Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Change is Good?

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Change is good, right? That’s what people say. “If you’re not changing you’re not growing.” “Don’t be afraid to relinquish who you were for who you might become.” All that stuff.

Well, I’m here to tell you I’m sick of it. My life has been nothing but constant change for years now, and there’s no sign of a change-free period any time soon. I have done my best to embrace all the changes, to be happy about them because I’ve always been told that it’s all for the best. Maybe one day it will be. Maybe one day I’ll look back on all this and laugh at my consternation and confusion and worry. But “one day” seems an awfully long way away and is no comfort to me right now whatsoever.

Something happened this past week that brought the state of my life into sharp focus.  A little over a week ago I was asked by some friends to stage manage a dance show. This is the first stage management gig I’ve done in years and years, and the first dance show I’ve ever done. I was nervous. I came into the process very late; I only got to see one rehearsal before we were in technical rehearsals (that’s where we go to the theatre and set up the lights and sound). The schedule was extremely compact and there were frayed nerves and people stressing out about getting it all done.

But get it done we did, and the end result was beautiful – and I remembered how to be a stage manager. It all came back to me effortlessly, like breathing. I knew what to do and when to do it. I knew the language, and the rhythm. I knew what was expected of me, and I gave it. I knew what was expected of the others around me. I had a place. I was home.

The difference between how I felt doing the show and how I feel about the rest of my life is night and day. I went to bed last night dreading having to face what was waiting for me this morning. Not because I dislike the work – not at all. I enjoy the work and my co-workers. It’s the uncertainty of it all that gets me down. We’re forging into brand new territory with our clients, and we (my co-workers and I) are trying to find a way through when there are no paths. We’re still figuring out how to work with each other, too, which makes me feel even less like I’m standing on solid ground.

I’m tired of it. I am so tired of not knowing from day to day what’s going to happen. I wish I could be that person who lives for change, for the unexpected, for the daily challenge of figuring out what’s going on and conquering it all. I’m not that person. I’m not a lot of things I thought I was, and the process of finding that out has been spectacularly painful.

This is what I have discovered:

  • I’m not extraordinarily self-confident. This was the biggest shock; I’ve always believed that I have a core of confidence that can’t be shaken.  Well, it’s been shaken. Badly. I am in the uncomfortable position of feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing at all, and it’s frightening.
  • I’m not impervious to slander. I used to think that other peoples’ bad opinion of me just rolled off me like water off a duck’s back, but I have recently been profoundly hurt by the betrayal of someone I thought I could trust.
  • I’m not a perfect judge of character. I tend to put on my rose-colored glasses when dealing with people, which leaves me open to the kind of betrayal I recently experienced.
  • I’m not as worldly or sophisticated as I once believed. I used to think I was good at navigating the complexities of modern life. Now I’m pretty sure I was just fooling myself.

So what does that leave me with? Have I been mistaken about who I am my whole adult life? Maybe. There are a few things I still believe are true:

  • I care about what I do.
  • I need solitude as much as I need the company of others.
  • There is an artist inside me struggling mightily to get out.
  • God loves me.
  • There are people in the world who love me.
  • There are people in the world that I love.

That’s all I can be sure of anymore.

There are no easy answers. There are no platitudes that can make this period in my life any less difficult than it is. Those catchy phrases are written by people who have lived through tough times and survived. I admit to looking for wisdom and encouragement there myself; there’s nothing wrong with doing that. Maybe I’ll write one, too, when all this is over. But for now, as much as I’d like to just go back to bed, I won’t – but don’t ask me to be happy about it.

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

Photo by Amanda Taylor Brooks

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Born Bold

boldness

I should know better than to go posting quotes on Facebook without doing my homework first. I keep finding out afterwards that something isn’t right about the quote – either it’s been misattributed, or the wording is off, or something. Last week I posted this jewel:

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” Goethe.

It’s a great quote, but I’ve since discovered (by actually taking the time to find out) that neither the wording nor this author is correct. This is the real quote:

Go at it boldly, and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.

This sounds more to me like a cast-off tag line for “Star Trek” than something meant to move people to boldness. It was written by a Canadian-born clergyman named William Benjamin Basil King. I’ve never heard of him, and no wonder – apparently somebody (or a bunch of somebodies) thought the idea of this quote was too good to allow it to be ascribed to some guy no one ever heard of, so he/she/they re-wrote it and told the world Goethe said it. I understand why people would believe that – after all, it does sound like something Goethe might say. And “mighty” is a much more exciting word than “unexpected”, so you really can’t blame them for changing it.

Regardless of who said it, or what the specific words are, the meaning is still the same which is what attracted me to the quote in the first place. The idea that taking bold action will be rewarded by help from invisible forces is extremely compelling. It’s not a new idea – I think we all on some level or another want to believe that courageously standing up for a righteous cause or striking out on our own in a new direction is worthy of cosmic assistance. Our mythology is rife with stories of the supernatural help available to anyone who chooses courage over fear or faith over disbelief. This is demonstrated in one of my favorite movie quotes of all time, spoken by Yoda the Jedi master in Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. You remember the scene: Luke Skywalker attempts to lift his ship out of the bog into which it has sunk by using the power of the Force, and is unable to do it. Yoda steps up and raises his hand; soon the ship rises out of the water and floats over their heads to settle lightly on dry ground. Luke is stunned. He says to Yoda “I can’t believe it.” Yoda replies “That is why you fail.” The message is clear – mystical power is available, but to get it you have to have courage and complete faith. In other words, you have to be bold.

