Smell the Cheese Often So You Know When It’s Getting Old
This quote from the book “Who Moved My Cheese” warns people not to get complacent in their job, to be aware of signs that things could be changing, that the company could be in trouble and jobs could be lost.
It was the third time Glen had been laid off. 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 just not himself. Then the announcement came and he had to tell Toni. Having been through it twice before, did not make it any less traumatic. It was still very demoralizing for both!
The loss of a job brings about many fears. What will I do now? This was my identity. Who am I now? What about finances? Will we be OK? 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 to find another job? Will we run out of savings? Will we ever be able to take another vacation? These are some of the fears faced by people who have just lost a job.
Toni of course had many of the same thoughts and some of her own. Can we get through this one more time? Will I have to work more hours? Will I physically be able to do so? Will I be able to support Glen emotionally while he looks for a new job? How will this affect our relationship? Will it survive another job loss? Will my friends understand? Will they care? Will they offer me emotional support? Or will they just tell me everything will be OK if I just have a positive outlook?
So many questions, yet so few answers. The days go on, the weeks go on. Glen is looking, going to job fairs, sending out resumes. I suggest to Toni that Glen reads “Who Moved My Cheese” it would be helpful for both of them. It is about change and how to process it.
After two months, a good lead comes in from the recruiter. It is the kind of work Glen does but the catch is that it is in a town three hours away. It is exciting and scary at the same time. Glen has a phone interview. He feels pretty good then more time goes by. The recruiter says it is important to be patient. Then the good news comes, they want Glen to come for an interview. He thinks it goes well, but again he has to wait. Again, the recruiter says be patient. Glen is on edge and Toni is not sure how to help. If he does not get the job, it will be such a letdown. If he does get the job, it means a big move. So much to think about, so much emotion.
Finally they hear back! Glen gets the job. Hooray! They are ready for the challenges that face them. They will “Move their Cheese”.
It has been three months since Glen started his new job. He got a good review. Toni has moved to the southwest coast of Floridanow and has a great lead on a job in her chosen profession. They put an offer on a house. They have settled in their new town and their new circumstances. The future is bright!
When Linda first sent me her story I realized that she had listened to what I said during that difficult time and what I wasn’t saying, a loyal friend and mind reader it seems. Part of the time I felt I needed to be brave about this financial crisis during our weekly phone conversations, as Linda had tragically lost her husband a year before and how could this compare to what she was going through. Tides change I have come to realize, not just for bodies of water, but also for lasting friendships. For me if felt like a gentle rhythm in which we took turns listening, talking and sharing our weeks’ highs and lows.
Amazing that almost a year has gone by since that phone call that Glen had been so nervously waiting for. We knew we had better options than many but it is never easy and starting over when you are so close to retire is scary. Going through savings, unexpected medical expenses when the policy you buy is basically a high deductible major medical plan that gets you into a hospital. So many people telling us we would be just fine, when in reality it was a very emotional time, more so as the older you are the harder it is to start over somewhere else.
We started a journal for ourselves, full of information about moving, neighborhoods, things to do, etc. Actually my journal was full of painting, packing, moving fragile possessions on long weekend trips as I continued to work for a few months until moving into the temporary apartment. Glen was learning the ropes in his new job and finding the local running and biking groups. The activities were his emotional and physical release. Working at being supportive and doing all I needed to do was emotionally and physically exhausting, finding my dancing and art groups soothed the difficult days.
Once I got relocated, I began to explore our new town. First off were the glorious sunsets that mesmerized me, snapshot after snapshot taken that fill my I phone camera album. We had always enjoyed kayaking and searching for herons, egrets and rosette spoonbills and here they were at my back door every evening. I took this as a sign that this place was where we were meant to be.
Relocating is lonely when you are losing your community. I kept remembering how my mom moved and what made her move easier at about my 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 fine. Reaching out with social media was helpful, but many times I miss my close friends that 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 trips and time spent on the phone.
I was so fortunate to find work and become part of a new integrative wellness program. For as long as I can I want to see the look on someone’s face when I have massaged then through their cancer treatment and hear them say how grateful they are for my touch. I am grateful that my passion and life work are one and that I can continue to offer therapeutic comfort touch during difficult times for survivors in cancer treatment.
Recently I 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 are young. Remembering the AT&T commercial where the gentleman sits at the children’s table and keeps asking them questions to make them think. So I asked my trio, “what’s worse, waiting in line to play with puppies or NEVER watching tv or seeing your parents or visiting us ever again?” It was good to have that perspective and sometimes it helps to asks ourselves hard questions. Life is not always easy, sometimes so hard, you wonder why try? Fade away and then a smile, a song, a sunset reminds you that “Tides change and Have Faith.” Sometimes it not just moving the cheese, but cutting off the hardened edges, a bit of old mold, that 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 that we enjoy, hobbies that keep us young and engaged. Was it easy, no? Was it necessary, yes? Feeling grateful and resilient and banking those good feelings for those times that will come which make you cry out, “really, again.”
Smell the Cheese Often So You Know When It’s Getting Old