Pinch Myself!

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I can remember the moment almost ten years ago when I told T, “Someday I’m going to work for The N…”  At the time, it seemed like a pipe dream or a joke.  Living in the Midwest, how did I ever think I would work for a national organization based in Washington, D.C.?  Of course, I was only kidding when I said that years ago.  I had just gotten home from my first big conference.  T and I were talking in the kitchen of the old house.  I was sitting on the counter in the corner where the edges met, and T was leaning up against the island listening while I talked.  I was full of enthusiasm as I told him all about it.  I felt like an entirely new world had opened up to me.  I wanted to learn more and more, meet people who knew more than me, and get more involved.  I had found my niche.  Fast forward ten years to yesterday.  I started a new job working for THE N…  No, I didn’t have to move to Washington, D. C.  There are field offices across the country, and I was in the right place at the right time (for a change!)

I took a week off between jobs.  During the entire time I was home relaxing between jobs, I held my breath.  I waited for them to call and tell me that there had been a terrible mistake.  “I’m sorry, but you weren’t really our first choice for this job.” or “I’m sorry, we just don’t want YOU.”

I took a picture of the building as I walked up to my new office.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I’m here!  They’re actually going to let me do this job!  I stood on the drive as the humid, summer morning air wrapped around my legs.  I looked at the beautiful, old building before me, and I vowed to care for it and protect it.  I walked through the impeccably manicured gardens, and knew I would find time during my days to know these plants and help keep them free from weeds.  I entered, and I looked up the expanse of the spiral staircase to the galleries above, some full of art while others were full of potential.  I sat my bag down and positioned myself behind my desk.  This is where I belong.  I felt it immediately.  Like a mother knows her own child, I knew that I was meant to be in this place at this particular moment in time.

I hope I can live up to my own dreams.  So many times in the past, as quickly as a dream has come within reach, it was just as quickly snatched from my grasp.  Feeling happy or excited scares the hell out of me.  I don’t trust those feelings.  Is it because I don’t feel deserving of happiness?  I’m afraid I’ll mess up.  I’m afraid I don’t deserve anything good.

I hope so much this time is different.  I feel a kinship with this place, and I want to make us both proud.

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Prioritize Much?

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03

Last weekend was a throwback to our lives of about five years ago; our house was full of people and bustling with non-stop activity.  Andrew spent a few days visiting, and Emily’s friend spent the night here on Saturday night.  I took a day of vacation on Friday, but there wasn’t a moment of quiet until late on Sunday afternoon.  While that was my normal life five years ago, the past weekend was a shock to my system.  Our lives have become quiet, peaceful, and ordered.  As much as I miss a busy household, I have come to appreciate the down time at the end of the day. It makes me realize how much has changed over the past two years.  So much.

T and I took a walk early Sunday evening. It was the first time we had been able to have a conversation alone in days.  We talked about the past weekend, and we talked about the future.  Where are we headed?  What is the next step?  We’ve made so many changes with our jobs, our home, our location, and we’re still trying to figure out exactly where it is we have landed.  Or have we really landed at all?  Is this home or is this still part of a larger transition?

Making this move was the right thing to do.  My motives were not pure, though.  I’m not sure if I was running to something or away from something.  Maybe a little of both.  Thankfully, this move has been good for my family.  The kids are all happy.  We are able to spend more time with the boys, and the girls have adjusted beautifully.  T is happier than I have seen him in years.  He loves his new job.  He’s made friends, and he has more free time than he’s had in years.  A few weeks ago, he told me that he feels like he’s semi-retired. Considering he works over 40 hours per week, this shows how much he really needed this change.

As for me, I’m not quite as happy or well-adjusted as the rest of the family.  I am unsettled.  I’m stressed out.  I’m not sleeping well, and I don’t know what I want.  If I take a step back and think about what in my life has made me happy in the past, none of those things are available to me at this point in my life.  I can’t go back to the time when I was home raising my children.  The band I once played with is no longer together.  Those were good times, but I’m not able to time travel or recreate those years.

