Last Friday I got laid off. Committed to bouncing right back, first thing Monday morning I decided to take my garage and convert it into an office, where I can work to start up my own company. I was determined to let the layoff be a catalytic moment in my life, freeing me to pursue my dreams. But I needed a good dad’s-not-really-here place to work (I’ve got six kids under 12).

Fortunately for me, we have a wonderful, separate and detached two-car garage. That’s perfect, because it means I actually “leave for work” (short commute) and am out-of-sight out-of-mind, at least for our littlest ones.

But that left me with quite the project. It was a lot of work, but it actually looked decent after I’d cleaned up all the clutter, stacked everything on some shelves, blew and swept out all the leaves and dirt, and even mopped the floor.

Fortunately, we had some old furniture, an old rug that I dusted off, some card tables, and even an unused 48″ HDTV (it’s “broken” in that the picture is dramatically tinted green). I’d long since retired my books to my garage, since they were less welcome inside, so I figured they’d make for a nice, natural backdrop to an office.

Looking to make it appear a bit more “homey,” I wanted to soften up the card table look, so I ran down to Walmart and bought some cheap blankets to drape over the tables. I also got a lamp shade for an old (but beautiful) lamp my grandfather once made for me.

I dug up some old, unused pictures and hung them on the wall, fixed up the old lamp, and viola… an office!

In the back, I’ve got a little coat rack. It does get awfully cold (there’s snow on the ground outside today). With only a little space heater, I usually keep my jacket and ski cap on. That’s kinda cool, I think! I’m one of the elite few who can wear a ski cap at work. Plus, I’ve always liked it to be colder than most people.

The bottom line is that you’ve got to work with the cards you have. When you look around you with the right attitude, you’ll find all kinds of opportunities to create something extraordinary out of something very ordinary. It’s all in your outlook.

From one of my favorite poems called Keep-a-goin’ (read here):

‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine
When the fish ain’t on your line;
Bait your hook an’ keep a-tryin’—
Keep a-goin’!

So no matter what life has dealt you, look around, take stock of what you’ve got, and make something out of it. Life is simply about making the most of what you have. As you approach life with that attitude, suddenly you’ll find the world a little less gloomy and a lot more rewarding.


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