Free Falling

Saturday morning at 5 am was my last work shift. I quit my job. I had just had it with the hours, the arbitrary schedule changes, being treated like a recalcitrant three-year-old whenever I asked a question, literally being told “STOP TALKING!” when I was trying to answer a question that I had been asked. I could go on and on. How a company could manage to create a hostile work environment when you work from home is a mystery but this company did it. I had been dreading going to work for a long time, and I was lucky…I worked when all the big bosses were off (nights and weekends), but after I got off work on Tuesday mornings, I spent most of my down time worrying what I had done wrong (that I didn’t know of) and how hard I was going to get yelled at when I came back to work. Miserable.

I was professional. I put in a two-week notice. I thought about writing long, ranting letters to the powers that be, but that would have been a complete waste of energy. They don’t care. It’s a corporation. The next warm body was in the seat five minutes after I left and all will carry on. That’s been the same since there have been companies and I don’t even need to think about it. Time to move on.

The decision to quit was a confluence of many factors. About a year ago, I decided to make another trip to Scotland (which would have started tomorrow). I put in my request for time off a YEAR in advance, because one of the other things my former employer is notorious for is not allowing you to have any time off. Oh, you accrue the hours, but trying to actually TAKE the time is an entirely different story. So, I put in my request and checked up periodically to see if it had been approved, which for the most part got no response. Finally, I had some back and forth with my boss and I got the hours/days nailed down. I made plane and room reservations, etc.

Then COVID hit. Days and weeks passed and Scotland was being firm about quarantining, etc. My boss asked if I was still planning the trip. I said yes. Then, I found out my daughter needed major hip surgery the week before I was supposed to leave. That started things teetering. In the meantime, I had a long conversation with my oldest friend about how lost I was feeling and she, out of the blue, said, “Come live with me. My house is paid for and you won’t have to work for a while if you don’t want to.” I was stunned. I honestly didn’t know what to say, but simply having such a generous offer suddenly took a huge weight off my shoulders. Then, I got an e-mail from Icelandair, where I had booked my direct Denver to Glasgow flight, stating they had canceled my flight on Sept. 8 and were moving it to the same time on Sept. 7. The utter despair I felt at having to talk to my boss to let her know that my flight had been changed sealed the deal. For three years, since I started working for her, every time I needed to make a change to my schedule for a personal reason or had any kind of Internet or computer problem, I always felt she thought I was lying. Like I want to go through this misery with you just to have a night off? I don’t think so.

I can be slow to make up my mind about things, but once I’m certain, I act fast. I decided it was time to leave the soul sucking vortex of a “job” and take my friend up on her offer. But first, I will be helping my daughter get back on her feet and actually be available for a change. She won’t be able to drive for 6 weeks and will be going to lots of appointments and her husband has to continue on his job, so now I won’t have to try to juggle work, sleep and trying to help out. Once she is up and about, I will be packing a truck or a van and taking myself to Texas for the next chapter. My daughter, roommate, grandsons and a couple of other friends know, but I had to keep it close to the vest until I was actually done with working, since you never know who will say what to whom. I was a success because the busy-body coworker who reports every WORD you say to her to my former boss knew nothing when asked. I learned my lesson about her early on. Talk about food and TV shows only!

For the first time in my life, I have no real plans going forward, other than to get to Texas. In nearly 48 years of working full time, I took a month off when I had a baby and about a month off when I moved from Atlanta to Pueblo. And in both of those cases, I knew I had to work soon, and so the time was about as far from relaxing as it could be. Now, I just want to get to Alice’s house and set up my sewing machine and chill out for at least a little while. She lives on a nice piece of land out in the country and her brother lives in a small house behind hers. She also adopted her granddaughter (who just turned 18) a few years ago, so we have that in common, too. I went to visit her for Thanksgiving week in 2018, so have seen the area and it’s lovely. Of course, I’ll be in a red state and I can’t say I’m thrilled about that or the fact that they seem to be fairly anti-COVID precautions, but, again, I will be in a rural area and not doing a lot of socializing. But her house is open and airy and I also realized that living in this dark apartment has affected me more than I realized. It’s just time for something entirely new and it’s time for something that is entirely about ME for a change. I honestly have no idea what will happen, but I will figure it out. I’m going to try to embody the words of my favorite mantra: Relax, nothing is under control.

Here’s to free falling. May the parachute open when it’s supposed to.

A New Challenge

I recently joined a page on FB called “Collective Evolution. A bit later, one of the posts was about a 30-day challenge called “Thirty Days of Me.” As I read about it, I realized that while I do spend a significant amount of time alone compared with most people, the great majority of that time is not devoted to ME. In fact, not much of it really is. I seem to always be running around doing errands, getting the flat organized, dealing with all the things one does when one has a teenager in their life, all of that. When I grab time alone, sometimes I manage a walk, or Heaven forbid, a single episode of Game of Thrones on the computer. Even my creative cooking has been curtailed lately because E is just not interested in culinary adventures, and I’m not going to waste expensive ingredients on someone who won’t even try.

So, I signed up. For the next 29 days (I started yesterday), I’m going to invest at least an hour a day in just ME. The rules are simple…an hour a day, no TV, music, movies or games, try to do this alone with as few distractions as possible, an no napping during the hour (darn!).

Yesterday, I put my drum and camera in the car and went out to Liberty Point, one of my favorite places in Pueblo, and one I don’t get to often enough. I went around noon, which is quite different, since I almost always go at sunrise or sunset. It was a gorgeous day, clear, bright, sunny and warm. I sat on my favorite flat rock and drummed into the universe.seatrock (640x480)Below me, Lake Pueblo, our reservoir, spread out full and lovely. The surrounding hills and dells were greener than I have seen them in nearly a decade, thanks to all the rain we have had this spring.

highres (640x480)As I drummed a curious crow swooped over me, furling its wings to dive down into the drop right beneath the point, then flying up over my head to catch an updraft. It was an amazing, heart-pounding sight. I also had a visit from a couple of vultures, who might have been curious about my stillness, but went on their way once I started moving.

vistor2 (640x352)I think was there at least an hour. I lost track of time, which is a good thing. These days, I’m too much in time, trying to keep up with everything. But that’s all right too. I’m going to do this challenge, but I’m also going to be okay with where I am. And if I do need to lie down and take a nap, then that’s what I’ll do. I think the biggest thing about this challenge is learning to listen to myself. What do I want to do with this hour? What do I need? Sometimes, they might be the same and sometimes completely different. If I can get a better understanding on those two things in the next month, then it will be a successful experiment, indeed!

Perhaps you should try it, too.