I often wonder if I am destined to always be a step ahead or behind of really being content.  I get frustrated with myself for not just being satisfied.  We want for nothing.  We have a lovely home in a nice neighborhood.  Shouldn’t these things make me happy?  Yes, I should be happy, but it all seems kind of two-dimensional.  I feel like a sitcom family.  I have become the kind of person that I had always been secretly proud NOT to be.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this situation over past few weeks, and T and I have spent a lot of time talking.  How much of myself do I really want to give to my career?  This job has become all-consuming.  I’m spent and exhausted at the end of each day.  Too many weekends involve some kind of work-related event.  I am overwhelmed, and I don’t feel like I am making a positive impact.  I don’t know if it’s even possible for one person to make an impact here.  I’m discouraged.  In the past, I didn’t let hurdles get in my way, but this time, I think the hurdles may be too large for me to move out of the way.  I lay awake at night analyzing and planning strategies, and I can’t seem to find a possible solution.  I am one person, and I may be in a situation that is impossible to change.  This situation is complicated, political, ingrained, illogical, and unkind.

The illness of my friend Glenn has shaken me.  Life is too short too spend time being unhappy.  In the time I have known Glenn, I have often wondered about the logic of some of the choices he has made.  He has turned down work opportunities if they would have infringed on his time with his children.  He lives in a small apartment, yet he took his kids on yearly vacations, concerts, and weekends of fun adventures.  I’m ashamed to say that I often saw those expenditures as a waste of his money.  I see it differently now.  Glenn has only a short time left to live, and I’m sure that he treasures the memories he has created with his family much more than anything he would have bought with the money he spent.  Glenn’s life may be cut short, be there is no doubt in my mind that he didn’t squander the time he has had.  He has been happy, and he loved well.  I’m not sure I could say the same thing about my own life, and that has caused me to take a step back and assess who I am, where I am, and where I am heading.

I am not unhappy; I’m just tired and stressed out.  I am discouraged.  I have been chasing something that I’m not sure I even want.  There’s no passion in my life, just empty acquisition.

Today I spent hours alone my car.  I listened to music as I drove.  There were memories attached to so many of the songs that played.  Some songs I remembered playing with a band.  I thought of musician friends, smiles, shared jokes, camaraderie, and good times.  Other songs brought back memories of loved ones, times and places from the past.  What was special about each of those memories was what I felt in my heart.  My memories were connected to my life in a way that is not present in this drone-like life I am now living.  That makes me sad.

What Does Aging Really Mean?

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aging

I turned 50 a few months ago.  There.  I said it.  (Or wrote it.)  I’ve refused to acknowledge the fact that I’m past the half century mark.  Most likely, my life is more than half over.  What do I have to look forward to besides wrinkles, sags, and memory loss?  I’m struggling to find anything good about aging.  I’ve tried on a few platitudes for size.  “I’m grateful for all the good things in my life.”  “Life has been an amazing journey.”  Blah, blah, blah…  My children are wonderful, happy, and healthy.  I have a successful career.  I don’t have the financial worries that plagued my life in younger days.  Yeah, great.  I also don’t have my youth.  That was worth something, wasn’t it?   Continue Reading »

Being the Bad Guy (Or Woman)

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MC-239950396-2

“Though it be honest, it is never good to bring bad news.”

William Shakespeare

A lot of people are mad at me tonight.  Well, maybe it’s not me they’re mad at, but there has not been a shortage of people who have blasted their anger and disappointment my way this evening.

I knew this day was coming, and I have dreaded it.  I have secretly cherished conversations or email exchanges with certain people, because I knew that SOON, they were going to be upset with me.  The ax was going to fall eventually, and they would know the truth, or the results, results that I have already known for about a week.  Having people upset with me is part of my job.  It’s a role that I have voluntarily accepted, however reluctantly. Continue Reading »

Our Own Path

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roadtochange

A lot has happened since my last post, a lot of exhausting things.  I’ve learned something.  Just because something is exhausting, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad thing.  When friends ask about my new job, one of the first things that comes up is the “Stress Level.”  Is this position less stress?  Is it easier?  Do I enjoy it more?  No, No, and Yes. Continue Reading »