I’m at Shore Acres State Park in Coos Bay, Oregon to watch the waves, take in a beautiful sunset, and think about this past year.
My favorite spot is near the “tennis courts”. The park used to be the estate of Louis J. Simpson, who had a mansion built on the cliff which was destroyed by fire in 1921. In 1942 the State of Oregon bought the estate for parkland and where the tennis courts once stood has a sign that reads “site of Shore Acres tennis courts”. The waves and sandstone creations here are amazing.
This year has been full of ups and downs for sure. “Living for Happiness” doesn’t mean I’ve been happy every moment of every day. Sheesh! I wish!
There have been many days where I’d be crying uncontrollably, frustrated with myself and people around me, scared that I had made the wrong decision, unsure of my next step, and feeling like a failure. There have been many days where I felt light as a feather, bursting with excitement, dancing with glee, smiling until my face hurt and feeling unstoppable.
I think it’s called “being human”.
If I could go back to the time before I made my decision; a time where I was in a job that no longer had me happy and excited. A time where I realized I didn’t need the security of owning my own home to be considered a responsible, upstanding, “real” adult. A time where my adventurous spirit was bursting at the seams and wanting the freedom of travel, flexibility and defining my own life.
I’d still say “hell YES!!!” The adventures I’ve had, places I’ve seen, people I’ve met, freedom I’ve felt are all because of the leap I took in living for my own happiness – as defined by me alone.
My year began with a spectacular, incredible adventure to Turkey, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands for 3-months during the Spring into early Summer, and then spent a month on the U.S East Coast visiting wonderful friends.
When I returned in July I started looking for “FUN and INSPIRING” employment. I was amazed at all the exciting opportunities there were when I took the need of making a particular salary off the table.
I have been living on a uber-frugal budget of $1,000/month. My health insurance, car insurance, phone, and a little rent came to roughly $600 and left me with $400 ($100/wk) for groceries, gas and anything else I needed.
The job search looked promising and I filled out applications like crazy, knowing I’d have a rockin’ job by the end of the week.
Instead I got “Crickets”, meaning I heard absolutely nothing. So I kept at it, thinking that maybe it took a little longer. After the first month I didn’t get one hit!
I continued to apply, but also went into a few of the temp agencies and explained that I was looking for “fun and inspiring”. They just looked at me… In silence… Like they didn’t have a clue as to what I just said – blank, silent, stares.
A trip to the local Chamber of Commerce to pick up information on businesses in the area had an unexpected surprise. I planned to write letters to the businesses who looked interesting to see if I could get a few consulting gigs . It was there that I heard about a leadership program that was starting up that Fall. What a great opportunity to meet different people in the community and do some personal/professional networking! I signed up even though it was half of my monthly budget.
I received work proposal requests from my efforts and met, emailed and phoned several companies. Then crickets again….I heard nothing.
Month #3 brought a few interviews from jobs I had applied for in month #1. Which was a relief knowing that it took that long for a response and would help me to manage my expectations. Interviews are great! Lots of people think that interviews are “them interviewing you”, but it is also “you interviewing them” and I always had questions lined up to find out more about their operations, culture and human connections.
I also received rejection letters by the mailbox full. I tried not to let it get me down. Okay, I got down. Really down. Crying my eyes out and drinking myself into a stupor kind of down. Pipe’s Pity Party is in the house!!!
To all the people who say “just get a job” to the people who hold out the signs saying “anything helps” – it’s not that easy! And I have a warm place to sleep and a street address, don’t have a criminal record, have a college education, a work history, and my own transportation! Finding a job, any job, takes time, money and resources.
The leadership program turned out to be a jackpot! There were participants from every industry in the area and the sessions are amazing! All hands on experience and visiting behind the scenes. For 8-months the program dedicates 1-full day to a type of industry (natural resources, healthcare, preservation, government).
Two of my top job leads came from that program. One job was running operations for a local non-profit. It invoked looking at their structure and work flow, creating efficiency, developing programs and building relationships with employees. All things that inspire me. The other was an instructor and program lead for a local community college. This would be a whole new direction, untapped potential and creative license to explore.
During the 5th month (yes, 5-months!) I took a break from job searching and spent two-weeks driving through California and Nevada to visit friends, relax, and enjoy the magnificent beauty of our mighty earth.
When I got back, I received great news and accepted the position at the college. The very same college I attended after high school, during a time when I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life except “go far, far away”. You have to leave if you are to ever come back. Wow, the stories I could tell my 19 year old self!
Advice I would give (am giving) to myself after this past year is to “manage my expectations”, actually just kick all expectations to the curb. I give that advice to people who are traveling, but it works perfectly for life in general.
Each moment is a new beginning.
Each day is a new beginning.
Each year is a new beginning.
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