I Can Make an Awful Lot of Lemonade with a Lemon This Big.

A big yellow lemon. Shot on Christmas Eve in B...

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If you’re a regular reader of Imperfect Happiness, you know I often try to reframe frustrations and setbacks in a positive light. Most of the time it’s something like my son peeing all over the couch or my daughter coming out of her bedroom for the 50th time in an evening instead of going to sleep like she’s supposed to. I try my best to look at these situations as challenges, little reminders from my children to take a deep breath and come back to awareness and non-judgment.

This morning my husband called me from work with a big challenge.

“I was laid off,” he said.

I thought he was joking. His company has been having layoffs about every 6 months for the past two years, so he’s made this joke before.

So I waited for the “just joking.” It didn’t come.

When I got off the phone with my husband, my not-yet-six-year-old daughter asked what happened.

I took a deep breath and decided to be straight with her.

“Daddy lost his job,” I said.

“Oh, man,” she said. “That’s rough.”

“Yes, that is rough,” I agreed. After a pause she had another question for me.

“Where did he lose it?” she asked.

After freaking out (I felt like I was going to be sick, but that could have been at least partially due to the large amount of chard I consumed this morning), I started trying to re-frame the situation.

The positive side:

  • The kids get to spend more time with their dad.
  • I get to spend more time with my husband.
  • My husband can participate more in homeschooling than he has been.
  • I have free childcare right here at home if I need to run a quick errand or want to take my daughter to flute without my son trying to climb the organ in the recital hall.
  • He’s been applying for jobs anyway, but this gives him even more time to devote to that task.
  • I get to contemplate a move to somewhere outside of Utah (where that will be is anyone’s guess). Since I enjoy moving, this is a positive thing.
  • I have an even better excuse to declutter.
  • With his extra time, my husband can help me chop vegetables for my not-crazy diet.
  • We have an excuse to work with our real estate agent again (we really like her).
  • Maybe this will help us get to the East Coast again, closer to all of our family.
  • We should be in an even better tax situation when we file our 2011 taxes than when we filed our 2010 taxes. Too bad it’s too late to have another baby this calendar year (just kidding. My husband’s gotten his business tied up, so to speak, so at least we don’t have to worry about that. Knock wood, knock wood, knock wood, since I know it’s one of the most frequently litigated procedures).

My friend Amanda had a great response when I called her with the news.

“Well, enjoy having him around the house now because he’s going to find a job really fast.”

Logically, I know she’s not basing this on any, you know, facts. But it was still a very lovely and reassuring thing to say. I’m going to file this one away for use if any of my friends calls me with similar news (I hope I never need to use it, though).

I’m trying to decide what to do with the Happiness Project in light of our new situation. Does it make sense to devote April to building my social connections? On the one hand, it could be great to blow off steam and to have “mommy dates” scheduled, especially with my husband around all the time. But would it feel like too much to work on while trying to stress about the house and the job search and expenses and whether I should try to take a few doula clients to avoid dipping too far into savings too soon?


  1. Lea · April 3, 2011

    Jared would mess it up too. 🙂 I definitely feel like I have the worrying corner under vastly skilled control.


  2. Anonymous Me · April 1, 2011

    Oh, CJ, I am so sorry to hear this news! Like Abigail, I don’t really have any good advice of my own to give…except to say that I do believe things happen for a reason…which I know can sound trite at times like this, but I don’t mean it that way at all! 🙂

    Anyhoo…I always find comfort in inspirational quotes from other people. SO, after perusing my quote database, I found some that I hope resonate with you:

    “If you’re getting chased by a lion, you don’t need to run faster than the lion, just the people running with you.” – not sure who the author of this one is…I think it’s Chris Guillebeau
    “…it’s like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – author unknown
    “Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.” – Leigh Hunt –> Seems like you’ve got this part down! 🙂
    “Change is not a loss, it is change only.” ~ Vernon Howard

    And a funny one for the road:
    The bad news is, you’re competing for that new job with a Hindu goddess. The good news is, if you think YOU have trouble figuring out what to do with your hands during an interview…

    The good vibes are with you!!! 😀

    ~ Me


    • CJ · April 1, 2011

      Thank you, Me. I’m always so impressed with your quote-finding abilities! After the initial shock wore off, I was surprised to find that I’m actually fairly happy. Not because of the layoff, but perhaps in spite of it. It seems perverse to feel happy right now, but that’s how I’m feeling. If he still doesn’t have a job in two months, I may well feel differently, though.

      Thanks for the good vibes!



  3. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ · March 30, 2011

    I am so sorry your husband was laid off. Making all that lemonade sounds good. It is wonderful to have more time together. I agree with the previous commenter, to take time to breathe and grieve. Hug together as a family. Lean on your family and friends. And ask for help from your support system as you need it-and this includes your online community you’ve cultivated through your blog. You give so much out here. Accept some back.

    I am still your friend, distance and time irrelevant. And I’m standing by to assist without you feeling obliged to respond in any way. My arm already supports.

    Reassess as needed. Your blog is your tool to nurture yourself as you need it. Forge it repeatedly.


    • CJ · March 30, 2011

      Thank you, Zoie. I really appreciate your words of support.


  4. Abigail · March 29, 2011

    I have no sound advice, Charity, I just wanted to let you know that I’m sorry you have this extra stress in your life. I hope your friend Amanda was right!


    • CJ · March 30, 2011

      I hope she was, too. My husband’s been looking for a new challenge lately, science-wise, and I hope this ends up leading to a good change for him, career-wise. It’s not always good to be too comfortable.


  5. Lea · March 29, 2011

    I think first you should take a deep breath and relax for at least 30 seconds. Why are you taking the entire last paragraph on yourself, without talking to your fantastic husband about which of you is responsible for which task? Your husband is just as capable as you in regards to handling this bomb.

    On the bright side, I agree he should find a job quickly, and on my bright side, it would be great if you guys lived closer. I would love to spend more time with you (as opposed to approximately 2 hours in the last 15 years), and I think my husband would like you guys 🙂

    Since your last post was about letting go, and not resisting, remember that your happiness project has been very beneficial to you overall, even when it felt like shit. So stopping it, or letting yourself avoid the April goals you’ve been dreading, will not improve things in the long run.

    There are some drug research places in Birmingham. Not that I’m advocating Alabama as better than Utah, b/c it isn’t, but it’s one place I expect people overlook in job searches. It makes hiring quality people a challenge, so it makes it easier for quality people to get jobs they apply for.


    • CJ · March 29, 2011

      Thank you, Lea!

      It would be nice to live closer to you, too. We talked this afternoon about what places previously not on our list might be on our list now, and I think the Deep South could just make the cut, should an opportunity arise there. Right now, pretty much anything is on our list (which is just how we were when he was looking for a job three years ago. He even applied to one in Winnipeg back then). We realize that we can make a home anywhere we live and that there are positive and negative aspects to any geographic area. We’re feeling adventurous.

      Oh, and while my husband could certainly help with the practical aspects of the things I listed in the last paragraph, he’s not nearly so skilled at worrying about them as I am. I couldn’t possibly leave the worrying up to him. He’d totally mess it up.


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