“Honey, I’m home!” said my husband, Charlie. “For how long?” I asked. He said . . . “Forever.”
July 7-8, 2016 — two days I will never forget. My husband, Charlie, and I live at Eureka Lake in the Flint Hills of Kansas in the middle of the USA. We made the decision to move from Wichita, KS, the city we had lived in for 30 years and live a calmer life at the lake for a few years. My husband worked for a major cable company in Wichita, but didn’t mind commuting back and forth for a year or so. With that in mind, we had a plan.Our plan was for Charlie to continue working for the next year and basically “bank” his sales income as part of our “retirement” nest egg. That said, we both are of the mindset that we will never retire. You see, I have been a life, leadership, and business coach for over a decade and know without a doubt, this is something I want to do until I die. Likewise, Charlie would like to build his life and leadership coaching practice after he “retires” from the corporate world.
Listen carefully…do you hear idyllic music playing? You know, that happy background music that plays in a movie when everything ends “happily ever after”? Ahhh . . . yes, we hear it too, at least we did until the evening of July 7th.
That evening, we were sitting at home trying to watch the Kansas City Royals baseball team when our satellite dish got knocked out by some heavy rain. When everything was back up, it was still raining, but suddenly every channel was broadcasting tornado warnings for South Central Kansas. That’s not unusual for there to be tornados on occasion, so we weren’t concerned until we heard “Eureka”, “multiple cells” and “take cover in the next 30 minutes”.
Fortunately, we have friends who have an above-the-ground storm shelter, so we loaded ourselves and our 14 year old chocolate lab in the car and headed that way. We were getting multiple texts from family and friends to definitely “take cover”. So we waited in a small storm shelter with ten others.
Yes, two tornados hit this area. Fortunately, they were up in the air when they went over Eureka Lake, but unfortunately, much of the town was hit. There were no injuries since we all had so much advance warning, but the town literally looked like a war zone the next morning. Charlie had to navigate through closed roads, barricades, Red Cross vans, and law enforcement to get to the office that day…only to be hit by a third and different type of tornado.
Once he was in the office he was able to start his day talking with clients when suddenly his boss — who is only a little older than our sons — came by and asked Charlie to meet with him in his office. He walked into the office, was told the company was making some changes and his services were no longer needed. What??? Are you kidding? Is there severance? “No.” Should I call my clients? “No.” Get my personal belongings? “No.” So after ten years, I’m just to leave? “Yes.”
Shortly after 10:30 that morning, I received a call from Charlie saying he was coming home. No job. No severance. No health coverage (except for expensive, expensive COBRA). AND . . . NOT ON THE TIMETABLE we had carefully constructed.
It was a huge setback for us. Everything should have felt out of control, but it simply did not. We both felt an incredible peace. As people of faith, for us, it truly was a peace that passes understanding.
We knew, without a doubt, that although this door had been slammed shut – really one of those “don’t let the door hit you in the rear” times, another door would open. And, if history repeated itself, the door that opened next would be even better than the one that was just shut. We were excited, full of anticipation. Were we scared? Yes. But, we knew – just that gut feeling – that whatever was to come was going to be worth the risk of not having a clear picture of the future.
We had a choice to make: panic and jump into something that wasn’t a good fit immediately or take a risk and wait for the clouds to part so we could see the rainbow. For us – after we had a bottle of wine (or two) and ice cream – we chose the rainbow. As a matter of fact, it came much faster than we ever anticipated! (More on that in another blog!)