If you have to get laid off, this is the way to have it happen

WASHINGTON — During her eight-month jobless stint, Amy Tinsley of Houston may well have been the happiest unemployed woman in America.

Tinsley, a former marketing director for a local law firm, was laid off in December. It was the first time since age 16 that she'd been without a job. Unlike most of America's unemployed, however Tinsley wasn't fretting about her down time. In fact, she welcomed it.

With a healthy severance package, she paid off her car note and used her savings to pay her other bills — a full year in advance.

"Knowing that I wouldn't have an income, I just decided in my head that I would give myself one full year to find a job. So I paid all my bills up for a year. I just took whatever I paid in light bills, cell phone bills, my cable bill and just multiplied it by 12 and sent a check into each one of these places so I would be paid up," Tinsley said. "At least I wouldn't have to be stressed out about paying for my bills."

With a year's worth of bills out of the way, Tinsley used her unemployment insurance to pay her mortgage. And for the next eight months, Tinsley, 38 and single, relaxed and enjoyed herself while she looked for a job.

"Getting laid off was really a blessing," she said. "I've had eight months of 'me' time. Eight months to really think about what kind of things I'm interested in and, if I decide to go into a new career, what that would be."

Tinsley's friends call her hiatus, a "no-job vacation."

"Because that's what it is," Tinsley said. "I've visited friends I haven't seen in years. I've read books that I've been wanting to get to. I exercise. I took salsa and belly-dancing classes. I went to Paris. I went to Egypt. And I go to bed at night knowing that I can actually sleep in in the morning, knowing there's not anywhere that I need to be. It's been fantastic."

In addition to planning a golf tournament for a local nonprofit agency, Tinsley managed to put out more than 100 resumes during her "job search."

After two months of interviews, last week she took a business development position with a New England computer software firm that specializes in e-mail marketing products.

Tinsley is ecstatic.

"This is a company I really wanted to work for, and it feels good that I'm getting the job I want. It's not just a job I'm taking just to pay my bills," she said.

And, she'll be working from home.


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