It was a year ago last month that I got the news: I was part of the job reduction at the company where I had worked for five years.

It was a year ago last month that I got the news: I was part of the job reduction at the company where I had worked for five years.

When we moved to the Rogue Valley, having heard great things about this company, I hoped I would get to work there. When I landed the job, I figured I would be there until they pried my cold, dead fingers from the keyboard.

As rumors flew before the ax fell, there was that queasy feeling in the stomach, like being the last picked in gym class. I faced reality. While I had a lot of work experience, I was a woman of a certain age (55) with no college degree (just an Associate of Arts).

It was a tough and, frankly, terrifying time. My husband and I already were sort of living on the raggedy edge.

When the day came, I took it calmly. I sat in my car, by myself, for over an hour considering the possibilities. Go back to school? Start a business? If I did go back to work, what did I want to do, really?

I wasted no time filing for unemployment, polishing up my resume and availing myself of every opportunity in the Rogue Valley. I visited the Job Council, Rogue Community College, temporary agencies and online job postings. We are fortunate indeed to have such great resources.

For networking, I made a list that included family, my church, aerobics class, Bunko group, coffee acquaintances, wine-tasting buddies, former co-workers, Facebook friends, business groups I had joined, volunteer buddies and people with whom I had taken classes. They cheered me on, prayed for me and gave me leads. I realized how blessed and rich my life truly was.

Somehow, working those crazy, 10-hour days and Saturdays I had managed to maintain the most important thing in life: my relationships with others. Now I had even more time to devote to those people and activities that made me tick. What an opportunity!

I took the fencing lessons I had always longed to take. I met weekly with ladies for coffee or a glass of wine. I wrote a poem a day. I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and did more for my church, even singing in a choir, which is a big stretch for me. I organized a breakfast to keep in touch with co-workers who had been part of the layoff, as well as a ladies' night out with my aerobics pals. It was like getting a new life.

I feel very fortunate and am luckier than most. I landed a part-time job after only two months of unemployment, then that turned into a 30-hour-a-week job, which then turned into a full-time job.

I love what I am doing and the new company. My most important realization was that my work now aligned more with MY values and MY goals.

What is life like after layoff? Better than ever!

Joy reader Kay Killian lives in Medford.