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Posts Tagged ‘change’

I haven’t blogged about being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person – take the test here) in a long time. I’ve been in a good place with no triggers for over a year, and that’s the way I like life to move. I like my job, I love the slow pace of small town living, I enjoy the lack of commute and stress. My routine is simple.

My routine is about to change. And I am not happy.

The grocery store where I do the bulk of my shopping is being closed. I like this store for a number of reasons: local beef, local milk in a glass jar, wide aisles, friendly staff who know me by my name, a pharmacist who really watched my back, wide (and clean) aisles, and a significant lack of fighting to get to food items on shelves. When this store goes out of business, I will be reduced to three local options (not including Grocery Outlet which sells things past their pull date & where you can never be certain of what is going to be on the shelves. Great prices, just no consistency): two big name grocers owned by the same corporation who purchase their beef from Iowa (which is OK, if you live in the Midwest and like grain-fattened beef – I don’t, on either count), and one big name grocer/retailer/warehouse style store.

Beef – we live in the heart of ranching country, for Heaven’s sake! Why would I buy something not grown within the State of Oregon and grass fed? I grew up on grass fed beef and have no desire to change. I used to shop at Albertson’s, but I never bought my meat there – I purchased it from a local grocer who bought 4-H beef from the kids in the county. In the years since, Albertson’s has changed management and ownership, and the local grocer went out of business. Safeway moved in, and Safeway is owned by Albertson’s.

I don’t like our local Safeway parking lot. This can be huge. I get that developers have to follow certain “rules” for “green spaces”, but the design for parking in this lot is all about concrete dividers and awkward angles. I even quit buying gas there because the last guy who pumped gas for me (hey, I live in Oregon, OK?) told me I had to get out of the car to pay.  I’m sorry – if I am not getting out of the car to pump my own gas (which I am not, in Oregon), why would I get out of my car to pay for the gas? Defeats the purpose of having someone pump my gas for me. Petty, but that’s how it is.

The third option – a Kroger/Fred Meyer – has followed the “warehouse” style of building and just going through the doors is a sensory overload. They do have local produce and beef, their prices are a little high (but so are the other options, locally), but they have great “loss leaders” (ads that draw you in and they lose money on). It’s just getting me through the doors that has my stomach in knots. It’s crowded. Narrow aisles. You have to jockey to get to things. Lines are long. I don’t mind shopping the other departments at Fred’s, but the grocery area is a nightmare of sensory overload for me.

There are options further out, and my extrovert friends are probably wondering why I don’t utilize them: WinCo, which is just over 5 miles from home and offers the following: narrow aisles, too many people, self-serve bagging. The pluses are: lower prices. In my book, the negatives just won. Oh, and I’d have to negotiate up Old Highway 99 with all the stoplights and traffic. And bag my own groceries. Did I mention I find that to be a pain in the behind? Bagging my own groceries. I consider that worse than having to pump my own gas! (Note: I live in Oregon. One of two states in the Union where we can actually pay someone else to stand out in the rain to pump our gas for us. I really hate it when I have to drive to Nevada and have to pump my own gas through California and Nevada. Can’t we just pay some poor schmuck to do that? I used to do that. it was a great entry level job.)

Costco. Warehouse. Thousands of people. Big carts. Warehouse. Great bulk prices. Warehouse. Sensory overload. No.

Super Walmart. Just.No.

Trader Joe’s. Darn – too far away to be feasible. Closest one is 13 miles away.

We have a Market of Choice within my preferred driving distance, but – and I mean a huge BUT – their prices are extremely high. Local meats, organic, great selection. Terrible parking (see Safeway). HIGH prices. Close to the Backyard Bird Shop where I purchase birding supplies. High prices nil all the benefits.

I’ll probably suck it up and go to Fred Meyer, but that presents another problem: Fred’s isn’t just a grocery store. They sell everything you need, like Walmart, only better quality. Or Target, only better quality. Clothes, furniture, paint, gardening, arts, toys, home, electronics. You see the problem? $$$$$ Because I can stand to be in those departments. It’s the grocery area where I get overwhelmed by the people, the carts, the lights, and the narrow aisles.

