Celebrating Independence

On this beautiful day, July 4th 2017, I am taking a few minutes to reflect on the steps I have recently taken towards independence of a different sort…

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About 2 months ago, my co-workers and I were laid off due to losing our grant funding. It was not completely unexpected, but it still left each of us scrambling to deal with things in different ways. These ways were generally determined by where each of us was in our decades of life. We were all female, but we ranged in ages from our mid 20s to early 50s. Some of us were married or divorced, others were single; some of us had children, but they were between 5 and 20 years old.

One of the youngest of my colleagues, still in her 20s, had the greatest mobility. With nothing holding her down, she packed up and moved to another city before she even had a job lined up. She was fortunate enough that her parents were able to provide some transitional support.
The members in their 30s and 40s were at different stages described above- which determined how quickly they were willing to find new employment. These decisions were largely driven by the need to afford child care and health insurance for their families.
I was one of the oldest employees and was in a unique situation. My husband had retired a few years previously and my kids were almost full-blown adults. While it was convenient that my job had provided health insurance for all of us, it was not a deal breaker to finding my own path.
I did look at a few job possibilities, but I have long had the idea in the back of my mind of forming my own business. Well- what better reason than to give it try- here and now- than due to this upset to my career path? Thus, within a few weeks I filed paperwork for my own company, attended networking events and developed a business plan. In the next few weeks I hope to start contacting clients and setting up programs for this fall.
It may not go as smoothly as it sounds, but I am prepared for the challenges. Besides, knowing that this is completely self-driven and that I have the independence to make my own decisions, is both exciting and liberating!
I may not have had the confidence nor the time and means to do this when I was in my 30s. Now, however, I am ready to take the risks without knowing what the rewards will be. In my mind, it would be more regrettable to have never tried than to have failed. My new-found independence will not be an uphill battle; it will be an adventure!

To borrow from Brainy Quotes “Quote of the Day”

Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.
Daniel J. Boorstin

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes_of_the_day.html

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Saving Family Heirlooms

 
Tranby House silver tea service, original set ...

Image via Wikipedia

This weekend my family visited my mother-in-law at her new apartment. She had moved in last summer and is still getting settled. Downsizing from a townhouse to a small apartment forced a lot of choices about what to hold on to and what to give away. Much of her furniture,  linens, clothing, tools and various other items had been sold or donated. She kept much more than could comfortably fit into the apartment, so a few months later there was another phase of paring down. We had already taken objects from several rounds of cleaning out: irreplaceable family photos,  a much-used marble chess board and a full set of Limoge china. The latter has been put into safe-keeping for my daughter when she is grown.

When we arrived at the apartment this weekend, we were happy to see how much progress Ma had made in rearranging her furniture and finding a new place for old things. She had her kitchen all set up and had prepared a delicious dinner for us when we arrived. The savory aromas of her turkey ball soup had my son clamoring for a taste. We helped her hang paintings on the walls , which really made her apartment feel like home.

The next day, Ma called me into a closet where she had stored things for which she had no place. By this point of her downsizing they had been whittled down to the most precious family heirlooms with which she couldn’t bear to part. As she pulled out the items, I could see what they meant to her. A silver tea service, an antique planter, a beautiful china cheese plate. I asked her to tell me what she knew about each collection. Some had come from her husband’s side of the family of which she had less information. Most had been passed down through the family for several generations.

How does one decide what to hold onto and what to let go? I could hear the angst in her voice as she pleaded with me to take things home. I wanted to help, so sometimes I created reasons to take things home.

"I don't keep cheese out on the counter, but this will compliment my china set."

I asked my husband whether he knew about a set of silver kiddush cups, which had been bought by his grandfather in Palestine during the 1930s.         He looked them over and agreed we should keep them. Having recently redecorated my living room, I now have a special place where I can display these treasures.

When she unwrapped my late brother-in-law’s silver cup, with the date of his bar mitzvah engraved inside, she became overwhelmed with sorrow. My children both loved him so much that having his special cup will be a silent tribute to him. We can place it on the table in his name at our seder. 

Unfortunately, she could not convince me to take the silver tea set from her parents’ house. Even though it is meaningful to her, at this time I have no place to display it nor would I tend to use it. Maybe someday one of my children would like it, but for now Ma will have to hang on to it. Perhaps as the kids get used to seeing it at her apartment, or experience being served tea with it, this forlorn family heirloom will get a second chance.

Family Cruise

   Welcome to my story! I am going to use this part of my blog to record an account of a multi-generation vacation I took this summer. So many interesting connections took place among this odd combination of relatives that I think this will be a great way to get to know me and relate to some of the issues that I’m sure we  all deal with. (Note: I am not sponsored by any places or companies mentioned and I have changed the names of my family members to protect their privacy). I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Laura