Layoff — Putting LivingSmall to the Test

Layoff — Putting LivingSmall to the Test

Well, it finally happened — the layoff genie landed on my shoulder last Thursday. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, however, it was quite a shock to log in for that meeting and see an unfamiliar name on the call — an HR person. Nine years I’ve been at that job, and frankly, the past several have been pretty unpleasant. But it was a good job in a bad economy, and so I stuck it out until they decided that they don’t need editors any more, or they don’t like remote workers, or whatever corporate algebra goes into deciding who to vote off the island. Luckily it’s a very large company, and the severance package was quite generous. Also in my favor — I’d seen it coming and I’d landed some freelance work that I think will, eventually, support me.

But wow. Time to put everything I know about living small to the test. I’m getting more hens tonight — the rooster is going off to live on an actual ranch (not the proverbial ranch where all of our old dogs went when we were children), so there’s another source of protein out of the backyard. And last week we saw an ad in the paper for a whole pig, cut, wrapped, butchered with hams and bacon cured for a really reasonable price, so this afternoon I ordered a pig.

While getting laid off was a shock, it reminded me that I moved here with the intention of getting out of that job eventually. I knew that if I wanted to write, I’d need to find a place where I could afford to live on less money. Unlike some of my California co-workers, I have a really reasonable mortgage, and I’m not upside down on my house. My car is paid off, and while I owe more on the credit cards than I like, and while I’ve still got that student loan from my PhD, I’m in pretty good shape. My goal was always to downsize, and while I had hoped it wouldn’t come so soon, it does come as something of a relief. I was unhappy in that job, but it was too good to quit. Being laid off means I have six months to finish my novel, build up a freelance career, pay things off, and make the transition. I’ve never had six months support without a job in my life.

So like I said. Time to get serious about living small. Time to get back to what Gary Snyder calls the “real work.” Time to dust off the writer/artist/hippie I cast aside when I took that good solid sensible corporate job. And so far, it’s been really lovely — I’m sleeping again. Chuck and I went for a really long hike yesterday. I re-organized my office so I can reclaim it for my own work. I printed out the poor neglected novel and figured out a thing to make the first part better (which unfortunately means I have to rewrite it again, but oh well.) I have some freelance work on deck, which looks both interesting and reasonably lucrative. So we’ll see. In eighteen months I could be really regretting this, but for now, it all looks sort of hopeful.

8 thoughts on “Layoff — Putting LivingSmall to the Test

  1. Charlotte – I am sorry about the timing of the layoff but I also know the feeling of finally having the freedom to do what you want to do. I have followed your blog for a very long time – the way you are living your life is very much how I am trying to live mine. It is quite amazing how good it feels to learn to really take care of yourself, isn’t it?
    I have thought about doing this for a long time and now seems like a great time. I would like to buy a copy of your book but don’t have a paypal account and don’t really want one. Could I send a check to you and you can wait until it clears and then send me the book? I can even wrap up a $10 bill in some paper and mail it to you – just let me know how you would like me to proceed. I live in Colorado – you can give me your address in a private email and we can proceed from there.
    Good look and I look forward to following your adventure.

  2. hah! Charlotte, i stumbled upon your blog from your twitter post, but didn’t know it was YOUR twitter post and as i am reading i am thinkg, wow, this sounds a LOT like a friend of mine who lives in Livingston and then of course i see familiar names, characters, and novel to buy. Great blog dear! Be well, you will rise to this occasion in spades. -J

  3. Hi Charlotte — I bounced here from your Facebook post. And it’s very good to be here again. I had lost my way. Who’s the writer who always says “Congratulations” when he/she hears of someone losing their “day job”? Blessings on the transition you’ve anticipated and which you’re already enjoying. Sometimes on our own we just can’t get out of the web of comfort we’ve woven around ourselves.


    Chris (and Debi)

  4. Sometimes change is opportunity. It seems like you are making it so. It is exciting to think that you will have time to devote to your own writing. We will appreciate that!

  5. Oh, Charlotte — a bit of a bummer to be disposed of rather than bidding farewell on your own terms, but definitely a good thing that the severance terms are so favorable. Enjoy your transition, and the contemplation of future possibilities! I have a feeling that for you the future will remain rosy 🙂 Positive thoughts to you from the part of California you used to visit even though I never managed to wangle my way in to one of your meet-ups around here

  6. Dear Charlotte
    As one who was tripped up as she trailed behind the rest in The Rat Race and who retired limping and burn-out, I wish you good fortune and great joy in your new life

  7. Fabulous indeed! You will find that there is no happier place than living your ultimate dream!

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