Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Happy Anniversary To Me!

(Aside: This is a long one, guys. Forgive me.)

Today marks 1 whole year living just one step below the the kind of life I want. This is a very good thing. I originally went to college with the idea of getting a degree in Interior Design. I love the colors, I love the design, I love art but I wasn't sure I'd want to take something I love kind of as a hobby and make it a career. Indeed I did not. The work involved includes not only the decorating aspect of things but the architecture side too. You've got to know how to read that language and work in it though it's really not so complicated as far as drawings and floorplans are concerned. But in the end, it's all about bringing other people's ideas to life and that's the thing I didn't think I'd be happy with for the rest of my life.

So I went to my fallback plan - an English degree. This was not so much a hobby as my natural inclination to read and write and communicate via the written word. I switched my major to this and haven't looked back. This is all a part of knowing what your talents are and following your heart. Personally, I couldn't not follow my heart if I wanted to. I'm just too restless to do anything else.

After time in college where I was on the college newspaper - eventually making editor-in-chief - I went into a journalism training program in St. Petersburg, FL., then back home to Maryland where I sought jobs as a newspaper reporter as I pondered settling in Maryland for a while. But I wasn't confident in my own writing ability then. It was just too much to let people judge me by my writing so I went into copy editing where I could make more money than most reporters because there are fewer editors - good ones - than reporters. I could go anywhere and proceed from there. Thankfully I didn't have to wait too long.

A newspaper here in Connecticut called me up. The editor had found my resume via the National Association of Black Journalists convention I had attended in Detroit after leaving Florida and the rest is history - and divine intervention. You see I was hired sight unseen, as they say. Over the phone I was assured of a job but they did want to meet me in person too so I went up to Bridgeport, CT to see the place in the state I actually had to look up on the map. OK, I know it sounds ignorant of me but for those of us south of New York who do NOT like cold places, there just isn't any life past that state so I had to see just how high Connecticut was. God help me if it was close to Vermont. (Hey, I didn't know!) But it wasn't. Whew.

So here I came and the very first person I met was a seemingly aloof security guard who directed me to the floor I needed to go to get to the newsroom. I married that man about 7 years later. I was able to please my body's internal clock and work the night shift (5 p.m. to 1 a.m.) as a copy editor for that newspaper for about 8 years, loving 7 out of 8 of those years. (It was bought out by the last year and that first bounced paycheck was the last straw for me.) I met friends I continue to be friends with. That shift allowed me to hang out with them; start my Master's degree, which still needs me to write my thesis; get experience as a hospital chaplain; work with a social service agency via the AmeriCorps program (Clinton's national peace corps); and even work a part-time job as a salesclerk, getting to the Assistant Manager position before I decided it was just too much with my full-time job. After having my son in 2000, I decided that it was too much for my psyche to read about all those dead and abused children. Amazing how it didn't impact me until he came along. Then suddenly those stories would jump out at me like a vicious jack-in-box. I'd see Son in everything I read and I had to leave.

I went to a more traditional 9-to-5 job at a direct marketing company. Let me tell you, there is just nothing duller than editing that junk mail you get with your credit card bills. I hacked it for 2 years but I learned it all by then and I was bored literally to tears for the next 2 years. I took stock of my experiences, my desires, found out from my mother that I truly had a need NOT to be bored in whatever I did (apparently even as a child, they had to make sure I was entertained. Don't know what the consequence of my boredom was, however.) and after having my second child, set out to find nirvana. It came to me in the form of a job as Editorial Assistant for a healthcare marketing company. Not at all like it sounds, but I do have to maintain some degree of anonymity here.

It was a step of faith for me. I loved the sound of the gig. I could use everything I had ever done over these past 12 years and funnel it here. I could finally shed the label of Copy Editor and be the Writer I set out to be when I first started. I'd be helping people. I'd be working with a new, small company. My new boss was not a micromanager so I could do things MY way, especially since the position was new. (Plus, she's got 2 kids too and understands my POV.) It was just too overwhelming. All that waiting and looking and fussing at God and He had better than what I had been willing to settle for just to get out of the hell I was in. He had what I needed. A place that respected my job as a wife and mother. I could make sure my son got on his bus at 8:17ish in the morning and drop off my daughter and not have a heart attack trying to get in before 9 a.m. or if Daughter is sick, I can simply work from home. A place that appreciated what I could do. A place where I could learn new things. A place where I don't feel resentful if I need to stay late and I happily do so when I need to. A place that feels like it's as much my own thing as the CEO who founded it. A place that fit with my life and flowed with it instead of feeling like I had to suspend my life, work a job, then go back to my reality.

I've been here a year today - my mother's birthday and my parents' anniversary - and I'm still in love with it. Let me be an example to you, dear reader, of knowing yourself, knowing what you want to do and NEVER, NEVER giving it up no matter how long it takes to accomplish. I admit I didn't gain the complete confidence in all that I am as the person God created me to be until I hit 35 last December, but still I can say stay true to your heart and follow the path of peace in all you do. God created you to do a certain thing and if you simply choose to do that thing, He will make a way. I assure you. The money will come. The opportunity will come. But best of all is the peace. When you're clueless as to what to do, that to me is God's still voice speaking - pick the way that calms you - in jobs, in marriage, whatever it may be.

My ideal place is working my own business and writing full-time, in addition to being able to volunteer again like I did before I had children and doing some other things I have yet to begin. I want to be free to travel and all my things can travel with me if I choose. I want my children to see a mother who is happy in what she does, which I didn't believe I was seeing when my own mother was raising me and my brother as my father worked so hard and often away from home. At this point I am only one step away from that life. I don't know how long this job will last - though I know I won't retire from here - and it's so, so sweet to finally not care.

To me I say, congratulations for perservering. To you, I say, keep on keeping on. To God I simply say - today and every day - Thank You.


theresa said...

Happy anniversary. Sounds like you have learned to be content in everything and you have a very impressive life.

Kerri. said...

Happy Anniversary, Monica. And congratulations on finding so much enjoyment in your life. :)

Monica said...

Gracias! Indeed I am content and hopefully I'll remember the feeling on those days I'm feeling less than.