Found It

looking around cornere

I have spent the past two years searching for My Thing through this blog.  I think I may have found it.

In hindsight, it was pretty much staring me in the face the whole time.  Yup, I know.  I can be a bit thick sometimes.  So while I may never write the great Canadian novel, I think it’s safe to say that my creative outlet is putting pen to paper.  Or perhaps fingertips to iPad would be more appropriate.

There I said it.  I love to write.

Some of the most satisfying moments in the past months have been the ones just after hitting the publish button.  It’s an odd rush of “Yes, I’m done” and “Wow, I finished another one”.  It’s interesting to see how my writing style changed over the months.  My first couple of posts were pretty wordy and involved long descriptive paragraphs.  The later ones are a bit more choppy.  I’m not sure if it’s just how my thought process changed or if realized that it was just easier for people to read it that way.  Whatever the reason, I have enjoyed every minute.

But I’m not going to lie.  I have wished, more than a few times, that more people read my posts.  That’s when my most trusted adviser gently reminded me, that wasn’t why I was writing.  I was writing to explore my life and express myself.  (Ya, I know, sometimes I expressed myself a little too much)  But it felt good.  It felt right.  So I kept doing it.

Oddly enough, since having this epiphany about writing being my thing, I’ve been stuck with no ideas and nothing flowing in my head.  I started numerous post but never got past the first sentence.  Panic started to set in.  What was happening?

Some would call it writers block.  I call it damned annoying.

And worst of all, I just couldn’t figure out why.  It was infuriating and caused hours, perhaps days, of gut wrenching soul searching.  (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration). I tried to work through it by spending some time drinking wine in Whistler and heading out for numerous runs. Trying to nudge the process along.  I was willing to do whatever it took.  I’m dedicated that way.

But then I remembered that this was something else that I’ve learnt these past two years.

Everything comes when it’s supposed to.  And it did.

I realized that the time I have spent with friends and acquaintances in the past two years learning about them, and in turn me, has been enlightening and rewarding.  Not to mention a lot of fun.  I’ve seen what it means to be passionate about something.  Truly passionate. I’ve been given advice and I’ve give some out myself.  I’ve rekindled friendships that had faded and realized that people I hardly knew were wicked interesting.  Despite already being middle aged I’ve grown up.

But here’s the kicker.  Now that I’ve come to this momentous conclusion, I’m  feeling like I need a change. Don’t worry, I’m still interested in exploring the Best Things in Life.  I just think that it may look a little different.

I’m not exactly sure how…..but that’s the Best Thing in Life.  You don’t always know what’s around the corner.

 

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In Search of Higher Education

grad cap

Over the years, whenever I’ve come to a crossroads in my life, I’ve entertained the idea of going back to school to finish a degree I halfheartedly started after high school. For one reason or another it has never happened and now, at fifty, I’m pretty sure it never will. I have no regrets though, because I know that if it was meant to be it would have happened. My friend Karen, however, came to a point in her life, at 47, and realized that she did want to further her education. Growing up in Saskatchewan, Karen’s mom didn’t have a formal post secondary school education and as a single mother she struggled. Seeing that, Karen knew from an early age that she wanted more for herself. She would go to university, get an education and have a career. It was never a question, it was just something she would do. Her life has taken some twists and turns along the way but the desire to better herself has never faded. At 50 years of age she is five months away from earning her MBA.

After high school Karen earned a degree in Commerce and Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan then took a year off and travelled in Southeast Asia. At the end of that year she needed to make a decision on what to do and where to go. “I sat in a bar in Bangkok and tried to decide if I should go to Australia or the UK”. Although the lure of beaches and surfing was strong, the UK won out. Securing a work visa, she headed to London. Even though she had her degree, she was in her early twenties and had no real life work experience so she joined a temp secretarial pool. Her programming background and her wicked typing skills got her plenty of jobs and within a few months she was offered a full time programming position. There’s no doubt in my mind that it wasn’t just her university degree that propelled her into this job. Karen has, what I would call, moxy.

Okay, so quick life segway…..While working in London Karen met her soon to be husband. They returned to Canada and had two boys who are now 18 and 16. She took a programming position at a telecommunications company and continued to move up the corporate ladder. About 2002 she met me. (Okay, so maybe that’s not really a “life moment” but it was at a time that her life was changing so I’m putting it in the story). A few years later she found herself going through a divorce. Having been through a divorce, I know how all consuming it can be. From what I saw, Karen took it all in stride. She put her head down, worked hard and raised her sons. All the while continuing to better herself personally and professionally. I truly admire that.

