Downshifting

This is a personal tale, so please bare with me.  I need to share.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from work passed away.  One evening he collapsed at the office, and six days later he was no longer with us.  Rob was the same age as I am.

To say the least, his passing hit me pretty bad.  So bad in fact that I had to seek counselling, because when I thought about him and the good times we had, I began to cry uncontrollably and was very ineffective at work.  I was grieving for the loss of my mate.  However, I did not feel that it was appropriate to go to his funeral, as I did not know his family.

The counselling helped a lot, and the Psychologist that I saw strongly recommended that I go and visit my GP urgently and talk to him about taking a week off of work to gather my thoughts and to grieve.  Well, I did as she suggested, and that was why I was at home last week.  Thinking, thinking and more thinking.  I even had a little ceremony in my head for my friend so that I could get some closure.  I also spent time grounding myself in the soil of my garden.  A great therapy.

During my thinking time, I figured out why I was so upset.  It had to do with Kim, and her MS.  Apparently, this is called transference, and even though I was grieving for my friend, I was also upset about my wife and that I should spend more time with her than I currently do to help her out.  Because of her fatigue, she has to rest daily, and sometimes when I get home she is totally burnt out, and I have to quickly take over to help her recover.  As with most MS sufferers, her condition does not improve with time.  I needed this wake up call.

Anyway, Kim and I talked, worked out our finances and we came up with a plan of action.  I decided to approach my employer and asked to work a 9 day fortnight.  Downshifting so to speak.  The great news is that they have agreed, and it should start in a months time.  New contracts have to be drawn up and signed before I take the pay decrease due to working 26 days a year less than I do now.  Every second week on a Wednesday, I will be able to take the pressure off of my lovely wife and help her around the home.  Call it preventative medicine for Kim if you will.

Now I figure that I would not be able to downshift if we were addicted to the consumer culture that surrounds us.  The less you buy, the less you have to work.  Pretty simple really.  Sustainable living is simply living within your means.  More about those thoughts in a separate post, because I do not want to taint my friends memory with my own personal biases.  

Fair-well my friend.  You have helped me come to the realisation that I need to live in the now, and be true to my main value of family first.  I will miss you.

Comments

  1. says

    Dear Gavin, thank you for sharing these very important feelings and decisions with us. I am so sorry about your friend, and am sure his family would appreciate knowing how much he meant to you. You have very wisely taken good advice at a difficult time, and have been able to use such a time to learn and use that learning to help those around you. Best wishes to all of you, CP

  2. says

    I’m sorry for the loss Gavin… I’m sure it hits hard. Thanks for sharing with us. Best of luck with your downshift, luckily you’ve been preparing for it for years.

  3. says

    Gavin,
    I am sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing your grief process with us and also congratulations to you on reaffirming your life values. Doing more with less gives you options that you might not otherwise have. Enjoy your life with Kim!

  4. says

    so very sorry for your loss. I am glad you are able to spend more time with your lovely wife. Yes your right, we make our choices and its these choices that give us the freedom to organise our lives to our advantage, and not the advantage of the world.
    be well always.

  5. says

    Kudos for getting to the bottom of it all. Searching that deep and recognising your truth takes work. May this time be the blessing that both of you deserve.

    Kind Regards
    Belinda

  6. says

    Sorry for your loss Gavin, these things ave a habit of making us re-assess our own lives. Maybe you could plant something in your garden in his honour.

    Take care,
    Alicia

  7. says

    Im sure our purpose in life is not to work ourselves to an early grave. Nothing is more important than taking care of our loved ones, that includes ourselves. I went to a funeral last wednesday, jack was 91 and lost his wife edie last year, she was 90, what a life, and they had fun, and they loved their family and it showed at the funeral with all the grandchildren getting up and paying tribute, it was beautiful, what more could one want. time with our loved ones is the most precious thing in the world.

  8. says

    Gavin – thank you for sharing such heartfelt ideas and emotions. true leaders always lead. and you are doing such a great job of that here (and on your cheese blog – teehee!)

    this past week and a bit must have been really hard on your head and heart. i am glad that you found your way through and have made life-altering decisions that the rest of us can learn from.

    lead the way. one person making changes and sharing it with others is really a revolution.

    i am sorry for all that has been weighing on your heart. but i thank you for sharing.

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing this personal story and sorry for all the heartache. These decisions often come from the wake-up calls (for me the death in a car accident of a relative). To know we have choices is an important lesson to learn. Good on you for putting yourself and Kim first.

  10. says

    Gav what a beautiful post. Many people have these ‘wake up calls’ after a loss but very few do anything about it. They don’t take the time to grieve (instead bottle it up and put the emotions in a little box and store it right at the back of the mind & heart).

    They don’t take to time to ponder what it all means for them personally and they certainly don’t make any positive changes.

    I believe your friend would be very proud of you (I know I am).

    Sending virtual hugs your way.

    :)

  11. says

    So sorry to hear of your loss, Gavin. I’m thinking of you and understand completely the awareness we get of our own situation when someone dear leaves us. Well done for recognising this and for taking steps to change things for the better. Hugs xx

  12. Adam says

    Gavin, back in January, I shifted down to a 4 day week, spending every Friday with my kids at home (my wife works Tues-Fri). I cannot beging todescibe how great it is, and how it has been for all of us. In fact it has help drive our plans to me to quit full time work next year to raise the kids (and the vegies). You are going to love every second Wednesday, and will never work full time again.

  13. Dawn says

    I’m sorry about your loss. I’m so glad your thinking and reflection took you to this next step of downshifting…no one ever says on their deathbed “I wish I’d spent more time at the office” – trite but true. A fellow I grew up with just died unexpectedly this summer – he was a year older than me, and as for you, it hit hard – but the good news was that he really lived life, really spent time with his family, was a really involved parent. I haven’t used some of my past years as wisely, and my time of reflection really brought that home to me. One of the great things about your blog is that it clearly demonstrates that you are making the most of every day, really living life to the full. And it isn’t really like you’ll be doing less work, just doing more in your “other” job!

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