Sunday, November 7, 2010


by Caren Crane

I have lately been reflecting on the fact that most of us do not like change. I certainly do not. I don’t rush toward it with abandon, welcome it like a long-lost lover nor make up a guest room for it when it arrives. I was reminded of this when watching Return to Cranford, a wonderful early Victorian-set BBC series based on the writing of Elizabeth Gaskell (author of North and South!). The original Cranford series was delightful and I enjoyed the reprise very much. Both series, however, dealt with the staid and traditional people of Cranford having to deal with a Dread Change – the coming of the railroad to their village.

It is hard for me to imagine what a huge impact this had on rural England, but the series did a good job of making me empathize with their plight. I had no trouble believing the changes in their lives shook them to the core, for the stages of change are like the stages of grieving for me.

1. DENIAL – I usually start out resisting change at a visceral level, by denying it is really happening. It cannot. It will not! Only when my buried head, the fingers stuffed in my ears and the chanting of “la la la” don’t hold it at bay do I move on to the next step.

2. ANGER – Next is the tempestuous storm of change-induced anger. Why is this happening to me and mine? It is wrong! Unfair! Undeserved! Inconvenient? Um, okay, that’s the crux of it. Change is most inconvenient, especially when it means changing things I enjoy and am comfortable with, like my daily routine or spending habits.

3. BARGAINING – This is a short-lived stage of change for me, since I am a pitiful bargainer at the best of times. I never bargain with God, since I figure He knows me too well to believe any promises made in the heat of the moment or from abject terror of the unknown. I tend not to bargain with people, either, which may be healthy or may just mean I miss out on some good deals. Hm.

4. DEPRESSION – Next comes a stage I’m really, really good at. I can do depression with the best of them. I am the Queen of the Lament! The only problem is, I get bored with depression in a hurry and my natural optimism buoys me back up. Job loss hasn’t kept me down long, either my or my husband’s, and having to move hasn’t done so either. I’m sure something really horrible like losing my house could put me in a real funk, but I’d find a silver lining eventually. My husband doesn’t understand the optimism thing, but it’s very real allows me to pull myself up by my bootstraps no matter what happens.

5. ACCEPTANCE – The taste of acceptance is often bittersweet. Sometimes far more bitter than sweet. Still, acceptance of change does make it easier to handle. I love peace and for things to be settled and calm, so the sooner I accept whatever change comes my way, the better off I am.

Still, I feel for my friends in Cranford. Those great steel machines, belching smoke and steam into the once-pristine air of Cheshire must have upset the dear people to no end. But change, like death and taxes, is inevitable no matter where we live and can often be beneficial.

In high school, we moved in the middle of my junior year and the middle of my senior year. Two Dread Changes. While there were many difficulties as a result (hello, no junior or senior prom for me!), I think overall the changes were good ones. Better high school the first time and better lifestyle the second time. I have loved my 28 years in North Carolina (not to mention my native NC husband) – a state I might never even have visited had it not been for the second Dread Change!

Are you a change lover or a change denier? Do you leap to catch the curveballs life throws you or do you duck? Have you had a change that seemed bad at first, but turned out to be great in the end? Do share!


Jane said...

Change is hard, but I think it's mostly for the good. Of course it takes a while for me to acclimate to the change.

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Jane, one thing changes. He's left Fedora and Helen and he's now with YOU!!!!

Caren, what a thought-provoking post. I loved the first Cranford (honestly, Judi Dench is the bee's knees, isn't she?) and I've got the second one on my list at the DVD place.

Through my many years of living (yes, I am no spring chicken - if I were, the rooster would be more interested in visiting!), I've decided two things are inevitable, change will come and I'll take a while to get used to it. Like you, I don't leap towards change with all my guns blazing!

flchen1 said...

Good, thoughtful post, Caren! I'm not exactly running towards change either... I tend to like things to stay the same! But life doesn't tend to do that, so like Anna, I know I'll need a little time to adjust...

Jane, have fun with the GR today! That bird's always up for some change :D

Tawny said...

Wonderful post, Caren :-) I loved the stages of change - and have wallowed in each and every one of them.

I can't decide if I'm a fan of change or if I hate it. I guess it depends on whether I instigated the change or not ;-) I change my hair all the time, and would do backflips to see the numbers on the scale change in a downwards spiral.

