Despite having changed jobs a few times in my life – even careers, even starting my own business – nothing had prepared me for the overwhelming change of moving and downsizing from my house of 20 years into a small, ranch style home – fewer rooms, only one floor, and very little storage space. My husband and I had agreed, "How hard could this be?" since we were only moving 15 minutes away. Oh, how naive we were!
Instead of hiring a moving van to move all goods, we just hired a local outfit for one trip to transport the largest of furniture – bedroom, living room, dining room – you get the picture. Thank goodness we did that! The rest of our "keeping stuff" we packed and moved ourselves using our van and pickup truck for many, many trips. My husband, no longer a spring chicken, got very little help from me or anyone else in toting, loading and unloading boxes. (Tip: don't ever pack books in a box larger than what will hold 6 reams of copy paper – ouch!)
Besides aching backs, sore feet, cuts and bruises, and complete exhaustion over the period of two weeks, the financial cost was astounding for our "simple, little move." Who'd have thought I'd have to buy a window air conditioning unit for my new tiny office because the air just wouldn't circulate enough? Who'd have thought about all the take-out and order-in meals to pay for since this cook just didn't have it in her to fix dinner every night – let alone be able to find any pans? Who'd have thought the fence at the new house wasn't strong enough to contain our three dogs so we had to invest in new fencing to keep them from wandering off? Who'd have thought that four trips to the dump would cost so much, plus the fuel? And on and on – who would have thought?
Speaking of trips to the dump, I think the most difficult part of this whole move for me was emotional. I've shed many tears over decisions I had to make on what to save, what to pitch, and what to donate. It was very hard saying good-bye to most of my children's old report cards, stuffed animals, school-made projects (I think it was a plaster cast dinosaur made by my youngest in second grade that I put into the pitch pile.) I did create a box of memories for each of my adult sons who right now don't care if these things are saved or not – but maybe when they're my age they will.
The day of the final big move reminds me of a Chevy Chase comedy. First, the tree service we'd hired to remove a dead tree over-hanging the driveway at the new home chose our moving day to take it down – it had rained for three days straight, so they got to us at the first available time for them – bad time for us! They did stop working long enough for the moving van to pull into the driveway and unload. However, I still had to carry boxes, clothes, and more from my car parked on street instead of quick trips from the driveway. That buzz saw noise drove me crazy all day, and we all had to shout at each other for everything we said!
Next, the cable guy came on time to install my office phone line, plus set up our cable TV and Internet service. However, he misunderstood his work order. No second phone line installed for me, just moved my number to the existing phone line already in the house. It took me three phone calls, office visits and 8 days later to get this fiasco resolved. Luckily, we didn't lose the AT&T phone number attached to the wronged line. (And I got a credit on my cable account.)
Despite all of our pitching and donating, everything still doesn't fit into the new house. The attic is bursting at its seams. If the weekend weather ever produces two dry days, we're committed to another garage sale. But, things are getting back to a "new normal." Finally…
So, why am I sharing this personal and challenging experience with you? I came to realize throughout the whole moving process that what I was experiencing was very similar to what many of you have gone through as you've been downsized or laid off from employers after 10-20 years of service. The pain, exhaustion, feeling lost – all are emotions we've shared. Change of any kind is never easy. You can't bounce back in a day or two; it takes time – lots of time – to recover. You will have to overcome your grief, hang on to what is dearest in your personal life, and make a commitment to start anew.
I've questioned the decision to make this move, but factors out of our control figured into it – specifically, needing to care for an elderly parent. Like you, I miss my old life, but I know I can adjust and make this change work for me as I begin living in a different place. Looking forward, instead of backward, is half the battle to accepting any change. Can you start to do that? I have faith that for those of us who approach life with a smile will attract to us whatever will enrich our lives.
Oh, I almost forgot – I only broke two eggs in the move, I found my stapler when I unpacked my last office box, and most of my business books are now squeezed onto a few shelves in my new office. (Anyone want a "Dummies" book on Microsoft Office 2003?) Still missing are my 2011 bank statements, my favorite pj's, and a framed picture that had hung in my old living room. I do believe, though, that these things will also appear sooner or later – even if I have to climb the ladder into the attic (ugh!) and search for them myself! Are you ready to climb your ladder to get your life and career back together again?
Wishing you career success in 2011!