Saturday, April 9, 2011

Changing Gracefully into Peggy in Paradise

Change is inevitable - will we go kicking and screaming, or laughing and dancing?

Several months ago I was notified that my long-term position was being terminated. They gave me a lot of notice, and it allowed me the time I needed to process the event and decide what I wanted to do. I'd been working as an employee for 5 years, and gotten many benefits from it - a reasonable salary, community, paid sick and vacation leave, great insurance benefits, an opportunity to learn many new things.

At first, I felt a little miffed and hurt. Did they not appreciate me? Had I somehow not measured up? Ego attachment is often the sticking point that keeps us from getting the full benefit of a prospective change.

Another sticking point is being very comfortable in a path that no longer fits who you are. It was no longer what I truly wanted to do, but I was used to it and the perceived benefits still outweighed the negatives.

Ponytail palm in its new pot
About the same time I started thinking about activating the changes I wanted to make I discovered that one of my favorite plants had completely broken its pot. The roots were so compacted and hard and put so much pressure on the container that it finally broke apart at the back and the roots headed toward the ground, for dirt and nutrients. It had been stressed, its lower leaves browning off, but if we hadn't moved it, we wouldn't have known the pot was broken.

Why would someone (read: me) want to stay in a pot that is too tight for them? Fear is a common reason. Making a leap into the unknown can be frightening, if I imagine that I will suffer in some way as a result. I can create all kinds of really scary scenarios, and then the tight space seems more comfortable and I'll just deal with the stress, thank you. If I choose instead to look at all the positive aspects of a change, and focus on the benefits, then the picture begins to look quite different. 

At first I looked for a similar job, one that would pay well and cover all the benefits bases. I interviewed several times and found it stressful (will they like me?) and fun (meeting a lot of new people and getting to see the "insider" areas). It helped the process of figuring out what I wanted to do. Even though focusing on the negative is not usually positive, I first thought about what I didn't want to do and then flipped it around to the positive opposite.

I did not want to get up at 5:30 a.m. and drive through morning traffic, running my aged car every day and using now-expensive gasoline. I did not want to have to buy or wear professional work clothes and eat lunch on someone else's schedule. I did not want constant interruptions. I was really tired of being sick all the time.

I wanted to get up on my own schedule and work from home, or nearby. I wanted to wear whatever I like and take breaks when I need to. I wanted a flexible schedule that allows me to work when I am at my best. I wanted to help people, be well-paid and learn a lot of new things. I wanted to think well of myself and be well in myself.

The ponytail palm responded to being re-potted by putting out 20 new leaves in a bundle at the top. The old leaves at the bottom will eventually brown completely and fall off. This is a natural process.

All I had to do was have faith in myself and Peggy in Paradise and go for what I truly wanted, to expand my own business and work from home. Once I did that, gave notice at the day job and made that commitment, everything started to fall into place. I took the month of March to get completely organized, order a new computer, move my office out to the beadio, and get oriented to my new clients.

There is work to do! I have operated as an independent contractor for the last 12 years, including during the time I was an employee. I offer a full range of business services from start-up to accounting and human resource management. I'm currently focusing on Social Media Marketing and self-publishing.

Like the ponytail palm, I am growing and expanding every day, laughing and dancing towards change.


  1. I see that you are learning about how to use social media to promote your business so that you can work at home. This is a great step in your path. Thank you for sharing your story, Peggy. There are others who go through transitions and this should be an inspiration to them!

  2. What a good story from a sad situation! I had no idea. But then I've been dealing with my own illness & not paying much attention to anyone else!
    I think you have a great attitude! I hope your new road is gentle & joyful!