A Special Moment Within an Unfortunate Situation

It’s not every day one can say they were featured in a major newspaper like the New York Times, but I can. I should be elated and on cloud 500, but instead, I am a mixed bag of emotions. The same day the article was published was also my official last day with the company.

I know I’m one of the many, many millions suddenly out of work and without health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was very careful in my language with the reporter. What I couldn’t say is how hurt I am about the way the layoff was handled. It was so cold and dismissive. Considering I worked for a staffing company, there was no offer to help with my resume or job search. It’s their dismissive tone that I can’t seem to get past. It was like those two years I worked there under super stressful circumstances with constant changes in leadership and visions meant nothing. My professional reputation within that company was stellar.

The New York Times – 4/3/20 (link to digital article is on my ‘About’ page)

What you don’t know about the picture above is it was taken in the courtyard of where I used to work. Since the parks were closed, and the New York Times photographer needed to keep six feet away from me for social distancing, I suggested the courtyard because it’s the one thing that always brought me peace during stressful times. I was able in my own way say goodbye, which is what the company tried to strip me and others of doing.

So, as thrilling as it is to be featured in a significant article and be part of COVID-19 economic history, I’m deeply depressed because there was no way to prepare for such another tough financial hit. I grow so tired of being told to “stay positive” and “you’ll get another job in no time.” These are dire times for those who are professionals and those who are hourly workers because it’s ALL industries that have taken a hit to their bottom line and not just a select few. That’s why it’s so scary and uncertain. How does one stand out from the crowd when not many companies are hiring right now or in a hiring freeze?

I’ve been talking and emailing with recruiters all week. They tell me to keep applying for positions, but they aren’t receiving many job openings. I do have one promising lead, so I pray it turns into an interview and ultimately a job offer. I’ve been networking like crazy as well.

Of course, the other issue is health insurance. To just have it ripped away with only a week to try and get medications refilled and scramble to get my breast cancer scans rescheduled before my last day with the company caused pure panic. It truly was a miracle that I was able to get both the bilateral breast MRI and diagnostic mammogram rescheduled for the same day. I had walked in there last Wednesday with only the MRI officially scheduled. The schedulers said they couldn’t fit my diagnostic mammogram just the day before. So, when I expressed my anxiety and disappointment with the MRI nurse, she told me to sit tight and would see what she could do. I was there five hours but didn’t care.

The company I now used to work for didn’t think about those whose lives depend on health insurance. I had to cancel my second epidural spinal steroid injection because they couldn’t fit me last week. That’s why I mentioned I am a breast cancer survivor and how the added stress of losing my insurance was affecting me to the reporter as well. I’m currently lacking motivation to apply for the marketplace insurance, even though I have a dear friend who has generously offered to help with the application.

Though I have much to celebrate – officially 4 years NED and the article – I’m more depressed now than angry this week. My sleep cycle is completely off. I’ve had a few stress headaches and more intense fibromyalgia flare ups. My back pain makes sitting, sleeping and walking feel impossible.

I was really hoping 2020 would be a better year. This is not a relaxing time. I still have hope for better days ahead. So, I am extending grace with myself and feeling everything I need to in order to move past it and get motivated again.

Until next time,

Warrior Megsie

COVID-19, Laid Off and Mental Health…OH My!

As many of you saw on Thursday, I was laid off from my job as a marketing project manager. I honestly did not see it coming and was completely blindsided. I found out later that a total of 300 people were laid off from the company due to the COVID-19 pandemic and their bottom line. As a survivor of the 2008 recession and breast cancer survivor, I know this will be an even tougher road due to so much uncertainty about our health.

I’m a realist and see the massive layoff numbers, especially now that I am part of that number. It’s not about being capable or skilled at this time. Many of us who are laid off are more than capable and skilled. That’s the issue. The competition will be much like the recession days; extremely fierce. Plus, many companies are implementing hiring freezes except for healthcare, technology and food industries.

I’ve been a mixed bag of emotions since Thursday – furious, scared, disbelief, anxious. I initially got more upset being told to be strong. I know people meant it in a loving and kind way and weren’t sure what to say. I’m sure I came across unintentionally a little snappy when responding to texts and messages. You see, I already AM strong. How much stronger do I need to be to survive in this world? I never set out to be a modern-day Hercules.

I’ve spent this entire weekend doing major self-care so I wouldn’t complete snap or fall into a serious depression. What’s hardest for me to deal with is feeling completely disrespected by my former manager and bigger boss. So, here’s what I’ve done to cope and change my mindset so I can focus on next steps come Monday morning.

