My Little Orange Notebook

About a month before I lost my job, I bought a little orange notebook that has kept me on track since I stopped working.

In April, after the president of The Canadian Jewish News announced that the paper would cease publication, neither I nor my co-workers knew what was next for us. As it turned out, many of them are still at The CJN, because the board reconsidered its decision following a public outcry. The paper is being published again after a six-week hiatus, but about a third of the staff lost their jobs as part of a restructuring to make The CJN financially viable.

Meanwhile, I’ve filled 26 pages with ideas, as well as a post-work “to-do” list that I’ve been adding to as I go along.

Yesterday I spent time looking through my notebook. It’s a good yardstick for me, so that I can see how far I’ve come.  It also prompted me to dredge up some of the older items and give them higher priority on my to-do list.

My first entry, dated May 12, had to do with my new LinkedIn membership. “Add experience [to my profile],” I wrote.

“Start a blog,” was another entry.  I’d forgotten how much research I did before taking that step. I looked at the pros and cons of various blog hosts, and examined food blogs and writers’ blogs. I found out what I could about blogging, in general.

I considered various names for my blog, some of which were taken, but in the end opted just to use my own name.

The notebook also has entries related to a book that’s been percolating in my head for the past few years, and even a couple of ideas for more books.

As well, I have entries related to courses that could help me in my job search.

My biggest fear about losing my job was that I would have too many hours to fill, and I wouldn’t know how to use them well. My little orange notebook is helping to ensure that isn’t the case.

 

Blogging, four weeks in

For the past four weeks, posting my blog has been my priority on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

Now, almost seven weeks since I stopped working, the blog has become central to my post-work life. In my first entry, I wrote that I was starting the blog as a way to keep writing, bring structure to my day, and figure out – or evolve into – what’s next in my life.

I think it’s done that, and more. Continuing to write on a regular basis is important to me. I didn’t set out to write every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but that’s how it worked out the first week. The schedule suits me, and knowing that I’m not posting at whim reassures me that I won’t let too much time go by without writing.

The type of writing I’m doing for my blog also helps clarify my thoughts – an important part of figuring out what’s next in my life.

Another bonus – because Friday is “food” day on the blog – is that I’m more focused on cooking than I might be otherwise. It’s fun, and we’re eating well at my house.

Lastly, the blog has helped me feel connected to friends, family and others who read what I write and provide feedback.

I’m thinking of adding a fourth day.

 

Cooking and writing

My friend Brenda suggested that on my last day of work I cook a yummy dinner and surround myself with family. Coincidentally, that’s exactly how things played out on the day I learned I’d lost my job as a reporter at The Canadian Jewish News. It was about a month ago, on a Friday, and I’d already invited my mom, my sister, and her family for Shabbat dinner. It turned out to be just what I needed.

Long story short, the president of The CJN had announced in mid-April that the paper would cease publication on June 20 – an apparent casualty of digital competition. But after a public outcry, the paper was saved in June. As part of a plan to ensure financial viability, the staff has been downsized. (The online edition can be seen at www.cjnews.com, and the print edition will resume August 1.)

I’m starting this blog as a way to keep writing, bring some structure to my day, and figure out – or evolve into – what’s next in my life.

I intend to blog about food as well as writing/journalism and career paths. Cooking, like writing, brings me pleasure and fulfils my need to be creative. Brenda’s prescription was therapeutic and enjoyable, and I want to indulge more often.

At the same time, I’ve started to network, look at work opportunities, and consider what it would be like to be self-employed as an alternative to a conventional full-time job. I’m also thinking seriously about writing a book.

But for now – to end, and begin, on a sweet note – I’m returning to the food theme. Our friends Sheldon and Marlene (who, like me, has a taste for chocolate) gave us the Baker’s Best Chocolate Cookbook many years ago as a gift. They were coming over for dinner on Saturday, so I pulled out the cookbook when I was planning our meal. I opted for something simple: Baker’s Classic Brownies. I also found an easy-to-prepare chocolate glaze online at http://www.food.com/recipe/lee-lees-famous-chocolate-sauce-for-ice-cream-19678.

With a small serving of vanilla ice cream, the rich, chewy brownie and warm chocolate glaze hit the spot.

chocolate brownie