I think – and I may be wrong – for the non HSP, that none of this would be overwhelming. Just make a change. For me, it’s almost a life or death question. My routine is disrupted (Haggen, BiMart, home). I can change to buying a lot more at BiMart, but they are not a super store – they’re just a “general store” with a few items of everything that are nearly always cheaper than competitors: dry goods, electronics, paint, hardware, beer/wine, dog food, rifles & ammo, toys, home goods.

There are some products that our local Haggen sells that no one else carries: there are two local dairies who sell milk in glass bottles, pasteurized, but not homogenized (i.e. there’s still a layer of cream at the top of the bottle). It’s really good milk. I don’t drink much milk, but when I do, taste is everything. I grew up in a community with a local dairy and that mega-store produced milk tastes “off” to me. My husband loves the bottled milk. And they make the BEST chocolate milk, ever (must be chocolate cows).

I’ve been commiserating with co-workers. We all agree this is a tragedy. We’re scrambling to move our prescriptions. Some of us are agreeing that the only reason we shopped at this Haggen is that it’s never very crowded. We also agree that Fred Meyer is “sensory overload”. We’ll pay the couple pennies extra for groceries for the peace of shopping in a store that rarely has long lines, always has wide aisles, and where we know the employees by first name (and they know us).

We all wonder what will come in to replace the store: surely not WalMart? Our city council has a history of rejecting WalMart, but they also have a history of rejecting anything progressive. Maybe Trader Joe’s? Store is too big, but – Trader Joe’s has a location in Beaverton that is large & urban. TJ’s is kind of a specialty store and not always cheap. They’re the top choice. Whole Foods? Expensive, but I could price compare with Market of Choice…

Just not WalMart. Their practices of pushing out local businesses (like my beloved BiMart) are epic.

I get that this is not a crisis to the “normal” or “average” person. But to me: introvert, HSP… This is a crisis. Forgive me for curling up into a fetal position and asking God to “let it pass over”. I may even daub my door posts with lamb’s blood (oh, get over it. Sacrilegious jokes are a part of my childhood. My bff was Catholic & I was Protestant. Guess what our fathers told us to say at the other’s dinner table? Yeah. Some church joke). (And don’t ask about the whiskey jokes…)

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Changes Coming Through

Despite my best attempts to pretend it is not happening, my desk is almost completely packed and the office looks like the aftermath of Gremlins. The walls show little black imprints where art and motivational posters were hanging (wonder why we all had a hard time breathing when the heater came on? Gee, look at that black stuff on the wall). The classroom is littered with the discards from other people’s desks. My car is filled with the discards from other people’s desks.

Not really, but I have picked up a few items.

The vultures are circling.

I went into Greg’s office and put my name on his desk. He hadn’t even packed his stuff yet. Sorry Greg. But it is a nice desk.

Nerves are frayed. There have been several times this week when someone snapped at someone over something unrelated, and sometimes it didn’t happen at work but happened in the personal arena. Some of us have cried. We cry, not because we are sad, but crying releases stress.

I remember a pastor’s wife who berated us as a congregation for crying. I wanted to slap her then and I want to slap her now. Crying releases stress. Crying to release stress is different from crying to manipulate. It is Okay to cry to release stress.

We made a trial run out to the “new” office, to see where our desks would go and to measure our new offices. We are going from cubicles to private offices, which may or may not be a step up. I think that depends on who your roomie is and your ability to work with them in the same room.

My new office is narrow and deep. My desk will be by the door because I will have a printer on my desk that others use and they will need easy access to the printer. My roomie will be in the back. Her only worry was that I was going to make her sit with her back to the door. I promised her that I envisioned her facing the door. I would be claustrophobic with my back to the door, why would I do that to her?

We had to make schematics to help the movers place furniture. Being the artistic type, I came home and photo-copied some graph paper. I have a binder of graph paper masters. I picked one that I could make 6″ to a square, thus being relatively accurate. Our office is going to be cramped.

It’s a good sign when your roomie says, “Oh, you used graph paper! I would have totally used graph paper!”

I am nervous. There’s no place to hide when I take my lunch: no cute diner within walking distance or Starbucks on the corner. (What!? No Starbucks within walking distance? Are we still in Portland? How can that be?) The office kitchen is a dismal set-up with scarcely enough room for a microwave, coffee machine and a counter. I will need my car to hide in during my lunch to decompress.

