I have worked at the same company for 21 years. I think I went through 11 layoffs/staff reductions during my tenure. There have been no raises for probably 4 years now. And on Sept. 25, two days before I was scheduled to leave for my much-anticipated and long overdue vacation, I was laid off.
I have been working since I was 16 years old and I am now 54. I got a summer job as soon as my parents would let me and worked Christmas vacations and summers throughout my latter years of high school and all the way through college. I had a job waiting for me when I graduated from college. And other than about 3 weeks when I was in my early 20s and quit a job that I loathed – and had two job offers within those 3 weeks – I have been employed. It has been very difficult, having no place to GO in the morning. I have plenty to keep me busy – just trying to finish all the house projects is almost a full time job in itself. Plus my aging parents are requring more and more of my time. So I guess if I had to lose my job, it’s better to lose it when you are so overwhelmed with projects that can fill up that time you used to spend working and commuting.
I knew I would not be able to work at my current job until I retired. I knew I would get laid off before then. I have thought about the ‘what ifs’ for awhile now. I had considered going back to school to do something else, but by the time I got out and entered the job market in a brand new field, I would be pushing 57. I really thought I wanted to completely leave my current field and do something new.
I am blessed in that I received a good compensation package. And thanks to my husband’s income, our debt-free lifestyle and our frugality in all areas EXCEPT horses, me being without a job for awhile will not constitute a crisis.
Now that I have had almost two weeks off, and a very nice vacation (more about that later) during that time, I am realizing that what I was burnt out about was the place where I worked, and not the actual career itself. I did not realize the full impact of working in a place where good friends and co-workers were often being laid off. And how much stress it was to constantly be hearing rumors of cuts, and wondering when I would be next.
Emotionally, I have been on a rollercoaster ride. Depressed sometimes, and then sometimes almost mild euphoria over having time to see friends and to finish all my unfinished projects. And then guilt over feeling even the least bit relieved to have more time for myself for the first time in 30 years.
Part of my compensation package included the services of a ‘career coach’ and we have met once. I really like her, and she gave me ‘homework’ to do. I am so grateful that I have the luxury of time to think about what I want to do next. I do need to work – not only due to the finances (and mostly due to the high cost of health insurance) but also just because I like working, need ‘structure’ in my life and reallly need to feel financially independent. Stay tuned.
As for Kentucky, my friend Margaret and I went to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington to watch the Arabian/Half Arabian Sport Horse Championships. We are both thinking about taking our own horses next year and this was a ‘fact-finding’ mission. We had a great time, watched dressage, in hand and sport horse classes, took a tour of horse farms, found some great restaurants and historic spots and enjoyed the beautiful cool weather.
My back is slowly improving. I had pain rain my SI joint that I thought was from the fall, so the ortho sent me to a physical therapist, who determined it really was not my SI joint that was hurting, but nerve pain radiating from my back to the SI joint. She gave me some exercises to do and it helped a lot even after the first session.
Riding will now become a priority again, now that I have more time and the weather has gotten better. I am trying to put myself on a schedule – riding/stall cleaning from 6-9 a.m., then job searching/career coaching/portfolio and resume building from 9-5, and horses again after 5.
I am also making what I jokingly call ‘play dates’ for myself with friends. I need social interaction, especially now, and I have seen way too little of my friends due to my 11-hour days for the past 20 years. I am trying to set up two lunches a week with friends. I am terrified of becoming a ‘slug’ – sleeping too late, staying up too late, etc. I am also making myself go to bed no later than 11. We’ll see how well I do. 😉
In horse news, I entered Faeryn in the Region 9 Championships scheduled for the first weekend in November. Faxx has had entirely too much time off, so he goes back to work tomorrow. I rode him once before I went to KY. Fling is getting better with her flying changes and I think she’s close to being able to do multiple changes.
And I hope to start posting on this blog on a more regular basis again.