My Year of Stops and Starts
Beginning the year 2021, I had scattered along with 8000 other employees in my company and landed myself in a remote mountain cabin high in the Sequoia National Forest. My choice for the next chapter of remote work was a dream come true. Isolated in a cabin was just perfect for me, even with the “new normal” being a suspension of in-person contact.
I had just completed the Digital National Sales Kickoff week, winning accolades for my sales quarter as well as my active social media presence. Winning the “social selling” award as one of the top 5 in the company for media posts, I had stepped it up in 2020 and was in high gear for the coming weeks of 2021. On January 26th, I settled into my scheduled zoom call with my Director, holding a big mug of my morning coffee. 20 minutes later, I was laid off along with a few dozen other employees. This was the first STOP, a big one. Even a generous severance could not soften the blow and the evaporation of so much opportunity that 2021 held.
What I did not know on that morning is that this stop would launch so many unforeseen starts.
The first start was the decision to go back to school and pursue a long-held passion for photography. I took a digital photography class and dug into the mastery of the platform. Learning the software (Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom) was challenging and it required developing skills that were far beyond my earlier years with a 35MM SLR camera. Living in such a majestic area among the mountains and the ancient Sequoias, I rarely run out of images to capture.
Start number two — I launched back into my writing projects and established myself with a group of writers for accountability and growth opportunities. Joining the local chapter of a national writing organization got me involved quickly. I can see a novel progressing with the help of my writing critique group who meet monthly to go over each other’s pages. Fiction short stories and novels are my focus, and I am already 3000 words closer to a completed first draft.
Start number three — acting in local plays and film. Yes, it is possible to jump into a career in acting without much experience. I took an “Intro to Acting” class and also participated in a week-long auditioning workshop over the summer. I was cast in the local Shakespeare festival in the comedy “A Midsummer Nights Dream” and over a two month period immersed myself in all that is Shakespeare. I look to do more Shakespeare and other local plays. I have recently won a part in a student film that will shoot next month in Hollywood.
One of my favorite quotes is from Sanford Meisner. Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances. One truth about leaving a sales career so abruptly is you have time to reflect on what it was that was most satisfying about that job. I love the performance of it, the building of the story, and understanding what is helpful to another person. Acting invites others to join in the story and to suspend disbelief long enough to engage in a new idea. I found in my acting classes so much of what I missed and needed from that sales interaction.
And finally, start number four came along— I found the perfect sales job working for a company I both admired and would be challenged by. The team is much smaller, and they all “pull on the rope together” in their efforts. It is a fun, very fast-paced, interactive place even with everyone working remotely. It is a great fit, and one that I would not have considered had I stayed in the role I started the year out in.
It is said often, “ When one door closes…” and I have found much more open. From that one stop, I have opened up a whole new world of exciting interests and the view for 2022 looks incredibly abundant.