As many of you know, I resigned from my previous job after 11 years.  It was my first and only job out of college.

I’ve been gone for five months, and I realized that I haven’t really acknowledged how I was feeling.  I was hurt because for a long time, actually one of the main reasons I left, was I didn’t feel valued.  It became so clear to me that some of the really personal things I feel are critical to doing good work (making people feel appreciated, making my office a place where people felt comfortable sharing their lives (sometimes secrets) with me and making sure someone felt valued because of their contribution) wasn’t as important as just getting the job done.

For me, the moment I had this realization – I checked out.  If I’m not working with my heart, I don’t want the job.  I don’t want to be in that place anymore.  I can’t be. I left.

And now, I struggle.

Struggle because I miss the people.

Struggle because sometimes I feel like I can’t do anything else.

Struggle because I can’t understand at what point a place I used to love because they weren’t scared to try new things stopped doing new things.

Struggle because maybe what I thought was so great actually wasn’t that different from anywhere else.

And, sometimes I just get angry.  Mostly at myself.

For ignoring the signs for so long.

For believing that they put the same value on relationships that I did.

For staying so long and losing sight of a bigger picture.

For allowing my world to become so small and losing the ability to dream big.

And, sometimes I’m scared.

Scared that I have lost my ability to dream.

Scared that I will be forgotten.

I’m not sure how I will do this, but I know my most important job now is to make space for new things in my life.  To let go of this paralyzing fear I have to give myself permission to dream big.  Or, to dream at all.  I know it’s going to take time and I know I need to be patient.

Has their ever been a time when you’ve needed to make space for something in your heart?  Any advice?

I’m preparing for my second half-marathon.  I use the word preparing because I haven’t been following the training schedule at all.  Well, except for the long runs.

I have been struggling – mostly mentally – these last few weeks.  I’m tired.  I’m finding it harder and harder to run during the week.  I’m coming up with excuses why I can’t run.  Sometimes I even feel sorry for myself.

Ridiculous.

I finished 9 miles last weekend and after I showered and started folding a load of laundry, I felt really good.  I always do after a good run.  I began to ask myself, why am I running?  Why a half-marathon?  The list of reasons came pouring out of me.

I run because:

I can.

it keeps me healthy.

it keeps the weight off.

it’s a good thing for my kids to see me active.

it makes me feel good about myself.

it keeps my head clear.

it makes me feel strong.

because other people who would like to run can’t.

I’ve been running for about 2 years now.  It’s the one thing I know will bring me out of my funk on an off day.

Me? Negative thoughts?  Not as long as I’m still lacing up my shoes.

I had something happen to me today that reminded me how important it is to have boundaries.

And stick to them.

Far to often, whether or not I agreed with what I was being asked to do, I did it.  I didn’t question.  I did my job.  I did it 99% of the time with a smile.  I didn’t ask why.  Why didn’t matter.  Or, at least that’s what I thought.

Why matters.

I have had time to reflect on my career and what I’ve learned is that by being so agreeable, doing the job without raising to much of a fuss, being a “yes” woman and never questioning will make everyone around you happy.

Everyone around you.

Everyone but you.

I felt completely taken for granted.  Not valued.  And, you know what?  I finally decided that I was worth more than that.  I wanted needed to feel appreciated and valued and know that my work mattered.

The e-mail I received today reminded me of exactly why I left.

But, today was different.

Today, I put myself first.  Today, I protected my soul.  Today, I respected myself.

Today, I honored my boundaries.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since our world changed on September 11, 2001.  Like many of you, I’m sure this is one of those events that you remember exactly where you were.  I was on my way to work and had just pulled in the parking lot when the first plane hit.  It wasn’t until after the second plane hit that I realized that something was terribly wrong and I was terrified.  I remember wondering if it was going to stop?  Was something going to happen in St. Louis?

I remember crying on the drive home.  I needed to be near my husband.  I needed to be safe.  I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be okay, even if no one knew for sure.

That day and the days that followed were filled with so much anger.  Rightly so.  How could someone do that to the United States?  Why would they want to hurt us?  I still get overcome with anger and sadness the moment I see images from that day.  I am a very emotional person, so while I have a feeling that sadness will always be there when I think back to September 11th, I would like anger to not have such a big place in my heart.  I want it to feel different this year.  So, I am challenging myself and I want to challenge you.

The morning of September 11, 2001 was just another morning for everyone.  A quick kiss and hug good-bye.  Maybe, yelling at the kids to eat their breakfast.  Making lunches for school.  Checking e-mail before going into work.  Things that we do every single day.  No one could have known what was about to happen.   That’s my point.  Life can change in a second.  So, instead of feeling so much anger on September 11th, I think we should use it as a reminder to treat each day as a gift.  Hug and love those closest to you.  Every. Single. Day.

