Friday, April 23, 2010

Change Management - Eleanor Shepherd

When do the changes stop? I thought that when we took early retirement and settled into our condominium on the lakeshore, working for a non-profit within ten minutes drive, I could just settle down and enjoy a peaceful existence, without having to worry much any more about changes. Now here I am a year and a half later, having been laid off and rehired by another non-profit, in a completely different set of circumstances. At least I am still living in the same condominium, with the same man, with whom I celebrated forty years of marriage this month.

I was secretly rather thrilled when my friend told me she heard my daughter talking about me on a radio interview that she was doing on the CBC morning show in Toronto. Elizabeth, a twice Juno nominated, jazz musician introduced one of her songs, dedicating it to me in honour of the fact that at my age I was willing to go out and look for another job. Changes that make our children proud of us, I can handle.

Working at home is a new experience for me. There are many advantages. My commuting time has been cut from twenty minutes a day to zero. After I clean up from breakfast and brush my teeth, I can be in my office, before my husband has the car out of the underground garage to drive to work. Proximity to my office is convenient, but sometimes makes it difficult to draw clear lines between home life and work life. Discipline keeps me at the desk during working hours, but at times it is difficult to push back the chair and leave the office to attend to the more mundane household tasks at the end of the day, particularly if I am into a project that I want to complete.

I expect other writers understand the conflict that arises when you work where you live. Being able to do more writing was an unexpected benefit of my job layoff. I had prayed, asking for time to write, if it was important that I finish this book project that has been part of my life now for ten years. The summer was mine to write. My job finished in June and although I was offered my current part time job shortly after, it was not scheduled to start until September. Every day, all summer I was able to immerse myself in the book project, writing all day long. It was a writer’s dream.

As well as providing time for writing and rewriting, this summer of change gave me the opportunity to learn about Employment Insurance and the devastation that one feels when your contribution to a company is no longer required. When I felt that I was useless and redundant, the gentle voice I know so well assured me this was not the case. He had a plan for my summer, to write and once again experience the thrill of grappling with ideas that energize and excite me. To provide the extra push I needed to get me going, He provided an Award of Merit at The Word Guild Awards gala.

For a while last Fall, I was able to settle again into a routine. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays I worked from my home office for a non-profit that I am passionate about, because it helps women in the developing world provide for their families. On Mondays and Fridays, I can write, giving voice to other things I am passionate about like sharing our faith through listening. It was a pleasant place and I enjoyed it. However, I knew it would not last. Sure enough, in December, I was asked to work full time for Opportunity International and I did need to work full time to accomplish all that I wanted to do. I discovered the trick was to have my running shoes on and be ready to sprint when the next change came along. Now only do I want to adapt to it, but I want to run out and greet it, knowing that the One who holds my hand never changes, is always there and will accompany me to new places, I have not yet dreamed of.

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