There is nothing you must be and nothing you must do. There is nothing you must have and there is nothing you must know. There is nothing you must become. However, it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet.
Searching for personal, professional and creative resiliency
|Pretty in Green!|
Getting laid off is a bit like announcing you have cancer. Some people just nod their heads when you tell them you are okay, although you can see their inner dialogue is saying, “poor dear, I hope she makes it through this”. All attempts at explaining why this is a good thing in your life fall on deaf ears and your ability to have a normal conversation seems to evaporate.
If you’re the survivor of lay offs, I understand the reluctance to talk with people who went through that experience. Perhaps there is a fear that the lay offs are contagious, and they will be next, maybe it is a renewed focus on work so that there is no excuse to put their position on the line. In the back of my mind though, I had hoped that after working with some people for ten years, I would at least get a phone call…or even a lunch date. Something to acknowledge all the long hours we worked together and the projects we struggled on. Even if it is for closure on both parts.
I’ve only received a couple of emails. Brief, polite almost a cursory attempt at acknowledging my empty desk. Last week, one former co-worker saw a job announcement she felt would interest me. Instead of sending it directly, she sent it to someone else to forward onto me. As if an intermediary would ensure that she would be unaffected by any contact with me. In comparison, I’ve run into other people in the office who openly smile and embrace my presence.
It hurts, this avoidance, but it also drives home the fact that I was in the wrong place for far too long.
I was a bit late for my family's Christmas celebration this year. We hadn't set any specific time, but my original plan to come down after lunch was sidetracked a bit because of an unexpected visit from an old friend I hadn't seen in 30 years. My niece, upon hearing this news, remarked that it wasn't possible because, after all, I was just 29! After explained that I fudged a bit on my age and was only 9 while in high school <wink>, I then confessed that I was 39 and started talking about my friend from high school and what a wonderful treat it was to see her again after all these years. Although I have always treasured my wonderfully eclectic and diverse group of friends, this past year's events reminded me of the most important lesson from 2011.
#1: Connections are important
Words cannot express how grateful I am for all the wonderful people in my life. There was a time in my life where I really didn't have any close friends. I was young, and working crazy hours in retail management. My evenings, weekends, and holidays were occupied with putting out fires, dealing with employee issues, and trying to figure out life as an adult. I had quit college, one year shy of my degree, and found myself in a job that was challenging, and for the most part fulfilling. Each year, over the holidays I would work furiously through the Christmas rush until I would literally fall over on New Year's...in part from exhaustion and in part from my body finally taking a breath. I rarely had plans for that holiday, or most other events, because I didn't make the effort to spend time making and keeping friends outside of my job. At one point, when I realized that the company was in financial troubles I finally took a step back and started to question how I wanted to spend my time going forward. I missed close friendships, and the ability to explore and play. I also missed learning, and for the first time in ten years considered going back to college and back to Austin, which always felt like home.
I made some crazy (and brave) decisions that year that changed the course of my life and brought me to where I am today. The biggest goal I set when I made that move, was to never put my friendships to the side. When I look at all the lovely, wonderful people who grace my life on a regular basis, all I can say is 'mission accomplished'.
"We are creatures of community. Those individuals, societies, and cultures who learned to take care of each other, to love each other, and to nurture relationships with each other during the past several hundred thousand years were more likely to survive than those who did not."
-Dr. Dean Ornish, "Love and Survival"
|I made this as a gift to my friend Teri in high school 30 years ago. What's even crazier than her keeping it all these years if the fact that I attempted cross stitch as a teenager ;-)|