The Ultimate

Today’s prompt on the WordPress Daily Post is Money for Nothing. It is essentially asking bloggers to describe their ultimate job.

I only respond to these prompts occasionally, but this one really struck a chord with me. In fact, my sole purpose for beginning this blog was to begin working toward my ultimate job. My blogs’s title, Help Along the Path, is what I see as my life’s purpose. My current job fulfills this purpose to a degree. But the prompt asks to describe our ultimate job.

In my ultimate job, I help others realize their dreams by walking alongside them as they overcome obstacles, such as fear or a feeling of being stuck. By helping my clients discover what they really want, assisting them in designing a plan of action, and holding them accountable, I help them reach goals they didn’t initially think they could.

As I begin working toward my ultimate job, a full-time career as an Elite Life Coach, I am utilizing the same process I will use with my clients. I’ve already clarified what I want. I have devised a plan of action, and I am putting it into place. Friends are holding me accountable to agreements I’ve made with myself (one of which is posting on this blog daily).

As I embark on this journey, I look forward to the day when I have the freedom that being self-employed affords. (And I have been self-employed, so I understand what this really means.) I also look forward to watching others achieve their wildest dreams… and helping them along the path.

Happy Ending

Today’s  Daily Prompt, “Happy Endings”, from The Daily Post asked that we reflect on a time when we tried to quit something.  It brought to mind the struggle I faced a couple of years ago with trying to quit a job.  I was extremely unhappy, as were many of the people with which I worked.  In retrospect, I was responsible for the position in which I found myself.  Back then, I was convinced that I was a victim.

In my twelve years of teaching, there had been ups and downs.  But during that last year, I dreaded going to work in the morning.  By the end of the school year, entering the building brought on panic attacks.  During the last week of school I sent my husband a text message telling him that I thought I was having a nervous breakdown.  He immediately called me and asked what was wrong.  I told him that I could not stop crying and I could not go back into that building.

His response helped me find the courage to start the “quitting” process.  He told me that although he would not tell me what to do, he did not want me going back to that school in the fall… even if it meant not returning to work at all.  I had talked about leaving, but only after my husband’s comment did I actually see it as a real possibility.

It wasn’t until then that I realized what was holding me in this miserable position wasn’t lack of jobs in the marketplace, or my lack of marketability, but the six inches between my ears.  I had been in the same position for so long, I didn’t believe I could find another job.  Looking back, I realize how ludicrous this was.  What I also noticed was that lots of people I knew  felt stuck too.  I don’t know if this is a phenomenon found in other fields or if it is disproportionately represented in education.  I do know that many unhappy teachers stay where they are out of fear.

So my happy ending began with quitting a job that held more cons than pros for me.  I loved the kids, I liked what I taught, and hated almost everything else about my job.  I had some colleagues I would miss, but I realized I could maintain these friendships regardless of where I worked.  (In fact, I now prefer getting together for lunch with friends rather than commiserating with them at school.)

I made up my mind that I would not return to the school where I had spent the vast majority of my career, even if I couldn’t find a teaching job.  Then I began my job search.  I applied in three different counties, and ended up taking a position very different from the one I had held for so long.  I also took a ten-thousand dollar pay cut.

In return, I cut my actual work day by forty-five minutes.  I also gained (at least) another forty minutes in personal time since I cut my commute by half.   This resulted in less wear-and-tear on my car and less fuel expense.  I was also pleasantly surprised to gain a pleasurable, predictable ride to and from work.

By taking a leap of faith, I not only gained a job I enjoy.  I also found friends in my new colleagues.  I remembered what it felt like to be excited about Monday mornings again.  Most importantly, I learned that there are always new opportunities just within my reach.  All I have to do is choose.

What Would YOU Do?

I’ve become quite adventurous since I hit my forties.  I’ve done many new things I never thought I’d do.  If you peruse my blog you’ll find out what many of those are.  Currently, I am taking an online computer science course, since there is a limit to what I can do physically.

