Looking ahead instead of looking back

The stages of grief are usually cited as:
1. Shock and denial.
2. Pain and guilt.
3. Anger and bargaining.
4. Depression, reflection and loneliness.
5. The upward turn.
6. Reconstruction and working through.
7. Acceptance and hope.

I’m not even a good armchair psychologist. And since losing my job on Feb. 27, I don’t feel as if I can afford a counselor. So I guess I’ll keep using this blog as I work through these steps. If that strikes anyone who might read this as a desperate attempt to call attention to myself, please go find another blog to read. Or start your own.

Today, I am tipping my toe in the pool of the upward turn. It’s a refreshing change because for the past few days I’ve wrestled more with depression, reflection and loneliness than I generally have in the past.

But I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon on a bike ride. It did wonders for my attitude. When I came home, I spoke on the phone with a longtime friend who lost his job as a newspaper editor in an earlier round of budget cuts. Today, he says he is healthier, happier and less stressed than he ever was in the last 10 years of his newspaper career. I’ve heard similar stories from all of my newspaper friends who lost their jobs in budget cuts and have moved on to new and better things.

Their stories give me hope. And I’d rather be hopeful than angry, which before that bike ride is how I felt about some anonymous criticism I received Saturday. I initially included the full text of that criticism in a posting on Saturday night. After getting up Sunday morning, I took it down.

For a while, I thought about turning the whole thing over to the Lee Enterprises corporate human resources people to let them know how someone was misusing their computers. But I’ve decided to just forget the whole damn thing. I’ve already wasted too much energy on someone who just isn’t worth the effort. There are more important things on which to focus and my anonymous critic was right about at least one thing: It’s time to move on.

It’s easy — very human, in fact — to be angry with those who take something from you as dear as newspapering was to me. But I worked with too many great people to list in the 21 years I collected a paycheck from Lee Enterprises. That includes those who are left to fight the good fight at the Muscatine Journal. I wish them well.

From now on, when I think of my life in newspapers, I’m going to focus on those colleagues and the fun we had. I’ll think of the thousands of people whose stories I have helped tell. To hell with everything  else.

Coming to that realization hasn’t been easy. I never wanted to be anywhere else but in a newsroom in the 23 years I spent in them. I put it ahead of nearly everything else in my life. And regardless of all the bad news that gets reported these days about newspapers, I still couldn’t imagine that I would ever lose my job. Until I did.

In the 21 days since then, I’ve been confronted by shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger, depression, reflection and loneliness. But it’s time to work even harder at rebuilding my life, begin moving farther into the curve of the upward turn and figuring out what I’ll do when the next Election Night rolls around without me.

It’s taken a few weeks, but I’m starting to think someone else will want the commitment and dedication I put into those newspapers even if the people running the newspaper no longer do. It’s part of moving forward — the only thing any of us can do. And my angry, anonymous former colleague can stop worrying, because I’m getting there.

Today’s quote: Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much. — Blaise Pascal, French philosopher (1623-62)

Just a note: I see this little blog has topped 10,000 page views. Thank you to everyone who is giving it a look.