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Current Status: Nobody Doing Nothing

19 June 2017

Today sitting here drinking a cup of coffee is task one for the scariest day of my career.

Weekday morning tasks for the past seven years were trying to sleep in three more minutes, get up, work out, try to like coffee, pull off wet hair, get an outfit together that I'll hate by 11 am and, for the past few years, also convince Heidi to hurry just a little bit more so we can be on time to our days without being a bad Mom who makes her feel rushed. It was a gruesome but beneficial daily activity that taught me discipline. Before 9:00 am five days a week? Only made me stronger. Today though, and for the indefinite future, my weekday morning assignment is to actually use my front porch swing (for the first time since we bought it seven years ago) to greet the day in gratitude and stillness. It's something I thought must be nice to be able to do all of those hundreds of days I was glancing at this swing while holding back a dog and squeezing myself out the front door, my arms filled with bags and backpacks and a toddler running through my legs. The doing it is now a different story. It is its own gruesome but good. 

There's no place to rush to today or person to be for other people. My new work assignment is to try my best to not rush anywhere but instead embrace stillness for a change. It's time to find out who I am and want to be instead of making my life being someone for someone else. My last job of a very wonderful seven year arc of career opportunities ended Friday when I realized it had served its purpose of making me a more interesting, resilient and learned person than when I began a few years ago and, for that reason, it was no longer fulfilling. 

I was thankful to pick up Deepak Chopra's 7 Spiritual Laws of Success after knowing I needed some silence and felt like I was onto something.
 
Then there was this prayer by Susan Paolo Cherwien at our church the same weekend - ah!

I'd like to think I've been a diligent worker and young career gal. I've had mentors, milestones and five year plans. I've been nearly everything I'm supposed to be. It's now time to drop the "supposed to" and focus on being the person I am called to be. This is a scary change for me, knowing the stillness and smallness it takes to hear these answers. I've believed all my life the worst thing I could be is nobody doing nothing. I've believed the more I can impress someone with the elevator speech of what I'm doing and the more recognized I am for my work, the more I must be using my life and making a mark on the world.



A well timed image from the inspiring lizzie somabut

The question now is: what do I do that leaves a mark on the world and what are things I do to feel more worthy and accomplished? How many are the same? 

I've been smacked in the face with this Scripture verse (you knew one was coming) so much this year it might be one of my first to know by heart, 
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) 

And it's not that I ever didn't want these things, to do justice and to love kindness. I just needed them to occur on a well-oiled career track that pointed to a corner office at a recognized brand that garnered me press worthy accomplishments and the praise of my peers. That's all. 

And I do think I did justice and spread loving kindness in all of my work, which I am proud of. The walking humbly is the tricky part, especially to career goals like I had. 

The past year and half walking humbly and learning its rewards have been my biggest life's work. January 2016 I was thrust into the scariest unknown. Everything I knew about my sense of self, family life, security and future was null and void in a minute, besides one thing: that I knew God and He knew plans for me. They were impossible for me to see as I was buried under a pile of lead blankets called grief, but when I stopped fighting and trashing and lay still and powerless, there was a knowing His plans were there. 

It took a massive personal overhaul, but I was able to relearn pain and unknowing as signs of great changes to come and God's plan manifesting for you if you're willing to dig in and listen closely instead of run away. I did that in my relationship with myself and relationships with my family, with God and even with possessions and appearances. It was one of the most terrifying, difficult and freeing things I've ever done. 

Then I knew it was time to take the same scary process with my career and how it plays into my calling and sense of self-worth. And that sucked because my job was fun and a lot of great people are there. 

I had advisors in my best interest when I told friends I was struggling with feeling fulfilled balancing work and life tell me to lean out of my job emotionally and look around for my next move before I left. While I may have done the stupid thing to walk away without a calculated backup plan, I'd like to think I did the right thing for myself and the people I loved and worked with through such formative years. Honesty was a brutal and beneficial part of my job. I couldn't get so used to wearing my heart on my sleeve professionally and then turn away from all the good that's done me at the end while trying to fake my way out.

