This quote from the book “Who Moved My Cheese” cautions people not to become complacent in their work, to notice the signs that things could be changing, that the company could be in trouble, and that they could be lost. Job positions.
It was the third time Glen had been fired. He smelled the cheese but did not want to worry his wife Toni so he did not discuss it. Of course, after many years of marriage, Toni knew something was wrong. Glen was quiet and sullen and he was not himself. Then the announcement came and she had to tell Toni about it. Having been through this twice before, it didn’t make it any less traumatic. It was still very demoralizing for both of them!
Losing a job creates many fears. What will i do now This was my identity. Who am I now? And finances? We will be fine? Will we be able to pay our bills, buy groceries, what about health insurance? We are not getting any younger. How long will it take me to find another job? Will we run out of savings? Can we ever take another vacation? These are some of the fears faced by people who have just lost their job.
Toni, of course, had many of the same thoughts and some of her own. Can we get over this one more time? Will I have to work longer hours? Will I be able to do it physically? Will I be able to emotionally support Glen while looking for a new job? How will this affect our relationship? Will you survive another job loss? Will my friends understand? Would you mind? Will they offer me emotional support? Or will they just tell me that everything will be okay if I just have a positive outlook?
So many questions and so few answers. Days go by, weeks go by. Glen is searching, going to job fairs, submitting resumes. I suggest to Toni that Glen read “Who Moved My Cheese”, it would be helpful to both of you. It’s about change and how to process it.
After two months, the recruiter gives you a good tip. It’s the kind of work Glen does, but the problem is, he’s in a city three hours away. It is exciting and scary at the same time. Glen has a phone interview. It feels pretty good and then more time passes. The recruiter says it is important to be patient. Then the good news comes, they want Glen to come in for an interview. You think it is going well, but again you have to wait. Again, the recruiter says be patient. Glen is nervous and Toni doesn’t know how to help. If you don’t get the job, you will be a huge disappointment. If you get the job, it means a big move. So much to think about, so much emotion.
They finally listen again! Glen gets the job. Hurrah! They are ready for the challenges they face. They will “move their cheese.”
It has been three months since Glen started his new job. It got a good review. Toni has moved to the southwest coast of Florida now and has a huge advantage in a job in her chosen profession. They made an offer for a house. They have settled in their new city and in their new circumstances. The future is bright!
When Linda first sent me her story, I realized that she had heard what I said during that difficult time and what I was not saying, she seems like a loyal friend and mind reader. Part of the time I felt like I needed to be brave about this financial crisis during our weekly phone conversations as Linda had tragically lost her husband a year earlier and how could this compare to what was going on. I have noticed that the tides turn, not only because of bodies of water, but also because of lasting friendships. For me, it felt like a smooth rhythm where we took turns listening, talking, and sharing the ups and downs of our weeks.
It’s amazing that almost a year has passed since that phone call Glen had been so nervously waiting for. We knew we had better options than many, but it’s never easy and starting over when you’re this close to retirement is scary. Going through savings, unexpected medical expenses when the policy you buy is basically a high deductible major medical plan that takes you to a hospital. So many people tell us that we would be fine, when in fact it was a very emotional moment, even more so the older you are, the more difficult it is to start over in another place.
We started a journal for ourselves, filled with information about moves, neighborhoods, things to do, etc. Actually, my journal was full of paint, packing, moving fragile possessions on long weekend trips while I was still working for a few months until I moved into the temporary apartment. Glen was learning the ropes at his new job and finding the local running and biking groups. The activities were her emotional and physical release. Working to provide support and doing whatever I had to do was emotionally and physically draining, finding that my dance and art groups eased the tough days.
Once I was transferred, I began to explore our new city. First it was the glorious sunsets that mesmerized me, snapshot after snapshot that filled my phone’s camera album. We had always loved kayaking and looking for herons, egrets and rosette spoonbills and here they were at my back door every night. I took this as a sign that this place was where we should be.
Relocating is lonely when you are losing your community. I kept remembering how my mom moved and what made it easier when she was about the same age. I found all my interests; line classes, art studios, and wonderful volunteer organizations. Finding my niche, offering my talents gave me something to look forward to. Telling my adventures and posting photos allowed me to show others that I was doing well. Communicating with social media was helpful, but many times I miss my close friends everyone needs, your A-team when you want to sit back and be yourself. Those people can’t be replaced, and finding new ways to connect meant frequent travel and time on the phone.
I was lucky to find a job and be part of a new inclusive wellness program. For as long as I can, I want to see the expression on someone’s face when they have given me a massage and then their cancer treatment and hear them say how grateful they are for my touch. I am grateful that my passion and my life’s work are one and that I can continue to offer a comforting therapeutic touch during difficult times for survivors of cancer treatment.
I recently played a game with my grandchildren when they were visiting and took them to see the puppies at Southeastern Guide Dogs. It was spring break and the line was long, and waiting is so hard when you’re young. Remembering the AT&T commercial where the gentleman sits at the children’s table and keeps asking questions to make them think. So I asked my trio, “what’s worse, waiting in line to play with the puppies or NEVER watch TV or see your parents or visit us anymore?” It was good to have that perspective, and sometimes it helps to ask tough questions. Life is not always easy, sometimes it is so difficult, you wonder why try? They fade and then a smile, a song, a sunset reminds you that “The tides turn and have faith.” Sometimes not only does the cheese move, but the hardened edges are cut off, a bit of old mold, which helps to see the new possibilities.
We have a new life in a new home with a view of the sunset over the pond every night. Work we enjoy, hobbies that keep us young and engaged. It was easy, right? Was it necessary, yes? Feeling grateful and resilient and depositing those good feelings for those moments that will come and that will make you scream “for real, again.”