What Really Matters….Again

What Really Matters….Again

For the second time in two years I find myself on the hunt for a new job. Today is my last day with the State of Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. And that’s okay. I’ve loved the work and my team is just phenomenal, but it’s simply time to move on.

I always try to welcome big changes in my life, and goodness knows there have been a lot of them. Big changes often give me time and reason to reflect on what is important, what truly matters, and what I need to let go of for the sake of health and happiness. When something ends it’s important to me that I focus on the positive things about the experience first and try not to carry any negative energy with me. This year brought a new group of people into my life who restored my faith in the goodness of human beings. Their patience and kindness is unparalleled, they never seemed to tire of my endless questions, they did not condescend for one second, even though I had literally no experience in their professional world. They accepted me and my ideas with open minds and helpful hearts. I instantly felt like I was part of an extraordinary team, an experience I will never forget.

Last year when I left the college where I spent close to 20 years I tried to stay in touch with the people who I felt close to, those who had also accepted me with open minds and helpful hearts. We chat, text, sometimes get together, but not as often as we could. When I told these people about being back in the market for a job they instantly rallied around me, reminding me once again why these people are still in my life. They are also extraordinary, not missing a beat in lifting me up, even though we may not have been in touch for months.

I can’t say enough about how my family has supported me, too. They also rally around me, each person showing their support in their own unique way. One family member said “just make more quilts now.” He knows me so well!! Carli has been steady and kind, reassuring me that I am not a failure even though that’s how I feel sometimes. She is supportive of my journey to find what comes next professionally, and doesn’t pressure me to jump too fast. I love Carli so much, there are just not enough words.

So it’s clear to me that focusing on those people who fill my heart and soul with love is the most important thing in the world. This theme keeps playing over and over in my life, in so many ways. Last weekend I attended a Pride festival with our son and daughter-in-law. A former colleague had a booth there, check out TruePrideColors at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TruePrideColors?ref=shop_sugg_market
I hadn’t seen these women in MONTHS, they just got married two days prior and they were so happy!! The hugs were tight and the joy palpable. These are our people. This is the kind of joy I want in my life. The Love Lives Here sign in the picture was made by these women. It will hang in a place of honor in our home as a reminder of what really matters. Again.

And then BAM!

And then BAM!

At 9:45 this morning, with two boxes and 16 1/2 years of memories, I drove away from the college for the last time. I didn’t look back because I do not regret driving away. The details, the how’s and why’s and what-for’s, I’ve decided are irrelevant to this story. I hope you will respect this irrelevancy and refrain from asking those questions, because I drove away not full of sadness but full hope, a little scared, but eager for what is next.

So, what’s next? I haven’t a single solitary clue! The past 16 years have flown by in the blink of an eye, I didn’t take the time to figure out what was going to come next because I was always worrying about the right now. What was the crisis of the day, which fire needed to be put out first. There was never time to think about the future because I was so busy dealing with the present. The seasons flew by, one after the other, leaving me feeling like I barely had a minute to experience them and then they were gone. Spring would poke in, with the grass starting to green up and the bulbs erupting through frosty ground, but I barely had a minute to mark the first robins of the season singing in the trees because I was busy. And then BAM! It was summer.

Summer, hot, too hot to plant the garden vegetables I didn’t make time to plant in spring. But we would baby the tomato plants along, watering and pruning and tying until all hours, because summer was busy at work and there was never enough time in the evening. There was never a summer vacation, rarely enough time to just listen to the crickets at night and watch the sunset, holding hands with Carli in front of a little bonfire. And then BAM! It was Fall.

Fall comes crashing in, colliding with Summer. It’s still hot, but the year is slipping away. The garden harvest accomplished in fits and spurts, the pressure canner running at 4:30am so we wouldn’t lose the green beans that were picked the night before, hunched over the rows, each row seeming like it was longer than it was the day before. Carli had to do most of the work then since it was late registration at work, I was busy. And then BAM! It was Winter.

Cold, windy, not much work we could do outside, so Carli is stuck inside, often by herself because it was spring registration at work, and I was busy. The holidays would leave us frenzied and exhausted, always thankful for the one day of the year we might be able to have everyone over for dinner at the same time. And then BAM! 16 years and 7 months are gone by, and all of sudden I have been given the most unexpected, precious gift I could ever imagine.

Time. I have been given time. I’ve been given the opportunity to start again. BAM!

For the next little while I am going to use this gift, this time, to spend reflecting on how I want the next 16 years to go. But before I can make that decision, I have to figure out what is important to me. What do I truly value, and what am I willing to do in order to be true to my values? When I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my career, what am I going to demand from my employer? Do I even want another employer? Maybe I should start my own business, or go into consulting, or maybe run for office!! Who knows!! There are so many things to think about, and so many possibilities. Carli and I will be fine, as long as we are together.

I am going to use some of this time to take care of myself, which I am learning is not a selfish act. Maybe I’ll spend an entire day or two watching Criminal Minds or The West Wing or Madam Secretary or The Great British Baking Show, and I won’t consider it time wasted. Maybe I will paint the front room. I know I’ll purge my closet and dresser of clothes I no longer need or want! I will definitely quilt.

I am looking forward to cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Carli. Cuddling with the dogs for more than 4 minutes before bedtime. I am looking forward to all the ordinary things I never made time for, never paid attention to until it was too late. I’ll have to go back to work before too long, after all, bills still have to be paid and our dogs are accustomed to a certain lifestyle. I would hate to disappoint them. But in the meantime…….I will quilt. Hit me up with ideas; I have a bunch of sewing machines and time on my hands.

By the way, the picture at the top of the post is of my first unemployment quilt. The name of the material collection is Girl Power. Watch out world, give me minute, I’ll be back.