by Leigh Currey Merrifield, Editor

After SO MANY YEARS of preparing this column and trying not to repeat myself, I usually try to write my “Food for Thought” a week in advance to (as they say) ‘get this monkey off my back’ in advance.  Then I can settle in and take care of regular business.

I’ve just completed working from home the first week, so it’s time to write about my move!  The editor has “left the building”, and to say the least, the past few weeks have been a little challenging for me!  BUT, there is an upside to everything, and the upside is that I have learned several things from my experiences in the last three weeks or so.  Allow me to elaborate!

Most of you who know me very well surely realize that moving out of the Shinnston News building on Pike Street was difficult for me because it held a lifetime of memories.  While some would think that working from home would be a great thing, for me, leaving there brought a certain amount of sadness.  I cried over just about everything – to the point that on my final day there, I simply had run out of tears and was able to close the door without the dam bursting!  Lesson #1 – Crying is often a good thing – a cleansing thing – a good way to rid yourself of sorrow and frustration.

For well over two weeks prior to this move, I worked all day at the office and then came home and worked until midnight … shredding unnecessary paperwork, purging many unneeded things, and doing LOTS of rearranging … all in order to accommodate my new home office.  Now that things are in order, I’m happy with it.  Lesson #2 – I keep WAY too much stuff, which I won’t allow myself to do anymore!

I cleaned out TWO drawers of cards and notes of appreciation in my office that people have sent me through the years.  I couldn’t bring myself to just throw them away without rereading each and every one of them.  Some of these people have since passed away … and, again, the tears rolled.  Lesson #3 – My job has given me the opportunity to meet and get to know SO MANY wonderful folks for which I feel very fortunate.

On the wall in my home office are pictures of my great-grandfather, my great-uncle, my grandmother and my dad – all of whom played a great part in this community newspaper for nearly 80 years!  They, too, are all gone now and it made me wonder how they would feel about me walking out of that downtown office.   Then I realized it was just a structure but The Shinnston News remains.  The old photos of the office and my family in years gone by are proudly hung right beside my desk at home and I know they are still watching me work – doing what they used to do.   I locked the door for the last time, but the memories made there will always remain with me.  Lesson #4 – When one door closes, another one opens.

So now, here I am with week one of working from home under my belt. WHEW!  What a week it has been!  All the organizing and rearranging I did, and I thought that everything would run smoothly.  NOT!  Frontier had to make three calls to my house to get the office phone and fax line up and running … and then on Tuesday, the day I need to send all my copy to Lewisburg for pagination, strong winds knocked the power out in many areas nearby.  Of course, MY neighborhood was one of them!  Panic took over.  What in the world would I do?  I called my publisher to make him aware of my problem – if I have no power, I have no internet service and everything I need to send is stored on my computer!  Bless him – he has a sense of humor!  He said it would give people something to talk about … the first week the editor works from home and the paper will have no front page!  (Luckily, everything else had been sent!)  He made me laugh!  So I PRAYED the power company would be wrong and my power would be restored before it was a day too late.  At 11 p.m. last Tuesday, just as I prepared to go to bed in total darkness, I heard the surge of my computer, my phone and my clocks as they all started humming again … and the lights came on.  My prayers were answered; I ran to my now working office and worked until 12:30 a.m. doing a final check and transmitting everything to where it needed to be by morning!  Lesson #5 – We are much too dependent upon technology!

Week one is behind me now and here I sit working on week two from home.  In my 21 years working here, I can’t remember EVER feeling quite so much frustration and dismay as I did during week one.  But I have decided that if I could weather all those storms in just a few short days, I can handle just about anything!  Lesson #6 – I need to remind myself when things like this happen that “this, too, shall pass”.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all those who called, e-mailed or stopped by in person to say good-bye.  They all seemed to know it was hard for me and they cared.  Whether it was via telephone, the internet or in person, I got lots of hugs which made me feel better.  FINAL Lesson – I am VERY blessed to have friends like that.

Moving has been a great learning experience.  I know that what I left behind was just a building; what I will miss most about being downtown every day is the people.  Shinnston is a very unique community and what makes it so unique is its residents.  Here is just one example.   One LARGE and HEAVY thing I took from the office was the credenza that sat behind my desk.  Bringing that piece of furniture home with me eliminated having four or five filing cabinets in my home office for storage.  Where else but in Shinnston would the mayor help get that thing loaded to go to its new home?!   A huge thank you to Mayor Sam DeMarco!

I love DIY projects, so that credenza got a good cleaning, a coat of paint on the outside, and a shining treatment to its sturdy legs.  My last dilemma was how to get that monstrous thing up my steps to the second floor of my home!  I asked Derek McIntyre for help … and I must tell you that I lost count as the cars pulled up!  LOTS of big, strong men from the Shinnston Volunteer Fire Department showed up to help!  THANK YOU!  I will always be Ten House Proud and Ten House Grateful!  As far as I’m concerned, ONLY IN SHINNSTON do you get these kinds of responses from friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The move is over … the storm has passed … and I’m ready to get on with the work that I love … and I feel blessed to be able to continue to do it!

This week’s dessert:  “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  ~  Socrates