There are no walking paths. No pretty ponds with ducks and geese. The view is of US 26 (The Sunset Highway) and MAX tracks. The trees are young and there’s no shade. The pretty business park we have been located in is giving way to an industrial park. <sigh> This is something God will have to explain to me some day: why He keeps moving me further into the urban world when my heart is in nature.

I have scoped out the commute and there’s only one route that works for me. But I know what lanes to be in and when. I won’t know what the time commitment is until I drive it a few times, but I do know that compared to public transportation, it will be faster to drive myself. I am hoping that it doesn’t become too onerous to drive. My husband already knows he will be cooking dinner every work night. He’s a better cook, anyway.

In the midst of it all, we have found ways to make ourselves laugh. We’ve tossed out jokes. One liners. Lifelines.

There’s a stairwell in the new building, three flights. I am grossly out of shape. A stairwell is a great place to go work out frustration and build up the strength in ones’ legs. I didn’t scope out the stairwell, but I have a friend who is willing to be my accountability partner on the stairs. Up-up-up, down-down-down. Repeat. Feel the burn.

There are new people to meet. We’re sharing space with a branch office and I have to opportunity to meet some real estate agents I have not yet met (but I am certain I have cut commission checks for). There’s the potential to make friends with people who work in the other businesses in the same building. I met my dear friend over at nana’sneedlenook in a very similar building where she worked and I worked, but in different businesses.

There are old friends to meet. Several of my very dear and very old acquaintances live over in the area where I will now be working. I have lost track of them for the most part, keeping in touch only through social media (such a new tool!), but now we will be able to get together and reconnect in real life. I foresee lunch dates.

One of those dear friends is going through chemo for breast cancer. The hospital she goes to is right across the street. I have the opportunity to be more than a cheering section on Facebook: I can be a real, live support person. I am looking forward to being able to do that.

It’s 21 miles from my home at a time when gas prices are rising. I am not looking forward to that.

When I weigh the positives and negatives, they seem to balance out. It’s no more negative than positive at this point in the move. And maybe the fact that I finally have a job I really like tips the scale in the direction of more positive. I’m trying to be optimistic.

While I go through these changes, I am thinking of another blogger friend of mine who is going through some huge job changes, too. She hasn’t blogged about them, so I don’t feel right in sharing them, but she has a great blog if you love horses. Er, mules. (Sorry, Louie – mules!) You can check her blog out at Louie, the Little Brown Mule.

One thing is for certain: change is what binds us together. Anyone else going through it right now who wants to share?

Going slowly nuts… love, me

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Processing Change

This is what I woke up to this morning: snow on the rhododendron buds. Apparently Mother Nature is having a difficult time with change.

I do not do well with change, either, especially if it is change that is not generated by me. Change that catches me off-guard or change that is out of my control often sends me for a loop. My first reaction is to cry. Then I dig my heels in. Then I submit to it.

Change is not a bad thing, and it often is a cliche for the better. But it still is a transition and transition is something I like to wrap my my around slowly. My husband tells me I lack spontaneity, but what I lack is the ability to change on the fly. I can be very spontaneous if I have time to plan for it. 🙂

When I was a teenager, I had to write an essay on “what I want to be when I grow up”. I considered it a stupid assignment because I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a dozen different things. So I wrote my essay on change: that I wanted my life to be full of change and adventure, to never be static and dull. My teacher pulled me aside and told me that while the essay was well-written, that I needed to remember that life is not all about change. We all have to settle down sometime.

As much as I resist change as an older adult and as much as I dig my heels in, I have never once found my teacher’s words to be true. Life is about change, not remaining static. We can be as settled in our rut, er- routine, as we want to be, but change is the one thing that is inevitable. Seasons change, days change, time changes, the weather changes, children grow up and leave home, and parents age and die.

I am in the midst of a shuffling of the deck and I could use a little static, but change is what I am getting instead.

