Last week I found myself walking through downtown Seattle in the pouring rain. I had an unexpected errand to run, and I wasn’t quite sure how to get where I was headed, since I hadn’t been there before. I wasn’t in any particular hurry, since I’d planned to be away from my desk for awhile, so I took in the rain, listening to the splash pelt my jacket’s hood. I took a hopeful turn, then looked down at a glistening patch of gold on the sidewalk, wet with the rain just like I was. The words in the placard stopped me in my tracks on the busy sidewalk.
There are people who know when they’re nine years old that they want to be a lawyer when they grow up, and others who know they want to be a mom, or a teacher, or a firefighter or a banker. And those people grow up, and some do those things, and some change plans. And some of us don’t have any idea what we want to be, and we do some things, and we change plans. When I was nine years old, I think I wanted to be a teacher, or a writer, but I’m not sure — I’ve had long periods of time where I couldn’t remember those things, so I don’t know how accurate that memory is now.
And for a variety of reasons, I’ve spent my career so far not doing those things that I wanted to be. And it’s been amazing. I followed the little voice in me that said “I want to do some good in this world” to law school, and then into law practice. I followed the little voice in me that said “I want to do more good in this world” into public policy work, and then followed the little voice in me that said “There’s a big world out there that I want to explore” into my one-month stint as a sponsored climber, and into my early roles in the outdoor industry.
And then, somewhere along the line, the little voices got so little, I couldn’t even hear them anymore — or maybe I wasn’t listening, or maybe they just gave up for awhile, or maybe I was exactly where I was supposed to be, so they just kept their little mouths shut and just let me be, for a time. One opportunity lead to another, and each of my jobs was a blessing in a long list of ways: I met people and built relationships that I treasure, and that have changed the course of my life. And I love the work I’ve done, and the people I’ve done it with, and I’ve learned so so much, and grown so much, and have no regrets, whatsoever.
And in the last few months, the “I want to do more good in this world” voice started her drumbeat again, and on Friday of last week I exited my job as gracefully as possible, leaving the work there in very able hands, to shift my focus to figuring out what comes next for me.
This morning I woke up to an alarm clock, but not because I was headed to work. Instead, I dropped Ryan at work, and then parked the car back at home to take the bus downtown for a doctor’s appointment. And then, I walked out of my doctor’s appointment into a day that had a long “to do list,” but no other appointments — nowhere I was supposed to be, and nothing I was supposed to be doing for anyone else. It was getting close to lunchtime, and I had a craving for French Toast, so I grabbed the next C-line to Chaco Canyon in West Seattle, and then started in on my own “to do list,” an album I’ve been wanting to hear playing in my earbuds, checking off things as I go.
Write a blog post. Check.
It’s difficult to maintain a feeling of abundance when you’re job-hunting, since so many parts of the effort trigger the “scarcity” parts of our brains. I have moments of anxiety about being between jobs for a time, but the reality is that I will be just fine, and I’m lucky to have my partner, my friends, my family, and myself — complete with a shiny newly updated resume and somewhere around eighteen years of really incredible work experience — to rely on. When I take inventory of the present, and don’t let myself spin myself up about what might or might not happen in the future, life is so thoroughly good.
And when anxiety does strike, the surest way for me to feel better is to either sit down and write, or pull out my lesson planning for the class I’m co-instructing with the University of Washington starting in January. Maybe nine-year-old Sara was on to something, after all.
How do you maintain a feeling of abundance? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!