But there is a lot of change that scares me, and even more that just freaks me out. I'm not so much an optimist as I am a rose-colored-glasses wearing hard-head who figures sooner or later, I'll make the changes go in the direction *I* want.

Jane, yay you on snagging the GR. I hope you both have a fun day :-D

Helen said...

Well done Jane have fun with him he should be relaxed after yesterday and of course he did have some Tim Tams that should keep him happy for a while LOL


I agree a great thoughtful post I am another who does not like change very much at all but I do understand that it must happen as life moves on. Although I really don't understand when managers try to fix something that is not broken and they cause so mush anxiety and stress in the work place. As you know I have worked at the same place for 20 years and about 5 years a go a new manager started and he has just turned the place upside down with change and I have to be honest I have not seen anything get better only worse and he keeps employing new managers and cutting down the staff that work on the floor and in the bars and then they blame us for our profits dropping how on earth can you give great customer service without enough staff to do so there really are too many Cheifs and not enough indians these days where I work.
I do feel better now I have had my say thank heavens I have tomorrow off it really was a bad day at work today LOL

Have Fun

Caren Crane said...

Jane, I hope you're ready for the change a certain befeathered someone will make to your household today. *g*

I think change can often be good, though it sometimes takes me a long time to come to that conclusion!

Any great changes you have on the horizon?

Caren Crane said...

Anna, isn't Judi Dench just divine? She is simply wonderful as Miss Mattie. Her storyline in the first (and second) Cranford series is just heartbreaking. You need to move the second DVD up to first position in your queue!

Yes, change is like death and taxes, I'm afraid. I'm sure it makes life more interesting for all of us and keeps us from being bored to tears. Honestly, though, some years I could use less change!

Next year will be another big change for me, when my older daughter (middle child) graduates and goes to college. It's different than it was with my son, mainly because when he graduated, the girls were still in elementary school and needed me so much more. I fear the emptying nest will be quite an adjustment.

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, I'm sure you've dealt with plenty of changes, both good and bad, as I have. I do know a few intrepid souls who welcome change like an old friend, but it takes so much energy. The older I get, the more I feel I have to really rally myself to be up for the new.

I want to be one of those daring old ladies, not a hidebound one! I fear I may disappoint myself.

Caren Crane said...

Tawny, I love your take on yourself. I have been accused of wearing rose-colored glasses more than once! As a matter of fact, I think I actually had some rose-tinted lenses in my glasses in junior high school. Too funny.

Really, though, all that looking for silver linings must be better than lingering in depression. I prefer to think of it as a modified form of acceptance rather than denial. *g* Eventually some good can come of most anything!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Helen, I hear you about change in the workplace! My former employer went through a series of huge transitions and one of their measures was to reduce the number of Indians doing the work, while keeping all the high-paid Chiefs. I think they even invented some new management positions!

Meanwhile, they were also changing workflows and forms and processes at such a rate we could barely keep up and get any work done. Some of the change was good (maybe even overdue), but much of it made us scratch our heads. Particularly when it added hand-offs or introduced delays.

I was a bit relieved when I was laid off from that job. I'm happy where I am now and just hope that the changes we're going through all make sense. So far, so good!

Best of luck to you. I know you do a great job at your work and I hope they keep things manageable until you are able to retire!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Even changed itself has changed for me with age. When I was young I ran to meet change with open arms, always hoping for an improvement in circumstances. As I got older, I held back a little, uh, well let's wait just a bit and see if this is a good change. Now, I don't like change one little bit, in my work area, it means MORE work. In my home life it generally means something is going to cost a lot more than I can afford.
As my Mother and Grandmother would have said, "I am set in my ways."

Anna Sugden said...

Ooh I love Cranford! BBC at it's best! There's a new drama to keep your eye out for called Downton Abbey - not a BBC production but getting rave reviews over here. I'll let you know what it's like when I've seen it.

Not surprisingly, I'm as mixed about change as Tawny *g*.

Some things I love changing - like a new cover for a favourite sofa or what colour we paint the kitchen. I also like to change some things up - new authors, new films, new TV series, new shoes *g*.

I like travelling to new places too, though there are some places we like to revisit.

I used to enjoy changing jobs, embracing a new challenge but I didn't like changing companies or schools. Equally I hate new systems or computer programs once I'm comfortable with the ones I have.

I don't like moving house any more and have sworn never to do it ever again! I loved going over the States and our time in NJ, but now that we're home, we're staying put.

