As the year draws to a close, many of us reflect on what’s taken place in the past 12 months, good and bad, ups and downs, dreams fulfilled and resolutions broken.
We see how unpredictable life is. If I was able to write the script of my life for 2015, I would not have written it the way it turned out. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad year.
The defining moment of 2015 for me took place on Feb. 10. I showed up for work as usual that afternoon, preparing for my regular Tuesday shift at the local newspaper. An hour and a half into my shift, I was called into the editor’s office. The editor and managing editor fired me. They gave me a list of reasons, none of which I agreed with, but that didn’t matter. I failed to do my job properly.
In the months leading up to that moment, I felt more stress than I’d felt since the days before I was downsized in 2009 from a job I held for 24 years. The stress affected my health. I drank far too much coffee; I had trouble donating blood, something I’ve done since the 1980s; I wasn’t sleeping as well as I should.
Overnight, literally, all of that changed. I’ve reigned in my coffee intake (I still drink several cups a day, but not at 10 p.m. any more); I’m back to donating blood every two months or so; and I’m getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
Beyond that, I’m finding ways to take control of my life, at least the parts I can control. My primary job now is the job search. I check several Internet sites; I’ve joined a networking group based in Medina; and I’ve taken advantage of the career services department at Lorain County Community College, which is a fantastic resource – even if you aren’t an LCCC student or graduate.
I’ve had a number of interviews this year, some with newspapers and others in internal communications or other fields.
I’ve learned not to get too excited after an interview. Human resources officials are always polite, and always guarded. I need to take the lead with the follow-up; when they hire someone else, they forget I even exist. Often the reasons are arbitrary; I’m qualified, but so are others, I’m sure.
I’ve learned patience.
When I get up in the morning, I spend a good hour reading my Bible and meditating on different things. That enables me to get through the day, no matter what happens – or doesn’t happen.
I do some volunteering with the Red Cross once or twice a week, just to get out of the house. It’s also a way to meet some cool people, and to travel around Cuyahoga County.
I started writing this blog, also to give me something to do, and to get back into writing. I wrote 80-some columns for The Saginaw (Mich.) News back in the day, most for the newspaper’s Family Page on Tuesdays. Occasionally I’d write about current events.
As a journalist, I’m sensitive to other viewpoints besides my own. I do have strong opinions on certain issues, but even then I realize other people disagree with me. That’s why I wrote a column several weeks ago about respect.
In the Dec. 21 issue of Sports Illustrated, retired golf superstar Jack Nicklaus received the magazine’s Legacy Award. Jack won 18 major tournaments, more than anyone else, and was runner-up in those major tournaments 19 times.
Nicklaus had this to say about winning and losing:
“Your character comes through in golf. If you’re pissed at the world the whole time, you really can’t enjoy your wins, and in many ways you can’t really – what’s the right word? – you can’t really understand the meaning of your defeats. To get beat is very healthy. Particularly when you’ve really given it your best effort.
“If you win every time, you don’t learn anything. You don’t learn anything about yourself. You don’t learn anything about the other person. You don’t learn anything about the game. You don’t learn anything about life.”
Thank you for that, Jack. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year, and about what’s really important to me. How? Because something very important to me was taken away.
Perhaps getting fired was the best thing that happened to me this year.
What does 2016 hold? I have no idea.
I’m learning to embrace that. Me, a copy editor, who thrives on structure, on knowing what each day will bring.
I’m learning what faith really is.