Scattered and Floating, Near Philadelphia

My last Spring Break is nearly over and it has been a time of many feelings. There were joy and gratitude as we got to see all six of our grandchildren. But there have been other feelings, too, feelings that are intense, but difficult to pinpoint. What do you call it when a major life decision is made for you by another, rather than your making it yourself? Resentment, for a start. When you realize that, truly, you are close to unemployable because of your age and that in all likelihood, you will be unable to find another full-time job? Panic, and other things. When the financial planner asks you to make what appear to be irreversible decisions about your long-term future? Confusion, lack of comprehension . . . .When you discover a part-time position that seems custom-made for you and pays a fraction of your current salary? Cautious optimism mixed with worry.

It has been two months now since I learned that my job is being given to someone else, and the feelings have been all over the chart.

There are still three months until my salary comes to an end. Three months of working very closely with the man who has told me I am no longer needed. Three months of moving towards end-of-year celebrations. Three months of planning and preparing for the next academic year, a year that does not include me. It grows more and more difficult to be the upbeat and thoughtful presence I have always tried to be.

I've been feeling grey, mostly, with tiny bits of hope in the midst of all of that grey. I've made this dozen blocks that are greys with bits of brights and like them very much. I believe you can click on the photo to see them better.

I like them scattered and floating, kind of like me. Now I need to figure out if it is possible to set them that way.



Pat said…
So glad you are able to articulate some of this and write it down. To me, that means you are moving forward. I think the thing that makes me angriest about your situation, my husband's situation, and the situations of so so many others, is that years and years of good work history are tossed aside and those who are left are not necessarily those who are the most competent or who have the work ethic we were raised with. Nancy, I admire you tremendously for having fended off the bitterness that creeps into my soul when I think about this.
Janet O. said…
Very thoughtful post, Nancy. I can absolutely see how your emotions would be in such a jumble.
Great blocks you created to express where you are. Can you put wide borders around them (whatever color you choose), and then twist them and cut new squares that will leave those inner blocks topsy turvy? I'm not explaining it well, but maybe you can catch what I mean?
Karendianne said…
Really, your other job should be a writer and I'm flat-out serious. Your blocks are awesome. So between the post itself and the blocks you've got two great works going on.

While I contemplated my comment I found myself thinking "what would Nancy say to me if I were in this situation?" Back in the day, a lot of wisdom and compassion was what I needed and it overflowed. I can't pull that together here but I know it's within you.
OT Quilter said…
I agree with Pat; articulating and expressing your thoughts and feelings is certainly a step forward. If you haven't worked in a school, it's hard to understand the way you lose your job, but not until the end of the school year. It's a lot harder than getting 2 weeks notice! Hang in there. (My mother always said: when your back is against the wall, a door will open behind you!)
And my inner librarian sends you some block placement hints:
On this one, scroll down to "Irregular Grid;" maybe that would help.
Barbara Anne said…
Your articulate post reminded me of my feelings when I was handed the diagnosis of lupus when I was 48. That wasn't something I voted for, agreed to, or wanted. I felt so very threatened and betrayed by my own body.

The quilt I began then is unfinished but the blocks are made. I chose the colors of earth, wind, fire, and water as I felt I had been rocked to the core. Perhaps I'll get it out again and call it I Will Survive. At any rate, so far, so good. I'm nearly 62.

What I lost was my career as a registered nurse because I could not meet anyone's attendance requirements because of the lupus fatigue. Most of the time, it's okay, but sometimes I still have to cry a bit. I miss nursing so very much and I know so much that is sitting in my head. Sigh!

Love your tempest-tossed blocks. You will survive, too. It is well with your soul.

Gari in AL said…
I try to be really careful when I try to make people feel better. However, I'm not going to do that. If I was still working as a counselor/therapist I would try to help the person to allow themselves to feel their feelings (not necessarily show them at work) while still working on finding something to look forward to. The one thing I do know is that until you are out of that workplace you cannot help but be reminded daily of what you are going to miss. But once out you will be able to go through the grieving process which includes looking forward to whatever new adventure is coming your way.
AnnieO said…
It's hard to imagine a more polarizing feeling than being let go and then kept on at the same time. I think I would feel crazy and crabby a great deal of the time! I have little doubt that whatever direction your life takes after June, it will be on your terms :)
I cannot imagine your feelings but this I do know, you are an excellent quilter, have a great family that is supportive, a great faith to see you through. All these things I have gleaned from reading your blog. I am sure that the days will suddenly end at that school and your live will take a turn in the road, but I firmly believe the new days will be wonderful. I taught school for 30 years and have thoroughly enjoyed my retirement. I have been able to do things that I never imagined, including 3 mission trips to the Republic of Georgia and there gained new lifelong friends. Doors will open, just don't let the dreary feelings drag you down. I will add you to my prayer list.
been there done that; my job pays less than unemployment but it is so rewarding in so many ways. having a place to go to, a reason to get dressed and out the door is priceless...keep looking, refuse to believe how 30-something human resource twits are trying to make you feel (old, decrepit, useless) and success will find you, but it is a process.
Synthia said…
I know you are in a hard place right now. I agree with other comments to your blog about how you are doing a great job of working through some very negative emotions. I think it's wonderful how you have used your artistic quilting skills to express how you are feeling. The blocks are beautiful and I can hardly wait to see how you decide to set them. It's easy to see how the next three months will be difficult for you. I pray you find peace.
Nancy, your words say so much; my heart reaches across mountains and big rivers to touch yours in the darkest hours when we think the hardest. You cross my mind when reading late and all else is calm; i meditate and claim resolution toward positive for all humans who live right actions and thoughts. For your years of giving, teaching, showing, consoling, loving and believing in--your reward will be great.

