Monthly Archives: May 2015

When the Cheese Moves


This afternoon I read a book that my dad lent to me. It’s called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson, M.D. It is a story about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two Littlepeople, Hem and Haw, and how they each respond when someone moves their cheese. The point of the story is about change and how we respond to it. Do we rush into action on the next thing like Scurry? Do we cautiously venture into the next thing like Sniff? Do we spend time in fear and depression before we realize that we need to put aside our fears and move with the change like Haw? Or do we remain bitter toward the change, feeling we’ve been treated unfairly, and never move on like Hem?

I have always felt like I handle change quite well. I’ve learned to adapt to new situations and I am able to move with the change rather than fight against. It doesn’t mean I don’t grieve what I may have had before the change, but I generally haven’t let the fear of something different keep me from moving forward.

I owe my adaptability to my childhood. We moved around a lot so I had to be ok with change and new surroundings. It seems like every time I got comfortable somewhere, it was time to leave again. With the exception of when we left the Caribbean, I never wanted to move. But I had no choice, and I learned from my parents how to get settled into a new place, make new friends and start a new life. They were great examples of how to accept change and actively embrace it.

This provided me with both positive and negative qualities as I grew up. On the positive side, whenever someone ‘moved my cheese’, I was able to adjust to the change quickly and effectively and keep moving forward faster than most. On the negative side, if my life went too long without some change, I had a need to create it. I moved my own cheese before someone else had the chance to. That may have meant moving (which I did a lot when I lived in Toronto), making a new friend, ending a relationship, trying something different, or simply switching up my diet just so something was different.

It was almost as if I craved change. And that set me apart from most people. The majority of humans do not like change. They don’t like to be taken out of their comfort zone. Some don’t mind being challenged, but don’t make big changes because they won’t handle it well.

As I have gotten older, my cravings for a change or a ‘new cheese’ have lessened. I have become more like the rest of humanity where I like my comfort zone and want to remain in it.

And with my depression, I have developed a fear of change over the past few years. I never know what may trigger my depression since it has been the result of so many different situations over the years, so I now have a fear that any little change could trigger it.

But I am not interested in living in fear. Nor am I interested in needing to constantly change something and never being able to sit still. I want something in between.

I want to be able to move with it when my cheese moves and embrace the change. But I also want to be content with what I have when the cheese remains in one spot for a time.

Is this possible?

Can I let go of my fears in order to embrace new experiences, while at the same time be happy with where I am when there are no changes on the horizon?

I like to think I can.

I really like my life right now and I am very content in it. I am happy with my job, I have an amazing family, good friends, a great place to live, and I am healthy again.

But change is inevitable. For me. For you. Things are going to change, whether we want them to or not.

We can’t control what changes. We can’t control if we get laid off, or someone breaks up with us, or if a loved one gets sick. Changes in life are going to happen, and most of them will be out of our hands.

But we can choose how we respond to those changes. We can choose fear, which will leave us at a standstill as the rest of the world adapts. Or we can choose to move forward with the change.

What choice do we make?

Live in fear and misery wishing things were the way they used to be?

Or stepping into a new adventure and discovering the opportunity?

Despite my fears, I choose the new adventure. There are risks, yes, but I am moving toward the rewards, whatever they may be.

And while I am very content in my current life, that doesn’t mean there won’t be happiness when things change. Perhaps my joy will increase. The good may get better – I’ve experienced this happening before.

And even if it is not better, I fully believe change is a good thing. It helps us learn and grow. It stretches us beyond what we believe to be our capabilities and it allows us to surprise ourselves.

Change can bring both positive and negative results.

But it’s what we do with the change that matters.

If things go off the rails…


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. In the last few weeks time has gotten away from me and as a result I haven’t been keeping up with things that are important to me – mainly writing and posting on here. I try not to use busyness as an excuse not to do something and I am not going to do it now. Yes, my life has been busy, but I could have found time to write. I just…haven’t. And as I was lying in bed just now, reading a novel, I suddenly got this urge, a need, to write immediately. Now the book sits beside and in the minute since I started this paragraph, I have come alive.

