Since my freshman year in college, I’ve had one very clear and specific career goal: to be an editor at a women's magazine. And for the last, oh 16 years or so, I’ve done exactly that: I moved to New York to attend journalism school. I landed an internship at a glossy decorating magazine on my fourth day in the city, and from then on I was locked into my target. I never looked back or even to the side. There wasn't much reason to: I had the enormous fortune to work under some of the brightest, most talented editors in the business. I listened and read and wrote and revised, revised, revised. I soaked in every direction, every critique, every suggestion. I loved producing stories for women that helped them live healthier and happier lives. I loved the whip-smart, funny people I shared cubicles with. I even loved the rollercoaster deadlines (most of the time anyway). I worked really, really hard and it paid off. Over the years, my name inched up the mastheads of several national magazines, almost to the tippy top. When the rest of my life was literally falling apart, my job—rather, me at my job—held it all together.
And then things at work changed: They stopped going so well. I have to spare you the particulars, but as many people who've been laid-off know, the pink slip didn't come as a huge surprise. In fact, I had several days to panic intensely before getting the official word: I've never, ever not had a job or a paycheck every two weeks. I have a mortgage. And school loans. And private pre-K tuition. My savings are shot. I have a kid! My savings are SHOT. In two-and-a-half years, I've lost a baby, a marriage, a now my job. What the F@#! else is next?!?!? I had myself a huge-ass woe-is-me party before anything became official, which in a weird way made the news a little easier to take once it did come down. I still cried and walked around in a daze for a while, but then something totally unexpected happened: I began to feel free. After talking and thinking and talking some more, I started to realize that this forced change was a gift. It was permission to look around. It was permission to have a different kind of life—one that's less frantic, more flexible, more open. One that lets me have dinner with my daughter during the week and help her with homework when she starts school.
So I decided to take it. I'm not looking for the next great job that will get my name back on a masthead. Instead, I'm starting up my own little writing/editing biz...going to work for myself for a while. I'd be lying if I said the money thing doesn't have me worried, but you know what, I'll figure it out. There's always the 401(k)! The rest of it though? So far, I LOVE it. I am sold. In fact, I’m writing this from one of my many favorite new offices: the diner in the next town over. There’s a jazz-flute rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” piping through the room. The red, green, and gold tablecloths are covered with plastic. I’m drinking Pepsi out of a foot-tall blue plastic cup. And some extra-early birders are having a bite in the booth behind me. It's perfect.
Ok, now it's your turn. PLEASE tell me what's been happening with you! Have you had any surprising breakthroughs? Bad news turning into good? Let's hear it! xo, Evie
PS: "Part 2: The House" will be coming up next....come back soon!