Throughout his career, Jim tried hard to get ahead. After graduating from college, he joined a big company and for 30-years devoted himself as a hard working, loyal employee.
In his personal life, when Jim met Janet it was love at first sight. They soon married and moved into a modest apartment. As his career progressed the couple bought a small home. They lived there when their first child was born and in that community is where they put down roots.
As the years passed, they had another child, sold their first home and bought a larger one to give them more room. Soon, they had a third child and as the family grew, Jim became a scout master and a pee wee baseball coach as well as a proud member of the PTA.
But at work, despite working long hours, Jim didn’t get ahead. He got some promotions and some pay increases but he became just another spoke in a huge corporate wheel.
And he watched others better connected come into the firm and rise to higher levels he could not attain. In recent years, as the structure of the Economy changed, his firm began outsourcing work to suppliers elsewhere and Jim began to wonder if he even had a future with the firm.
Then one day, his boss said, “Jim, can I speak with you for a few minutes in my office.” And 10-minutes later, Jim sat dumbfounded and hurt as he was told to clear out his desk and to report to personnel to complete his termination. 30-years of dedication, of being a “team-player” had led to this. No job and a security guard walking him out the door.
Fortunately, he and Janet had raised their 3-children who were now grown and out on their own.
Jim always referred to the firm as “we” but he had just learned the “we” was Janet and his family and the firm would do fine without him. That afternoon, he sat alone in a park wondering how best to break the news to Janet.
That night when he came home, without saying a word, he put his arms around her. As they held each other, his tears began to flow, as his words of hurt and anger spilled out.
Janet kept her composure and sat him down, and caressed his cheek. “Everything is going to be fine,” she told him. “It may not seem like it now, but you’ll see, it is the best thing that could have happened to us.”
“What do you mean,” Jim said. “I lost my career today. Who am I without it?” With a smile, Janet replied, “You are a very special man, a spiritual and loving man who always took good care of his family and helped his community. That hasn’t changed. That’s who you are.
“For a long time, you worked a job you didn’t like, for a company that didn’t treat you well,” Janet explained. “Leaving them will let you take a fresh look at your life now, for you are not the person you were 30-years ago when you joined them. You are much wiser and more mature.”
“But how will we survive without my paycheck,” Jim replied. “We’ll do fine,” answered Janet. “We don’t need this big house anymore, and when we sell it, it will cut our overhead sharply and it will add significantly to our savings.
“You have a 401-k retirement plan you’ve contributed to for years,” she added “And we have our savings. Also under the law, your former firm has to allow you to continue our medical insurance under their plan for a period of time. After that, we’ll join an HMO.
“For a long time Jim, you’ve spoken of how you wished we could relocate to a nearby mountain community, but you always said the commute to work would kill you,” Janet continued. “Now we are free to sell our home and move. We’ll still be close to the kids and can live where we want.”
Jim and Janet sold their home and bought a charming brown oak mountain cabin, nestled among scented dark green pine trees, alongside a beautiful clear blue stream.
Their cabin has redwood beamed ceilings, a country kitchen and a used red brick fireplace with a heavy wood mantle. And it has a sunken tub in the master bathroom.
And just 2-miles away is a picturesque little town with a grocery store, restaurants, including an old fashioned diner, and a drug store that took Jim and Janet back to their childhood, with its little front window, wood plank floors, soda fountain and a friendly pharmacist who knows their names.
Jim had always had an interest in real estate investment but he never had time to pursue it. Now he took the time to learn about real estate, got his license, and made money doing what he loved as he bought and sold homes and invested in income property to secure their future.
Janet took up painting and sculpture, to feed her artistic side. And she planted a beautiful flower garden that became the talk of the town, as people came to see her shrubs ablaze in a rainbow of blues, reds, pinks and yellows and to savor the heavenly scent her flowers emitted.
The couple joined the community center and made new friends and got involved in local activities. And each evening, before a TV went on or a book was opened, they took a walk together to enjoy a panorama many other people only dream of.
One evening, as they held hands, watching the sun set in the vast mountain sky, Janet said, “Do you realize you’ve become a rich man since you left that company. You are healthier, happier and you look forward to each day. And our lives have become so much more meaningful.
Jim stared into her eyes and gently replied, “Thank you sweetheart for showing me the way.”