Congratulations, You Got Laid Off; Now Go Round Up the Elephant

Recently, I relived the shocking moment through a phone call from my oldest sister, Lynn, a nurse practitioner and Yoga Instructor. I couldn’t help but shutter, as she uttered the words that hundreds of thousands of Americans have also had to admit and say to their loved ones. “Toner (my nickname), I got laid off.” Lynn said, in a stoic, monotone voice. I remember the moment vividly. I was getting ready for my morning run along the beach, it was a brisk, morning here in San Francisco, as the Sun tried burning through the fog. My first reaction was like many others on the other end of the phone line. I was stunned. Sucker punched. Pimp slapped. (Ok, that’s a bit dramatic but you get the point.) The numbness, coupled with the adrenaline rush that comes with being hit while off guard, disoriented me for a bit, but I took a deep breath and one word came out of my mouth without thinking… “Congratulations.”

I welcomed my Sis, eight years my senior, to the “new economy, that I have been living in for the past seven months.” Ahh unemployment–that uncomfortable place of limbo, where you feel distressed, disconnected, discombobulated from the world–where most of us are all linked to a common thread… WORK. A transitional place of the unknown, where you dread going out and seeing people who ask you, “What do you do for a living? Where do you work now? Inquiring minds want to know, right? (The best answer to this, by the way, is “I’m in a transition.” It will keep people who you aren’t comfortable with sharing, baffled and out of your business.)

When you first get laid off, you feel so helpless and directionless. As you feel the light, floaty, numbness that ensues, the weight of the world and responsibilities brings you back down. Reality check. Lynn has two adorable children, 4-year-old Drew and 1-year old Serena. She’s also the sole income in the family. She and her husband agreed that it was important for one of them would stay home and raise their children.

The conversation lasted about three minutes. Lynn laughed abruptly whispered, “I’ll be ok, gotta go see my next patient.”

I knew exactly how Sis felt, sans the huge responsibility of having children to clothe, feed and provide shelter for. But I knew this was the best thing that could ever happen to her. She had been wanting to shift gears, teach more Yoga and create wellness workshops to educate, inspire and empower women to make healthy decisions in life. She, like many of us who either hate our jobs or are just ready for something new, was afraid to muster up the courage to say, bon voyage, farewell, see ya later job. It’s so funny how what you ask for in life, you get. Lynn said I always told myself, she only wanted to work for the County of Sacramento for about a decade, then it’s time for change. This year marks her ten year anniversary.
I knew what Sis was going through because, I too was laid off from my TV gig at a local station in San Francisco. I had been reporting the news for about ten years and always thought I wanted to follow the traditional TV reporter route; small market, medium market, then the top ten cities in America, and then perhaps the network. I did work my way up the rungs, but God had a different plan for me. A plan, far greater than I could ever have imagined for myself. Being laid off was in the master plan.

When I was escorted out of the TV station in San Francisco, a shift happened in me.

That was when I turned over a new leaf and decided to dedicate my life to service. Slowly, one conversation, one prayer at a time, I started trekking a path where no one had gone before–the journey led me to my non-profit and inspirational website, And with every experience and every conversation, my mission started to become clearer:
My dream was to set up a global platform for people to see and share stories of inspiration.
My Vision, or what I wanted people do, was simple:
To use their resources and talents to help someone else. What I didn’t expect was a flurry of inspiration from all corners of the world, from Africa, Asia to America. Wow. I invite you to check out the website to see how tens of thousands of people have responded to help the people we’ve featured in our stories. And when you give to the world, you certainly get back–and then some! I have been offered jobs in and out of TV–and the personal connections I’ve made with people–priceless.

Through it all, I’ve realized that all along, I knew my power. (I love to read, write and connect with people). And I used it in a big way to help people. I was not only invited to blog for the Huffington Post….

AOL, Yahoo!, and countless other blogs around the globe have been sharing our inspirational stories.
My inspirational Sister shared a story about an elephant that I want to pass along to you, in hopes that you’ll find your strength, your power.

Once upon a time, there was a baby elephant who was tied to a stake by its master. Through its whole life, the elephant was verbally and physically abused by the master. “You are stupid, powerless, nothing and you will go nowhere in life.” The master would scold. And the elephant believed it. Through the years, as the elephant grew physically stronger, but the elephant never knew how physically strong he was. One swing of the tusk, would’ve snapped the stake that tied him down. But he never knew it’s strength. So the elephant died never reaching its full potential. He never know his power.

Are you that baby elephant just waiting to escape?! What is holding you down in life? What is your power? We all have strength and power…now USE it. Say it with me everyone, “KNOW YOUR POWER. USE IT.”

Oh, by the way, within a week, my sister, Lynn received about a dozen job offers. Whoever she decides to share her knowledge of wellness with will be so lucky to have her, congrats Sis!

Change is not always comfortable, but change is good. Fall is here! As the Autumn leaves change colors–from lush green to different hues of red, orange and yellow– I invite you think about your life, what’s good, what’s bad and what’s ugly and change what you don’t like about what’s going on in your life. Know your power!

Here are some tips to get out of the layoff rut:

1.) Keep/create a routine, otherwise, you’ll feel out of the loop and will have too much time to let your mind wander and get the best of you. Start by getting some exercise in the morning. Meet up friends for lunch, or make yourself a nice lunch. Then devote a few hours to your job search. Then connect with people with like interests and explore your hobbies–maybe it’ll turn into a bustling business.

2.) Connect with people personally and professionally. I’ve received so many jobs and helped get folks jobs thought networking. People innately want to help, but they don’t know how to help if you don’t ask!

3.) Volunteer. Time is the BIGGEST gift you can ever give to anyone, and you’ll discover a shift that will happen in your perspective in life. It’s the best gift you can give to yourself. Just try it, you’ll see.

4.) Be Grateful. Look around you, for the simple things in life that you’re thankful for. Simple and small is the new BIG. After being laid off, I started eating out less. Instead, I rounded up a small circle of friends. We take turns cooking. It’s a great way to connect and learn more about each other in an intimate setting. I’m grateful for the yummy greens and juicy nectarines in the salad. That was a good start. As we broke bread, we learned so much about our cultures, food and how they’re connected to family. It’s smarter for our wallets and our waists!

5.) Know your power and use it! What are you good at? What have you been dying to do, but the previous job tied you down like the elephant in the aforementioned story? Do it.

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