When I lost my job, I found my friends.

Here’s a universal truth: When you’re in a crisis, you learn who your true friends are.

You find out because they support you, they stick with you and they find out who you really are.

We spend too much time measuring our worth by the number blog hits we get and the number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Flickr uploads we have. I’ve met too many people who have validated themselves by these numbers, and one thing I learned from losing my job is that we’re better than being just numbers. Its not a healthy existence and it gives someone a false sense of security. Even worse, it’s a fleeting substitute for face-to-face contact.

When we do something good and post it on our Facebook page, were deluged with likes and love. But when we have to bear our bad news, who responds? And who responds with more than just a comment? Who do you think will reach out to you and, more importantly, stand by you? You’ll be surprised.

There were people who inquired through those first six rounds of layoffs I survived at the Portland Press Herald. But I didn’t hear a peep from them after I was handed the pink slip in October. And when I did, it was in passing or well after the fact. And it was awkward.

No, really, thanks so much for your concern.

But I found out who my friends were. I found out who the people were, who were brave enough to bring up the issue of my unemployment – it’s not an easy issue to bring up – but who handled it so well. Who handled me so well. Seriously, after what my husband has dealt with, Tommy deserves season tickets to Allen Fieldhouse. For life. (He’s a diehard Kansas basketball fan.)

These past few months have brought a different meaning. They’ve brought rest. I joke that I caught up the sleep that I lost during the first 13 years of my career.

But when your professional responsibilities are suddenly taken away from you, you just can’t flip a switch and turn off the fact that you’re wired to find facts and you’re keyed in on making deadlines, and on edge waiting for phone calls. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed. Days I didn’t want to speak to people. Days I was angry, confused, hurt and betrayed.

There were good days, too. They’ve brought clarity. No joke. I noticed things around me on the drive to the grocery store – things I considered trivial six months ago.

And there were great days, too – including today.

I’m joining the staff at the Toledo Blade at the end of the month. I am grateful and thankful for this opportunity to return to journalism and to be a part of something bigger.

I’m going to keep getting my hustle on. I probably won’t be posting on here as much as I do, because I’ll be representing an organization once again. Professional decorum is vital, especially in an industry like journalism where transparency is key.

Some people would think this experience has jaded me, but it’s made me appreciate journalism – especially good journalism – even more, and it’s made me evaluate what’s important to me: my family, my ability to contribute, my sense of self-worth.

Furthermore, it’s made me appreciate having the opportunity to start fresh. I will appreciate every time I send in a story or crack a joke with a coworker. I’ll appreciate being stranded in some big city or some airport.

I’m looking forward to going back to work.

I’m looking forward to being a part of a team and contributing to a greater cause, and to representing the Toledo Blade. Each time I walk in the door of the Blade or get ready for my next assignment, I’ll think of the people whom I discovered were and are my true friends.

The people who stood by me. The people who surprised me. The people who pushed me forward.

Your support has kept me strong. It has motivated me. It will keep me going.