Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Or…Happily Screwed in the Nonprofit World

“Goodbye, yellow brick road,

Where the dogs of society howl.

You can’t plant me in your penthouse,

I’m going back to my plow…

I’ve finally decided my future lies

Beyond the yellow brick road.”

So….for six years I’ve been working my butt off for a company that I really believed in. I started getting restless a couple of years in, but I moved up quickly and always had a new project to work on and keep me interested. But…..

Overtime (on salary, so didn’t really do much for me), working through two maternity leaves, Blackberry, travel travel travel, meetings, office politics – all those things started wearing me down after awhile. I had to wear a new persona, and my boss had more ambition for me than I had for myself. I just wanted to do a job and do it well, help people, and take care of my employees. Instead, I was a public face, requiring all of the clothes, mannerisms, and aggressiveness that the job entailed.

I was being groomed to interact with the penthouse people, but I never felt comfortable. It was a different culture, with different rules, values, and standards. Different does not mean better.

I grew up on a farm, for God’s sake. I know plows.

And then it turns out that the boss that was grooming me wasn’t (allegedly) the person she appeared to be. And after years of dealing with company bigwigs and politicians and backstabbing passive-aggressive corporate ladder climbers, I was already suspicious of pretty much everyone around me. I was also fed up with the drama and the paranoia and  was fighting hard to maintain my integrity, my honesty, and the balance in my life.

Then we were called into a meeting – all of us that worked there – and told that the company was shutting down, we were laid off as of that day, and…(slipped in almost unnoticeably)…we wouldn’t be paid our last paycheck for the pay period that ended – you guessed it – that very day because the audit that had been going on for a few weeks had led to our nonprofit being placed on the state’s suspension of funding list.


So the Board of Directors was going to keep us informed about what was going on and try to get us back into employment. We haven’t heard from them since, which didn’t surprise me because I’d already figured out years ago that CYA is the name of the game.

I’m so happy these days. I have spent my time with my kids, with the horses, and on the farm. I’m harvesting vegetables and taking them to a farmer’s market in a very poor area of Rocky Mount. I’m training horses and trail riding and giving kids the chance to be around horses through our holiday events, the local library, and other community events. I’m getting my own yard straight. I am taking photographs left and right, have written for a local magazine and newspaper, and am doing some side work for the local Boys and Girls Club. I will be a part-time instructor at a local college, which has been a dream of mine for years. I kayak with my best friend since our preteen years. My oldest kid is in Boy Scouts, both boys are in church choir, and I have time to go to school events.

 I am on the verge of bankruptcy, don’t have insurance for the kids (company won’t supply COBRA), have lots of expensive clothes that aren’t being used but don’t have many casual clothes because I had to spend all my clothes money on suits, and don’t expect to reach my previous income level anytime soon. We could lose nearly everything any day.

And I feel good. I have faith. I am willing to live on less and lose many things that seemed important if I can continue to play in the dirt. I’m relaxed, laid back, and feel like I recognize myself again. And so the chorus of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” hit me with incredible impact when I heard it on the radio recently. I sing it to myself every time I go out and work in the fields.


~ by gypsyjonga on May 17, 2011.

2 Responses to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Or…Happily Screwed in the Nonprofit World”

  1. Jenny,
    I am so glad that you are now able to live YOUR TRUTH! I am sorry things ended so badly for you and your co-workers, but after living it myself, I hope that you will look at this a stepping stone and experience for the next thing that God has planned for you!

    You have come a long way in just a short while, it took me much longer and a lot of life coaching to get past everything. For what it’s worth, I have two pieces of advice: don’t waste your time on being angry, it will still your energy and make way for evil…and be still and listen, God will walk with you and whisper the next thing for you, but you have to be STILL. But he also could hit you in the head with it like He did me!

    You know how to find me if you need to,

    Hugs and Blessings,

  2. Very nice, Jenny. I’d elaborate, but Reagan’s insisting that we visit Anyway, I feel you. Same here.

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