As I sat and began to write this piece, I had no idea where to start. I had no clue what words my thoughts would bring, and no direction for the story that’s about to unfold. That’s kind of how my life is going these days, but there’s been this hot burning feeling inside of me and I know it’s time to jump and find my wings while I fall. Well, actually, I don’t know what else to do but take a step and say a prayer.
This new blog – my next step in life – is something that I’ve been antsy to start for a while now. So many refreshing and hopeful ideas have taken root within me and they’ve been growing below the surface for the last year or so. I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to launch into this mysterious abyss, and I’ve been waiting until it felt “right”.
Except… I got sick of waiting and I realize that there is never a perfect time. I have always prided myself on taking scary steps before I knew I was ready, and finally I’ve realized that now is the time to walk the road of uncertainty and faith.
Isn’t it funny how seemingly insignificant moments can end up so important, breeding inspiration and motivation and the courage to take a leap?
A couple of days ago I was sitting on a Southwest Airlines flight somewhere high above the fly over states that connect my home town in Massachusetts and my life in Arizona. In typical fashion, I’d been running late for my flight, and made it to the gate after pre-board had already begun. I ended up tucked into the dreaded middle-seat between two strangers on a 5-hour flight. Great…
To my left sat an older marine veteran en route to visit his family in Cave Creek, Arizona. On my right sat a passionate and inspiring snowbird headed back to her mobile home in the Superstition Mountains. My conversations with this woman somehow sparked amazing insight and fed the pieces of my soul that have been begging for a snack. I sat silently reading a self-help book titled “The Crossroads of Should and Must; Find and Follow Your Passion” by Elle Luna (definitely recommend) as the woman next to me opened up her own: “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. We both noticed that our literary choices complemented each other and suddenly the two of us were chatting away. We laughed over deep topics about life, living in the moment, simple things that bring great joy and ways to silence the “bitch inside your head”. Her words, not mine. She provided hope and encouragement that I desperately needed. I am realizing now that I don’t even know this woman’s name. I will probably never see her again. The world is so strange.
Do you ever feel like everything is coming together while everything is also falling apart? Because that’s exactly how I’ve felt since this moment, and it’s the only way I can describe the calm chaos stirring in my heart.
Pardon my French, but It’s fucking scary to be standing at a crossroad — where things are about to change, but have no idea just how. I’ve always had big expectations for myself, but over the last year, my perceptions of achievement and happiness have shifted drastically.
Last week, I resigned from a job that I thought I wholly loved. I am soon to be basically jobless, living 3000 miles away from my family, in a city that once looked like a mecca but more often lately felt like a lonely black hole. There are 4 months left on my lease, amazing people and resources everywhere– but something no longer felt right and I knew I needed to make a change. I’m running on my intuition here, and really nothing else.
I graduated from college just over two years ago, and like most young, twenty-somethings I began building a life that looked similar to many other single, ambitious, and budding female professionals. There have been innumerable moments to relish and love, and yet I’ve spent my last year living mostly in a state of unsustainable discontent. If you follow me on social media, you probably don’t believe this at all. My Instagram blooms with pictures of a smiling and adventurous Brenna, but the filtered photos portray fleeting moments, and the scale that balances my sanity has been tipping for a while.
Somewhere along the way, I lost touch with the way I was living on a day-to-day basis. I was going through the motions while simultaneously attempting to live an intentional, meaningful life. Talk about being a hypocrite; my thoughts and my actions were not in sync.
In my work life, my heart was no longer beating for the work I know I was meant to do, and the work environment I found myself in was no longer healthy for me and my growth or the success of the organization I worked for. I very much love the non-profit that I dedicated my work-life to for the last two years, but I must have tripped at some point and I hadn’t been able to get back up. In my personal life, I was giving up on the things that I loved – my basketball team, my workouts, writing, hiking (outside of work obligations), staying connected with my family and my friends, and I felt a dreary heaviness looming over obligations that society and my self-doubt were dictating each day.
A pressure was building inside of me. To veer from the path I was walking on felt selfish and unrealistic. I urged myself to stick it out. I tried putting my best foot forward once, twice, uncountable times. I tried dressing nicer, meditating, adopting mindfulness and simplistic living practices in an attempt to heal my soul. I prayed every day that I would finally figure out how to get myself out of the hole I was trapped inside. I discovered a new church with a pastor who reminded us that the right thing will not feel comfortable—but that we need to do it anyways. He didn’t say that the right thing might not feel comfortable… he preached that it most certainly would not.
Eventually I reached my breaking point. I walked into work one day wearing cute skinny jeans and heeled black boot. I was ready to be productive, happy and take on the day! Every intention inside of me was to do my absolute best and somehow change the world from my corner desk in the tiny office that I shared with my coworker who I love. But the universe had different plans. By 2 o’clock that afternoon, I found myself face to face with my boss, fuming in a petty disagreement that I can no longer recall. I went home that night and typed my resignation letter with more passion than I’d felt for my work in months. I handed it to my boss the next morning.
I forgot what it felt like to take a breath of fresh air.
I now feel like I am leaning over the edge of everything I want and need, staring at an empty space that is so fast and beautiful. I won’t tell you that I’m not afraid, but I can’t sit still any longer and I refuse to back up and return to the safety I knew yesterday. My comfort did not equal happiness, and my safety did not breed growth, so I’m done with that. I’m taking a step forward and dropping into the great unknown.
This summer I visited the Grand Canyon (my favorite place) from the inside-out. I was blessed through work to be part of a 10-day rafting trip on the Colorado River. It was a trip that bred new insight, appreciation and clarity in ways that I had never known. Among the wonderful people I met on this expedition was a woman named Diane, a fellow CTRS who is currently living her passion in North Carolina where she runs a dog treat bakery with her wife. Though we’ve known each other face-to-face only briefly, her impact on my life as an amazing human and mentor was significant. Recently, Diane reached out to share a quote she said reminded her of me. At the time, I thought it was beautiful, but I couldn’t yet be sure of what impact the words would have on me.
Quick side note: My boss – whom I quite love despite recent work-related disconnect – has always urged me to see that everything, especially the important things, are connected. He taught me that the random and pithy messages of today may turn out to be the lessons of tomorrow.
Now back to the Southwest Flight: I sat there feeling inspired by the stranger sitting next to me and empowered for my future and the blank slate it held. I turned the page of my book, soaking in the wisdom, and there it was, laid out boldly in big blue letters! I found the words from Diane once again:
“Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
Maybe it’s just me, but I knew this was a message that everything was about to start falling back together. Ironically, this was one of two meaningful passages that circled back around to me that day.
I’m not sure where I’m headed next in life. I have a vision but there’s no path. Thankfully, lots of soul searching has reminded me how to trust myself. My future is vague, but I finally believe that I have the power to do good things and be happy as long as I keep trying to live through good intentions.
John Wesley Powell, famous for making the first known expedition through the heart of the Grand Canyon, kept a journal to document his exploration and discovery. Prior to Powell’s trip, the Grand Canyon was a blank space on the map identified as “The Great Unknown”. At the commencement of his journey on the rampant Colorado River, Powell wrote: “We have an unknown distance yet to run, and unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.”
Well I’m with you Mr. Powell, but sitting on the edge of my Great Unknown, I know I’m about to come alive.