So often, when we come upon disruptive circumstances in our life, we just want to hit the “snooze” and just “get back to normal.” We think the change, and the process of that change is going to be painful. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was an unexpected gift? My friend, Nancy Berry, didn’t choose her job transition. It chose her, as it has so many in the last 18 months. But she didn’t hit the snooze. And as she nears the end of this transition, she decided to reflect on her experience and to share it with those who helped her along the way. She shared a copy with me. I was so taken by reading it, I asked if I could share it with you. I hope you will enjoy letting it sink-in to the circumstances in your life:
So often in the recent years, I longed for the opportunity to step off the treadmill and catch my breath. I never really thought it would happen so I hadn’t considered how that dream might actually come to fruition. If I had planned it, I would have won the lottery I never play or I would have married the wealthy man I haven’t yet met but I certainly wouldn’t have wished to be laid off. While the means through which my prayer was answered certainly wasn’t in my master plan, the experience has turned out to be one of the greatest gifts and opportunities of my life.
From the very beginning, I was able to focus on the silver linings of this experience – a quality to which I owe my always optimistic mother. Far and away, the best part of this experience was spending 11 months as a full-time mom – there to get my boys off to school in the morning and to hear what was on their minds when they walked in the door after school. I have enjoyed beyond measure the ordinary moments and tasks that everyday life brings with them in it and I was able to enjoy infinitely more of those moments over the last year. What a blessing!
I met over 100 new people through my networking efforts. These people opened my eyes to the wide world that extends beyond the legal industry as they talked to me about their work, their organizations and their industries. I reconnected with countless people who I am thrilled to have back in my life – mainly former colleagues but a few old friends as well who I won’t lose touch with again. I took a class to prepare me for the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification test, which I passed in January. While I didn’t want to become an HR generalist, I wanted to shore up what I considered to be a lack of HR knowledge in my background. I extensively researched a topic about which I have become passionate – that law firms need to have more rigorous interview techniques like those utilized by top accounting and consulting firms and UK law firms. I have spoken on that topic a few times and have written a soon-to-be-published article for Am Law Daily. I worked on several projects that I was interested in for different firms and organizations and I was able to do so at my pace. I attended two conferences, numerous webinars and monthly professional group meetings on recruiting and professional development to keep myself immersed in the industry to which I became so eager to return. So many opportunities!
It wasn’t all work – I took naps and lots of them and have the worn couch cushions to prove it. I became reacquainted with the gym. I got to breath fresh air in the middle of the day. My faith was tested. I often passed but occasionally failed. I learned to single task and even enjoy it. I stopped driving 10 miles (ok, often more) over the speed limit at all times because I was no longer in a perpetual hurry, though I admit, I was awfully slow to realize that. I read voraciously, enjoyed every word along the way, learned so much and was reminded of how little I know. I started writing for pleasure and for profit. I learned I am passionate about painting – but can only do so with a paint by numbers kit typically used by young children. Seriously. I was reminded there are some things I can control and many more I can not. I was able to be still – a skill I did not know I had. I was able to think – sometimes too much. I was able to reflect – again, sometimes too much. I was able to plan. I was able to organize – but not enough. And I did an awful lot of nothing. Such gifts!
No one has been more surprised than me at the quiet confidence I had throughout this journey that everything would work out and for the best. That said, there were some days when my confidence wavered and others when it flatlined. i have been carried along this journey over the last eleven months by the cheerleading, support, generosity and kindness of so very many people. Some people who had never met me and many who had just met me went out of their way to help me even when I could offer them nothing in return. There are 76 of you who have gone above and beyond on my behalf and for that, I’m genuinely eternally grateful. Whether you introduced me to people with whom I could network, watched my kids while I was networking, asked how you could help and meant it or sent me an email out of the blue asking how I was doing and encouraging me to hang in there, I want you to know how much your efforts were and are appreciated by me.
I have said … “often times the circumstance in which we find ourselves is beyond our control, but the response we choose is not!” Nancy chose not to snooze, but to wake-up to her experience … and it has paid-off. Nancy will begin the next chapter of her professional life later this month as she joins Katten Muchin Rosenman as the Director of Professional Development. Fire up the treadmill … I think she is ready to jump back on … with a whole new perspective. In fact, reading her reflection today has refreshed mine. Thank you, Nancy!