When Janet Streit was called into her supervisor’s office on March 21, 2022 in the middle of the day, she had an idea what was going to happen. When she saw the HR person sitting there, she was sure of it.
But when they told her that her job had been eliminated, Janet had a different reaction from most. She said, “Thank you. I’ve been looking for a sign that it was that it was time to retire.” In fact, the Saturday before, she had put something in her journal about it. She now had that sign.
At 68, Janet had considered retiring even before this happened. She had even contacted the retirement specialist, but there was a problem. “I loved my job,” said Janet.
She had worked as a volunteer manager at a hospital in Florida for 9 years managing approximately 200 volunteers. Then COVID hit and volunteers were no longer allowed in the hospital. But Janet, never one to sit around, offered to work screening individuals coming into the hospital. Then she took over the scheduling of staff to screen people entering the hospital. When screening was outsourced, she helped the transition with the new company. After 18 months, volunteers began returning once again to the hospital and Janet was able to get back to her “real” job.
However, COVID hit hospitals hard. Many hospitals actually lost revenue due to the fact that auxiliary services were limited and individuals didn’t want to go to hospitals for fear of catching COVID. Janet knew that the loss of her job was a financial decision and she wasn’t bitter at all.
But Janet is never bitter. She faces life with an enthusiasm that overflows into every aspect of her life. She fills her day with journal writing, meditative walks, recording gratitudes and setting her intentions.
She began her spiritual approach to life as she took her her role as caretaker with her mother. That spiritual part of life intensified while living and working on a biodynamic organic farm in 2010 after the death of her mother. Janet had been working as the volunteer director at Greater Baltimore Medical Center when her mother passed after struggling with Alzheimer’s for nine-years. Janet needed a fresh start. She moved to the White Rose Farm in Taneytown, MD as the business associate and started doing their marketing to promote it.
On the farm, Janet was exposed to many new spiritual practices that the owner encouraged on the farm. She credits her personal practices with not only her positive attitude towards life, but also her good health.
For example, Janet is one of the few people who lost weight during COVID. A long time WW (Weight Watchers) member, Janet applied those practices to her life during COVID and actually completed her journey to her lifetime goal losing over 70 pounds. She has now applied to be a WW coach after being encouraged by her own WW coach to do so.
Navigating the Transition
Just because Janet took the news of her job elimination well, did not mean that she was without fear. The hospital had a retirement transition specialist that Janet was able to work with. Before the meeting, they asked Janet to get together all of her financial records, expenses and investment records. She said it took two weeks to get everything together. After careful examination of everything, she was told, she could maintain her current lifestyle until she was 97.
Two things helped Janet be so financially secure. The first was the pension she received from working with the Girl Scouts of the USA. “They are all about helping women, so they offered a strong pension,” Janet said. In addition, Janet is debt-free. She has no house payment, no car payment and no credit card debt. When she asked the advisor what to do about possible unexpected expenses like replacing her 7-year-old car he said, “That’s what your investments are for.”
Her advisor was also impressed because when Janet created her expenses for the month, she included things like travel, hobbies, going out and having fun. He said, many people don’t remember to include those items, but Janet is all about having enjoying life. “I’m not talking about being frivolous, just about having fun,” she likes to clarify.
Janet may have needed more reassurance than most because she is single. “A few years ago I said ‘You just got you babe,” Janet said.
But that has never prevented her from taking on new challenges and making big changes. After two years at the farm, Janet knew she needed to make money because “I didn’t have any,” she said. While visiting her brother in Florida, Janet got a job offer from the zoo and they paid for her to move down there. She was then able to get other jobs helping form a farm cooperative and working with the local Food Bank before securing her position at the hospital.
Now, Janet has different goals for her next job, “I need something that feeds my soul. Something that gives me joy,” Janet said. That was one of the reasons she applied at WW. Not only has it helped her lost 70 pounds, but she has also learned to transform any recipe into something points-friendly. (See the end of the blog for her borscht recipe.) She wants to share her knowledge and experience and commitment to the program with others.
She loves the fact that at this point in her life she is not worried about making money, “There’s such freedom in not having to make a specific dollar amount,” Janet said.
Although her plans are somewhat unclear and she describes her life as “chaotic”, Janet is sure everything will work out. She believes in putting out her intentions to create the life she wants. Recently, she returned from a walk and drew a mandala, a kind of drawing meditation. She said she has drawn several of these at pivotal points in her life. This one she titled, “Keep moving towards abundance.”
Her friend on the farm always said, “Assume you have enough.” Janet said she has a different philosophy, “Live in abundance.” To her abundance is not simply about money. It is more about enjoying a joyful and meaningful life.
She fills her day connecting with friends and her brother, doing 3-5 mile meditative walks, cooking low point meals and piddling in her patio garden.
She is currently planning a trip to the Adirondacks with her brother and seeing what happens next. Janet is not sure that volunteering will be part of her plan because it would “feel too much like work” after working for years as a volunteer coordinator.
Her advice to others is “Figure out what you want in life and go for it. All anyone wants is there for them if we open to it and notice it unfolding. Life is good!”
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