Day 1: Hard Pivot

If you had told me January 1 that in exactly 6 months, I would be sitting here with no job, no plans, no place to go and no path to get there, I would have thought you were insane. 2020 is definitely the year of the hard pivot. She has not been kind. This year is out of control, and she is not relenting. 2020 is making her mark, and she is the mother of all hard pivots. But, 2020, heads up. You aren’t the only fighter. There’s a bunch of us out here ready to rumble with you.

If you are facing a hard pivot right now, my heart goes out to you. Just because we are all facing big change does not mean we are all in the same boat. Some of you are in sinking boats. Some of your boats have already sunk, and you are trying to find a lifeboat. Others are putting on skis to enjoy the ride. And more than a few are heading out to sea in search of a new harbor. Honor the path you are about to take and know that everything is going to be okay. It won’t be easy. We are all going to grow in some fashion, and we will be stronger for it – as a community, as individuals and as a society. Just be sure to grab a life jacket and put on your sunscreen.

I’ve been divorced twice. These have been my hardest pivots. If you look at the facts, leaving was my choice both times. But just because I did the leaving, I did not choose either of them. Circumstances beyond our control always force the pivot. We control basically nothing, and if it was up to us we’d take the easy route. Sometimes the hard pivot is the end of a long journey to change and sometimes the hard pivot begins the road to change. The pivot at the end of my first divorce felt wildly different than the pivot at the end of my second. I wanted neither. I fought hard to keep both of them. But one felt like a final surrender to a long line of slow deaths and the other felt like the waking at the end of a horrible nightmare. In one pivot I was numb, and in the other I woke up screaming.

The pivot I’m in today came quick and without a lot of warning. I feel a bit in shock. For years in my past hard pivots I had dreamed about escape. I journaled about what to do “if”. I had ideas of where I’d head and what my life might look like “after”. Since this was so unexpected I haven’t put much thought into it. It feels a bit like a gift, somewhat like a death and a lot like an unexpected new journey.

I met my former boss yesterday for breakfast and she gave me cute little house decoration with the quote: Every time I get my ducks in a row somebody moves the lake. She nailed it. I set everything up and got everybody going in the same direction with a lot of quacking going on. We were headed there. My house is finally decorated the way I wanted it, and I am feeling happy and connected here. I had a daily routine that worked. I was going to ride this out another five years or so and then think about what to do “after”. And with one quick-start global pandemic, 2020 forced a hard pivot. My ducks scattered everywhere. And I’m not even sure if there is a lake anymore.

Me and my fellow travelers on this particular journey.

A group of fellow travelers and I walked out to the lighthouse pier last night. We watched as the sun set on the last day of our careers with Whirlpool. Sailboats skimmed silently across the orange horizon. Powerboats idled as they entered the river. We took pictures and laughed in our disbelief at our current predicament. I don’t know what will happen in the next year. I don’t even know what will happen today. But I know the path to navigate a hard pivot. It begins with me honoring the closed door behind me. I’ll spend some time reflecting on what I’ve learned, who I am at this moment and what has worked or not worked in the past. Right now is not the time for movement. It’s a time for stillness and reflection. The future will reveal itself.

Have you faced hard pivots in your life? Are you facing one now? How have you handled them in the past? How will you handle this one?

18 Comments on “Day 1: Hard Pivot

  1. I am so impressed with how graceful you have been during this transition! You are a calm oasis in the midst of what could be a major upheaval. Kudos to you for looking at the big picture and being open to what your future can be!

    • Well I have my crazy moments but I’ve walked through fear before. I’m beginning to learn that I can do it and trust that. Thanks for reading and commenting Laura.

  2. Thank you for your calm wisdom, your words are truly those of someone who has travelled that ‘road of life’.
    You’re right we’re all the same boat but our boats are all different shapes and sizes.
    Your comments on your divorces resonate particularly with me. After 25 years of marriage and now post menopausal I’m seeing that I have been caring for others for most of my life. It’s time for me but how to get to that new life and shed the old is proving complicated. No one said it would be easy though did they ?
    I’d like to wish you the very best of luck in your new adventures. As one door closes….
    Keep writing for us, I love your words, the way you paint a picture of your new life and home and habits.
    Take great care of yourself in the madness that has become 2020.

    • Thank you for reading. What you are experiencing is so hard. Just honor your heart, trust your own timing and do the hard stuff as soon as you feel ready. There is good life after divorce – or any change. I will be sending you lots of love and light.

