I just got off the phone with an ex-colleague. It was a very long call – over 90 minutes. She called me earlier in the day while I was walking home but I missed it. The odd thing is that I was thinking of her yesterday. She called again when I got home. We always got along very well at work but we have never met each other. We did eventually meet for lunch and had a wonderful time.
She asked me how I was doing and I gave her a quick update. Her voice though sounded a bit slurred. Was she drinking? Then she told me that when she went in to check on her migraines, they told her she has an unruptured brain aneurysm. Because of where it is in her brain, it is very difficult, if not impossible to treat. The doctors said it could rupture in a week or a year, there’s just no way to tell. So she’s been running around trying to settle her affairs. I listened as she calmly went on talking about the doctors, the insurance forms, work, her family, her funeral plans and her dog. She spoke about her life, her parents, her brother who passed away at 18 in a car accident and all the questions she still had about life.
She told me while she was doing all of this, she heard her guardian angel reminding her to connect with old friends. So I was one of the people she called. As we were winding down, I asked if there was anything I could do for her. She asked to have lunch with her and so that’s what we’re gonna do in a couple of weeks.
This is a beautifully written story by Catherine Porter formerly of the Toronto Star. I took a peek at the story and couldn’t divert my attention.
What’s weird is that at a webinar this morning, there was a demonstration about putting your life’s priorities first before taking on the other less important but time consuming tasks. People were given a empty bowl along with 2 bowls. One had small gravel representing the many urgent but not important tasks in life. The other bowl had large rocks representing things like health, passion, love, family – the important things in life. They had to fill the empty bowl with the contents from those 2 bowls without going over the top of the bowl.
Of course, if you filled the bowl first with the small gravel, you couldn’t add all the big rocks in. The trick is to put the big rocks in first and then pour the small gravel so they fall all around spaces left by the big rocks.
Sometimes I think life sends us messages in many different ways.
I got an email a few weeks ago that my uncle passed away. I didn’t know him that well. He had 2 wives and growing up, we only saw the cousins from his first wife. There were already emails alerting us that his health was very poor and he was already on “do not resuscitate”. So his passing wasn’t a surprise. I think my relatives are relieved that my uncle passed away in his sleep. His physical suffering is now over.
A few weeks ago, I was messaging with a friend from Xanga. We had chatted a few months ago and he told me he was expecting his second child in February. I didn’t hear anything from him so I emailed him. So he messaged me back the next day with updates and pictures of his baby boy. He also chided me for not having Facebook where he posts all his updates. His baby boy looks exactly like him. I liked the photo where he and his daughter are both kissing his son. We chatted for awhile. I then told him I needed to make dinner. He told me his daughter was cuddling him while he’s feeding his baby boy. It reminded me at one point in my life, I wanted to have a child. I feel sad that I can’t make that dream a reality.
Life goes on.
“Far too many people spend a lifetime headed in the wrong direction. They go not only from the cradle to the cubicle, but then to the casket, without uncovering their greatest talents and potential.”
Rath, Tom. Strengths Finder 2.0 New York: Gallup Press, 2007
I got the chills when I read that. As I try to figure out what the next stage of my career will be like, I want to have a better grasp of my skills, talents and mission in life. I may not utilize all my talents at my next job. But I need to find out what they are first and develop an outlet to fully deploy them. I don’t want to look down at my body when I’m done with it and wish I had live my life differently.
Advice and comments are always appreciated.
I’m officially unemployed today. I turned in my badge, corporate credit card and company laptop a day before my last day. My manager and I shook hands, he said some nice things. I contacted a few colleagues prior to leaving to let them know where to find me on LinkedIn and to exchange contact info. A couple offered to be references. One endorsed me on LinkedIn. I had a few nice conversations. Almost everyone said this was a good thing for me and wished they could join me. I chuckled and remembered I said the same things to others when they left.
Mostly they ask if I’m happy with the move. I guess I am. The stress was getting to me and affecting my health. It wasn’t fun anymore although I liked dealing with the people. I got into this industry by accident and found my niche.
For the past few months, I’ve been stocking up my pantry with stuff on sale (toilet paper, pasta, peanut butter, oatmeal…). I think this is more of an emotional reaction. It just brings back childhood worries when dad lost his job. I keep reviewing my finances to make sure I’m ok for the next few months.
So what’s next for me? I’ve been grappling with this for the past few months and I have no idea. I tell people I just want to focus on improving my health. I see this as a rare opportunity that I can’t waste.
A few months ago I took home an old photo album from my dad’s house. I was 8 years old then, full of smiles and laughter. There was also a pictures of me with a suit and tie, looking so serious. I had and odd posture for some reason. In a lot of pictures I lean a bit to the left. And my head. It’s so big and out of proportion to my small body.
But I found my mind drifting to another pressing issue. I just want to get away for awhile. Maybe a long while. There’s still a lot of life left to live. That decision will be made for me soon. It’s scary to think what will happen if I lose my job. It goes against everything I’ve been taught. I remember my dad struggling through several jobs, almost all of them low to modest paying because he didn’t have “Canadian” experience.
Those many months he spent job hunting are seared into my memory. I remember water being turned off at our place and oil not being delivered during winter to fuel our furnace. He would juggle and balance bills and made sure we were ok. A bad job is better than no job. It kept us fed. At night he and my mom would chat about how unfair it was at work and the usual crap he had to put up with. Stress was part of fatherhood.
So it scares me if I will lose my job. I have some savings but I know what it is like to be old and not having any financial means. It warps my perspective. I don’t have kids to look after me. I can’t even afford to be a sugar daddy and have some twink(s) look after me.
The job market sucks badly now. I look at my sister who is an incredibly hard worker, creative, retail experience, buying, logistics, management and incredibly savvy. But she can’t find anything. And here I am thinking that things will be ok if I lose my job. She’s starting to cut back on food now but I won’t let that happen.
So here I am, thinking about my finances – maybe I can hang on for a few more years and keep saving. But what good is it to work longer when I’m already stressed out? I’m on meds for various health issues. Maybe I’m being delusional to think that things will be ok.
I want to laugh and enjoy life like that 8 yr old kid in the photo album. I still look and act goofy. Would that 8 yr kid be happy with me now? I hope I don’t scare that poor kid. Shit – wait till he finds out he’ll still have a big head.
“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up because then you will lose the ability to learn new things. Move forward with your life.”
I went out for a walk one night. It was our first cold night of this unusually warm winter. The wind kept a steady pace, mocking me as I pulled my hat down even further. But I needed the fresh air. A pan handler saw me and asked for some change. I gave him some and told him to take care.
Then I saw this in a store window.
Another odd coincidence? I’ve been in the store a few times and I was checking out window displays. Lately I’ve been getting these types of reassuring messages and signals from books I’ve been reading (Wayne Dyer & Mitch Albom).
Halfway through the walk, I turned to go back and the wind was now in my face. But I felt a bit more confident. I walked a bit straighter and held my head higher. The wind didn’t seem to bother me as much.
I need to make peace with my fears and move on.