The past month has been quite a ride. Ups and downs enough to make me dizzy, confused, and, at times, absolutely nauseated.
It started in February with a meeting at work. I got there late, because I had been invited to speak at Ocotillo Breakfast Club Toastmasters that morning. When I pulled into the parking lot at work, it was packed. I had trouble finding a parking space. I hadn’t seen the lot this full since… since… well, since 2009 when they announced that they were closing down one of our residences and laying off almost 40% of our staff. My heart nearly stopped.
No one was in the administrative building. I swallowed a very sour taste in my mouth, picked up my cup from my desk, and headed over to the residence to get some ice water. I met the VP of HR coming out of the kitchen door followed by the VP of Youth Services, my boss’ boss. My stomach leapt into my throat and then dropped through the floor. They quietly told me that they had just announced to the rest of the staff that the agency had decided to close the program.
Over the last month since that morning, I’ve watched the boys leaving for other programs. As of this writing, there are just 3 left. I’ve watched the staff leaving for other jobs. This week, I started my new job. More about that in a bit.
This slow process has moved much more quickly that I expected. I’ve cried until you’d think I couldn’t cry anymore. But I can. I can’t sleep. The grief is overwhelming.
In the middle of all this, my knee began hurting. That took me back to another rollercoaster ride I took back in 1994. I was a physical therapist then. One day I played Duck Duck Goose with a group of preschoolers, then found myself unable to walk without excruciating pain. I spent the next 2 years having surgeries so that I could walk again. That career that I loved, working with kids in special ed, came to a screeching halt. I’ve never fully worked through that grief, and I know that the grief I’m feeling about my current job loss is just another reminder that I must continue the work of healing this wound.
Although they were able to repair my knee with an experimental surgery, I know that sometime in the near future, I’ll need a joint replacement. I’m just not ready for it to be now. I hobble when I have to. I sit whenever I can. And I worry. Mostly in the dark of the night. The racing thoughts throb more loudly than my knee does.
In the middle of all this grief and pain, it was time for the International Speech Contest again. I nearly didn’t do it. It’s hard to feel like giving an inspirational speech when your heart is breaking. But I have this really great speech I wrote in December before everything changed, and I am the defending champ. I decided to do it, and hoped that it would help me work through the grief.
I won the club contests, but lost at area to Don Ratliff of the Yes I Can Project. I have to admit to being shocked yet immensely relieved at the loss. I never expected to lose at area, but it feels right to me. Now I can rest my knee, I can take the time to grieve more important losses, I can focus on getting settled in my new job, and I can start setting up speaking gigs through Create a Brilliant Life.
About that new job. I will still be an administrative assistant with the same agency, and I will still be working in a program that serves kids. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for me to recreate the gavel club or at least do some Youth Leadership Programs.
I love my new boss. He’s young, he’s open to ideas, and he is passionate about what the program is doing. I also love the shift director. She is experienced, grateful for my help, and passionate about what the program is doing. I love working with people who are passionate about their work.
The most fun thing I’ll be doing is to schedule field trips – we call them Adventures – for the kids in the program. I am really jazzed about this addition to my job responsibilities.
There have been some glitches in getting my desk and my fancy-schmancy dual monitor set up moved over to the new location. I’m currently working for the new program from my desk at the old program. That contributes to the feeling that it’s not quite real yet. Maybe Monday I will finally be ensconced in my new location.
That should be just perfect, since there is a high probability that almost immediately my new program will move over to my old location and my desk will have arrived just in time to be in the wrong location again.
Yes, life is a rollercoaster, and all I can really do about it is to throw my hands up in the air and yell “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
I am grateful to m.prinke on Flickr for the fun picture at the top of this post.