I really struggled with myself as I was questioning my feelings at work, because when you list out what I had: a husband eager to share the load, superior child care equidistant to my home and office, a thriving little girl loved by her parents and my coworkers, great friends to work with and an environment where I can wear my hair wet to work probably 100 days in a row and still be consistently referred to as professional (this last part being the scariest thing to walk away from), I was close AF to "having it all." It was hard not to convince myself I should feel lucky for what I had and put a little more grit into making it work for all of us. The only catch was recently learning how easily things go bad for me and my family when I put my happiness and integrity on hold. So I set my golden ticket on fire and can only hope sitting in the ashes long enough will bring me a next spark.

Naturally, when my news got around there were questions or statements about leaving to be a stay-at-home Mom and that I wasn't going to be a working Mom anymore. These camps are something I never fully subscribed to from the get go. The camp I feel the most in, especially now, is for those who want to make an impact with their lives and know a lot of that begins with being happy and loving your family. I'm ready to use a little more space in my days to discover how that comes to me and then weave it into something new. Maybe it involves a job at a large company or maybe it's leaning in to helping a three-year-old girl know she can change the world by being herself. 

These Mom titles remind me what a falsehood the idea of permanence is, as if we pick a lane at our child's birth and decide that's who we are until college move-in day. Nothing has been less true in my life than the idea that any one thing stays the same forever. I've been on top and thought I had life beat for good and I've been in such grief I literally wondered if I would ever crack a real smile again, both in the past three years. And I think the more we fail to embrace change and make it a constant, the more life will do it for us. 

Even though I'm trying to do as nothing as possible for a bit, I'm preparing myself for the gut hit and how to answer when I'm asked what I'm "doing" when I see people over this next chapter. So, my new elevator speeches for what I'm currently doing may be:

  • Being still enough to be able to hear what God's plan is as it's whispered to me.
  • Reading something and writing something every day, even if neither of them are of the quality to inspire change in the world. 
  • Shamelessly enjoying one of my 18 summers with Heidi for as many days of it as I can.
  • Sleeping for the first time in two yearsthanks first to a hungry baby and then a year plus of nightly panic attacks. I had a full night of sleep recently and that stuff does not mess around with how good and sane it will make you feel. I wrote myself a prescription to shamelessly sleep at any hour of the day for any length of time until I am sick of it. 
  • Getting to know my husband again. Remember how he was the best thing that ever happened to me? Me too and I'm sure I'll remember why with just a few more minutes of eye contact a day. So far so great. 
  • For the first 30 days of Life 2.0, I'm allowed to get a ridiculous amount of Vitamin D and possibly a tan for the first time in eight years. The sun makes me happy and we've been barely seeing each other for the sake of workdays and productive weekends. We're going to reconnect.
  • Remind myself when it comes to work, "important" and "acknowledged" are rarely the same thing. Run the "Micah test" to find the next things that encourage me to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with my family and community. If they also make me excited and happy, it's a go. 

I'll keep you updated...

7 comments:

  1. Saw your insta post and just had to click through. Well written as usual! As I am about to enter motherhood, I've had the opposite reactions from other moms....the judgement when i tell them i plan to go back to work. The mom shaming is no joke. I don't think I was fully prepared for it...and this baby hasn't even made his or her dubut yet. CONGRATS TO YOU on making the choice that is RIGHT FOR YOU! Enjoy your summer with your husband and Heidi, read some great books, reconnect with yourself, etc. I was unemployed for 9 months and in the moments when I wasn't crazily job hunting, I was soul helping by doing the things I love - traveling (even if it was just to somewhere near nyc), reading, writing, watching bad tv, etc. I'm so happy for you and the best life you've chosen to live. Big hugs from nyc. hope to see you soon

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  2. im so excited and happy for whats in the future for you :)

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  3. Very cool. I hope you enjoy taking life as it comes. I've been at home with my little and our little routines make me so happy:) I got an itch to go back to work and worked full time for a month, then I went to my manager and tried to quit because I missed my home life so much. Now I work as needed which is ok. But the peace of mind you get when you can take care of you life instead of a job is amazing!

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    1. Thank you! I love the way you put that!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your heart. I'm so excited to see you enjoy this phase of life; it's obvious you don't take for granted the things so many of us do. Maybe we can get some sun together!

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    1. Thank you! Would love to all get out the in sun this summer!

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