a reason -- cry on their shoulders.
    Otherwise, sending you good vibes and job leads. This will suck -- but you have been through other sucky things and somehow managed to come out of them a stronger person. This is just another bump in the road.

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  20. The fact that you held a job at a start up for three years blows me away. Congrats on that. It's a great feat - at least in my part of the tech sector. Take a few days to be sad and angry and whatever, then network the shit out of yourself. I spent 10 months unemployed after a layoff, and everywhere I went, I talked to anybody I could find about my job goals. I felt like a self-absorbed broken record, but it definitely helped with job leads and informational interviews. Good luck!

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  21. Four years ago I took a leap of faith and quit my great-paying job as an engineer and started my own business. Still to this day we barely make any money off of it, but I'm so much happier and that's what counts. My husband and I have become the masters of saving money. We pay cash for almost everything. We don't contribute to our retirements. We have very few extra things. And I've even found ways to make my own nutrition for triathlon, which saves TONS. You'll get through this and good things will happen. Literally the day I quit my job my husband got a huge raise at work. Thinking of you Katie.

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  22. 2012 has been a shite year for almost everyone I know, my family included. I hear you, I really do. I know right where you're coming from. Been doing the sums this month and, well, we're right there too.
    Maybe we can have a cross-Atlantic scheme going, whereby we both get drunk tonight and feel sorry for ourselves, then come out fighting tomorrow. That's my plan, feel free to join me.

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  23. Sorry to hear this, Katie. I agree that you should stick with your triathlon training. It is not selfish. It will help.

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  24. Ugh. It is part of the start-up world (Brian calls it "on the beach") but that doesn't make it easier.

    I wish I had more words. But all I can say is that the skills that carry you through training apply well in other areas.

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  25. Triathlon training can only help get through the stress and you can find good deals here and there for things like nutrition, making your own bars and such could save a couple bucks here and there. Don't sell your bike! My friend was getting ready to do that when she lost her job but then right before she put it on craigs list....she found a short gig for a while that held her family afloat for a while.

    I agree with someone above - NETWORKING and consulting gigs. Lots of companies trim up their companies with employees but can still spare the money to hire someone as a consultant especially as an IT consultant.

    Get on various sites in your field...

    You can get through this. It is a sucky period but it usually has a way of working it self out...breathe...deep yoga breathing.

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  26. I'm so sorry. The club of people who have been unemployed recently is huge— as evidenced by those already in your comments — but that doesn't mean we wanted you as a member.

    I tend to agree with those who say money spent is money spent, and just look at what you can do going forward. I know you were already looking at ways to cut down on food spending; keep doing that. Gear-wise, maybe you can beg/borrow/swap some stuff rather than buy new -- depending on what you need, of course, I'm not saying put your ass in someone else's shorts. My view on these sorts of things is that I might as well follow through on the investments I've already made -- but I also know I can't possibly know what's right for you. We'll all be here cheering no matter what.

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  27. Ugh, I'm so sorry. I know it's up to you and this is just my perspective, because I've put off doing IM because of not having the financial resources to "do it right"... if it's still something that is a major life goal to you, DO THE RACE. I know it's hard to be the one doing this sport on the cheap, but you have what it takes to do this IM sans coach and on peanut butter sandwiches, if it came to that. It will all work out.

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  28. I'm so sorry girl. I know how hard this must be for you and I am keeping you in my prayers.

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  29. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

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  30. I've learned everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes the "reason" doesn't show up until later but sometimes you just have to let life happen. If you have at least one thing everyday to make you happy (not sure - do the dogs or hubby come first?? :) your worst day is likely better than many people's best day. We can always live with less but you always have to ask yourself what you may sacrifice. I don't feel that selling anything that makes you healthy will be beneficial because if you don't make time for health, you eventually make time for disease. Sure, you can race less, but then mentally, you may find yourself setting less goals. I find that small jobs and enjoying what you do will bring the most satisfaction in life and will eventually open doors to something better. Keep staying positive..you will get through this!