  3. Wishing you all the best Sharon as you Pivot to retirement! I enjoy your blog and writing!

  4. Sending you hope and faith to get your ducks back in a row. Having the wisdom to accept the things you cannot change as well as those you can is the first step forward. There certainly is life after divorce, which as you stated is also not seen at the moment. Take time to relax and enjoy life as it can be short sometimes.

    • Thank you! I’m realizing I already over scheduled my first week. Next week I’m not scheduling ANYTHING!!

  5. Sharon, I am so sorry. I have tears in my eyes for you and my heart is beating faster thinking about, “What would I do?” I am actually in teacher retirement’s drop plan. It’s set to end March 21, 2021. I will keep working and have retirement drawn from my checks again. I overspend and can’t retire anytime soon. Thank God, I chose teaching as a career path even though some questioned my decision because I was an Easterly then (Woohoo). Getting my degree has to be the best decision I have ever made in my life. I would probably have so savings or any money if it wasn’t for mandatory teacher retirement. I feel blessed that someone other than me was controlling my life then.

    I don’t know what public school will look like during his pandemic. I know all of us will never be the same. I love you still dear friend and think of you often. I was talking about Bonnie, your cat, the other day. That’s where my fear of cats came from because she disliked me or so I perceived. I have many fond memories of our friendship and I learn so much from reading your blogs. You are an inspiration to me and a motivator at times. You give me strength and help me more than you ever will know.

    When I am feeling down and worthless, my sweet husband tells me stories of how former students tell him so many good things about when I taught them. We all have our purpose in life. Right now, I feel like mine is tending to my 3 fur babies all day. All three feel the need to always be in my presence. My oldest one, 12.5 years old was just diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. The pup that is 7 years old takes care of his big brother by grooming him, but he also quit eating. I think he is depressed or has some sort of doggie sadness. The other 7 year old dog I adopted after the flood even quit fighting with him if he accidentally touches her while getting comfortable in bed at night. The other night he flopped his big, round body over and landed right on her face. I flinched as I imagined a scuffle breaking out, but she calmly just scooted over. Their treatment towards him is so sweet and touches my heart, but it makes me so f*%*ing sad because I know they sense more than I know.

    Anyway, let’s get back to you. Call anytime you want. I miss hearing voices since everyone texts these days. When I do get around people and have a real conversation, I tend to talk too much and dominate the conversation. I’ve realized that is one of my top character defects. I try to do better.

    • Hi, Rhonda. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I wanted to be at my computer to respond so I’m sorry it took so long. My animals seem out of sorts right now, too. I think they can pick up on our stress. My sister is worried about returning to school soon because they aren’t really putting a lot of protocols in place. It just doesn’t feel safe to be inside with a lot of people, and I worry about you guys as much as I worry about the impact to education of the students. There just aren’t any easy answers I’m afraid.

      I’m doing okay. I got a generous severance and several years insurance, so I’ll have plenty of time to decide what to do next. I just want to stay healthy. I know some people aren’t afraid of this stuff, but I’m not convinced it doesn’t leave permanent damage. I don’t want any part of that.

      • Yes, I am faced with going back on August 3rd. It is crazy. No one knows what protocols to put in place. Or should I say, they know but those aren’t feasible. It’s really a crazy time in our world right now. As they say, when it rains, it pours.

        Maybe we need to get a group of teachers and all of us start our own online school. This might be the way the world has to adapt. Stay healthy and keep in touch.

  6. A hard Pivot. I LOVE that wording. I have had quite a few, and now I feel like a little journey is needed to name them and define them for what they are. Were they good or bad? What did they lead to? I have experienced one divorce, and with that, this weird sureness that I would remain single the rest of my days. After 27 years of marriage, it was a relief to be done and acting for myself. I am happy here in this spot most of the time, but occasionally a touch lonely.

    • Well the thing I’ve realized is I was lonelier married than I am single. Loneliness is really less about the presence of another person and more about how connected I feel. And sometimes we just get lonely. It’s a feeling and it passes. It doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. I remember the pain of two divorces, but I also remember the peace that came along with them. This blog is so honest and beautiful. Miss you!

  8. I read your post the other day where you mentioned that you were laid off.
    I’ve been laid off twice. The first time I had two young children. I got to spend 13 months of quality time with my girls especially my youngest. I’d do it all over again. It was scary and got worse when the unemployment checks stopped.
    The second time I got laid off I was at HP and they helped us transition.
    I guess I’ve never had a hard pivot like your yours. But these sudden changes do shake things up and often lead to better things.
    Good luck and hang in there!

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