Losses and gains. Gains and losses.
Cryptic, indeed. Time to let you in on some more personal events in my life.
Seven months ago, I was laid off from my job. This has never happened to me. It was devastating to my pride and my resume, and I soon learned that the economy is much tougher than even my spunky attitude could have comprehended. I’m in m 40’s now, I had just transitioned from one career to another, and I was one job into that transition when the small company I worked for downsized. As a single parent, I tried very hard not to be completely terrified.
Like with most life crisises over the past 14 years, I turned to the bike for comfort and therapy. I had just wrapped up my first cyclocross season when the lay off occurred. I had a small severance package, which helped, but still, I was reeling. I continued to ride throughout the winter, and on the trainer when there was too much snow to ride outside. I spent most of my time applying for jobs–a process that really does take a huge amount of time. Writing cover letter after cover letter. I applied for up to 10 professional jobs a week, which is 3 times the “required” amount. Just finding these job postings was a challenge in itself, especially during the holidays and in the winter months. I worked closely with the president of an employment agency, and the VP–two women whom I play basketball with, to find gainful employment. They were in the business of finding people jobs and couldn’t find anything suitable for me. I worked with another friend who was an employment counselor who sent me jobs that were unlisted. Still–month after month ticked by and although I was called up for interviews, no job came. I live in a college town and the economy isn’t particularly robust here so I soon was looking out of state, and contemplating how long I could go without selling my home, which I had bought on my own 13 years ago. Cycling helped me cope with these stresses. If I did not have cycling in my life, I would not have handled this period in my life nearly as well.
I picked up a freelance gig through one of my cycling friends I had met last fall–she connected me with one of her clients who needed some email marketing (she is a graphic designer), and then I did some more consistant work writing articles and editing for a PR professional, but this was also freelance and not full time, sustainable work. Eventually I made a random connection at a job fair I hadn’t planned on attending, and my now employer hadn’t planned on attending, that was a good fit. I started part time in April and today was my first day as a full time employee. I am so grateful to be working again in a professional capacity.
The upside of all this free time was I got to spend more time being a mom. Wow–that was nice. If only I hadn’t been so stressed about money and my future. And of course, I rode my bike a lot. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been this in shape in terms of cycling fitness and strength. That felt good. Those were my losses, and what I gained was more time with my son and a level of cycling fitness I would have never achieved without the time, and stresses that demanded an outlet.
Now that I’m back to work, I am going to have to cope with less cycling. I will strive to maintain my fitness level, even improve it–but I know it won’t be easy. In fact it might be impossible. I’ve gained a job–a chance to work back to where I once was on the professional totem pole. I am so, so grateful, relieved, thankful and happy to be back to work. That cannot be overstated. But I felt happy riding my bike every day. No matter how frustrated angry, frightened, hopeful, disappointed, or worried I was, I pedaled it all away on the bike. After an hour those cares were behind me. I felt happy and relaxed after a bike ride. every single time. It was amazingly reliable medication. So while I’ve gained employment, I am losing (at least in part) something that made that initial loss bearable.
Life is unpredictable. Happiness is fleeting. So few pleasures in life are renewable. I am thankful that I have cycling in my life to recharge me in body and soul, no matter what is going on in my life.