Riches

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Admittedly, this is not what I’m “supposed” to be doing right now…. Nor was yesterday, or yesterday night, or this morning, nor will tonight be…. Granted, most of the “supposed to” and “shoulds” in my life are simply my own creations, but still.
Sometimes I find that, for me, it can be incredibly enriching and exactly what I need when I “go rogue”-indulging my whims and putting the carefully calculated plans on hold.
That’s even true with my writing… Honestly, I’ve really wanted to blog since Sunday night… But blogging is something I enjoy, something I do for fun and relaxation (and for it’s free therapeutic benefits for myself…Haha!). So, I haven’t let myself do it because I haven’t accomplished my academic writing goals yet for the week. For a non-behaviorist, I seem pretty into it, right? Hahaha!
…And then this morning as I was driving home from a fantastic talk, it occurred to me: “That’s a really stupid policy, dude.” It’s hard to write about dry theories I don’t really care that much about when my brain and heart are full from some really great things. It’s hard to write about fake clients when you’re in the midst of applying for real jobs and creating real writing samples. It’s hard to do homework when you are in the last 5 weeks of your master’s degree, just moved across the country, are loving a city, and yet are constantly fighting off a major freak out because… Well, let’s face it… This control freak is about a million miles from her comfort zone in about 100 ways.
It’s exhilarating and thrilling and stimulating and inspiring…. And petrifying at the same time. So, I just decided if that’s what I want to write about, I might as well just go ahead and cave in… Perhaps I’ll be more productive on my academic writing once I get this “out of my system”.
I suppose to title a post “rich” when I am presently unemployed and obsessively check my account balance is a bit ironic. However, that’s really the only feeling word that I could think of to describe the last few days… I stand in awe at the richness present in my life. I am so, so lucky.
This week, one of my best friends is on a service trip to El Salvador… While I certainly miss our usual chats, it has been so cool to hear the joy and amazement in their voice and in their written words about what that experience has been so far. Meeting new people, experimenting with a new language, seeing a whole other way of life, and seeing unshakable faith in very difficult circumstances…. It’s amazing stuff… And it’s wonderful to have the privilege of experiencing that through my friend’s eyes. I am so proud of my friend for going on this trip and being so open to all the experiences along the way. It’s beautiful! It reminds me of similar wonderful experiences I have had, and it makes me long for that type of experience again- that feeling of universality and deep connectedness we can sometimes feel with other human beings when we are both just there, working side-by-side, in it together. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, thinking back to my LUCAP days in college. It also reminds me that on my worst day here, when I think things really, really suck I am still in that top 1% in the world and with that privilege/ luck comes responsibility. It’s amazing to me that often the easiest cure for the “woe is me’s” is a little bit of doing something for someone else- be it handing out posters at the marathon expo or digging ditches for water in El Salvador. Choose joy; find joy- always. If you want to read more about the great work this team is doing on their trip, you can check it out on one of the team member’s blogs here: http://joyousbork.com/
The second big thing that’s been happening is my job hunt…. Last week, I finally got an interview AND a job offer. While that initially sounds great, the truth is, it was really, really tough. The job just wasn’t a good fit and wasn’t a good idea for me… This was reinforced by EVERY PERSON I mentioned it to. People were basically panicking about the fact that I was even CONSIDERING it…However, there was a HUGE part of me that just wanted to take it… Because, 1. I just really want a job and 2. How narcissistic and terrible is it to whine and bitch and moan about “oh, how I want a job” and then TURN IT DOWN when one pops up? After two months of looking, it’s really easy to look at yourself and think, “I know it’s not good, and maybe not even safe, but beggars can’t be choosers- suck it up, take it, and be thankful… There’s a good chance no one else is gonna want you anyway.” (Yes, I realize I got stuck in some negative self-talk here.) Thanks to some good chats with family and friends- and people that know I DO have a work ethic, I found the courage to take the risk and decided to NOT accept the job. Everyone says, “Don’t worry; the right thing is gonna come along.” But gosh, is that scary feeling!
This morning, I got to hear one of my “superheroes” speak- I’ve talked about her a lot, and a link to her blog, “Ordinary Courage” is on this blog… I heard Brene` Brown speak… twice, in two days. Yep, I’m officially in Wholehearted, Vulnerability, Courageous, Shame-killin’ ecstasy… I got up at 7am for this, kids- yep, this was for real! 🙂 One of the things she talked about really resonated with me in regards to my recent job situation. She talked about how early in her career, while not totally aware of it at the time, she was orchestrating a path that was keeping her small, and limiting her career-wise… Despite her saying she wanted it to grow.
In Oprah-speak, this was an “ah-ha!” moment for me. After a lot of difficult thought and prayer, I decided to move a few months ago because I was stuck professionally… granted, I was in a good place, but I wasn’t growing. …And where I was didn’t offer me room to grow. I got here, and it’s hard and scary, professionally speaking. However, if I had chosen to take that job, I would have been choosing to stay small, to be stuck, and to maybe even be in a more limited position than if I had stayed in NOLA. Thankfully, my friends and family helped me to see that. But OMG- It’s scary to go after what’s bigger! It’s risky and it feels vulnerable. (…and I’m working on being ok with that.)
