When unexpected life changing news comes, I always try to start with champagne. But the truth is, that's the easy part. Given the choice between wallowing in anger, self-doubt, or sadness -- champagne is always the better option.
After champagne, what next? Somewhere between the fourth glass at the Tabard Inn bar 13 days ago and today, I found out. When fired from a job you love and are succeeding at, the only option is surrender. Let life show you what this lesson is all about.
It started on Facebook. Unexpected people who didn't have to reach out in such a public way did so in truly amazing fashion. People who I'd barely met within the ACLU started to "friend" me, some posted, others commented, many simply "liked" what I and others were saying as the shock of it all set in. There were tweets of support too, and many more private emails and phone calls. "How can I help?" "Please use me as a reference." "I will introduce you to so-and-so." And some simply said thanks -- in extraordinary ways. I was so overwhelmed I started saving all the notes in one document -- more than 40 and counting -- some short, some long. Not one of them expected.
And then, to my surprise, it didn't stop, hasn't stopped. Almost two weeks in, and still, the very best network of friends and colleagues in the world continues to brighten each day with links or connections to people they know who are looking, suggestions for networking, setting up interviews, lunches, dinners, drinks and other invitations from friends lending support. There was a very well attended Brooklyn bash to say farewell to three, and a more intimate reunion just last night with two of the smartest young women I've had the pleasure to work with. Given the number of wicked smaht women throughout my career, that's saying something.
There hasn't been a day since being fired that I haven't had many more reasons to be grateful than resentful. Thankful for the brilliant and dedicated souls I have the good fortune to call friends, if not still colleagues. Not once -- much to my own surprise -- did the temptation to slip from grace to grouch catch me off guard. Through it all I have been humbled; by amazing acts of kindness, by people saying things about what they learned from and with me, by the signs of life after the ACLU that came in quick interviews and quicker offers of consulting work.
And humor helps. Especailly in those moments when people say things like, "I thought I was about to learn something about you like you embezeled" or "I thought maybe it was sexual harrassment until I remembered he worked most closely with women and they aren't exactly his type." Humor helps deflect the most shocking rumor.
So after starting with champagne, and continuing with gratitude, grace, and humility, I'm not sure what's next, but I know this: because I chose this path instead of insecurity, bitterness, and regret, whatever it is will be good. We create our paths forward one step at a time. Learning how to make the first step away from a difficult situation makes every step thereafter a little easier.