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  31. I am so sorry to hear this - really. As many have said above, it is possible to tri "on the cheap" - there's no coaches or cool nutrition things to get from fancy tri stores, but we still get the same high and the same love of the sport. You can do it, it's just going to be different. Sending you awesome vibes though that things work out in the best way they possibly could. Hopefully in a while you'll look back on this and say "that's the moment when everything started moving in a direction i never thought it would - and i am so grateful"

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  32. ugh I'm so sorry. I don't have anything new to say that hasn't been said 30 times already, but I'm glad you shared this and I hope you see that you are surrounded by people who just want to help anyway they can. and that includes your family who I bet DOESN'T think that you let them down. just sayin'. I'm in IT but in Maryland...I'll keep my eye out anyway, for things further south. personally I am betting that a job is going to fall into your lap and for once you WON'T have to fight.

    I would totally pay to have you coach me on the bike. or paint my super-boring house. or cook me lasagna. :D

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  33. So sorry to hear this!!! I work for a small company and have had to weather the hard years so I know both how much fun working for a small company can be as well as how uncertain it can be.

    I hope that you find something soon! I'll keep my eyes and ears peeled. Good luck!

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  34. Once I did find $23 in the street while running, and if that happens again, it's yours. In the meantime, I'm here.

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  35. I'm so, so, so sorry. The only advice I can give you is that everything happens for a reason. It always does.

    You're right in that it will be tough, but you'll find your way. Head-up, kid. It all happens for a reason.

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  36. I am not sure what kind of analyst job you are looking for, but i know our company is hiring (booz allen hamilton) plz email me if you need anything.

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  37. As someone who has gotten the axe 3 times in the last 6 years, the hardest part wasn't finances. Unemployment benefits and my ability to be a cheap mofo covered that. The hardest part was staying positive through the whole process. Focus on that. Ride run and swim to keep yourself happy and everything will fall into place.

    And while I never wanted to believe it at the time, everything happens for a reason. Every job that I've gotten fired from landed me in a much awesome-er job.

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  38. Katie, love your blog and have been reading for awhile, but never comment. So sorry for your loss. I was in that position about 2 years ago. As someone above said, take the unemployment benefits. As humbling as it can be, it's worth it. I waited two months before doing so and wish I hadn't. I also found that training for a race was really helpful. It gave me something to focus on outside of job hunting and helped provide structure to days when I didn't have to be in the office. Do the Ironman!!! You'll regret no doing it in the end! And most importantly networking - I found my new job through a friend. Better pay, less hours (now I'm at more of a 9-5 instead of crazy consulting hours). It'll all work itself out in the end!! Good luck, I'll be thinking happy thoughts for you. - Jenny

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  39. I'm going to offer this as a read-when-you-have-time article- http://frayedlaces.blogspot.com/2012/02/from-kona-to-coma-amazing-story-of.html

    It's the story of my husband. For those who might be wondering why I'm sharing it here, well...

    2 years ago (in 17 days) he was hit by a car while doing hill repeats in Reston, training for Buffalo Springs Lake 70.3. The lady who hit him had a whoops day. She didn't intend to do it.

    His injuries were extensive. He was life flighted to INOVA Fairfax, spent 7 days in a coma, 3 months in ICU, and 3 months in a nursing home for rehab.

    At the time he had perceptually a lot going for him: a great job, good relationship with his son, amazing training and race results, and more.

    For 12 or so months his mother became his legal guardian. He endured a sense of profound life changes. He divorced his wife (not an easy thing when your Mom is your legal guardian). He realized he really didn't want to do what he was doing for work.

    Fast forward a bit more... he's now remarried to this blessed lady. He writes for a living, and is going back to get his Master's before completing his PhD so he can be a college prof in literature. His relationships with his family are better than ever.

    A few weeks ago, we were honored with the gift of finding out he's going to be a Dad again...and I'm going to be a Mom! (The best birthday present ever!)

    So I'd say dig deep. Search. Pray. Be Smart. Trust. Reach Out. You'll know what to do. Just do it. Even when it isn't easy. Even when it isn't clear. You can do it. It's your life!

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    Replies
    1. Wendy!! A baby! Congratulations!!

      Kirstin

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  40. So so sorry to read this. It sucks to lose your job. I hope things turn around for you quickly.

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  41. Oh, Katie! I'm feeling your pain.