The anniversary of one of the saddest days in our country’s history reminded me why Generosity Day speaks so LOUDLY to me.  I challenge you to counter a day that happened because of hatred and anger with generosity.    I think it is important to remember that day.  To honor those that were lost.  To celebrate those that survived.

Remember, the “official” date of Generosity Day is February 14, 2012.  I say, let’s get that party started EARLY!

Why do we try and predict outcomes?

When will we realize that we don’t actually have control over how someone will react? Or how a situation plays out?

When will we realize that the only person who we have control over is ourselves.

I was just reminded of this today.

I had absolutely no say in the decision.   No control of the decision process.  Yet, I had everything planned out in my head on how it was supposed to happen.  Guess what?

I was wrong.

Why did we do that?  Why do we believe that we have control over a situation we have absolutely no say in? Why do we think, or assume, that the other person will see it our way?  I go so far as to think – how could they not see it my way?

I was reminded today that I do not in fact have some magical power over every person I come in contact with to see things my way.  And, that’s okay because it also reminded me to keep myself and my emotions in check.  (Still working on the emotion one.)  What happened today is all part of my journey and life doesn’t stop because I didn’t get my way.

Life goes on – maybe not how I imagined it would – but, life does go on.

Now about those magical powers….:)

Dirt Road Home - Sean Cupp

I blogged recently about Generosity Day created by Sasha Dicter.  You can read that post here:  http://jamiddix.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/generosity-day-2012/.

It’s been a challenging almost 3 months since I quit my full time job.  The plan was to take the kiddos to school, come home and get a quick run in, shower and sit down to do some work.  Doesn’t that sound like an awesome plan?  I thought so.  Until I realized that I can’t focus at home.  I look around and there are toys to be picked up, laundry to be done, kitchen to be cleaned and that stuff is way easier to do without children at home.  I’ve been struggling with what it means to feel valued.  Feeling valued at home is much different than feeling valued at work.  For some reason, cleaning toilets and changing dirty diapers just doesn’t give me nearly as much satisfaction as hitting all my fundraising goals did at my old job.

I’m over the whole “working from home” piece.  In order for me to be productive and feel like a functioning member of society, I need to be in a space with my colleague doing work.  And, that’s exactly what I did today.  It’s amazing the amount of work you can get down when you’re focused.

And, when the Christmas music is playing.   Yes, it’s August.  Don’t judge.

And, when I’m sipping on my coffee.

Yes, all was right in my world today and it wasn’t until my drive home that I figured out why Generosity Day is so important to me.  Other than the obvious, touchy-feely,  it’s just the right thing to do reasons, just thinking about spreading the word and rallying a group of people in the city of St. Louis makes me genuinely happy.  But, it’s more than just the warm-fuzzies.   I was feeling really grateful for my life and the work I’m doing and I just want to be able to pass that happy on to someone else and not just on February 14, 2012, but every day.  It seems to me that being generous is easy to do when you’re feeling really grateful for your life.

Today, I was feeling very grateful.

If you’re feeling grateful, pass it on.  It will make someone’s day.

Including yours.

Trust me.

My little girl started 2nd grade today.  She was a little nervous, I was a lot nervous, but the morning went off without a tear from either of us!  You know, I think grown-ups forget all to quickly how hard it is to be a kid.  I am so proud of how brave she has been through school transition this year.  We took her out of private school (where I also happened to work) and enrolled her in the public elementary school up the street.

It’s her first time in a public school (her dad and I both went to public) and I won’t lie – I was scared.  We were leaving a private school, I used to call it my “happy little bubble”, a place where she went to work with me every single day for four years.  If she got sick, she came to my office.  If she needed a hug, she came to my office.  I was never far away.  But, as I’ve blogged about before – things changed.  The happy bubble became less happy and I needed to move on.

Last Friday was the meet and greet at school.  It was a time to bring all your school supplies up, see where your desk is, say hi to your teacher.  Jordan was nervous.  She had a lot of questions about riding the bus.  We got to school and I could immediately tell that this was going to be an awesome school year.  The building was buzzing with energy.  The teachers were excited to see the kids.  The kids were excited to see the teachers.  Genuinely excited.  You could feel it.

So, today was the day.  Our first morning at our new school.  Here are some photos before the bus arrived:

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Imagine for a moment, it’s raining.  You’re kiddo forgot their lunchbox.  You’re running late to a meeting.  There isn’t a parking spot near your building and you don’t have an umbrella.  You open your car door to start the wet trek and a total stranger offers you a hand and their extra umbrella.  Your morning was instantly made better by the kindness of a complete stranger.  Sometimes, it’s the littlest gestures that make the biggest difference.

Started just last year, Generosity Day was the idea of blogger Sasha Dicter.  To learn more about Sasha, click here.

What is Generosity Day?  When is it?  What does it mean?  What do I really have to do?  How much do I have to give?

Generosity Day has no rules.  Well, okay one rule.  Do something nice for someone else on February 14, 2012.  After that, it’s all up to you.  Make it easy.  Make it heartfelt.  Most importantly, make it something.

