Lessons in Gratitude Day 998

Today I packed up my work belongings, cleaned out and off my desk, and walked on wobbly legs (physically sound, but emotionally wobbly) out of the office suite where I’d worked for a little over two years. If I had hoped to make a calm and quiet exit, it was not to be. I had entered a colleague’s office to drop off a laptop and a box of files, and as I stood there, the immediacy of my departure fully hit me. Tears filled my eyes and threatened to spill out. I quickly headed back to my office to pile the last of my remaining boxes onto the cart to haul down to my car. My daughter, who had accompanied me in to help with the packing up, left me to have a moment to myself as I closed the door to my office for the last time. I walked into the office of another colleague who had come in a few minutes earlier to catch up on a few things. I handed him a DVD he had loaned to me nearly two years earlier (I never watched the whole film) and wanted to say something but could only choke out, “I have to go now,” as tears choked off any reasonable communication I might have attempted. He looked startled as I hurriedly made my escape.

I had almost done it, gone through the entire week of goodbyes, hugs, and well wishes without losing my composure. It wasn’t as if something bad would happen were I to give over to some of the moments of sadness that had threatened to well up, but I felt as though I couldn’t afford to allow myself to do so. Yesterday I had allowed myself to finally feel some of the emotions that had been bubbling beneath the surface. I talked to my daughter of the many things I was grateful for–most notably the people with whom I’d worked–and allowed all my feelings of both gratitude and grief well up and spill over. It’s been said that people come into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime. There is no doubt that the team of people I worked with came into my life for a reason and a season; it has yet to be determined as to whether or not these are lifetime relationships.

I came into this work role after having worked through the dramas and traumas of 2011. I had come across the country to this area wounded and wearied from over 18 months of struggle and perseverance, pain and persistence, anxiety and acceptance. I came with hope that I could make a difference and do some good while at the same time recovering a sense of equanimity and wellbeing. I needed to continue healing and getting my feet up under me. In this place, with these colleagues, I was able to begin to see what was possible and begin to accomplish it. Together we were moving forward. I could not have foreseen that something different awaited me.

Sometimes when we least expect it, something comes looking for us. Through a completely unexpected set of circumstances a new opportunity found its way to me. I wasn’t looking for it, wasn’t even thinking about it, and yet it came. I am a firm believer in that old adage that everything happens for a reason and that beyond that things sometimes actually unfold the way they are meant to, even if it might not make sense at the time. As for the circumstance that ultimately led to my standing in my office this morning packing up my stuff and leaving, I could not have predicted it would happen; I simply didn’t see it coming. During the series of unfortunate events that befell me in 2011, each thing that happened was unexpected and deeply painful, and yet I am convinced that each of the events was absolutely destined to occur. If I had been paying attention I would have seen the signs.

As in 2011, the circumstances that precipitated my departure were unexpected but unlike that time it was a positive opportunity that created the change. So now I find myself at the threshold of a new adventure. The last several weeks have seen me getting my affairs in order and closing the chapter on the last two years. I remain deeply grateful to the team of folks with whom I worked closely every day, as well as others scattered throughout the institution with whom I established good relationships. I will greatly miss them in the months ahead, but will also be creating connections with new colleagues. What is clear to me is that I must’ve learned whatever it was I needed to know and grow into during the brief time I was here, and the pathway opened up to show me my “what’s next,” when I hadn’t even been looking for it. I am grateful to the Universe for things unfolding exactly as they should. My prayer was to end well at this place and to begin well at the next. So far, so good. May it continue to be so.

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