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Today I filed my first unemployment claim. Not long after I hit submit, I realized that I had left an important detail out of there. There's nothing I can do about it other than try to call and speak to someone tomorrow. Maybe I will be granted benefits, perhaps I won't, for anyone who may be in my position, I offer the following advice. Write out the facts in a timeline before you file. Note the pertinent dates, whether you received any verbal or written warnings before the termination, be succinct and stick to the facts. If possible, I would recommend having someone you trust go through this process with you if you are exceptionally emotional/upset, as I was. It's on the humiliating side to be fired, I was very shaky, you're unlikely to be at your best during a time like this, having to review why you were let go will probably stir up some negative emotions, so try and prepare for that by staying hydrated and getting a small snack if your stomach is up to it. Some people are stress eaters and I'm one of them, however, when I'm under major stress, I have a lesser appetite. My sister had some grapes sitting out on the counter and I munched on those while she was reading what I had written. Considering the volumes I write on a daily basis, it wasn't easy to file that claim. But I did it and I'm proud of myself for tackling it right away.

More thoughts on being fired: it's probably natural to want to crawl into a hole and pray that eventually someone finds your remains, but life does go on, and you should too. It's a good time to reach out to your near and dear ones who will rally around you, check in on you despite what they have going on in their personal lives, and it is a great time to take inventory of where you are at and do some planning for the future. I wasted a lot of money because I was so stressed out I was in almost constant crisis mode. If you find that you are unable to do the things a normal reasonably healthy adult does - pay your bills on time, manage your money, get a moderate amount of exercise, keep your place relatively clean, spend time with family and friends on some sort of interval basis, perform activities of daily living such as personal grooming and hygiene, control your stress levels, make a couple meals and feed yourself well; consider these warning signs that you may have a larger issue. Notice I am not saying that we should all be posting pictures of our perfect lives and amazing meals on Instagram, or the social media vice of your choice. I'm saying do the things that most people would consider signs of an adult living in a space and taking care of themselves to an extent that demonstrates they enjoy a comfortable level of physical, mental, and emotional health. I would argue that spiritual health is important too, but YMMV there.

Get help before you need it. Keep your resume up to date. Network. If you are stressed, talk to a professional even if you think you can't afford therapy because let me tell you how expensive it is to get fired from a part time job at a grocery store. I am exceedingly fortunate that my job was not the sole source of income, and I'm furious with myself for allowing that money to slip through my fingers because I failed to recognize many warning signs that were there. Getting fired can be an awful thing, it's easy to sink into the depths of despair, so allow yourself some time to feel your feelings, but get on with your life too. I made it a policy to give myself time to work through the loss, but I'm also doing the things I didn't before. Today I hung my laundry up instead of throwing it into the dryer. It probably cost pennies to dry a load, but I have time and circulating air, and I don't have those extra pennies. There are sites that offer budget grocery lists, you probably have things sitting around that you could sell. I hate selling things online, and would like to pack up a couple things and run them to the thrift store, but even if I only get a couple bugs for an outdoor rug and laundry sorting hamper, I need the cash. I need to file my taxes as well as I'm likely getting a refund and that will help me financially.

I would encourage everyone to sit down and go through their life category by category. Where are you struggling? What are you great at? Do you need more education, help with a budget, help planning a menu, help watching children, someone to hang out with, whatever you need, write it down, and then find ways to give these things to your present and future self. I neglected my physical health in the past so today I bounced on my trampoline for a very short period of time. When I bought it I think I entertained some wild fantasy of having a killer body at the beach (ok, not really, but you know what I mean). I can see future possibilities - weight loss, increased muscle tone, better emotional health, etc..., but those things require me to DO THE ACTUAL WORK! (hint - this is what trips a lot of us up so identifying ways to trick yourself or just forcing yourself to do it is key). If you are feeling overwhelmed, start small. Can I stand on my trampoline? Yes, I can do that. Wow, that wasn't so bad. Now that I'm here, and I have nothing else to do, I might as well hang out for a minute or two. I bought this thing for a reason. Might as well do something with it. Even if I only stand on it for one minute a day, this is more than I was doing before, yes, I'm not embarrassed to admit that I had this thing sitting in my living room collecting dust for several months... :(

But that was the old Jessica. The new Jessica is excited to work out. She can't wait to go jump on her trampoline for sixty seconds at a time and gradually increase the number of times per day and the length of time she spends jumping. She knows that the power of habit can be harnessed, she realizes that one minute can become two, two can become four, six, eight, ten, and so forth. She knows that doing this will strengthen her lungs, improve her cardiovascular system, reduce the need for heat in her apartment, and it doesn't cost her a thing while increasing her health. Over time it may help her to lose weight. It's probably possible to eat while on the trampoline, but she's never attempted that yet, and since her food costs have been dramatically slashed, she doesn't have a lot of snacks lying around like she did previously. Even if it's purely a mental exercise, she knows that the life she has now can change. She can get a new job at a healthier place for more money and less stress than she had before. She can use this time to really focus on herself, continue what she likes, and take a good hard look at what she doesn't with an eye toward changing herself now so going forward she won't have to endure the pain and anxiety associated with a job loss.