Quiltdivajulie said…
Go ahead and be angry and resentful - it's part of the process. I hope the part time job works out and that it provides at least a small anchor in this storm. Totally get the financial planner statement - all you can do is decide based on the best info you have at the moment. NO ONE has a crystal ball so please don't expect yourself to be able to accurately predict how things will go - and I agree with Karen - you NEED to write!!!
quiltmom anna said…
Nancy, I have no sage advice or wise words- A big cyber hug and lots of positive energy sent to help you on the gray days.
Your journey is complex these days-glad to see you voice your topsy turvy feelings in your quilts.
Warmest regards,
Judy Lindenberger said…
Lovely quilt, or beginning of one, and honest, heartfelt words. Looking forward to seeing the quilt finished!

SallyB said…
Nancy, I know this feeling well. Losing my home of almost 30 years and being set adrift to try to find another has left me feeling frightened and confused and angry because this was a decision by my landlord to sell a house that he just put over $100,000 of improvements into only to be demolished for a Dunkin' Donuts. I've downsized like mad and still find myself with a fair amount of stuff and no place big enough to go that will fit it all or that I could possibly afford.

Sucks that you lost your job to a younger person, but look, you could make some serious money from your quilts. Those are works of art and people would happily pay big bucks for one of your beautiful creations. Heck, I'm very envious of the one you gave my mom. I have always wanted a quilt of my own and even foolishly considered trying to have one that my great grandmother made restored, but.....I don't know anything about the cost of such a venture and anyway, right now, I am too preoccupied trying to figure out what to do about housing, as my time here is rapidly waning, as are my options. I keep praying that a benefactor will step forward and buy and move this house to a KSU owned vacant lot over on the next street. I'm sure that Dunkin' would happily let this house go for $1 just to get it off of their property. It's a century home with many beautiful old historic features in each apartment (of which there are three, my one bedroom and a two bedroom upstairs and a three bedroom downstairs, so this would make someone a tidy little sum of retirement rental income!).

Take this opportunity to examine the next chapter of your life. Could you afford to retire? Start your own quilt business? Become a professional blogger? You have the time now to examine all of your options and decide what's next. I don't have those options, being a single gal fully dependent on my own income for survival. If I fail to find adequate housing in the next few weeks......I don't EVEN want to think about what that might count your blessings and know that you have a very marketable skill that can make you some very good money as a self employed businesswoman. Check our your public library, there are some very good resources on how to start a home based business! Good luck and keep us all posted!


SallyB said…
Here's another thing: you have a home. I do not. I am facing impending homelessness in my mid-50s. I can't afford to buy a house that I could forever call my own, so I will forever be subject to the whims of capricious landlords. I can't even qualify for low income housing because I make too much money to do so, but I don't make enough to afford most housing these days because of rapid gentrification, so I am caught in that frustrating income gap that is making finding affordable - and livable - housing nigh unto impossible.

As the date of my eviction nears and no housing is on the horizon, you can imagine what a jumble of nerves I am about where I am supposed to go. Can't return home, no room at the inn, I am told, so right now, all I can do is to pack up my apartment and rent a storage locker and hope that maybe I can rent a room in a college rooming house with a bunch of 19 and 20 year old college kids (about all I can afford these days) and hope that they don't drive me utterly crazy with their loud parties day and night. Heck, it would be a roof over my head, but after living on my own for almost 30 years, having to share quarters with a bunch of kids for whom I am old enough to be their grandmother would probably drive me insane.

But I have few, if any, options left. College rooming houses are going begging and are a dime a dozen and rooms are at least affordable and in walkable neighborhoods, much as I'd prefer my own apartment. If it means keeping a roof over my head, I suppose I could just stay in my own room most of the time and not interact with the kids since I tend to prefer my privacy. Most of them have washers and dryers in them as well, which would be a nice bonus. Still, the prospect of having to share quarters with a bunch of partying college kids is not my idea of how I wanted to end up at this stage of my life, but with gentrification has come dwindling housing choices unless you want to pay big bucks for upscale luxury apartments, which are being built as fast as they can be constructed here.

So count your blessings if you have your own home. Everything else is just gravy.