My April Fool's Day Wakeup Call

Being laid off is no joke, but it can lead down a path of discovery -- and up to the top of the world.

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From left: Robin and Dolores Farmer in Egypt (N. Schmitt Scullon)

After 21 years in the newsroom, notice of my layoff arrived in an email last year on April Fool's Day.

I had always looked forward to April 1, whether I was doling out the pranks or falling prey to them. But this email instructing me to report to Human Resources first thing in the morning was no gag. After reading it, I stopped working on my stories, said my goodbyes and began weeding through decades of clips, letters and assorted odds and ends. The detritus of my career filled three Supercans.

I took what I wanted that night and departed. No way would I return the next day, April 2, to pack my belongings under the watchful eye of a security guard or former colleagues at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And so I left, dreams boxed, my heart dragging behind me.

One month after receiving my fateful email, I found myself climbing up the limestone blocks of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Sitting on one of the Seven Wonders of the World can change your perspective and fill you with hope.

There are far worse places to feel sorry for yourself than an architectural wonder that for 38 centuries was the world's tallest structure. As I sat on the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, I felt alive with possibility. The ancient pyramids around me served as a reminder that hard work, girded by a strong foundation, endures.

I did not know what awaited me when I returned to the United States. But in the cradle of civilization, I vowed to start anew.

This is my year of exploration as a writer.

I have more time to write screenplays and scripts "on spec" of favorite television shows.

My love for journalism remains as I work on a freelancing business that showcases my narrative writing skills and expertise in stories that inspire. Finding them a home is harder than ever these days as the competition is fierce. So I try harder.