  1. I needed to feel in control of my space, so I did OCD cleaning from top to bottom. I pushed through my chronic pain which has been sky high because I needed that control.
  2. I purged of all the logo’d work stuff (water bottles, bags, backpacks, notepads) which really made me feel good.
  3. I must’ve vacuumed five different times. Each time I shouted all the things I wanted to say out loud to my former manager and bigger boss but never could to their faces.
  4. As thoughts of them would enter my mind, I would quickly replace it with a positive thought of the amazing people I got to meet and hangout with for the past two years.
  5. I thought about how one of the regional vice presidents called me after I emailed him personally thank him for being such a great light and inspiration in the office. His beautiful words to me brought me to tears. He’s just a good man and a father figure in the office.
  6. I thought about all of YOU who reached out to me with posts, texts, emails, DMs and calls and thought how blessed I am to have people who care, even those who’ve never met me in-person.
  7. I thought about how I managed to push through chemo brain and be on point almost every day and make big decisions and lead conference calls and meetings.
  8. I read tons of inspirational quotes, prayed, read some self-help books on my bookshelf about transition and struggles.
  9. I’ve watched my favorite action movies and TV shows with a fierce female lead that I love so much. Those who know me well, know that Alias is my go-to series every single time. I just connect with Jennifer Garner’s character Sydney on so many levels. I even have an autographed script of the pilot, autographed picture of Jennifer Garner and the Alias books. Yeah, I’ve been obsessed from day one.
  10. I’ve spent time remembering the many, many trials I’ve already survived and still standing. I’m reminding myself that even when I want to give up, I must push forward because I have purpose in this life. Though I don’t know how my purpose will fully flourish, I’m trusting God’s plan.

All the above has helped me get to a decent place mentally and emotionally. I haven’t been able to verbally talk to many people this weekend. I knew I needed to work on my mindset so I wouldn’t go ballistic or cry uncontrollably. So again, I apologize for unintentionally sounding snappy in my texts or DMs.

Being laid off during this COVID-19 pandemic is downright shitty. I allowed myself to get angry and then release it. It’s so ironic that I literally am a Cancer (birthday July 3rd), so I crawled into my shell this weekend so I could emerge with a plan of action and focus come Monday. Again, I’m already a strong and resilient person and know I’ll get through this. It’s just a tough pill to swallow because I was hoping for a somewhat stable 2020 financially, professionally and physically since last year was a complete bust.

Here are the top quotes that have brought comfort to me. I may have some printed to look at often…can you guess which one (s)?

So like Dorothy’s “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” line, I cautiously step into Monday thinking of COVID-19, networking, revising my current resume, trying to get my breast cancer scans rescheduled for this week before I lose my company health insurance, waiting for my official work end date so I can file for unemployment, reviewing Medicaid and ACA and bills.  

On the bright side, I have time to write and submit to my huge list of publications that I have been aching to do. Most of all, I know that I am not alone in this struggle and calm enough to fully reach out to friends to lean on. I love y’all!

Until next time,

Warrior Megsie

Pretty in Pink

With so much uncertainty and emotions running high, I decided to focus this week’s blog post to a happy time from the past. That’s why I love my scrapbooks and photo albums. For all the painful and challenging times, I have just as many awesome memories captured for easy reference.

REWIND: Let me take you back to my senior year of high school in 1995. Anyone from Macon, GA and surrounding areas know all about the annual Cherry Blossom Festival that happens in March. It’s an international festival of friendship, plus the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. For me, it was always a favorite time of year because everything cherry blossom related is PINK, my favorite color.

Though I grew up watching pageants, I never thought I would actually be in one. My high school, Mount de Sales Academy, always had at least 1-2 seniors on the Cherry Blossom Court every year. I had never thought of entering the Cherry Blossom Pageant until a friend from another high school suggested it. Her name was Ann, and she was a 1994 Cherry Blossom Princess from Central High School. We were in a musical together back then during her reign. She thought I would be perfect for it.

Considering pink has been my favorite color since I was four years old, I thought it would be fun to enter the pageant and be immersed in everything pink, meet more new people and practice my interviewing skills for college.  For this pageant, the talent was giving a speech on a topic of your choice. I have always loved the stage, so thought it would be an absolute blast.

