Posts Tagged ‘commute’

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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