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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?

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

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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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.

I wouldn’t know.  I’m not retired.

Once some of my family members heard that I was leaving my full time job, I was immediately asked the following questions:

What’s it like being retired?
What’s it like being a parent?
What do you do with all your free time?

Um, I’m not retired.  I’ve always been a parent.  I’m not really sure what you mean by “free time”.  I don’t want to take the time to explain to people that while yes, I’m not going to an office every day,  that I do still work.  I tried explaining it once, but I got an eye roll and a “yeah, sure”.

Not going to an office, not having to clock-in is very strange to me.  It’s all I know.  My new world is a little different.  Now, I’ve got Jordan with me all day and Joey is going to daycare for 1/2 days.  If I have meetings I schedule them in the morning and then the afternoons are reserved for fun family time.

I feel very lucky to have this opportunity.  I’m doing work that excites me.  Work I can be passionate about.  Work that is allowing me to learn new things.  However, the balance between time with my kids and my own need to make a difference in the world, contribute to our family’s income and keep my own skills sharpened is challenging.  I’m not afraid to say that I love to work, I love being busy, I love learning new things.   I’m also not afraid to say I don’t want to spend every day all day with my children.  I have said before that I think I’m a better parent because I do work.

I treasure those moments that I do find my kids doing something cute.  But, not working?  No way.  there is to much work that needs to be done.

As many of you already know, I’m a mom.

And, like many of you moms (and dads) out there – a busy one.

I can’t count the number of times I hear my name screamed, whined, or just called out for every single day.

Its been a stressful few months and just when I think I can’t hear that name again or think about the stress of life, I get to go to Walgreens.  By. Myself.

Yes, Walgreens.

I just got back from 10 minutes of an open sunroof, windows down, music cranked up loud (tonight, it was the Zac Brown Band with Jimmy Buffet singing Knee Deep) and all of a sudden, I’m not in St. Louis anymore.  I’m not really sure where I am, but its warm, there is a beach nearby and for 10 minutes I don’t think of anything that causes me stress.  It’s really a beautiful thing.

Where do you escape for 10 minutes and what do you listen to on your way there??

“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” -Unknown

A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page and it spoke to me.  Loudly.  Here’s what it said:

I have one life, I need to make this one count.

I will stand up for what I believe in.

I will fight for what’s right.

I will not compromise who I am.

I will always be honest.

I have always put my entire self into my work.  The past year has been extremely challenging and I have had to remove a huge piece of who I am to get through the year.  My heart.  Early in the year, I realized that no matter what, including crying (a lot), it wasn’t going to change a thing.  So, I took the emotion out of my work and just busted my tail to do a good job.  And I did.  I’m sad that a place I used to hold so close to my heart isn’t what I thought it was, or could be, so I’m moving on.

Get ready world.  My heart is ready to be filled with good work.

So, this has been an emotional couple of days.  Yesterday, my day consisted of letting everyone know that I wouldn’t be returning next year, watching volunteers cry in a meeting when they heard, me crying in the same meeting and a steady flow of staff coming in to ask “what am I going to do next year without you?”  So, I decided since the day was emotional already, I might as well break the news to tell my little girl that she was going to change schools next year.

I. Was. Terrified.

I didn’t know how she would react.  It is the only school she’s ever attended.  If she got sick, or a boo-boo, or just needed a hug, she could come to my office.  This was all about to change.

I told her in the car on the way home.

She cried.  I cried.

I did the best I could and told that we would of course keep in touch with her friends.

And then she was just quiet, so I shut up (because normally, I talk things to death and this was one of the few times I was speechless.  Nothing I could say was going to change this or make it any better for her).

And because it was Monday and already a banner (NOT!) day I had to go to the dentist and get a permanent crown put on.  Jordan went with me and played in the waiting room the entire time.  She’s a great kid.  After the dentist, we drove home and as we pulled into the driveway, four neighborhood kids came running to the car and I knew things were going to be okay.

It wasn’t until bedtime though that I realized all of the stress and tears and worry that I had about telling her the news was really all of my anxiety.  We finished reading, wrote in her reading log and did our happy thoughts.  She then looked up at me and said, “I’m kinda glad I get to start a new school in 2nd grade.  I mean, I’m really glad I get to finish 1st grade and that you didn’t like come in the classroom like in the middle of math and say, (she’s waving her arms at this point) “Hey, we’re going to a new school RIGHT NOW.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of her.  What is it about growing up that change, even change we’ve been wanting, causes so much stress?  I am sick as a dog today and I know it’s because the last 2 days I’ve been an emotional wreck.  All I have to say is Jordan ROCKS.

See? She's One Smart Kiddo.

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