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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Baby Steps

House cleaning today--though I mean that figuratively. My husband and I pulled up our stools and laid out my “package” on the counter in the kitchen, where we analyzed our expenses and realized we aren’t going to starve. I knew we weren’t but the headache pulsing behind my eye since Wednesday evening lessened some once the numbers were tallied. Pride took a proverbial beating though. When your income figures significantly into the family budget, and it disappears, where does your value come from? I hope there will be a fine tuning of my priorities in the near future.

My Australian sister helped me initiate some of that adjustment last night as we burned some fourteen thousand miles of telephone wires between us. Since she is enjoying (operative word there) her first year of retirement, she had helpful advice for me for the near term, most of which was already bouncing around in my brain:

Develop a routine and stick with it
Get physical exercise
It’s OK to take time to relax and get your head cleared from that which has gone before
Listen to the BBC and stay up on current events
(Optional) Visit your sister in Australia while you have the time.

While I’m on my way to taking her guidance, on Monday the new routine will be disrupted a bit. I have the choice to attend an “open house” put on by my former (wince) company’s benefits department where those affected in this layoff can drop in and ask questions about coverage. I really don’t want to go. Since I was a part of the HR staff too, it will mean speaking with my erstwhile peers. Lord knows, I have always been a mush and over the past few days, it has been the calls and emails from these people, whom I genuinely like, that have caused the old Adams Apple to swell to grapefruit size. My husband suggests that I err, suck it up and go, and he’s probably right. The good news though, is this: Yes, I am emotional and yes I already miss the people. But it’s as clear as my sliding glass door that if I was offered the option of returning to work on Monday, I would lace my Nikes and run like the wind--the other way. Never say never—but right now that would be one giant leap backward.

Thankfully, I tiptoed a few steps forward yesterday during my first “day out,” enjoying a salmon burger with a friend from my mothers’ group at a restaurant I haven’t had time to go to in about 10 years. It makes no difference if you get behind a slow moving front end loader on a two lane highway on your way to lunch, because you are not on a schedule. And, there is something cleaner about the light outside on a week day at noon, when you are not sitting in a noisy company cafeteria, or as more recently, choking down food at an office desk. I was marveling at that when one of my former staff members, who was laid off seven months ago strolled by our table. She was lunching with a friend who also worked for the company and had been effected in a previous round of cuts. Hugs and big smiles! They both looked relaxed, healthy and best of all happy.

So far, so good--Yes Virginia, there is life after a lay-off.

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