At Three Island Lake
Morning view: open water
Serene and peaceful
At Three Island Lake
Morning view: open water
Serene and peaceful
Today was a trip down memory lane in a way, but at the opposite side of the season in which I was married a year and a half ago (September).
I reflected on how different Gooseberry Falls State Park appears when it is covered in snow and ice, but also with strong and flowing currents. Seasons change, and nature has cycles. And yet humans so often want to keep push, push, pushing forward rather than allowing time for stepping back, reflecting, and renewing.
My biggest takeaway from this current phase in my life is that these “winters” of our souls are healthy and necessary for our growth. As I contemplated my gratitude for this time, I realized that I have no regrets.
I appreciate the nature of the cycles in my life. There are ways in which I take in knowledge and wisdom and then process them. I use them as raw materials to create the next phase of my life. And even if I have a vision for what that might become 5 years out, I can only take the next step in front of me. I need not know every step along the way.
Spring is a season of re-birth and re-discovery. We do love our Spring in Minnesota. We emerge from the cozy habitats we have occupied for the winter, renew our connections to other people. We are prepared for new journeys, and turn our attention toward a new set of activities. There is so much beauty in allowing and appreciating those cycles.
This week I have the privilege of enjoying some time near Lake Superior. My friend is attending a conference and I will be caring for her two kitties (one of which is pictured below) while she is away.
It was lovely to have some time to catch up with her for a day and a half or so before she leaves. It struck me how similar our career pivots have been in recent years. She is about 5 years ahead me. And while she left a tenured professor position at a University and I left a corporate position, I can tell we have some “threads” in common.
For one, we are finding that recruiters and hiring managers do not always “get” what to do with our experience. As knowledge workers, we often specialize in a particular area for a period of time, say 10-15 years. But then some of us get an “itch” to extend our skills, to stretch outside our comfort zones, or maybe to find work that speaks to our souls. Perhaps we found ourselves living someone else’s idea of success. At the time, it made sense to take that road, to fully immerse ourselves in an area of expertise. And then suddenly (or gradually) we grow out of it.
Many people think we are crazy. “Why the hell would you leave a secure job as a professor (or a clinical research operations manager, in my case)?”
Futurists often tell us that the work place is changing. We should expect to make major career moves every 5-10 years. It keeps us nimble, fresh and innovative. But the reality is that structurally, recruitment and sourcing professionals are not hiring this way. It is still about “ticking the boxes” and following a formulaic approach to look for talent, sadly.
My own timeline is such that I will likely head back to full time work soon, probably within the next month or two. I was feeling sad about this a few weeks ago, wondering if I had failed at this attempt at self-employment because I had not planned well enough. I had not narrowed down my niche properly perhaps, or I may thrive under conditions where I have a bit more structure than this wide open landscape.
However it is not failure if we learn from our experiences. And this time I will go back to the drawing board understanding myself better. I know more about the support I need to be productive. I have piloted and tested some ideas and workshop offerings. I have enrolled in yoga teacher training. I am moving forward.
Even if I do need to regroup and re-capitalize a bit, the dream endures. This retreat is an opportunity to go inward to get clear about my deepest longings. I am so grateful for the time and space for this process.
I spent Tuesday at home, with various activities canceled around the area due to the windchill (-24F/-43F windchill, -31C/-41C at the moment). On Wednesday many activities will be canceled as well.
My hubby had to work another 12 hour day, while I got to stay home, warm and secure with the kitties. I felt a mixture of sadness for him, but also tremendous gratitude for my cozy, warm home and the hot tea the accompanied me during my day.
I am using my time productively at home, tidying and getting some writing and work projects done. Grateful for the forecast that let us know this was coming, so we could prepare in the best way we could (i.e. groceries and necessities).
Sometimes this slowdown in activity can make us more mindful of what we have, of the grace of our situation, a little extra time to contemplate life. I just lost a dear friend to cancer, only in his early 50’s. And everything became a little more precious and more present in that moment.
I called my Mom to connect with her and empathize with the even colder conditions in northern MN. We hunker down, cats on laps. We breathe in, we breathe out. Thursday is supposed to ease up. But for now, those of us warm at home are grateful for shelter and heat.
On Sunday we took the Plymouth Ferry from the Barbican to Cremyll. I was excited to arrive in Cornwall. This is where my Grandfather (Jim) was born, and where my great Grandma Tizzie (Elizabeth) and great Grandpa (James) lived before they emigrated to the New World. Great Grandpa died when Jim was very young. He’d been a coal miner, according to his marriage certificate. It is probably not a mystery why they chose to leave England. Opportunities in the early teens of 1900’s were slim where they lived.
Tizzie raised her two boys mostly on her own. She was a proper English woman, though not of noble birth. She loved her tea and scones.
She was a practical woman, and I believe she was thinking of her health and wellness when she re-married in her 70’s to a man in his 50’s. It was a bit scandalous at the time, but given that she lived well into her 90’s, I believe she chose well.
I dearly love this coastline and the English countryside. So far, this has been my favorite part of the U.K. trip. While in London, it was fun to see the historical sties and to enjoy the city life. But I much prefer the more open spaces and the charm of the coastal towns of England.
There is plenty of history here, and Saturday evening my husband and I found the Mayflower steps, where the Pilgrims first set sail for the new world in 1620. I love thinking about what that might have been like, to get on a ship to a land which scarcely anyone (except the First Nation people, who already lived there) had seen.
I thought about the courage and blind faith of people who sought religious freedom and better opportunities for their families. I considered all of the things that could (and did) go wrong on board the ships. Disease, storms, failures of navigation, starvation aboard ships, and all manner of risks beset travelers in those days.
With odds like that, it is a wonder that so many made the journey. Tossing caution to the wind, early immigrants dreamed of a future that would hold more freedom their past.
It makes me distinctly proud of my heritage and the people who brought me here, particularly my grandparents. I consider the brave choices that they made that allowed for the privilege of my life as it is and I am profoundly grateful. It makes also me sad that today we seem to have a political climate that seeks to isolate rather than welcome immigrants today.
Since I am a mix of English, Swedish, Mexican, possibly Spanish and some German ancestry, of course my bias is that mixing cultures is a good thing. I realize not everyone feels this way. But I hang onto that vision of the “new world” that my ancestors held in their minds as they traveled.
Then I contemplate how we might extend this privilege to more people in a world that is more polarized than ever, yet globalized at the same time. I do not have the answer. I just wonder if it might be possible. What do you think?
Plymouth, my Darling.
Charmed to have met you at last.
You are enchanting.