People around me lately have had to deal with major life changes. The funny thing about change is that it has long fingers. It never really stays with the host. It has a ripple effect. Not always bad, sometimes for the better, but I find it interesting to see how far the ripples go.

For instance, my going from being employed to being self-employed created huge ripples in those close to me. While I have more flexibility, I have much less personal time and that has affected my friends and family. I have had to change my whole life to keep up and that has affected everyone, all the way down to my hairdresser and UPS delivery guy. I may be home working on my deck at 2PM one day and gone for 12 hours the next. People have had to change their schedules and even lives due to my changes.

I have a good friend and client that lost her job. She is dealing with the shock and loss of her entire social structure, income and security all in one fell swoop. At Plaid Swan, we were affected as we loved working with this person and will miss her on the work front for a long time, but now our relationship changes from client/friend to just good friend and it feels off center and will until we all regain our balance. While the change in not working with her is bad, her replacement is a good guy and now we and 400 people have change in our daily lives. (But we really like him as well, so it will be worth it.)

My neighbor was blindsided by cancer. No symptoms and too far along to do much about. She went from gardening one day to making end-of- life decisions the next. She is a very young woman and she has just found out that she has lived her lifetime. It will be in the span of 42 years, not 80. I cannot imagine the changes in every corner of her world from her parents to her husband to her children. Her passing will affect thousands of people in enormous ways and some ever so slightly, but their lives will change all the same. The mailman won’t get brownies from that house this Christmas, and local nursing home residents will suddenly notice that this woman and her therapy dog don’t visit and read to them on Wednesday nights.

Someone said to me one afternoon, that they thought this woman was cold and at times, rude. This neighbor had no idea about this woman’s health, and it was not my place to tell her. But, she decided she no longer likes this woman because she doesn’t wave anymore when she walks by with her dog.
The point of all this, is for everyone, me included to give people in your everyday life a little slack. Don’t take everything personally, don’t feel that every comment or expression, or even poor customer service at the drugstore, is a shot at you. Stop reading so much in to all of life’s tiny unimportant moments, and then maybe we won’t miss the ones that do matter.

Sometimes people are just simply preoccupied with all the changes around and don’t think to make sure everyone else is petted and happy. Let’s be kind to each other and give people we love and those we don’t even know, the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes the kindest reaction is a little breathing room. Let people regain their footing. And if you have to make changes because of someone else, swim with the tide, not against it. The ride is calmer and you can enjoy the view.

– Betsy McCloskey, Principal/Partner