Turning Lemons into Lemonade: My Covid-19 Layoff Story

Turning Lemons into Lemonade: My Covid-19 Layoff Story

After 11 years with the same company, I was let go at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, but I am using that downtime to rebuild my passion project – Art & Home.

A few weeks ago, after 11 years with the same company, I received the heart-wrenching news that my position was being eliminated. This was not a temporary layoff or a reduction in hours due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my time with the company was coming to an end… permanently.

I know that I am not alone in this predicament. Companies are letting dedicated, talented employees go these days because of the financial burdens caused by Covid-19 and other factors. Some temporary, others not.

But, as anyone who has ever been asked to move on from their current role, there is a sense of betrayal that accompanies that kind of decision.

For 11 years, I dedicated myself to the company. I worked long hours. I generated new business. I saved the company bucket-loads of money. But, in the end, my contributions were not enough. Or, at least, that’s how it felt. Some days, that’s still how it feels.

Possibly the worst part – for me – was that the Friday before it all happened, I had shared the news that my team & I had managed to renegotiate a contract (entered into by someone else before we took over the project) that was going to save the company a lot of cash. On Monday, I felt like the hero dialing into my weekly call with my manager.

The moment he said “I have HR on the line with me…” that feeling of being the hero was gone.

Being ‘Let Go’ Is Gut Wrenching

Getting Let Go Is Gut Wrenching

If you’ve never experienced being terminated from your job, it’s hard to describe the gut punch that those “your position has been eliminated” words convey. In my storied career, this is not the first time that I have been let go, but I can honestly say that this is the first time that I truly didn’t see it coming.

The first time occurred shortly after 9/11. The company took a massive financial hit from that tragedy and it was never able to recover. I was one of the last people let go before the company finally gasped its last corporate breath and shut down.

The second time, I had been butting heads with the President of the company regarding plans for the future, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he and I parted ways. (He did, however, reach out to me a couple of years later to let me know that he wished he had listened to me at the time.)

But this time, I thought I had found the right role at the right company and that I would be there for the long haul. Alas, that was not to be the case.

Suddenly, everything in my life was about to change. Not only financially, but the team that I had built would now be on their own, the daily list of action items was wiped clean, people that I had been working with side-by-side for 11 years would practically vanish from my life overnight.

There is also an instinctive panic that sets in. At least, there was for me. How am I going to pay the mortgage? How am I going to put food on the table? How am I going to pay the bills? What happens if I get sick during the Covid-19 pandemic? What the heck am I going to do now?

And there were the little things…

Milestones that we were about to hit that I would never see come into fruition.  Goals that we were going to beat – way ahead of schedule – that I would not be able to celebrate. Business trips that were planned that needed to be cancelled, which meant – in part – that there were friends that I had made in other company locations that I would probably never see again.

It felt like this “relationship” that I had built with this group of people was ending. It felt like a breakup. It felt like I just found out that I had been cheated on and that my significant other was leaving me for this other person.

And they were doing it just as Covid-19 was taking over the entire world.

They say “It’s just business, it’s not personal.” But when you’re the person being terminated, it feels VERY personal.

It’s easy to look back and wonder if there was something I could have done to make myself more valuable, perhaps even indispensable. Maybe I had tried to focus too much on a proper work-life balance? Maybe I had not been as fully engaged in that planning meeting as I should have been? Maybe I employed my career-limiting candor once too often?

So many maybes, so little time.

But there’s an old saying that I keep replaying in my mind.

Forgiveness is giving up hope for a better past.  

There is no way to go back and rewrite the past. What is done, is done. The question is… What Comes Next?

Turning My Covid-19 Challenge into an Opportunity

Making Lemonade

At the same time, I had my side business (the one you are currently enjoying – or, at least, I hope you are enjoying – this article on); Art & Home.

Art and Home has been part of my life for over 15 years. It started out as an eBay store, selling adorable hand-picked decor items. It was never supposed to be anything more than a hobby, giving me a chance make a bit of extra money on the side.

But it grew. And I found new products that I was excited about offering. There was an “Ohhhh! I LOVE that!!!” moment when I would see a beautiful new painting, or wall tapestry, or stained glass table lamp. It was like I was able to go shopping without spending any money!

I love finding beautiful things, even if I can’t always afford to buy them for myself. After all, that $10,000 luxury area rug may be gorgeous, but it would never have survived my kids or my dogs (or me, for that matter… I spill far too much coffee to own an expensive rug!).

But even though I enjoyed my work on Art and Home, I never expected to have to rely on it for my income.  But, as things change around us, we also must change.

Spending My Covid-19 Downtime Rebuilding Art & Home

Spending Covid-19 Downtime Productively

Now that the world has come to a bit of Covid-19 induced standstill, it feels like the perfect opportunity to turn my layoff lemons into Art & Home lemonade.

My hope… no, let’s be honest… my dream is that I can turn Art & Home into something substantial enough that I can do what I love every day. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend the day window shopping for beautiful home decor?

It may not work. There is a lot of work to do. And I’m on my own here, no more team to help me figure things out when they go awry. But this feels like the perfect time to try.

Watch for a completely new series of articles on home decor, life, celebrations, struggles, cooking, and more.

I truly hope that you will enjoy the new and improved Art & Home, and that you come back often to see what’s happening… and – of course – don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter (see the signup box below ↓↓) so that you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on!

And hopefully, a year from now, I can write another post talking about my Covid-19 success story. I think we’re going to need a few of those!

How I'm using my Covid-19 Downtime to build up Art & Home.

2 thoughts on “Turning Lemons into Lemonade: My Covid-19 Layoff Story”

  1. This is a great mindset in the face of adversity. I went through something similar 3 years ago. I took my departure from the company that I had worked at for 5 years as the opportunity to change career directions entirely. In my case, I returned to school and then started my own business allowing me to work from home and control my own schedule. Looking back, I am SO happy that I took that opportunity and I’m sure you will too. After all, I fully believe you’re going to be successful in your efforts. I’m excited to see what the rest of this year will bring here!

  2. A great inspiring post for the economic downturn of this crisis. I like seeing how people have become creative during this time, changing their business models/audience or building a new business altogether.

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