Then, on Monday, the universe decided to throw me a bone… People assured me that THEY believed in me, and something better- something that was a good fit for me- was gonna come along, even if I didn’t quite believe it yet. I got an e-mail from a very well-known program for children and adolescents struggling with mental/ emotional issues about an interview. I had made it to the next round of candidates- they wanted 6 questions answered as a “pre-interview/ 2nd writing sample”… and it was likely that upon timely receipt of it, I would be offered an interview. I was over the moon- just ecstatic! YES, yes, yes! Something better WAS coming! I am employable and good places ARE willing to look at me.
…And then, the next part happened… That moment when you realize, “I really, really, really, really want this- so badly. I have no idea how many other people got this e-mail. I don’t know what I’m up against. I don’t know what they want to hear in these responses. I’m giving them 100% me- who I am, what I’m about, what my style is… and it might not be enough. They might not like it, I very well might get rejected, and that would really suck.” Honestly, it’s so much easier to just not care, to not be invested, to not want something… But I can’t do that. I get passionate and fired up about stuff! …And, as Brene` said, you can’t just numb part of it- when you numb one part, you numb ALL of it. So, the only viable option is to go all-in… and to trust that your “move a body” friends will be there if it really doesn’t work out.
At the same time, I have a similar situation with the part-time music administration job I’m up for…. My big final interview with the board is on Saturday morning. This has been a process that has stretched over a month- making me crazy at rehearsals and on phone calls, researching things, and wanting so hard to leave the perfect impression…. To my friends’ amusement, my latest stress is “what do you wear to an 11am Saturday interview with the executive board? 11am too early for all black at something other than a funeral? What if khakis and the navy blazer isn’t their thing?” What if I walk in and they go ‘oh, we expected you to be older’ as has happened before with these types of positions? It’s a risk.
But, taking these risks and being all in is an ok thing to do when you have the right people around you. I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, and I kinda had that moment at 3am where I thought, “Oh god- I’m all alone, I’m am a thousand miles away from those people and I am freaked out right now.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. My life is rich with people- near and far, new and old. Some friends that are LITERALLY like family to me had me over for dinner on Sunday night… it was so great to hang with a “family” and just be around that love and silliness that only families have. From that connection Sunday night, I happened to know exactly where I could go to the doctor. The doctor couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming and calming. That same day, I got a ‘care package’ in the mail from one of my best friends back in NOLA. I had 2 super-awesome phone conversations with friends that live elsewhere. My Pilates teacher called me- just to chat, make sure I was ok, and to welcome me back to town (I had called and cancelled my session with the receptionist earlier). I got to hang out with one of my first mentors in music therapy and am going back to the Music Therapy conference this evening- I felt like maybe I didn’t belong there anymore because I was now being “a counselor”…. Not at all the case. I felt comfortable and welcomed in that community. From there, I made connections with two people with similar interests that are here in Chicago. Tonight, I’m going back to the conference for the opening ceremony, to watch one of my undergrad teachers (who nick-named me “his favorite sailor” because of my potty mouth) receive a lifetime achievement award and to see a tribute to Dr. Clive Robbins, a mentor instrumental in my early formation as a clinician. A friend invited me to a charity event later this month… I signed up for my alumni chapter’s Chicago Day of Service, and was offered a social justice position in the group. My friends’ sister called me and put me in touch with someone and I’m starting some temp work on Tuesday. My new friends, folks a few cohorts behind me in grad school that I’m in a class with, have welcomed me to Chicago and to their group with open arms- 4 of us are meeting together to do a group project and to share dinner Tuesday night- because they know I don’t know many people yet and wanted me to feel included and didn’t want me to stress about finding 4 people in a new city that were willing to be ‘pretend clients’.
It’s pretty amazing, y’all. There are stresses and fears and anxieties… And I have my “let me stay small” moments… But I think it’s worth it. It’s worth it to feel fresh and new and open to experiences. It’s worth it to give myself the opportunity to grow. It’s worth it to feel the joy and excitement and love that you can’t feel fully otherwise. It’s worth it to be able to fully embrace the richness around you when you are “all in”, all you, and authentically connected to others.
I hope I can continue to have the courage to “dare greatly” and cultivate wholehearted connections both personally and professionally.
Clearly, I recommend all of Brene` Brown’s books… although I already had it on my kindle, I’m now the proud owner of an autographed copy of her latest book, “Daring Greatly”.
I’m a rich, rich lady…. Presently on a budget. 🙂
What’s added to your “wealth” lately?
-TM

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2 responses »

  1. so inspiring and awesome to see the path you’re on! great stuff in there, and i’m a big fan of Brene too – saw her speak this summer (at the World Domination Summit), but no signed copy of her book. 🙂

    my friend Greg just did an interview with her for his podcast, which i think you’d dig: http://www.radioenso.com (he’s part of the WDS crew, too).

    congrats Tara – sounds like it’s all moving forward!!

    • Thanks so much, Nathan!! I appreciate the encouragement- and I credit our conversations in the Spring with helping me gather the courage to start this journey! So glad we’re still in touch! YES- I listened to the podcast… Good stuff; and cool friend! 🙂

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