Ask Majella: Majella O'Donnell solves your problems
I don't know what to do with my life after redundancy
Advice on what to do when redundancy is looming close to retirement age and how to deal with a neighbour's dog fouling your garden.
My company has been making redundancies and I've just discovered I'm very much in the firing line. I've been working with them for the last 16 years and I'm nearing retirement anyway so it shouldn't really come as such a blow to me, but I am devastated. Most of my co-workers and friends have big families and lots of hobbies to keep them busy but I've devoted my life to working since I was old enough to get a job. I never got married or had children, and I've been happy enough that way until now.
I know the idea of taking a break is nice but to be honest, I'm worried about having all that spare time. I've lost many of my old friends because of my working commitments too. I expected to have time to consider what to do before retirement, maybe take up a class or do a bit of work on the side, but I didn't think it would come around so quickly. Financially I'll survive but I won't be in the same position I thought I would be in when it came to retirement, and I'm now bitter about going to work everyday. I feel utterly used by the company and worried about the future. What do you think I should do?
Majella replies: You really need to sit down and think about what you really want to do once you retire. People tend to put things off for another day when the time to do things is NOW. You said that you "expected to have time to consider what to do after retirement", but life doesn't always flow as we expect. What a shame you have neglected your friendships in favour of work and, sadly, how common that is. It's only when it's too late that we realise it. However, there are lots of things you can do to change that.
Firstly, you must look at your situation in a positive light. Look at what you have as opposed to what you don't have. That is such an easy habit to get into and it is very destructive. That is why you feel worried and bitter. If I look at your situation I see a lady who has had a good job that she has enjoyed for the last 16 years. Not everyone can say that about their work. You are nearing retirement anyway so you could be grateful that you are not being made redundant at an earlier age. Financially you will survive. How great is it to be able to say that even if it's not as much as you expected.
I think you have a future to be excited about, not worried about. Sit yourself down and have a good think about what you would like to achieve for the remainder of your life. Consider travel, hobbies, courses, volunteer work, learning a new language, etc. There are loads of things you could do and now is the time to do them.
Change your mindset and think of this as a wonderful time, not a bad time. You can choose how you feel so don't choose to think that the company used you.
Instead think that you had 16 good years and received a steady wage all that time and now it's time for a change. Don't fight it, embrace it.
My neighbour's dog fouls in my garden
My family has lived in our lovely house for the past 15 years. It's in a quiet, residential estate where everyone knows each other and there's a friendly atmosphere. The one exception is our next-door neighbours, a young couple who moved in six months ago. Their dog comes into our garden through the hedge and digs holes in the lawn and fouls in it. The first few times I said nothing and just cleaned it up, but when it started happening regularly I knocked in and asked that they keep the dog out of my garden. The woman flatly denied that it was her dog that was doing it, called me a nosy old biddy and shut the door in my face. It was very upsetting. The dog kept coming in and a couple of weeks ago it snapped at my young grandson, who I mind, and I had to chase it out of the garden. After that, I took a photo of it digging in my grass, and popped this and a note through their door. The next morning I found the note back in my own hallway. I don't want to start a war with my neighbours, but they need to keep the dog and its mess out of my garden where children play. Please help!
Majella replies: That really is an awkward situation to be in. At the end of the day what is happening is totally unacceptable and your neighbours are going to have to realise that things cannot carry on like this. I understand that you do not want to start a war with them, but I think that maybe you could try and talk to them one more time.
Approach them in a friendly non-aggressive manner, even if they are in the wrong. Say that you really would like to try to resolve the problem without any bad feelings, but that their dog seems to have taken a shine to your garden and you would prefer if he stayed in his own. Explain that you are looking after your grandson and that you are worried that he may do something to cause the dog to react badly towards him. Say that you wouldn't want that to happen because it could have bad consequences for the dog. Tell them that you have always got on fine with everyone in the area and that you don't want any trouble.
Life's too short. If they react badly then you could report the dog for unsociable behaviour. Check with your local Citizens Information Bureau to see what your rights are. Have you considered putting up a net fence in front of the hedge so that the dog cannot get through? That may be a very simple solution that doesn't cause any friction at all.