Falling Upwards

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I, I Did It All May 17, 2015

Recently, I’ve been looking for a new job. I more or less gave up my photography business when I agreed to help my mother with her businesses (a medical practice and a residential care facility) a year and half ago. My intention was to go full steam ahead with my business when my son went away to college. I would now have the time to fully commit. Instead, I’ve spent the past 1.5 yrs bringing stability to two businesses for which I have no interest. But, I don’t regret it. I did it for love. I did it for my mother.

“Hope when you take that jump, you don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay”

Any change is difficult. But, as we all know, change is healthy and necessary for growth. And, even though this wasn’t the change I was expecting, my life has definitely changed. One of the positive things from the past year is that it has given me the time to decide whether investing more time in photography was what I really wanted to do. I’ve never been as passionate about it as most other photographers I know. As one friend put it, “[you] don’t carry your camera everywhere with you.” But, giving up something that I’ve been doing, that I know, is scary. Still… I kept thinking that there was something else out there for me.

My issue this past year has been in trying to figure out what the “something” is. So, last December, I went to see a career counselor. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d written an actual resume, and I truly didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, … and, oops… here I was middle-aged and, supposedly, grown. What I learned in our meetings surprised me. Very little of my interests had to do with photography and more to do with spirituality, community/volunteering, holistic health/lifestyle, and food. (If you were a FB friend, you wouldn’t be surprised by that last one.) So, I began to look for things in those areas, including possibly going back to school.

“Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say…”

I told very few people about my findings, that I was considering going back for an M.A. I told those I knew it would affect — my family members and a few close friends.But, now, here’s where I got a surprise. The folks I thought might be unsupportive (namely some in my family) were completely supportive of the idea, even knowing that I’m financial strapped as it is and going back to school will be an even larger financial burden. But, the bigger surprise was that the one person I thought would be most supportive (because she always has been) got angry at me. Angry. (I repeat that word ‘cuz I’m still baffled by it.)

My Good Friend’s opinion is that I need to take grow up, get a job, any job, and take care of my finances. Now, mind you, I have very few expenses, excellent credit and really want for nothing. I may not have all the “extras,” but I’m grateful for what I have and believe that Source/God/dess (whatever you wanna call It) will provide. And, I’m not silly enough to let myself (or my kid) starve and be homeless because I’m too proud to work at Micky D’s. But, because she has been one of my guides for so long and because I respect her opinion, I began to doubt to myself.

In fact, the doubt grew so strong, it turned into fear; fear that I cannot provide for myself, fear that I won’t be able to get a decent-paying job (her opinion is that I should be an AA because that’s all I can do, even though I’m grossly over-qualified for all AA positions); fear that, as a middle-aged woman, I really have no choices or opportunities left.

Around this same time, my son started to have serious problems his second year in college. His grades started to dip; he can’t shake off feelings of depression; and, he has been ill with one virus or another since the beginning of the year. His words to me (via text) were “idk if classes are the right way to go.” What do you tell your kid when he pretty much says he wants to drop out of school? Ok… now what do you tell your kid, who’s been telling you since sophomore year of high school that he doesn’t like school and how things are taught? I’ve been telling him he needed to “play the game.” But, now he says, “I don’t want to play this game anymore.”

“Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I’ll say…”

Then, because my angels and guides speak to me through the internet (maybe), interesting articles began to pop up on my wall and in my feed. One was from a Reddit post by a 40-something man who felt he wasted his life. Another was a compilation of inspiring life lesson quotes by Rumi. (Just click on the links if you want to read them) The author of the Rumi quotes article listed the #2 life lesson as “Your job is to live your life in a way that makes sense to you, not them.” Well, if that didn’t hit me between the eyes!…

What I realized is that is DOESN’T make sense to live in fear, according to somebody’s else’s concept of what should or shouldn’t be and playing society’s game when it’s one you “don’t want to play.”

I’m 46 years old. Yes, my time in the workforce is now limited, but that just means I’m not going to settle for any old job. I’m going to get one that has meaning for me; one in which I can contribute and learn. Or, I’ll get a part-time job and go back to school to learn more stuff. I haven’t decided yet! And, I’ve got at least 40 more years of life to have more adventures and experiences.

