When my company decided to go in a different direction, it was my chance to take a new path too

A phone call can change everything. When I got the news, I was blindsided. By the time I hung up I was a new person. I just didn’t know it yet. I had never experienced a lay-off before…ever. My company decided to go in a different direction; it was my chance to take a new path too.

I needed to take some time to think about what I wanted to do next. Instead I jumped head first into the job search. I was ready for the change I couldn’t initiate on my own, but I kept resisting it. If you caught the blog post How to Turn Your Doritos Habit Into Dinner a few months ago, you know the story. At first it was a little unnerving to suddenly be unemployed in New York City, but it was liberating too. It really was time for a change but what?

If one more person told me to follow my passion, I’d have to clonk them over the head with my cast-iron skillet

I spent weeks head down in my laptop doing all the things you’re supposed to do when looking for a job. I worked longer hours unemployed than employed and it was good for me. It was time to take stock and make decisions and although it didn’t feel like it at the time, I kind of crushed it. But when I finally came up for air, I had the overwhelming feeling that I was looking in the wrong place for the wrong thing. And if one more person told me to follow my passion, I’d have to clonk them over the head with my cast iron skillet! Passion doesn’t pay the bills, but apparently perseverance does.

I mean really! What is my passion anyway? Yes. I know. I write a food blog. I know. I love food and cooking. But I already determined in Remembering Anthony Bourdain that restaurant life was not for me. So what does that leave me with? I write. I dabble in marketing and social media. I blog. I photograph my food. I still wasn’t making the connection.

Luckily, I job search like used to date. It’s all about my network. My sister-in-law Denise used to say, “you have to have an in to date Michele.” It’s the same with work.  I was sort of walked into most roles that I’ve had over the years. The last one was even created for me. It’s never been the most prolific approach to either dating or job searching, but in the end, it produces high quality results. I offer Mike and Myriad (my last company) as proof. But passion? That was going to be a tall order even for my fabulous network.

The answers were in my kitchen

I started to ease up on the long hours of job searching. I transferred that energy to cooking and writing and marketing my brand. I felt guilty at first. I was supposed to be finding a job. I had been looking for the answers in LinkedIn, but the answers were in my kitchen. Behind my laptop perusing job openings, my mind would race, and I’d jump from one idea to the next. In my kitchen I had focus. I would only concentrate on the meal. My mind was at ease.

I was taking advantage of the time to cook. I was writing weekly. I was taking online courses in Marketing and social media. Our dinners were balanced and well thought out. I had time to devote to meal prep and planning. In some ways it was a dream come true! There was polenta and pasta alla chitatrra, Easter pie, shepherd’s pie, chicken broth and salad too! I even had time to create not one not two but a three-part series on alternatives to chicken and pasta! I finally wrote The Ultimate Guide to Stocking Your Pantry that had been rattling around in my head since Big Bites Tiny Kitchen first began. Life was good, and this was exactly what I wanted…except that I’m not the billionaire NYC socialite I fancy myself to be.

Some people meditate. I cook.

I had done the work up front and set the job search in motion. I was feeling more relaxed. The leads started coming in. And they were good leads: Channel Manager, Channel Marketing, Client Onboarding and others I can’t even remember as I type this. I was feeling good! Some people meditate for clarity. I cook. As each opportunity appeared I could see it with fresh eyes.

It was becoming easier to make decisions, and for one reason or another none of these awesome leads were the one. My mood began to dip. I’d burn dinner. I couldn’t sleep. I’d scroll through Instagram comparing myself to the beautiful people with their perfect stories. When my submission for brand ambassador of a really cool mom and pop food start-up didn’t win, it was the last straw. What was I really doing here anyway? I wasn’t a food influencer and I wasn’t a Partner Manager anymore! I was one failed meal away from giving up. And then the phone rang…

I think some wise person once said that a phone call can change everything. You heard it too? It must be true. There’s more to this story, but I’ve been working long hours and now it’s time to cook again and clear my head once more. I have decisions to make. Meet me back here next week for the rest of this story…

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