So after I came home and cried because I have no control over the changes happening in my life, I started to deal with those changes and started to make a few timorous steps in my heart to embrace the changes. And I cut myself some slack for crying: sometimes crying is a better stress reliever than anything else. I knew I was just letting off the obvious first wave of stress.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the changes in my life probably hover around a five. It’s just that they are all coming at the very same time, and that can be mind-numbing. I’ve caught myself playing a lot of games of Solitaire lately, just letting the numbness to the fore. That’s hardly embracing change, but it isn’t resisting it, either. It’s a way of processing it all: let the mind wander.

What changes?

My oldest child is moving away. That is monumental. Nevermind that I left home when I was 17 and moved over 1,000 miles from my best friend and mother, never to return except for short visits. What I did is not relevant because I never knew how much pain I caused my mom. Or maybe my mom accepted that part of life more easily. I was a callous child who never saw past her own dreams and need to test those wings. My poor mom.

My son left home when he was 17. I sat in the car and cried and let my husband say good-bye.

Now my girl is leaving. She has every right to pursue her destiny, I just wish it wasn’t going to be so far away. I also wish she wouldn’t take those three funny little boys with her. Now I’m going to be divided as to which direction to travel on vacations: east to see my son’s three precious babies (the youngest as yet unborn) or north to see the other three?

Over the past couple months, there have been changes at work. The company I work for is now part of HomeServices of America, a decision that was made, in part, to keep us employed.  There are a myriad of tiny clerical changes when a new company takes over an old one and the uncertainty drops a level of stress onto everyone. Yes, we have jobs, and we’re thankful for that. But what does the change mean in the long term?

I’ll know more about those changes later this week. A layer of the mystery will be peeled off, but in its place with probably be some other minor stresses. Change is stressful, even when it is for our benefit.

Last week it was announced that the admin office will be moved to a different location. We’re moving in with one of our branch offices. This is, in part, to save money on leases and, in part, because both office have a lot of empty space available – and the branch office has more empty space than the current admin site does.

The new location is – theoretically – in a better location. And it might be. I don’t know that. I don’t know what the desk arrangement will be or how it will affect the job that I do or if I will find myself in a noisy environment where it is hard to concentrate and work. I expect it will be a better work environment, with office doors that can be closed to shut out the peripheral noise. I expect my printer will go with me so I can still print checks.

The biggest problem – and the reason I came home and cried – is the commute.

The new office is 7 miles further from my home. 7 miles and fifteen minutes more – on a good traffic day. There’s rarely a good traffic day on OR 217 during rush hour. That translates into more wear and tear on my vehicle, more gas at the same time gas prices are soaring, and more time away from my home and sitting stuck in traffic.

There are three routes I can take, two of them through the city. The favored route follows my current commute plus the additional seven miles. The shortest one takes the longest time and cuts right through Portland.

My current commute has its issues: the ebb and flow of I-205 through the West Linn area and at the I-5 junction, but for six blissful miles, it is scenic: a mix of forest and open ground with deer and coyotes and the occasional fox. When the rain pours, there are waterfalls that cascade off the cliffs between the West Linn on ramp and the Willamette exit. No matter how stressful the traffic is, the scenery takes the edge off.

The additional 7 miles are through concrete and power lines, sudden lane changes and abrupt stops. There’s no beautiful greenery to take the edge off, just a long line of stopped traffic in a concrete jungle.

If I think about it, it’s overwhelming.

What to do? Well, for the first time since I worked with my next door-neighbor and we shared a ride, I am sharing a ride. I worked out a deal with a coworker: one week I drive, one week she drives. We let each other know if we can’t do it. That cuts the wear and tear and gas expenses for both of us.

I don’t know if it will work – we’ve only tried it once. We have a few weeks to perfect it before we move to the new office space. We’re both hoping it will work. We’re grasping at ways to reduce the stress and to make our transition into the change easier. We’re putting on our Go Forward attitudes.

And we’re thankful we have jobs!

It’s going to be an interesting next few weeks. We move the office at the end of March. My daughter leaves mid-April. Maybe by the first of May, things will be settling back into a routine. And then my youngest will probably decide to move away.

Yep, like Mother Nature, I’m not very good at change. I feel more like the Ice Queen than the budding Forsythia. But the snow will melt and Winter will give way to Spring.

Change is not a bad thing, even when I go in kicking and screaming.

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