I think what I don't like is being unsettled and uncertain. Where I'm in control or dictating the change I feel more positive about it. But I don't like changing to someone else's demands or timings.

Cassondra said...

Woohooo Jane!

What adventures will you take the GR on today? (Is it cold up there? You'll have to drag him out kicking and squawking, no doubt)

Cassondra said...

I think it depends.

If the change is my choice, of course, like the redecorating or building onto the house or something-- which Anna mentioned-- I get excited about that. Improvements are welcomed.

The changes I cannot control--those are the ones which give me trouble. I think it's because it never comes when I'm ready (which begs the question, would I ever be ready?--I like to think I would, given some notice and time to adjust). I think it's adult responsibilities which have made me resistant. I know that change will usually bring the need to spend money, or, more often it will bring the need to spend TIME assimilating the change.

For instance, I'm still angry about the changes Microsoft makes to the Word program every time it brings out a new edition of Office. I still can't use all of its functions because I don't have time to re-learn to use the bloody program.This kind of change makes time spent in education (about that) count for nothing. And that makes me mad.

I design my world around the way things are now (what else can you do?) and that takes a lot of effort and energy. And when somebody changes something so that my world no longer works, I am cast into disorder (or should I say MORE disorder)Which, once again, makes my time spent creating order null and void, and makes me have to do it over again.

So it's not the change itself, usually. I'm not adverse to change as a matter of principle or anything. It's the havoc it wreaks on my life.

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

do feel better now I have had my say thank heavens I have tomorrow off it really was a bad day at work today LOL

Oh, poor Helen.

Yes, it's really aggravating when they come in and just change stuff up, and it seems they're doing it randomly, hoping to hit on a formula that works. *sigh*

Janga said...

Interesting, provocative post, Caren.

I rate really high in the iNtuitive side of the Myers Briggs Personality scale, and a primary characteristic of Ns is an interest in the new and different. It's no surprise that I'm eager to try a new hairstyle, a different route to a familiar place, a change in routine, and a new author, artist, or musician. But I struggle as I deal with big changes brought by death, divorce, and other losses, and I share Cassondra's frustration with new computer systems and programs, particularly since Word seems to become more intrusive and more insistent that it knows better than I do what I want to do.

Kate Carlisle said...

Brilliant post, Caren! I love that you've used the various stages of grief because sometimes Change is just that tumultuous and frightening.

Your high school moves remind me of my own. I moved at age 13, then again at age 16. Talk about traumatic! I'm sure I was the world's biggest brat to my parents at the time, but in retrospect, I know both moves made big positive improvements to our lives.

Ooh Jane, hope the Great Feathered One makes your day even more lovely!

MsHellion said...

I love the train conflict in Return to Cranford. That was so well handled in the movie!!

And yes, I deal with change like the five stages of grief...though grief deals with loss and that is change, so that is a very logical connection.

No, I'm not a fan of change. And like you I don't bother with bargaining but I am a great at the depression. *LOL* I do know that whatever comes, I'll deal with it...everything will be okay, even if it doesn't seem so initially.

Still...doesn't keep me from going through all the stages and trying to keep the change from happening. *LOL*

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, preach it, sister! I hear you about change at work meaning more work. Don't you work in accounting? I'm sure the tax changes never let you guys rest!

I also understand the expense of change. New appliances, anyone? New tires for the car? I'm always amazed when people I know are doing work on their house just because they want to. Really? 'Cause I think I'd need about $20,000 just to fix what needs fixing around here. Oy!

Yes, when I was young (and naive) I always saw the opportunity for improvement first in the changes that came along. These days I look for the fine print, the subtext and the double speak first. Then if nothing bad turns up, I'll appreciate the new. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Anna, do be sure to let me know about 'Downtown Abbey'. I'm always up for a new obsession!

Like you, I love change when it's my idea. I change my hair all the time and love to try out new music, restaurants, books. I really hate, though, adapting to new things on other people's schedules.

I think you're right about the control aspect. As long as we're in control of what's changing, it's all good. As soon as it's out of our hands, though, it's a tragedy!

I think that's why the economic downturn here has so polarized the country. Those who are still relatively well-off, with stable jobs and no home foreclosure looming, tend to think nothing should change. Those dealing with lots of factors outside their control believe everything needs to change - and right now!