As for my son, he’s at the beginning of his life. He, as a young adult, is at his peak, invincible. Why must he go through school the “proper” way? Why not take the time now to explore while he has the energy and is young enough to fail again and again with few consequences? So, as his mom, I’m encouraging him to take a “leave of absence” from school to get his health back on track, figure out what he wants to do and maybe go an adventure of his own.

I’m sure some people read the last two paragraphs and cringed. I know my Good Friend would. But, here’s something else I learned in the past year and a half…. your good friends may love you, but they don’t know what’s best for you. Only you know what’s best for you. I learned to listen to Myself, to trust my inner voice. And, in doing so, I also learned to hear what my son was really saying.

I think, though, that the hardest part in all this was the part I didn’t expect I had to do, which was to let go of my Friend. She was the last in a group of “friends” I recently let go because of their negativity. Don’t get me wrong… I”m not a fountain of positive words and actions all the time myself. But, I started listening to my body when it was telling me that certain people made me feel bad, about myself, about my situation. Being around them made me feel tired, sad, uninspired, and that was not the energy I wanted around myself. I plan to live a fearless life, in the Now, full of possibility,…  that is the sort of energy with which I choose to surround myself…. so that, someday, I can say..

“I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

With every broken bone, I swear I lived.
With every broken bone, I swear I…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

 

Dreaming about the things that we could be… April 28, 2014

Yesterday morning, I stopped to talk to a man in my fave, local coffee shop. He was sitting at a table making chain mail. Yup… you read that right… chain mail. I questioned him about it at length; asked who he was making it for and what its uses were, etc. He giggled, thinking it was funny that some random little girl was asking him about chain mail. I told him I thought it was a very cool hobby and an interesting skill.

The night before, I’d had a lovely conversation with my son who has called me less than a half dozen times since starting college last Fall. So, the few times we’ve talk, they’ve been longer conversations during which he’ll talk about something on his mind that he needs a different perspective on because he can’t figure it out for himself, and it is often the social aspect of college. My kid is inherently introverted and finds it difficult to make friends. In fact, though he seems to be superficially outgoing and friendly, he finds it difficult to understand and deal with people in general. It’s genetics. His father was the same, and so am I. His dad and I both had to come out of our “shells” in college and learn how to socialize.

“And my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and you shall find”

I told my son that when I meet someone, I ask them about themselves, not only to get to know them but because I love to hear people’s stories. Every person I’ve ever met has had an interesting, often times inspirational or educational, story to tell. Every person has something crazy cool about them, regardless of how they may appear on the surface. Had I not seen the man making chain mail at the coffee shop, I would never have known that this random person has an interest in, and has deeply researched, a period of history and a specific craft that one would think is obsolete in this day and age. In fact, he told me that much of what he makes is used by divers and people who handle animals, among other things. It’s amazing what things you learn just by talking to people about their interests.

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars”

I read a free iBook yesterday about a man and his robot girlfriend (His Robot Girlfriend). The robot pretty much started doing everything for him, all the menial, household tasks that he wasn’t doing for himself because he was busy sitting on the couch watching TV. By changing his diet and encouraging him to exercise, she helped him to become healthier and have more energy. And, with her industrious example, he started to use his time to do projects around the house, then to start working on a book he’d been meaning to write. The robot girlfriend encouraged him to be disciplined, care for himself and put time into his passions, to become a better, more complete, version of himself; reach for and attain his “possibilities.”

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told
I feel something so wrong
Doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly”

Through my conversations with people, I’ve learned  a couple of things : (1) we are all the same, and (2) we are all crazy interesting and unique.

Every single person, every human being, has their story, whether happy, sad, hopeful or whatever … we all come from someplace and someone, and we all have our “whys” as to how we got to where we each are at this moment in time. We have this commonality across the board.

Also, every single person has their “possibilities,” whether we are currently acting upon them or they still lie in our future. These possibilities are unique to each person. What makes you drown makes me fly. There can be no judgement there because, despite how differently you see the world, how different your beliefs, your interests or actions, now or in the future may be, despite our “differences,” we are truly all the same in that we each have a story.

And, in this world that seems so divided by politics, religion, social and economic perspectives, or what-have-you, we all live under and count the same stars.

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars”