Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sometimes, in an Ordinary Day, the Unexpected Happens.

Last Tuesday I was sitting in my carpet-covered cubical walls staring at my 8 billion spreadsheets as I've done every work day for nearly 4 years wondering how my life is going to pan out once I make my escape. 

In the haze of my cube coma I hear a "dingggg" from my phone. Ah, an email. Blessed distraction. 

I expect to find some sort of junk mail; however, when I opened my inbox, I had to take a moment to make sure I wasn't delusional. It was an email from the school I had applied to in February for a year long fellowship working with at-risk youth in Estes Park, CO- the one I had received an email several weeks prior saying I hadn't been selected.

"I would like to set up an phone interview with you Friday afternoon but wanted to give you a heads up before.  I'll be calling later this afternoon to see if you are still interested and if so see if we can set up a time." 

So, Friday at 3pm EST I stuttered through 45 minutes of situational questions hoping my not always so conventional answers would resonate with my 4 interviewers' sense of reason and intuition. 

This unexpected opportunity reminded me that sometimes, when you're least expecting it, something good will happen. 

Now I wait. Sometime next week I'll know if my year ahead has a visible destination which will land me in Estes Park with a role to fill, or if I'll be continuing on with  my original plan of heading to Boulder with no solid place to land other than just knowing I'll figure it out once I get there. 

Either way is really ok. No matter what happens...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Where you Invest Your Love, You Invest Your Life"

Imagine one bright beautiful day you receive a phone call telling you that someone you love more than life itself has been diagnosed with a fatal incurable/untreatable disease. Really, take a moment to process how that would change your perspective on life- and if you've already had something like that happen, you are already more than well aware.

Saturday morning, that was the reality for a friend of mine. As I read her words delivering the diagnosis for her little boy, I felt the weight and sorrow of what I imagine only a mother could feel, and I did my best to not cry in a public place. 

I went about the rest of my day in a little bit of a haze trying to wrap my head around how she was feeling. I couldn't, and I still can't as I sit here processing, again, how unstable/unpredictable life really is. All of my fears over leaving a comfortable "stable/safe" living situation are a bold faced lie. We hear it so frequently it's become cliche, but don't let the cliche rob the meaning of the words "life is short." Whether it's 100 years or 10 or 1- it goes by fast. It can end quietly and peacefully, slowly and painfully, or abruptly and violently, but regardless of how it ends, it ends. 

I know this sounds really heavy and depressing, but it doesn't have to be. Death is not an ugly thing to fear, but a compliment to life. It can help remind us of what's important, -truly- important while our eyes are open and our hearts are still beating. I've been lucky in that I've learned that lesson young. It took me a long time to stop being angry long enough to realize the inevitable thing that was happening around me was not an assault on my life, but simply a part of all of our lives. 

Saturday was a reminder to me of why I'm still here- why I want to LIVE. I'm making changes in how I live my life to honor those who have brought me so far, and have taught me to not take what and who I love for granted. What we love is the only thing that matters. In these mortal finite moments, I am going to stop wasting my life believing I 'should' be doing what everyone else expects me to do because it's what's socially acceptable by the masses, focus on living and opportunity instead of fear and doubt, and invest more of myself into who and what I love instead of just what pays the bills. I saw a quote last week that said something along the lines of "where you spend your money is where you cast your vote" and I wondered if where you earn your money casts that vote too. It does. I don't love my job on any level. I don't even like it. It feels empty and meaningless because there is no growth or progression, but what's more- there's no love, excitement, or inspiration. That is why I am leaving. I'm setting off to find a way to invest my time, my love, my life, my self into something that brings out the best in me so that I can, in turn, help to bring out the best in others. I am going to cast my vote in a way that works towards cultivating the kind of life where people's talents, skills, and passions are realized instead of dismissed.

I've spent so much time the last few weeks focused on how terrified I am of leaving my financial security and the stability I've built over the last 4 years, but why? What kind of stability do I really have? I could get a phone call one day and find out I have cancer or a debilitating disease. Or, I could simply get hit by a truck and it would all be over in an instant- all of that "security" I had built would be destroyed like a hut in tsunami. I'd have done nothing I really wanted to do because I was putting it off until I was set up for a retirement I'd never reach. I am done being afraid. It is time to be strong and brave with my life because the alternatives are unacceptable. 

It is time to payout on all of the love that has been invested in me. I'm going to show myself the boundaries I (and everyone else) seem to think exist, aren't really there. Life is as big as we allow it to be. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When Much is Taken Away, Much is Often Given

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and will probably say it several more times in the course of the next  2 months), I'm scared to leave. Then why am I leaving? Because I'm more terrified to stay. I don't know what awaits me when I take the plunge into a wide open world of uncertain possibility, but I know for sure what awaits me if I stay- a cold living dead existence sustained only by the need to make money at a meaningless job paying my bills so I can continue to go to my meaningless job to make  more money to pay for more bills. And the occasional trip, which I love- but as mentioned in a previous post "what you do every day is more important than what you do once in awhile."

I've been selling off my belongings, giving things away, storing a few things at the houses of my family and friends, paring down as much as I can so when the date to leave arrives (June 15!), I'll have just the things that are going to be packed up in my car.

Friday night I packed up my books (7 boxes of them) so my friend could come purchase the bookshelves they inhabited Saturday morning. This sounds benign enough of an activity, but I cried. Really hard. Several times. My books are like old friends- they were there carrying me through some of my darkest times, celebrating my triumphs, and educating me when I had goals to achieve. I write in them, I underline, I dog ear the pages, I do all of those sacrilegious things that you're taught you shouldn't do to a book. And what's more, I actually reference them. Frequently. I know the majority of book owners have them serving a more decorative than functional purpose once they've been read once, but I like having an active reference library- a good old fashioned one that can't be Googled or searched through using the 'Ctrl + F' function.

Aside from the books, there were also old journals and photo albums mingled in. The things that brought the most tears were pictures of my mom and dad holding me shortly after my adoption, pictures of my grandparents who are no longer here -the ones who took care of us when mom was sick, a journal that contained only letters to my mother after she passed away, pictures of friends I've lost over the last several years... I grieved all over again, for all of them. But then I remembered this: I have lost so much. Not in terms of material stuff, but in terms of people- in permanent ways. But I've been given SO MUCH. Again, not in terms of material stuff, but in terms of lessons I've learned. I know what's important in life in ways it takes some a lifetime to discover; sometimes when it's too late. I have the rest of my life to live out the priority of my love.

That said, there are a few pictures I kept out, and may take with me to remind me of why I'm doing what I'm doing. Life is short and uncertain, and I am lucky enough to live in a country where I can set off in search of more meaning- of a life that is lived and owned by me.

Inside one of my journals I kept while I was in Hawaii, this quote from a magazine was taped inside:

I stopped and thought, "huh- 10 years ago I left S. Central PA because I felt like I was suffocating here, and here I am again, feeling the same way..." I came back the summer of 2004 to take some time off and regroup after the death of a close friend, but I stayed 7 years too long.

Leaving in 2002 saved my life. Leaving in 2012 will do it again, in a different way.