I wish my husband had a job, so that's where I am. I don't think, though, that any change in the government will get him a job. I'll just keep praying. And while I'm praying, I'll pray we don't have to move, because that is my worst nightmare!

Louisa Cornell said...

You are definitely in for some changes, Jane! The GR LOVES to change things - like the location of your car and the number of sweets you have in the house. Be on your guard!

After years of living out of suitcases and a childhood spent moving every couple of years (Air Force brat!) I can say that I do NOT like change. Whether I am old and set in my ways or just so tired of making those adjustments I don't care if I ever move again. I would love a nicer house on my little five acres, but other than that I don't think I'll budge from this spot unless I have to!

And I hate change just for the sake of change which I think is what is going on currently with Walmart. They have fewer people doing more work and they are cutting the hours of those who are on the job, but still expect the all of the work to get done.

And they change the setup of the stores every 5 to 7 years which makes the customers VERY grumpy. They tend to take it out on us at the local level rather than on the millionaires in the home office.

Still, I try very hard not to let the anger phase of dealing with change take too long. At my age I refuse to waste energy on things I cannot change. I need all of my energy for the things I CAN Fix!

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, I think you hit it right on the head (as usual). The changes in the MS Office products have been driving me batty since May. I still haven't figured out how to do a few things I could do with my eyes closed in the last version.

I would be fine with the changes if they were made to fix something or add functionality I needed. But when Word is working well for me and doing everything I need it to, why change it?

I have found a few shortcuts I like, but the flip side is that things I use every blasted day have been hidden in someplace inexplicable. Some of the features only appear if you hit the hidden button for the old features. So, what, they don't even exist in the new version? So the next time they change it, those functions I use every day will disappear entirely?!

This is my fear. The gradual vanishing of things I know, that I find incredibly helpful. That, as you said, make my world work. It's a delicate balance to keep Caren World stable and running. I'm wary of those bends in the tracks!

Caren Crane said...

Janga, I'm an N too! You made me think about how I love to explore roads and find alternate routes to...everywhere. *g* I really love exploring the world. Anna mentioned loving to travel to new places and I love that, as well.

But yes, incomprehensible changes like those in Word 2007 give me fits. It says a lot that this MS Office suite came out three years ago and is just now being installed on a wide scale. Everyone wants to wait until the major bugs are worked out. I suppose they have trained us to expect years of adjustment!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Kate, what bad timing! Thirteen is when you're sure everyone in the world hates you and is out to get you anyway. Add in a move to a new school and it's a recipe for disaster!

When my girls were 13, I watched and waited, holding my breath. Fortunately, they went to a middle school with little drama, besides the to-be-expected falling out with friends and being ignored/insulted by boys. I felt incredibly fortunate we avoided eating disorders, drug use, gagng activity, etc.

One of my nieces will be 13 next month. It's painful even to watch from afar. I told her a couple of months ago that the best thing about 7th grade is that is doesn't last forever. Thank the Lord!

Sixteen is hard, too, though. I thought my world would end when we moved middle of junior year. By the time the senior year move came, I figured it couldn't possibly be worse, so what the hell? *g*

I'm sure you DID give your parents a hard time. But come on, they were asking for it!

Caren Crane said...

Hellion, didn't you love in 'Return To Cranford' that they used the train itself as a means for bringing about the blackest of the black moments? That was a brilliant script!

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who can wallow luxuriously in the pit of depression. When things are bad in Caren World, they are worse than anything has ever been for anyone, at any time. When things are good, though, I don't even recall the bad times!

I, too, have been known to attempt to stop change in its tracks. I think I'm getting soft in my old age, though. These days, I stop and try to think about all the possible outcomes and how bad it could actually be. Usually, things aren't nearly so dire in the longrun as I imagined they would be. Which should make me less resistant to change, but somehow doesn't! :-)

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, you are too right about the GR liking change. He fancies himself a "change agent", but I think he's just a slob and a home wrecker!

Jane, be careful and hide the breakables!

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, I will admit that I HATE it when they rearrange retail stores. I know they are trying to keep things fresh and new call attention to different things, etc. As a shopper, though, it makes me crazy.

Last time they rearranged my Lowes Foods, it took MONTHS for us to find the canned pumpkin. I looked. My husband looked. We asked employees, who invariably told us where it USED to be. Eventually, we found it. I'm just waiting for them to move it again.