Generosity Day can be free.  Smile at someone who looks like they’re having a rough day.  Say hello.  Trade the e-mail for a real face to face conversation.  Put your dish in the dishwasher.  Hug your kids one more time before they walk out the door.  Call a friend you haven’t spoke to in a long time.  Say your sorry. Go read to a group of kids that need it.  Give that pile of clothes that you won’t wear to a charity who could use them.  Offer to take bath duty for the kids.  Get the coffee ready the night before.  Cut your neighbors grass.  Go visit an elderly neighbor.  Help someone out to their car.  Make dinner.  Offer to make copies for your colleague at work.  Offer to pick up the kids from school.  If you’ve got a few extra bucks, buy coffee for the person behind you in the drive-through.  Order an extra sandwich for the homeless guy you walk past everyday.  Make a donation to your favorite charity.  Give your time at your local food pantry.

The beauty of the day is that you get to decide.  Whatever you’re comfortable with.  Whatever you can do.  Just do it.

I think we could all agree that watching just 10 minutes of local or national news can be terribly sad.  You would think nothing good is happening in our world right now and I’m sure for some people it feels that way.   I just finished reading Walk Out Walk On by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze.  A theme throughout the book is “start anywhere, follow it everywhere.”  Let’s all start with one act of kindness on February 14, 2012.  Who knows where it will lead?

What does Generosity Day mean to me?  It means hope.  It means for one day out of the year hope that we can all do one, just one, nice thing for someone else.  Hope that your goodwill and attitude will pour over to February 15th and to the 16th and so on.  It’s up to each of us to make our world a better place.

Stop waiting for something good to happen to you and start making good happen.

If Generosity Day speaks to you, if you want to pledge to do something on February 14, 2012, if you are interested in helping spread the word in St. Louis, let me know.  Leave me a comment or contact me via twitter @jamidix.  Let’s use the hashtag #generositydaySTL.

It’s always rough to come back from vacation.  This year, I think it was harder for me to go on a vacation.  As our week in Wisconsin got closer, I kept asking myself – what do I need a vacation from?  I wasn’t sure.

I have spent the last 11 years working full time.  I got married, had 2 kids and maintained a home.  Now?  Take away the 40+ hour job.  I am doing some consulting work, but I spend most of my days with my kids.  The decision to leave the only job I knew was a really tough one.  I poured my heart into that job and into the people.  I loved it.

Well, that is until I didn’t.  The job became emotionally and intellectually unfulfilling.  I want to be clear though, the people did not.  I thrive being with a group.  When I’m asked to do something, I almost always say yes.  I love to help out when and where I can.  I’m definitely a people-pleaser.  I love talking to people, learning about their lives and telling them about mine.

As we drove to Wisconsin, I couldn’t help but not feel that excited.  Something was bothering me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  Why wasn’t I happy?  I left the job that made me unhappy, I was getting to spend more time with my kids who I adore.   I knew not being around the people (many who became dear friends) was going to be a huge adjustment.  But, it was more than that.  I was being short with my family, especially my husband.  As we pulled into Wisconsin, got everything settled and all tucked in bed, it hit me.

Enter: athazagoraphobia.

As I lay in the dark, tears quietly streaming down my face, I realized exactly what I was scared of.  I was terrified of being forgotten.  Or worse, terrified of being remembered for something that was insignificant.

When I’m gone, I don’t want people to think, “oh, Jami made the best salads.”  Or, “she was so organized.”  Or, “wow, she got some really great donations for the auction.”  Are you kidding?  Gag.

I truly believe that I was put on this earth to do good work, to do good things.  I don’t want to be remembered for being, well, ordinary.  I know it’s not going to be easy.  I have days when I feel very brave, like I can conquer the world and there are days when I don’t.  I just know there is something inside of me, something waiting to come out.  I know at times it will be scary.  But, I also know that I must do it.

I’m pretty sure that my athazagoraphobia is only temporary.  So, watch out world.  I’m coming to help.

So, I broke my post-a-week deadline this week.  The family and I are on vacation in Wisconsin.  The first few days seemed just as hot and humid as St. Louis.  Today though was beautiful.  Jordan went with some of her older cousins to a water park.  Joe and I took Joey on a Duck Boat Tour.  It was an hour long tour on both land and water.  The tour included some really awesome bad puns.  For some reason today, I found myself unable to stop giggling.  We had a great time.

I’m mulling over my next blog post.  It’s been 2 months since I quit my full time job and I am not going to lie, I have been struggling.  I don’t miss to many things about my job, but I miss certain feelings associated with having a full-time job and I definitely miss some of the people I formed a deep relationship with.  I will dive into that my next post.

Right now, it’s 11:20 on Wednesday night and I am sitting up all alone, finishing my glass of wine, in the peace and quiet…on vacation.

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