There’s so much talk now about how you shouldn’t tell a girl she’s bossy, and that if a boy acted the way a “bossy” girl did we’d say he’s exhibiting leadership qualities. Well, as a bossy girl, I’m here to tell you that I hated being called bossy, and because I hated it, I tried to modify my behavior to be what other people seemed to expect me to be. I say I tried – I don’t think I was all that successful (my friends are laughing right now because they know I wasn’t). But even though I couldn’t achieve a convincingly demure exterior doesn’t mean it didn’t leave a mark on me. It did. When I was young I learned that being bossy isn’t an attractive thing for a girl to be. Boys don’t like bossy girls (not to have as their girlfriends anyway) and girls don’t like bossy girls (for any number of reasons). So I learned to be ashamed of who I was. Eventually I figured out that being “bossy” isn’t the same as being bold. You can be bossy without being bold, and you can be bold without being bossy.

Bossy is telling people what to do; it is out front, taking charge. Bold is walking your own path, whether anyone comes with you or not. Bold is looking your fear in the face and saying “I’m still afraid of you, but I’m doing this anyway.” Bold is being who you are, no matter what people think. Bold is embracing your whole personality, not just the bits you like. Bold isn’t rude or pushy – it’s a quiet thing, because by its nature it doesn’t need acknowledgement or approbation.

I was born bold – I just haven’t always thought I should be. I thought I needed permission (from whom I can’t tell you) to be all of myself. I thought I shouldn’t revel in the fabulousness that is me, or if it did, I thought I had to feel embarrassed about it. I’ve spent a lot of my life making myself smaller in order to fit into someone else’s idea of me. We all do it, but women do it more because that’s what we’ve been told we’re supposed to do. “You’re too loud,” “You’re too dramatic”, “You make me nervous.” When someone said those things to me I wish I had had the boldness to reply “Sounds like your problem, sweetheart, not mine.” I wish.

There’s a risk to being bold. You may lose your friends (or people you thought were your friends). People may say mean things about you, or to you. They did to me. They still do, sometimes. But I promise you, if you are bold, if you give yourself permission to be amazing, then mighty, mighty forces will rise up to aid you. And you will, by your example, give others permission to be bold themselves. And the world will be a better place.

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: curiousyellow via photopin cc

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Requiem for my Car, Taken Too Soon

Snowmobile

My friend, I will miss you.

We only had ten years together.

One Hundred Eighteen Thousand miles wasn’t enough.

You had so many more miles to give.

Your 5-star crash safety rating, traction control and anti-lock brakes made me feel safe.

Your sun roof kept me in touch with the beauty of nature.

Your 3-litre, V-6 engine made me feel powerful.

I felt sexy manipulating your 5-speed manual transmission.

I always enjoyed the Valet’s surprise when he delivered you to me –

The Girl who Drove a Stick Shift.

With you, I was hot.

With you, I was cool.

You were my confidant.

You listened patiently to me when I cried and prayed and sang.

You rejoiced with me and mourned with me.

You took me where I needed to go, and helped me find my wisdom along the way.

When I saw you for the last time today, I couldn’t help but reminisce.

I thought about our passengers; looking into the seat next to me, I could see them.

I thought about the music I blasted through your Bose speakers and smiled.

But when I hit your trunk release for the last time, I sobbed.

Goodbye, dearest friend. You will always be special to me.

There will be other cars, oh yes.

Fancier cars, maybe even faster ones.

But no one will replace you in my heart – the first car I truly chose for myself.

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

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Happy Birthday

birthday candles

One of my most enduring friends (that’s a nice way of saying “old” without making it sound like we are elderly, which we are not) had a birthday recently. By way of a birthday greeting she asked her friends to share a memory they have of her. I sat down to do that and realized that it would be more difficult than it had any right to be.

I thought about when we knew each other in high school; we had many activities in common so we spent a lot of time together. We performed in plays together, and we both sang in the chorus. We lived not too far from each other so there was much coming and going. We hung out at her place or mine. We went shopping and to the movies together. I remember talking and laughing and crying with her. I remember chorus retreats and play rehearsal. I remember sitting on her bed talking about boys. But none of these memories is sharp or distinct. That worried me for a while until I figured out why.

I think the reason (apart from my crappy memory anyway) is that this friend, unlike so many others, never hurt me. She never lied to me, or treated me badly, or talked about me behind my back. She never once caused me pain or disappointed me. The times I remember most from those years seem to either involve a boy I was interested in or a girl who had done me wrong. It seems that those memories are the only ones still sharp in my mind. I suppose what they say is true, that you remember things more if they involve great emotion. In my case I can clearly recall situations where I was hurt, or betrayed, or embarrassed. Those come easily to mind even though they are the events I’d much rather forget. But that’s how it works I guess.

The flip side of that, though, is that the memories I have of my friend are so totally intertwined with everything to do with who I was and the things that happened that I can’t separate her from them. She was, and is, a part of me in a very fundamental way. She is woven into the fabric of my past so completely that her bright thread can be found everywhere I look. For those years in high school, and for most of the years between then and now, she is always with me as I continue to shuttle and bob my way through life.

So, my friend, this is my gift to you. You are not just a moment in time to me, you are all the good things I remember, and it is my sincerest wish that our lives continue to weave together until we really are old friends. I love you. Happy Birthday!

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: jessica.diamond via photopin cc

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