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An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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The sun is shining, the birds are singing and things are looking up. As the Real Housewives madness shifts into book writing and work madness, I am taking a moment to be grateful.

When I was laid off at the end of February, it seemed like the sky was falling. There's nothing worse than staring into a black hole of pathos and self-doubt, wondering whether you'll ever amount to anything ever again, whether in 6 months time you'll be worried about making ends meet, whether you'll have to change your lifestyle, sell all your shoes and start playing guitar in the subway....I felt all of those things. Nevertheless, in spite of it all I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

People react to stress in different ways. During my period of stress I also started watching the people around me, and it was enlightening. One colleague chronically stayed up too late and overslept every morning -- a case of not wanting to face the day, I guess. Another binge-drank and had a perpetual hangover. Me? I would constantly forget to eat lunch until about 3pm, not wanting to set foot away from my laptop in case the perfect job was lurking on the next Firefox tab, waiting for me to look away so that it could pop out, say "Nyah, nyah, you'll never get me," and disappear while laughing maniacally. Oh, have you never thought that? Maybe I'm crazy. I always think my computer is talking to me, even when the sound is off.

In hindsight everything happens for a reason, and my layoff was no exception. Literally the week before it happened, Simon had asked me what it would take for me to decide it was time to resign? It's no secret that it was difficult to maintain a full-time, corporate job where travel was required, deadlines were fast and furious and stress was high, while being on a reality show, renovating a home and raising the kids. The way I coped was basically to ignore the show and most opportunities that arose from it. Would I have known when to quit? Doubtful. I tend to think I can do and have it all, and never shy away from challenge. Had I not been laid off, I'd be out there still trying to balance, and would not have been able to take part in many of the exciting opportunities that have come up since.

Let's be real -- there were a couple things I got lucky about, that were atypical for Jane Jobseeker. Number one, I'm lucky to be in New York City, where there is just more of everything, including more companies who might have open positions. If I were not in a big huge city, this would have been more difficult. Number two, I'm on a reality show, and news of my layoff and subsequent job search was publicized in all the tabloids. Even better that it came at a time where many viewers liked me versus thinking I was a psychopath. That made it easy for people to approach, knowing I both wanted and needed a job. For those reasons I was and am very grateful and humbled. I feel for those job seekers in smaller markets, with specialized skills, who don't have the opportunity to tell the world they are job hunting. However, there are a few habits I brushed up on while searching that I do think are good habits to cultivate.

I stayed open. I had lunch with people and wrote blogs, which helped me get my thoughts together and process all the emotional highs and lows. I updated my resume immediately, which is important because when you're job hunting people always want it even if they don't necessarily have a job for you. Take the calls that come in, even if someone wants you to do something you've never done or considered, such as beekeeping or doing cold-call sales or becoming a professional clown. FYI two of those things were real job offers -- you decide which! Look at every job listing you can find, and talk to anyone who will listen. Practice a 15 second commercial for yourself, with a brief history of where you've been and where you want to go. These actions in themselves may not be the avenue to your next position, but they get you in shape just like working out at the gym.

Along the way, an opportunity came up that seemed like the best possible thing I could be doing in this retail climate. What makes sense, both economically and environmentally? How do you save money and the planet at the same time? How do you clean out your closet and feel good about it? Designer consignment, that's how! Second Time Around, a company based in New England, has stores up and down the east coast and offers fashionistas the opportunity to get rid of items they no longer want and either donate the proceeds to charity, get a check or a store credit to revamp their wardrobes without taxing the environment via chemical processes used to create new clothing. Did you know that in the US, roughly 18 million tons of clothing, accessories and bedding are thrown away every year? I had no idea; that was really sobering. By repurposing clothing you can help address that, and in this topsy-turvy economy, the price is right. Consignment prices are typically less than half of retail -- sometimes much less, and I've always said it's incumbent on those who can spend, to keeping spending as economic stimulus. Here's a way to do that for less! I'll have more to say on that later...but no, I am not consigning Simon's red dance pants....yet!

In the mean time, I'm allowing myself a moment to step away from the computer. The boys have a birthday party this afternoon, the reunion specials have aired and I sent our chapter titles to the publisher yesterday. It is now officially time for a great weekend. Cheers!!