THE BLOG

Cats on Keyboards and Job Hunting Online

05/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Thump! It's 6:56 in the morning and my husband Simon has been attacked by a hammerhead shark. Not to be outdone, the Madge cat grabs the shark by the head and attempts to chew its eyes out. Five minutes previously, François somnambulated his way into our bedroom with the shark in question (stuffed, of course,) and sleepily piped up "Cats don't eat sharks." Another morning in this crazy household begins.

Over the last month there's been plenty of stress, but gradually I've begun to feel calmer. Although I'm not completely sure whether we've passed Hurricane Layoff or whether we're in the eye, the internal nonsense is beginning to clear out. My hands are still attached to my arms, the family is alive and well and things really aren't so dire. Today I can sit at my new laptop, eat home-made potato salad and smile when the cat tries to lie down on the keyboard or climb into my hair rather than pushing her away.

Life changes wreak havoc on your day-to-day existence. Whether it's a lay-off, a birth/marriage/death, a major renovation or any number of other things, change happens and when it does life gets stressful. I still can't quite believe that we went from a major renovation to the holidays to the premiere of our second season to my layoff all in one seamless arc. I'm just now catching my breath, as my husband is his.

All in all, the last few weeks have been on a upward trajectory. From the layoff at the end of February, I slowly crawled into a feeling of normalcy - even though I'm luckier than most in that the loss of my job didn't mean our financial world was coming to an end. That gradually improving outlook allowed me to be coherent as opportunities presented themselves.

Our world changes so quickly. Do you remember a time before the internet? The Mac I so proudly generated our grade school newspaper on in 1985 has morphed into the slick laptop under my fingers now, with wireless connectivity. The Performa or whatever it was that I took to Northwestern with me in 1991 had 4 MB of RAM. My current baby has 4 GB. Is there a point here? Just that we have to be sure that we are staying current with communication. If you're not changing, you're not growing. Case in point - recently I had a great interview for what looks like will be my next act, work-wise. How did the initial point of contact come about? Would you believe Facebook?! You never know where your next opportunity will come from. If you are looking for work, still do all the things you think of doing, such as responding to classifieds and looking at websites of companies you'd like to work with. Also, open yourself up to avenues you may not have thought about before. Whether it's a social networking site like Facebook or a career-oriented one like LinkedIn, why would you not get yourself and your resume out into a place where many, many potential colleagues and bosses are every day? The very first piece of advice given at the career transition center was go forth and get online!

What do you like to do? How can you make a living doing exactly that? When I take a look at my friends and family, there's a common thread at play. Everyone I know who is successful loves what they do. The few that are struggling do not.

One obstacle that I've been dealing with lately as I embark on the next phase of my working life is office space at home. It's very tempting given our six-month-old renovation to want to sit at my kitchen island and make coffee and tea all day while I write & design. What could possibly be wrong with that? Just that when my big boys come home from school and see Mommy in the kitchen, they want to grab me by the hand, tell our nanny she can knock off early and head straight for the park. On a few occasions we've done just that; however, just because I'm not in an office building in Midtown doesn't mean I'm not on deadline. Work-at-home parents know exactly what I'm talking about here - it's easy enough to pet the cat and swat her away, but it breaks your heart to tell your smiling 3 year old that you can't stop working to go ride Big Wheels outside.

Luckily, we have a basement where we're setting up an office. As soon as I reset my wireless router password I'll be able to go down there and work uninterrupted on deadline. Assuming I can find said password. Then we'll have the "door is closed; Mommy's working" time and "door is open; come in" time. In the mean time, there's a shark puppet 5 inches from my keyboard, which actually gives me an idea for a design....