    John (my husband) lost his job last year, and was out of work for 10 months. We went through the same exact process as you did, trimming where we could trim, John picking up odd jobs as best he could, applying where he could, etc.

    I can understand that you want to give up triathlon as an unnecessary cost, but The Poet is right: you've really already paid for most of the costs upfront. It would be a waste of that investment of time and money. You are sooo close. Additionally, the training and the race will be good for your head. It will give you purpose and focus - I hope you stick with it.

    But, I also understand this is a decision you have to make to feel good inside. I wish you so much peace with whatever you decide. Your family will love you no matter what :)

    I hope you are going to apply for unemployment benefits, as that can help make ends meet. Without it, John and I would have surely gone under. Don't resist it! I know that taking the benefits can be a blow to pride (trust me: John struggled a lot with it), and wanting to make it on your own, but that's your money. You paid into the system, and you deserve it. It's a social safety net for just this type of circumstance.

    Peace, light & happiness, Katie to you and and your family :)

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  42. I'm so sorry :( These days I think more and more of us have been there and had to figure out how to make things work. My husband started a new job 4 months ago after a significantly longer break than he had planned on. What I do know is that you clearly touch a lot of people and good things happen to good people and that you will find something so that life can carry on. In the meantime keep up the happy thoughts and have a drink or two, you deserve it!

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  43. Sorry to hear this. But. . . You have the skillz to pay the billz! Yes, this economy sucks, but with your skills I know you will find something very quickly. Especially in the DC area- there is plenty of opportunity! Meanwhile, temping is a great way to make money and get your foot in the door at companies. Temp as a secretary and while you're there, see if you can connect with someone in IT management. You will be fine, I know it!

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  44. I am so sorry this happened to you. I am sending lots of positive thoughts your way. Best of luck.

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  45. I'm so sorry to hear this!! Definitely don't give up on triathlon for this! It will give you purpose as well as give you a distraction from the job hunt. I'm confident you will find something you love! Based solely on what I know of you through this blog, you are very intelligent, hard working and have a fun, likable personality. I've found that the last part goes the further in the job hunt so use your network and I bet you'll land something quickly!

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  46. You know what Katie- I think each person goes through their own hell. Whether we choose to share it or not is a personal choice. I am glad you shared. But I am incredibly sorry that you have to go through this. I hope that life soon gets back on the right track for you, and I hope you know I'll be thinking of you.

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  47. Love you Katie. We need to get together soon. We're thinking of you guys.

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  48. Love you Katie. We need to get together soon. We're thinking of you guys.

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  49. I'm so sorry to hear yhis Katie.

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  50. I'm very much a new reader, but I want to say that I'm so sorry that this happened. I do hope that you will continue with the tri training and continue to focus on what your passions are and what you love.

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  51. I'm sorry, friend. That is incredibly tough. It turns your life upside-down. And when you were so sure and certain about a lot of things, now you have to question if you're living your life "right" while you're figuring out what to do next. You're going to make it work. I believe in you. I know Thom believes in you. You have a support system, and I believe that things will all turn out alright in the end. It's hard to hear, I'm sure, but you're strong (and maybe even stronger than you think).
    Big hugs and kisses.

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  52. I'm so sorry to hear this. I lost my job 4 years ago this month and it took about 4 months before finding something else. While I know how awful it is, it's an opportunity. I'm glad you wrote about it. I never talked about it on my blog for a variety of reasons, and kind of regret that. My true feelings that summer were never really revealed, and I can tell in my writing that I was holding something back.

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  53. Ohhhh efffff that is crap news-I'm so sorry about the stress you are under :( You are brilliant and resourceful and you WILL find something else, but it's just scary not knowing when. Thinking of you and would be happy to do anything to help, just let me know.

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  54. i truly believe you are one of the toughest people i know. head held high my friend. thinking of you...

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  55. Hey girl - so behind on my blog reading so am just getting caught up. So, so sorry to hear it. I know it sounds all pie and the sky and cliche but things have a way of working out, they truly do. My husband was out of a job for a while a couple of years ago and while the time out of his job wasn't great, it led him to a job that he truly loves which is worth a lot. Thinking of you and if I find that $500 bill I will send it your way :)

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