Getting an executive MBA requires a lot of things. Working for an organization that believes in people is a great place to start, and Karen’s employer has been behind her all the way. But ultimately you need to have a full support team. Work peers, friends and family. At one point in her first year Karen was struggling to juggle work, school and parenting . Feeling like she was, perhaps, not fully there for one of her sons as he reported a less than stellar grade, she said to him, “I think I should just quit this and be more available for you.” As her eyes filled with tears she recalled that her son had adamantly told her, no way was she going to quit. They were behind her 100%. Now if only she could get them to study as much as she did. Unfortunately it hasn’t all been as good as that. “I wish that women would support women more.” She’s left friendships behind because some friends, female friends, couldn’t support, or understand, what she would gain from this venture. Feeling that there was no room for negativity in her life, she has forced to moved on.

A big part of the program she is enrolled in involves working in teams and networking. Some of the members of her team are VPs of huge corporations and are well connected men and women in Vancouver business. At first she was a bit intimidated, but then one night over beers she realized she was just as smart, if not smarter, than most of them. Hey, she thought, I could do your job. One day she probably will. As she gets ready to travel to Mexico next month to complete the International portion of her degree, she thinks about how good it will feel to be done. She has specific goals in mind for her future and opportunities and connections that will take her anywhere she wants to go.

This is the reason I write this blog. Exploring other people’s Best Things in Life and searching for mine over the last nine months has shown me so many different approaches to doing what you love. So many different ways to be happy. I will not go back to school. It’s not in me. But I admire Karen so much for what she is doing and I think that not only will she succeed in all that she does, but along the way she will teach others a thing or two. She has taught me that some things are really hard to achieve. Sometimes the road to them is long, winding and full of pot holes. But if you can navigate that road, as Karen has, great things await you. The Best Thing in Life await you.

Options to Explore

It’s been two months since I left my job. Sixty days. Not very long really. I am almost at the point where my mind has shifted to a new way of thinking. I wonder how I did everything before and stayed sane. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe I was going a little wacky. I read a quote a few weeks ago. “The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be a rat.

I do find myself falling back into old patterns though. Feeling like I need to fill every moment with activity and busy-ness. I’ve found that every once in a while I need to look back at my original blog post. Finding My Thing. Why am I doing this again? I’m fifty years old and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up? How can that be? I have a son who is almost a grown up himself. That’s when I take a step back and say ” Okay, what are my priorities in life?”

Surprisingly, writing this blog has been a huge source of focus for me. Even it, however, is still a work in progress. Why am I writing a blog of all things? Am I writing for myself or the people who are reading it? Do I really care what people think? Of course! Why do you think they have a stats button on WordPress? It is a bit scary. You’re putting yourself out into the world that everyone can see and if they can see it, they can judge it. While I have been fortunate so far to have only received positive feedback, I know that the day will come that somebody will not like what I have to say. Do they have an Ignore button on WordPress?

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I read a lot of other blogs too. Some are really journals of peoples lives, some are serious, some are hysterically funny, some are written by truly gifted writers, some are not. Where do I fit into all of it? Do I fit in? Do I want to fit in? I’ve made a conscious choice not to make my blog a place of controversy and as a result probably don’t have as many readers, but that’s okay. Now, I don’t even pretend to call myself a writer but I have realizes that I enjoy the process of writing a post. I don’t think I would enjoy it as much if I HAD to do it. If I had a deadline and was forced to write about something or someone that I wasn’t interested in I’m not sure it would be as fun. Then again, I could be wrong.

Yoga? Yes, I’m still going to yoga. Once or twice a week I try to make myself into a pretzel. I still fall over and I still hate the pigeon pose. What does it give me? (Because for me it’s all about getting something out of what I do) My brain tends to get stuck into a fairly high gear sometimes. I find it difficult to stop and just….be. Yoga has helped with that, but so has writing. I can be doing about five things at once but when a thought hits me and I sit down to write, everything stops but that thought. Yoga still doesn’t do that for me. Randi says I need to find a mantra to repeat during shavasana. Namaste.

One of the huge benefits of having a little more time is that I’ve reconnected with people that I haven’t spoken to in years. I’ve made deeper connections with people who I thought I knew. I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone by sitting down and having conversations with new people and people I was interested in but didn’t really know very well. I have learnt so much already about new things yet I’ve only just scratched the surface when it comes to determining what my “thing” is. Some say we write what we need to learn. For me, right now, the The Best Thing in Life is having options to explore.