Friends gathered in my backyard in Tacoma on a warm summer Sunday evening to enjoy dinner and catch up on life. Tom* retired in June from a thirty year elementary school teaching career, and Patty retired from teaching college just two years ago.
Though they loved their work, their careers ended painfully, each marred by fear, stress, and betrayal. We'd anguished for many months as their situations played out. The joy decreased. The pain increased. Each workplace was threatening and negative. I was anxious to know how they were doing now.
As we ate and sipped our way through courses of dinner, the stars came out and so did their stories.
They were lighter and relaxed as they spoke. Moving past the fear and negativity, they've found a new way to contribute. They are volunteering as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for children in the judicial system. They will be using their insights, skills, and experiences to help children who need someone to look out for their best interests. What a perfect pivot. What a gift!
Everywhere I go I hear stories of fear and of love in the workplace.
In this case, my friends moved from love to fear to love again. Beautiful resilience.
Everywhere I go. (And sometimes in my own backyard!)
*This story is used with permission. The names have been changed for privacy.