There comes a point in everyone’s life when one takes a step back, takes a good hard look around themselves – and finally gathers up the nerve to jump into the void of ‘change’. There’s a certain amount of miserable comfort in the sameness of things, the ‘job’, the stress, the workload at home, the routine of everyday life. Then there are the ‘expectations ‘ others have of you – and as an adult, you determine you need to fulfill those expectations – you feel a need to prove you are responsible, reliable, steady. Responsibilities. Ah yes – pay the bills, stay late at work or come in early, pick up the slack when others are shirking their responsibilities.
Odd how so many of us don’t put ourselves first – or second or even third.
Those of you who follow my blog, know I lost my mom last year. In the eight months following, I threw myself into overdrive and set about managing to take another persons entire life and find a way to merge some of it with my own, part with what I couldn’t accommodate, and divvie out what I thought others could; all the while remaining responsible, reliable, steady and meeting expectations.
That’s the simple version. When I finally came up for air, when I finally had a minute to think – I knew it was time for change.
I left my job. Gave the boss a months notice, and with little care about whether or not he would find a replacement, with a definite ‘it’s my turn’ attitude, set about winding down thirteen years of standing in the same place doing the same thing every single day. Winding down twenty five years of effort and commitment to the same industry – an industry that’s taxed me physically and mentally, and returned to me nothing more than a steady and decent paycheck – mostly due to the fact that I’ve stuck with it for so long.
My toolbox is now home.
I. Don’t. Miss. It. One. Bit.
Automotive is a thankless industry. Nobody pulls up to the garage with their truck needing a five thousand dollar repair, and walks in with a smile on their face – so in reality, you’re never seeing anybody at their best – and you need a thick skin because you know that although you didn’t build their truck, or break it – you are in the line of fire anyway.
Don’t miss that one bit either.
Thinking way back – I have been in the workforce since I was thirteen – so forty two years. Long enough I think. Am I ‘retired’? I actually don’t know……I’m not averse to going back to work….but I have decided to play it by ear, and I have decided it has to be something not in automotive. Something where I am creating, not resurrecting – there is a difference. I have been asked – “what do you want to do?” Honestly, I haven’t the faintest. I – like many people, have always done whatever I’ve had to do. Initially, the very idea of not going to work had me in a near anxiety – it’s taking some getting used to. I’ve been home almost a month now – oddly it seems longer, but I still find myself trying to cram chores in at the end of the day simply because I’m not used to having ‘tomorrow’ to do them.
I’m a list maker – I’m known to make lists of lists – always feeling more organized and accomplished as I’m checking things off. Things that surprise me now that I’m home? The lists are getting longer rather than shorter. When I have a few moments to sit and think, it occurs to me that I now have time to expand the garden. I have time to stay on top of the weeding – as opposed to scheduling a day to weed. The lists are markedly different – split firewood’ makes the list again – it’s not all on Bruce because I have time to split wood. The lists are now leaning in a different direction – I’ve decided to keep bees – something I’ve considered many times but not acted on for lack of time. There’s a lot of planning and prep to get ready for when the bees arrive. I’m looking forward to the challenge – and now recall that I’ve always done better in my life when I have a challenge in front of me – something new to learn. Challenge has been sorely lacking in my life for a lot of years.
My health is improving – that grinding mental fatigue and physical exhaustion is slowly fading. No more standing under banks of flickering fluorescents for hours on end, inhaling buckets of exhaust fumes for lack of ventilation, soaking up all manner of petroleum product that when I dump out a transmission has been chemically changed into god knows what. No more having to know all of the things – my job, the service writers job, the bookkeepers job.
No more rage. Rage when my only hard fought for heater that keeps my hands from cramping up in the winter because I have no heat in the back where I work – gets snatched up and taken to the office because despite the office having heat – the service writer is complaining her feet are cold. Rage when the boss decided that because he can’t actually lay eyes on me every second of the day, decides to have me fill out lengthy ‘reports’ on every single transmission I build and make the many treks to the time clock each day to punch on and off that particular job. Reports that got stuffed into a filing cabinet, that were never read, that I snatched up and brought home with me when I quit. So many rages. Gone. Goodbye to micromanagement. No more having to decide which battles to pick – we all know the squeaky wheel gets the grease -but in my industry it’s smart to understand that at some point, that wheel simply gets swapped out for one that does not squeak. Don’t. Miss. That. Either.
I’m not a spur of the moment kind of person – rather I tend to overthink things, which does not lend itself to much spontaneity. Paralysis by analysis is sometimes the norm in my personal life. I did not leap into the void of change lightly. I crunched numbers. I made sure I had the support of Bruce who is now by default the main breadwinner. I had to decide if I could live with lack of change around the farm – there is still so much to do, things to repair, house projects – and now, little spare cash flow to do them with.
At this moment – I feel I made the right decision. Each time I catch myself wondering if I should reconsider that decision, I remind myself; I do not owe anybody their living. I do not need to provemyself or my worth to anybody. Bought and paid for that t-shirt a long long time ago.
I try not to look back – after all I’m not going that way. I am now looking forward, focusing on what’s to come, what I can accomplish. Our farm year is still scheduled as usual, only now I’m adding to that schedule in a productive fashion. Bruce has noticed a change – he says I am less bitter, less hard, smile more often. He might be right…..the difference I notice? I finally feel like I can breathe.