And it feels good. My passion has alighted out of nowhere and the flame burns again.

But this post isn’t about my sudden, uncontrollable desire to write (although I am thrilled with this feeling).

The last few weeks have been a time of change and transition for me. I am moving forward again, taking chances, challenging myself and pushing myself a little more.

I have again taken on more responsibility at work. I have a also started a completely new schedule. I have moved on from my comfortable, quiet morning shifts at the Lasalle gym, and I am now working afternoons/evenings at the Belle River gym, unquestionably the busiest of the three BeachWalk Fitness gyms.

When my boss first approached me with the idea of changing my schedule and working more at the Belle River location, I was hesitant and instantly nervous. I liked my quiet, relaxed morning shifts. I liked that I knew all the members coming in, their names, their jobs, the exact time they would be showing up. I liked the predictability of the shift, knowing that a conflict would be rare, and that something unusual or challenging happening was unlikely. I was comfortable. No stress, no worry, no surprises.

The reasoning my boss had for the change was that she wanted someone more reliable and mature in the later shifts. She wanted someone who could handle any situations or conflicts that arose with a calm and focused attitude. She wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to speak up when someone walked in without swiping their membership card, or when someone was too loud or swearing too much, or dropping and smashing the weights.

And she wanted me?

Yes, she wanted me. And although all the things she wanted me for made me nervous, she was right. I could handle them. I could be all those things for her. And the new hours meant more opportunity for sales for me, which meant more commission, which meant higher pay checks. I put my fears aside and said I was in.

The first week was tough. My body was angered by the sudden time changes. I no longer went to bed at 8pm and got up at 3:30am. My stomach battled me with the changes in the times I consumed my food. My stress levels heightened as I tried to figure things out in a new location and get to know new members. I felt like I was one step behind all week. And my body was exhausted with the changes. It did not handle the transition well.

But at the end of the week, I felt ok. I felt more than ready to handle the changes and any challenges I may face.

I am still nervous at the potential of added stress. In the past stress has always led to my depression surfacing.

But what if it doesn’t this time? I am challenging those thoughts and fears. What if this time stress leads to me rising above it and knocking it out?

I could do it.

However, I’ve added another change to my life. At the end of this first week of this new schedule, I moved out of my parents’ home. I am renting a room in a home in Tecumseh now. I have a roommate, the owner of the house, so I am not alone. But it is definitely not as safe and cozy as it was living at Mom and Dad’s.

Am I nervous about this? A little. When I moved into my own place at this time last year, things didn’t go so well, and I ended up quite ill just 5 short months later.

But things are different this time. This time I am in a job that I love where I feel appreciated for the work that I do. Last week my boss told she wants me at this job for a long time, so she wants me to be happy in my shifts and with what I am doing. She said if I am not completely happy, then we need to change things immediately. How incredible is that? I’ve never had a boss say something like that to me. She will actually do anything to make sure I don’t leave. What an amazing feeling.

I have never felt so valued and wanted in a job before.

And there is a small part of me that wonders if she’d feel the same if she knew about my disease.

But I am shoving that part away for two reasons…1. My disease is not me. The person she has known and worked with for 4 months is me. 2. I believe the answer is no. I believe if she knew, all she would want to do is help in any way she could. She is that kind of person. And I am not going to let bad experiences with former bosses allow me to put her in that category too.

After moving into my new home on Saturday, I took my dad out to lunch. We talked about my life and the changes and all that was happening.

He said to me, very sincerely and lovingly, “If things go off the rails, you let me know”. In other words, “I am here and you can always come back to our house if you need to”.

It’s one of the most beautiful and thoughtful things I have ever heard. He didn’t make a big deal out of it or get emotional. He was simply saying, “let me know if you need me”.

I don’t believe things are going to go off the rails. I believe I am on the right path, and I am doing the right things to stay healthy.

But how fortunate am I to know that if things do go off the rails, someone is there to catch me before I crash?