Anne Notations

Monday, April 18, 2011

Move on. Rebuild.

This sign grabbed my attention on Warwick Avenue last month.
What does it mean? Nothing? Everything?

A little over a year ago I learned that my job of 29 years was being eliminated, an event I had anticipated with dread for the entire preceding year.

Nothing personal! Budget reasons!

When your life has been as interwoven with an institution – in my case, my much loved alma mater – for as long as mine was, being cut off like an unsightly carbuncle feels very personal indeed. I was angry and bereft. I tried to be classy – and succeeded some of the time. Privately I was pretty much a mess. In addition to significant financial losses, including a college tuition benefit for our youngest two children and an employer-subsidized pension fund, I lost my career. Melodramatic? Nope; in 2010-11, it's cold reality. Very few employers are interested in a 59-year-old director-level job candidate, especially in my fast-changing field of communications and journalism. I'm now on my second temporary contract job, sans benefits as most such jobs are these days, grateful for the work and dogged by the knowledge that next fall I'll be job-hunting again, this time at age 60.

Perhaps I'm over-sensitive (who, me?), but I have found my mind gnawing on the bitter bone of rejection way more often than I'd expected, and for far longer. My moods have swung wildly, particularly since Kevin left for college in late August. With Michael still working and living out of state, I became an empty-nester – all by myself. It is not how I would choose to live.

Let's be blunt: I have had a year of painful losses, not least the loss of my self-esteem. Regardless of one's career achievements and honors, being laid off sows seeds of deep doubt: I must be a real loser or they would have found a place for me. I was too this (outspoken, wry, ADD-addled?), not enough that (humble, serious, focused?).

I know I'm lucky compared with so many in this dire economy. Yet I need to be clear about my challenges and, yes, my constitutional limitations. Another person who doesn't also battle chronic depression (13 years now), anxiety/panic disorder (since my mid 20s), and hypothyroidism might have bounced back faster than I.

An old, washed-up float. Formerly afloat.

But listen: I am what I am, and what I am is often exhausted simply trying to stay positive and calm. You can call it weakness, or you can nonjudgmentally call it my lot in life and spare the moralizing. Some days the best I can do is to climb out of the emotional cellar and remind myself I have no choice but to persevere in the face of fatigue, self-doubt, and loneliness. On other blessedly rare occasions the best I can do is to sleep, read, and/or cry for a day. Pathetic? Your call. I need to forgive myself in order to move on.

Giant step forward: A clean, neat, and functional
home office for my freelance career.

Moving on. Spring is a good time for it. All this extra sunlight – when we're not being drenched by mini monsoons – helps my mood a lot. Fussing with the yard and gardens, fixing up my new bike with a dog-walking attachment for Yogi, cleaning the house siding and front porch, finally decluttering my home office and making it freelance-ready while hauling unneeded stuff regularly to the Salvation Army and the library book-sale bin – these are healing pursuits. The swelling buds on our three-year-old lilac bush? Thrilling. The tender beginning or strengthening of friendships away from the easy hothouse of the workplace? Precious. Unexpected succor? Grace.

My online rabbi friend who writes a thought-provoking, often moving blog, published a little book of his original haiku recently. He sent me one as a gift, with a kind inscription that mentions my own writing – praise that gladdens my heart.

Here are two of Neil's haiku that spoke to me this morning. Thank you, Neil.

G-d above made love
filled with little pieces of
big human frailty

We are born temples
We mourn our own destruction
We live to rebuild


  • I LOVE your home office. And I love this line:

    "but I have found my mind gnawing on the bitter bone of rejection"

    I am sorry that you've been treading since your layoff, but I hope that at 60 I am as good a writer and as funny and young-seeming as you. I hope you get some good work. More blog entries, please!!

    By Blogger AddledWriter, at Mon Apr 18, 05:49:00 PM EDT  

  • Physical exhaustion is easier to overcome than emotional exhaustion.
    My daily mantra, "Dear God, Don't forget I'm down here..."
    Love you!

    By Blogger r_weeks, at Mon Apr 18, 10:30:00 PM EDT  

  • Anne, I have known all these feelings well. My advice is to GET ANGRY AND STAY ANGRY!

    Inevitably, it leads to better ideas and then relative calm. Anger is underrated! It drop-kicks the chronic gloom of self-recrimination and relights all bunsen burners.

    By Blogger Ian, at Tue Apr 19, 02:40:00 AM EDT  

  • You will not only make it but be stronger. (Nietzsche is still the one who said it best.:-)
    You will be fine. Tom R.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 26, 12:19:00 PM EDT  

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