The new Jessica will get out of her place even if she doesn't feel like it. She is more proactive and does things that she doesn't want to be doing because she's seen how procrastination has cost her in the past. She likes to write, she's written books in the past, but she's never done anything with any of them. This makes her feel bad, she enjoys the creative process, but editing is a part of growing as a writer so she can read up on how to become a better editor and devote more of her time to reviewing what she's written rather than allowing it to overwhelm and intimidate her as she has in the past, particularly when she's done writing and feels like she has nothing left to give the stupid computer. She can continue to invest in herself by putting together puzzles, knitting, going to the library when she would rather just go home, and rewarding and praising herself for doing the things she has done even if it seems as if these things should not be necessary because as a grown woman she should know what to do and how to do most of it. She's not going to sit and blame herself, shame herself, or tell herself things like it was their fault, it was all their fault, and she had no role in any of it, because that's just not true. Acknowledging that there are often two sides to stories is important, and the new Jessica likes to deal with reality when it is appropriate and needful to do so as it is now.

Even though it can be tempting to throw herself a giant pity party, the new Jessica recognizes the dangers associated with that behavior. She has read up on self esteem and she understands the connection between doing hard things, even when you think you can't, and feeling that increase in self confidence after she does something that was challenging, however small it may be. She knows that she has a rich life, the ability to entertain herself, and she is making a list of things that she's grateful for because an attitude of gratitude is a nice way to remind yourself of what you do have after an involuntary termination also known as getting fired. She has a place to live that is comfortable, safe, and she can still afford to pay her rent. Yay!!! She has enough clothes to wear, and she was smart enough to purchase an interview outfit that can also be worn to a funeral, or other more dressy event, like a first date if the occasion requires it. Yay!!! Despite her past frivolous spending, Jessica has some money in an emergency fund. Yay!!! She has plenty of interesting books to read, she loves to organize, and now she is going to tackle her kitchen, and finally figure out what is preventing her from doing her dishes on a more regular basis. This may prove to be our heroine's ultimate challenge, but we know that she can do many brave and heroic things despite the incredible obstacles she faces. Yay!!! 

Keeping your sense of humor during trying times is also crucial to your wellbeing. Sometimes Jessica can even make jokes about the situation because a little levity can go a long way to warding off a low mood. It's okay to be sad, it's okay to feel anything, but feeling things doesn't mean Jessica should sit in a state of paralysis because she feels like her life is such a mess there's no possible way she could ever do something like get a new job. All it takes is time. Finding a job is like any other sales process, eventually someone is dumb enough, or smart enough, to say yes to a good buy. In this case Jessica is the product, she needs to sell and market herself effectively, and thankfully she tends to do well in an interview setting. She has a much better idea of what she wants, and now she can use some of her personality profiling during the interview process to gather unspoken information and nonverbal cues that she may have missed in the past. Another win for her! Yay!!! It's entirely possible that there is some person, or company, that has been desperately searching for a middle aged woman with a passion for footwear that also writes poetry in numerical sequence. You never know, it could happen. And if it could happen, it might, and if it might happen, there's a reason to keep on going which is really what this silly exercise is all about.

There's nothing to be gained by enumerating my fears such as they are. I told my sister today that the things I worried about when my children were the same age as her children are now were rarely the things I should have been worrying about. It was really nice to see her and my nieces today. It's a good reminder of how fortunate I was to have had that time with them when they were younger. I'm hard on myself, and I had really forgotten all the books I read, the walks we took, the meals I made, the time I did spend with them, the baths, the songs we sang, the times we laid in bed snuggling together. We had our share of fights and power struggles, but there were a lot of really happy times as well. One of the things I really like about myself as a parent is I think I'm great at telling the girls to trust their intuition on people. If they get a funny feeling about someone, or something just doesn't seem right, then they have been told by both parents to trust that even though whoever may be a trusted and respected authority. Their safety is paramont, and we have done what we can to educate them on things like partying with friends when alcohol is involved, what to do if you are offered drugs, or actually do them, and what another person may mean when they invite you over to do something like watch a movie when their parents are out of town. We can't cover everything, but we try to help them see potential pitfalls we know may be on the horizon.

I feel much calmer than I did. It was good to write something different for a change. A woman I used to work with reached out to ask where I have been, and I appreciate that as well. I'm not going to lie, it was a tough day. I suspect I will have more of these in store for me, but I am getting out, I'm eating, I'm sleeping, I had a bunch of dreams and I'm purposely not writing about them because I don't want to upset myself further. I had them, I will probably have more, but I can also write about how cute it was to see my almost two year old niece pretending to sweep the floor with her toy broom when I was over at my sister's place. I caught up with some of the things that are going on in her life. I told the rest of my family that I was fired, and my brother made some jokes about it that helped boost my mood. We are going to try and get together even though he says he is boring, does not have many friends, and does not like to spend money. I'm grateful my family has been as supportive as they have even though it was hard having to have to tell them about this latest experience. I'm going to think of a way to write this into a book, but of course I have to be careful about that whole real life situations thing so I'll probably have to contemplate it for a while although I may just dive in and see where it goes. Who knows, at least this is one more day where I'm removed from that place and that toxicity of a 'friendship' gone wrong. Good news indeed. I'll have to fiind a money free way to celebrate responsibly. 

Xoxo,

Jess

P.S. An ambulance with sirens just went past and I jumped. I have a lot of calming down to do...

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