There are so many things we don’t plan for in life.
You don’t plan to have your heart broken. You don’t plan to find money on the street. You don’t plan to lose a loved one. You don’t plan to have someone say you’re beautiful. You don’t plan to break a bone. And you don’t plan to be inspired.
There are other things we do plan for in life, and as I highlighted in my last blog entry, many of those plans end up going sideways and upside down before reaching the end of the road. When I graduated from high school, I planned to go to college, get married (after graduation because no babies while in school), own a house, and settle into a simple life. Well, college happened but not the rest of that list. So I adapted the plan and continued forward. I had done very well in college and believed there was a reason for this talent, so continued on to graduate school and eventually a career in higher education. The classroom was an engaging place for me, so I wanted to create the same for others. I started a job at a college, which two years later led to a new position. Meanwhile I earned a second graduate degree and started a doctorate. I was not quite sure what the plan was, but it was forming slowly. I would see a pathway forward toward a worthy final goal.
Then last fall things started to change. It would take me months to admit that the plan was not working any more. I struggled with depression as who I was and what I was doing shifted farther and farther apart. I spent three months praying and seeking direction. Asking that God would show me the right door, or to remove the doubts about where I was. Eventually an answer came: “Do you trust God enough to take a leap?” A few weeks later I had an answer: yes.
So I quit my safe, full-time with benefits job. I packed up my lovely office and crammed everything into my spare bedroom, hoping that I would have enough rent money to continue having that space. I stepped away from the students I loved and into a quiet apartment.
My last day of full-time employment was on a Friday. I had no idea what #Next was going to look like.
- One day into #Next, I became horribly sick and spent two days in bed. That illness resulted in a cough that is now on month seven (I finally get to see the specialist this week to start uncovering the mystery; woot woot).
- Three days into #Next, a college approved for me to complete my dissertation research at their campus. This step was the one I thought would be the hardest of my dissertation. It turns out, it was the easiest.
- Two months into #Next, I started working part time for the church I’ve attended for the past 10 years. My achiever, belief, and strategic strengths are a perfect match for this new role. And I’m working on building a running group to use more of the developer and individualization parts of me.
- Six months into #Next, I started teaching my very first traditional student course; an opportunity I would have had to turn down in my previous job. I got a new ID card and everything to celebrate the role.
- Seven months into #Next, I took a photograph of myself to visually track weight loss. I hadn’t planned on it, but the shirt exactly matched the one I had worn a year before. I had tears in my eyes thanks to a free fitness app congratulating me on losing 30 pounds.
There have been some amazing unplanned things in this past year.
I didn’t plan on completing my fastest half and full marathons. I didn’t plan on making a new running friend. I didn’t plan on teaching traditional students. I didn’t plan on reading so many books for fun. I didn’t plan on making so many new friends through Eastside.
And there have been some painful unplanned things too.
I didn’t plan on Grandpa Chris dying. I didn’t plan on a friend walking away. I didn’t plan on injuring myself before a marathon (twice!). I didn’t plan on still working on my dissertation by this point. I didn’t plan on still not having a plan.
As I’ve looked at my one year picture, the words of Seasons of Love from Rent keep coming to mind: “How do you measure – measure a year?”
I measure in names…Beth, Coralie, Amy, Amber, Taiya, Susan, Patricia, Jim, Ashlee, Megan, Janelle, Tabi, Celeste, Deana, Ashley, Mike, Angelica, Hakeem, Eric, Josh, Jessie, Kira, Megan, Thomas, Isaac, Eli, Cora, Marlow, Emmie, My Natalie, Kaity-bug, Sunshine, Sylvia, Ricki, Michelle, Mike, Karen, Vera, and others that I will think of later with a “doh” and a smile.
Thank you for being part of this unplanned year.