Happy 2019! It’s that time of year to open a blank notebook and jot down all our goals and hopes in the new year. For some, myself included, it’s a time to reflect on years past. The lessons learned, the strength gained, and even the pain endured.
I don’t recall any past years being an overall bad year. Some are harder than others, but there is always good included. 2018 was my year of change. In 2018 I finally decided to quit my job. Some of you may know that I am a software engineer and have 24/7 availability as part of my job description. I am not self employed, which means giving 150% is no different than giving 50%. But I’m not a 50% kind of person, so you can imagine which party is gaining most from my obsessive work.
So while on family vacation (a rare opportunity) work demanded so much of me that I finally ::finally:: said enough. I thanked my boss for the times he helped me, for the privileges granted, but that I couldn’t endure this anymore. I couldn’t live in Oklahoma anymore, a place I never really felt I belonged. I couldn’t keep taking on the work of 5 people by myself. I could no longer be a part of intense business meetings that were so far out of my job description I felt humiliated even showing up. I couldn’t do any of it any more.
After sending my email I felt lighter. I finally did what I had been wanting to do, as terrifying as it might be. I was going to focus all my energy into writing quilt patterns. A love that seemed utterly ridiculous to my family and friends, but couldn’t be extinguished within me. I might not make much money doing this, but at least it was mine. I would earn as hard as I worked.
But, as is the constant in my life, it didn’t go as planned.
Within an hour I had emails, calls and texts from my boss. To be clear, I have a great boss. I never questioned that. And he had a plan. After receiving my email, he moved mountains. The work couldn’t change, but the atmosphere could. He arranged a position for my husband with the company, arranged us to both relocate to Florida, and would handle all the awful administrative work that goes with it.
And within a span of a few hours while vacationing in Florida, my life was pivoting. After 19 years in Oklahoma, everything would once again change. I was confused, not knowing if I was ready for all that went with it. And if I had known then how the rest of the year would play out, I might have chosen a different path.
Over the next few months we put our house on the market, packed everything we owned into a couple of PODS, throwing away whatever wouldn’t fit, and drove to Florida for the second time that year. We were incredibly fortunate to have my parents help. This crazy plan lit a fire within them too, so they decided to relocate as well. They allowed us to live in their home in St Augustine, while waiting for our house to sell.
Let’s talk about selling a home for a minute. I know many people whose house sold within minutes of entering the market, maybe even a bidding war took place. Those people should only share these stories with friends not currently trying to sell a home. Obviously, we didn’t have the same experience. Over 6 months, our house was struck by lightening and shrunk 400 square feet. You heard that right. Every few weeks it was more bad news, more money lost, more distance between us and our goals. The plan… that stupid stupid plan… wasn’t working.
And while I’m ashamed to admit it, I did let these problems weigh me down. I let them make me feel like a victim. Like the world was punishing me for something. And I moped. And became just a piece of furniture in my temporary home. Less than that even, because at least furniture serves a purpose. Furniture can support and comfort and provide refuge. For a period of time, I didn’t do any of that. I just felt worthless. And it was all my own doing. Because even though things weren’t easy, they weren’t exactly hard either. I was depressed about money. And not serious money. I had food on the table. I had my health. I had a way to provide myself with everything I needed to be truly happy, something so many people in this world crave. And I was moping around, useless. That disgust with myself helped me get out of my funk.
Because the world doesn’t give two licks about my plans. Life has its own, which it won’t share with me, and it changes every moment. I can have goals and dreams and ideas, but when things don’t go according to plan, shutting down does nothing. It does worse than nothing, it eats you from the inside. Quitting is far more destructive than failing. Losing your will to hold on to positivity, allowing yourself to drown in the overwhelming amount of negativity, all this does is hurt yourself and those around you. You think that allowing yourself to feel like nothing will make you nothing… but it doesn’t. You can’t be nothing. You are either a positive presence in the lives around you (and in your own) or you’re a negative one. There is no neutral.
So in 2019, I’m going to once again try to roll with the punches. I’m going to show up for myself and my loved ones. I’m going to remain positive, even when the cruelest bits of this world try to smother it out of me. I still worry about my career. The struggle between the comfort of my current job and salary, and the burn within to branch out and build something on my own will continue. And I believe one day the stars will align and I will feel strong and just gutsy enough to take that leap, to build my own career. But until then I will focus on the community around me, the smell of the ocean that I still can’t believe is so close, and the love of the people I’m lucky enough to call family.
But I swear… if anything in my life gets struck by lightening this year… I will burn this mother down…