As I was mapping out my February, I began thinking about my next adventures.  I asked myself some questions I have learned through personal growth seminars and self-help books… questions like, “What have I always wanted to do that I haven’t done yet?”  Or, “What would I do if money and time were no object?”  And more recently, “What will I do when I am back to my old self (physically 100%)?”  Throughout my life, this self-questioning has been instrumental in helping me push through my perceived limitations.  So as the first month of the new year comes to a close, I have a question for you…

If you knew you only had months to live, or if money and time were no object, or if you knew you could not fail (whichever is more compelling to you)… what would YOU do?

The Letter

For the past several years, I have acknowledged my parents on my birthday, thanking them for the ultimate gift… life.  Some years I sent them cards.  Sometimes I expressed my gratitude to them on Facebook.  This past year was no different.

My dad passed away in October of 2011.   The following May I celebrated 47 years on the planet.  As I reflected on the previous year, I decided to express my love and appreciation for my mother in a letter.  I penned this letter, in my own hand, on May 24, 2012.

In the letter, I thanked my mother for standing by me in spite of my bad decisions regarding money, marriages, and “a million other things.”  Having raised children of my own, I now understood the challenges my mother faced raising me and my siblings.  Her willingness and acceptance helped me to grow.  My hope is that I inherited those qualities.

With my thoughts on paper, I folded the letter, placed it in the addressed envelope, put it in the mailbox, and went about my day.

On that same day, my mother also wrote a letter.  The letter she wrote was also a result of reflecting on my birthday.  The letter was written to her mother, my namesake.  My mother’s letter would never be mailed.

When my mother was eleven years old, her mother took her and her younger brother to their grandmother’s house and never returned.  My mother has spent a lifetime trying to process this traumatic event.   Although she will never “get over it”,  my mom has worked hard on forgiving and healing.

In her letter, my mom gently expressed the anger she felt at being abandoned.  Her mother’s mood swings caused my mother great fear and dread as a child.  This translated into fear and self-loathing in her adult life, but my mother didn’t place blame in her letter.  In fact, she expressed an understanding of her mother’s pain and a hope that she had experienced some happiness in this life.  She expressed a bittersweet love and compassion for a woman who missed out on the joy of motherhood.

Although the relationship with her mother could never be replaced, my mom chose to focus on her relationship with her own children.  Even though she has forgiven, my mom has never had closure because it is uncertain whether her mother is living or deceased.  As she closed her letter, my mom cried and prayed for a sign that her mother could somehow see or feel what my mom was feeling… that she somehow knew my mom loved her in spite of everything.

Ironically, that sign would come in the form of a letter.  A letter from her daughter.  A daughter who bears her mother’s name.

When my mother received my letter, she immediately called me.  She was stunned that our letters were written on the same day.  It was her sign, loud and clear.  My mother keeps both letters in her journal to this day.

I called my mother today and asked her to read both letters to me over the phone.  As we talked about it, my mom noticed that she wasn’t as emotional as she had been on that day.  I suppose more healing has taken place since then.  And I decided to call this The Letter (singular) because I saw whatever we had experienced individually on that day as parts of one event.



Blogger of Repute

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment led me to the Daily Prompt: Blogger of Repute

Do you have a reputation? What is it, and where did it come from? Is it accurate? What do you think about it?

I don’t usually write to prompts, partly because I have several posts already in queue, and partly because I have ideas that jump line in my head for varying reasons. Today’s task is fitting, however, as it addresses a topic that I have been mentally working to incorporate into a post.

To address the first question, “Do I have a reputation?”, I’m sure I have several and they differ slightly depending on where you look.

For question number two, I will narrow my focus: “What is it, and where did it come from?” I have a reputation for being driven. It has been called to my attention recently, in negative ways and positive ones. I gained this reputation because I am often embarking on multiple adventures at any given time.

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