My friend Anne was so convinced I would get on the court that after she left for college, she had her mom reach out to give me her pink pageant gown, pink interview suit and pink poodle skirt. We happened to be the exact same height and size. I was a tiny little thing back in the day.

In the two weeks leading up to the pageant, my mother got very ill and nearly died. She got a staph infection and pneumonia and was hospitalized. I did not realize how serious all this was at the time. My youth group leaders and mother’s friends stepped in and made sure I had everything I needed, got to school and all to all the pageant rehearsals. This was the start of mother’s body notifying her something was seriously wrong.

As excited as I was on the day of the pageant, I was deeply sad because my mother wouldn’t be there. She had never missed a major performance of mine. I remember getting ready in the dressing room at the Grand Opera House in downtown Macon when one of the volunteers walked over with a message. My mother was there. She had signed herself out of the hospital against her doctor’s orders and had a nurse with her. The Cherry Blossom Committee had roped off a section in the back, so no one was seated near her. Once I knew my mother was in the audience, I felt even more confident and wanted to do my utmost best.

From the moment the pageant started, I was on fire! My smile had never been so big. When I was on stage during the opening dance number, I searched the audience and found where mother was sitting with a facemask and nurse by her side with her IV. Knowing she was so sick but determined not to miss my first time in a pageant meant the world to me. She was diagnosed with a blood cancer called essential thrombocythemia at that time. She didn’t tell me until the summer before my junior year of college.

Princess Megan-Claire (ME)

The Cherry Blossom Court consists of one queen and four princesses. So, when I made the top 10 and then ultimately the top five, and then crowned as one of the 1995 Cherry Blossom Princesses, I could not have been prouder of myself. I had always wanted to be a debutante like my mother. I felt like one that night and at the night of the Cherry Blossom Ball.

From left to right: Princess Joy, Princess Megan-Claire (ME), Queen Keisha, Princess Laura and Princess Jennifer
From left to right: Queen Keisha, Princess Joy, Princess Megan-Claire (ME), Princess Jennifer and Princess Laura

I got to do some amazing things while on the Court. I got to be part of ribbon cuttings, a motivational speaker to young girls, thrilling helicopter ride over the city, meet dignitaries from all over the world, and a judge for the Little Miss Cherry Blossom Pageant. The highlight of the entire experience aside from being on the Court was meeting the Band of the Welsh Guards of England. In fact, I kept in touch with one for a few months afterward. I still have the letter! They were super nice, flirty and hilarious. I was never popular with boys in high school, so it was nice to get some attention from some cuties but all in good fun.

From left to right: Princess Megan-Claire, Welsh Guard #1 and #2, Princess Jennifer
Princess Megan-Claire (ME) just hanging out with the Band of the Welsh Guards

My cherry blossom tiara is one of my most prized possession because of all the amazing and fun memories attached to it.  The entire experience was one of the highlights of my senior year in high school.

So, as we move into another week of uncertainty due to COVID-19, those still in treatment or newly diagnosed, make sure to take time and focus on some of the good things in your life, whether past or present.

Until nex time,

Warrior Megsie

“With a Little Help from My Friends” by Joe Cocker

I’m very open with my struggles of depression and sometimes anxiety. It’s been part of me since my early teens. Though there is a lot of darkness in me, there is also pure joy and sunlight.

I had somewhat stopped leaning on people due to constant disappointment of them not being able to hold me up during my time of need. When a strong person cracks or heaven forbid breaks, instead of being heard and allowed to cry, I’m always told to “buck up” and “be strong.” That’s enormous pressure to always remain in-tact.

In this digital age, the reach and support one can find is vast. Though I long for a local bestie to binge watch Downton Abbey (which I’m watching as I type this) and other fun shows or just hangout chatting, it struck me that I’ve been longing for the wrong thing. I keep focusing on friends in real life who can come over, but I see now I have made great female and male friends from all over the world thanks to social media.

From DMs, to supportive posts, to recorded messages from peeps in the UK, to sweet cards and unexpected gifts…how dare I say I’m lonely even for an instant!

So, as the musician and songwriter Joe Cocker sang With a Little Help from My Friends, that’s exactly why I’m able to write this with a genuine smile on my face. I thank those of you who always take time to connect with me on some level. It means more than you will ever know.

 Link to the song

Thought I would also take this opportunity to share memories of fun times from the high school days through mid-20’s. I always get excited to share pictures from my many, many photo albums and scrapbooks.

Until next time,

Warrior Megsie