The Beginning Is Always Today

New to my story or need a refresher? In the last four years, I left an unhealthy marriage; moved; bought a house and moved again; dabbled in dating; started rabbinical school; quit rabbinical school (or maybe it quit me?); got laid off from my job; scrambled as a freelancer for 8 months; landed a new and very full full-time job; and continued raising two (now) teenage sons. Oh, and we have a dog. I take care of her, too.

“The beginning is always today.” –Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

For a long time now, I feel like I’ve been in either overwhelm, survival, or post-survival/recovery mode. In those spaces, goal setting seemed impossible. One day at a time was all I could handle—or even imagine. But somehow, I’ve come to a place where goal setting seems possible. Hallelujah and blessed be!

trees that start again_optIn setting new goals, I want to be intentional. I want to bring my whole self—fed and formed over 43.5 years by a variety of people, interests, and communities—into this moment. I want to be my unique, best self—now and going forward. So far, I’ve had an interesting journey. I’ve tried things. I’ve explored. Some paths I walked on for a bit, but then branched off when the trail opened up. Some paths closed themselves off completely, and even when I tried using a machete to hack my way through, I couldn’t go any further. Each of the paths I walked helped inform the person I am today. I honor those paths and those parts of my history, those parts of me.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” –John Muir

My eldest son finished high school this year and starts college in the fall, but I’ve still got about three more years before my youngest graduates high school. Even so, I’m starting to feel the ground shift beneath my feet. I know change is coming; I just don’t really know what it’ll look like yet.

So I ask: given my background, life trajectory, current priorities, and vision of my best self, what do I want my life to be like five years from now? What can I do now—here in this three-year transition period—to work toward that vision? And how can I do that without becoming too stressed and overwhelmed? (That last question is maybe the most important. I’m done with overwhelm. DONE, I tell you.)

And…let’s be real. Maybe I’ll partner up one day. You know, find a forever guy. Right now, though, dating is a challenge. My life is…complicated. On a lot of days, I conclude that dating is more trouble than it’s worth—at least for the time being. Either way, I know I can’t count on having a life partner that will, among other things, help me pay the bills. So I need to plan as though it’s just me—solo.

Well, here goes. In five years’ time, I want to (in no particular order):

  • Live closer to town—if that is even possible in Austin five years from now! (#AffordabilityCrisis);
  • Have meaningful work that pays me a thrivable wage;
  • Be doing art in my spare time;
  • If possible (depending on geography), have a more regular synagogue attendance practice (I miss weekday minyan, y’all);
  • Exercise regularly;
  • Plant and grow things; and
  • Have a good set of friends.

I have (God willing) another 25 years or so of being in the workforce. It is important to me that my work be some kind of benefit to the world—and right now (and for the foreseeable future!) the world needs capable, clear-visioned, and compassionate leaders. (Things are going to get more challenging on a global—and therefore, local—scale before we humans get our shit together, y’all.)

After going through divorce and a layoff, though, I’m not playing around about my personal finances. Money matters.

Up to this point, my study and work have centered on big ideas, the way people interact with big ideas, and inspiring and motivating people to take action on big ideas. Going forward, I want to hold onto those big ideas—but I also want to get practical. I want to learn all.the.things about budgets, financial management, organizational management, and entrepreneurship so that I can be the badassest public/nonprofit leader I can be.

Good news: I’m getting some of that experience now in my current job. (Related side note: I am sooo happy with my still new-ish job, where I get to work at the local level to strengthen our community—while learning new things and being challenged to grow. #GratefulEveryDay)

To those ends, I’m thinking about working toward an MBA. So if you hear me complaining about math, it’s because I’m brushing up on all the algebra and geometry I’ve ever forgotten in the hope of doing well on the GMAT exam. (Those brain cells are still up there…I’m sure of it!) My aim is to take the exam and work on applications this summer, with the idea of starting an online program in early 2019—at about the same time my youngest son starts driving. Inshallah.

I know from experience that plans don’t always work out, that priorities can shift, that life can intervene and cause sudden redirects. That’s okay. This is me today—not having all the answers, but trying to figure things out as I go.

“We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves like the trees,
Trees that start again.”
-Robert Bly

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