It took a while to come to terms with what happened, and after a few months, I started to look at my unemployment as a sabbatical. I received some excellent advice. First and foremost ... just breathe. Take a break. Get organized. Network. Try different things to see what I might want to do for My Next Big Thing.
I did all that stuff. Took naps and walks, spent time with my 13-year old dog, started decluttering the house (that's a never-ending project), and started a consulting business to keep my PR skills sharp.
But the most important thing I did was to use my sabbatical to focus on photography. Having time to shoot whatever caught my eye has been fun and really good for my soul. I find myself being more present in the moment, thinking about composition and taking thousands of images. It's been a blast.
For a while, I focused on shooting what other people might like or buy. It started to feel like a job and not a happy one. But I got some good advice from an artist-cousin who reminded me to create my art, not what someone would appreciate. If they like it, great, but I needed to be true to what I think is good. I have a sign on my refrigerator to remind me of this every day: Honor Your Art. So, I do.
I haven't figured out a way to make a living at this, but I wish I could. I haven't given up on the idea and I am open to possibilities.
In many ways, my time off has been a gift, though I didn't think of it that way at first. But all good sabbaticals must come to an end. My severance runs out in a month or two, as does my insurance, so it's time for me to focus on my next paying gig.
I know, though, that I will continue to honor my art. It brings me great joy and I hope it brings you the same.