We must not be alone, though, because I hear people complaining about store layout changes all the time. I hope people don't take it out on you guys. At least they don't move the bakery around they?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Caren! What a cool post. Most thoughtful. Of course, now I have to go queue up Cranford and see it. :>

I'm pretty good with change, all around. Like you, I don't run, gushing with glee, towards it, but I'm pretty good at moving quickly toward whatever bright side I can find.

That said, there are some changes I fight most heartily, age being one of them. Heck, I can't REALLY be more than say....what?....25?


catslady said...

I'm with the group of not liking change and wanting advance notice of everything lol. I really am trying to go with the flow but it's hard lol.

Joan said...

I love change.


Dear Lord, I don't duck the curveballs, I grab them and pitch them back at the (&**^ who are making me change!!!

Those (&**^ are made of rubber so the balls bounce back and conk me on the head.


My hospital is making us all wear the same color uniform. Fortunately, the flattering Glaxay Blue was chosen, but now I have to buy all new uniforms!!! I won't get to wear my Snowman scrub top at Christmas, so long to my springy lavender combo to lift me up on the days I drudge into work.

(looks, around ground) Maybe just one more throw....

Louisa Cornell said...

Actually Caren, they DO move the bakery around which means I have to rearranged everything and I DON'T LIKE moving things around!

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, you will NEVER regret watching Cranford. It is pure delight every viewing. As Anna said, the BBC at its finest. Stellar casting in that one! One of my very favorites, Imelda Staunton, is the town gossip, Miss Pole. I swear, they must have written that role for her!

You are a brave and adaptable woman, Jeanne. Of course, you need to be since you still have young children. Maybe it's harder for me to embrace change these days because my kids are almost grown. While I don't want to stop time, it would be nice to slow it down some days.

As for aging, I don't care much about that, except the years do take a toll. My health factors guarantee I won't live as long as my little grandmother (who will be 91 in January). So, I want to savor the moments I have and not spend time fretting about Dread Change.

Then again, I do hit the Miss Clairol, so I'm obviously not embracing aging, either! :)

Caren Crane said...

Catslady, "going with the flow" may be like surfing and require balance. In that case, I am hosed! *g*

I suppose I manage to go along quietly with most things. Even when I dig my heels in, I'm not usually loud or obvious about it. Still, those who know me can see the heels getting planted and try to talk me around. My poor husband has done it plenty!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I'm so sorry you have to buy all new uniforms. What is up with that? My sister told me the hospital where she works has some crazy system where you get a clean set of scrubs when you badge into work. Like, it knows who you are and what size you need and conjures a uniform for you.

It all sounds like some Isaac Asimov science fiction thing to me, but it's true. She doesn't much like trusting that some nameless, faceless someone, somewhere laundered the uniform. I don't blame her. So, even if you have to wear Galaxy Blue, at least you know it's clean!

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, how in the world does it make sense to move the bakery?! I mean, that's a lot of equipment, racks, work tables, etc. That seems sort of cost-ineffective to me. Then again, I have no idea about business models, etc., so maybe it makes perfect sense.

I just can't imagine wandering around the huge store going, "Wasn't there a bakery here somewhere? Do you have a map or something?"

I think stores are officially too big when you need a map to find your way around. *g*

Joan said...

They want all RN's to wear the same color so the patients will KNOW we are nurses!!!

Knowledge and caring isn't enough evidently...

And erk on dispenzo scrubs...

Christine Wells said...

Posh, I'm with you--I hate change! But like you, I'm also a natural optimist, so I keep hoping (sometimes foolishly) that it will get better. I think optimism can even be part of denial, can't it? Bad things don't happen to me, so this can't be happening, can it?

But yes, a lot of change can be for the good, ultimately, as can most experiences in life:)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren Crane said...
Dianna, preach it, sister! I hear you about change at work meaning more work. Don't you work in accounting? I'm sure the tax changes never let you guys rest!

Yes, I work in accounts receivable. I am team leader over the cashiers, the posters and the refund unit. I have two supervisors. That was a "for a while" deal that has lasted for 8 years now. What is fun is when the two supes need me at the same time for totally different duties. Uh yeah, one of me, two of you, does no one else see the problem here?
What gets me with change in the work place is they sit in their ivory towers and come up with these brilliant ideas and no one looks down the road to see what happens next. Just ask any one of us and we can tell you what this great idea will cause in the long run.