Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's time.

Several years ago, a group of friends created a new tradition of naming a theme for the coming year. It was a way to find a guide for self-betterment in the months ahead without specifying any actual resolutions. I took the liberty of adopting the idea for my birthday year instead of the calendar year. My unthemed 26th year was rough--most of it was spent in and out of the hospital, dealing with anemia, uterine fibroids and severe abdominal pain. So, after having iron and blood transfusions to combat the anemia and a surgery to address the fibroids, I thought I was in the clear.

When I turned 27, I deemed it the year of Health. And now, at the end of the year, I can say that I am feeling really good--both physically and mentally. However, the first few months put the hopes of health on hold as I had a second surgery--an apendectomy--to take care of the undiagonosed abdominal pain from the year before. As my physical health stabilized, I became increasingly restless about work. It was becoming apparent that I had a hard decision to make.

After months of starting and stopping, and feeling less committed with each return, my interest in my job was at an all-time low. Finally, after another frustrating day full of belabored and completely unproductive meetings, I can home exhausted and irritated, and dumped on Nick. Then in his quintessential moment of glory, Nick looked at me and said, "then quit." Two days later, I resigned from my job with no plans, let alone plans to make plans. I gave them three more months and took that time to come to terms with what I had done.

Its been four months since I left my full-time job, and it feels great. I have managed to stay quite busy between travel, consulting, commissions in books and stained glass, as well as reconnecting with friends. People often ask me if I get restless. I don't. If anything, I crave more time to just be. I feel completely guilty about this. I am a very driven person and it's hard to not have solid goals or professional dreams. But I don't know what I want to do...and I am trying to be okay with that. Trying not to feel lazy. Trying not to feel like I am supposed to be out there honing my strengths and abilities, reaching towards professional success.

In March 2005, I had a Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE)--a procedure that would shrink my uterine fibroids and cure my severe anemia, ultimately allowing me to enjoy life more. It took me two months--most of which was spent resting on narcotics--to get to the "enjoy life more" part. It was quiet. It was lonely. At times it was boring. Generally speaking, I am okay being by myself so I was mostly able to fill my time. I developed new hobbies to accompany my horizontal state. I read a shit-ton of magazines and watched an equal amount of romantic comedies. I thought about how two years before I had gotten completely frustrated with a supervisor who didn't have anything else for me to work on and I didn't know what to do with myself because that was what I did--I worked hard. And suddenly--there was no option to work. I had minutes and hours and days and weeks to think, and over that time my priorities shifted, and I began to be driven by the quality of life instead--and if I was going to be honest, the quality of my life had sucked for some time. When I returned to work in May, it was really difficult to reconnect. I had a hard time wanting to work because the importance and urgency just didn't feel the same anymore. So, seven-ish months later, I resigned.

Any significant change in life includes a period of transition. Some are more formal than others. When I turned 15 years, 8 months and 1 day old, I was able to get my learner's permit to drive. For the next four months, until I turned 16, I was able to practice driving with the safety of supervision from someone who knew what they were doing. It was a trial period.

I was 27 years, 8 months and 1 day old when I quit my job. Coincidentally, the last four months have also been a sort of trial period. I have used this time to adjust to my new stage of life. To learn to just be. To allow goals to come and go. To say yes to time with people. To learn to enjoy cooking again. To practice better health. To finally learn what it means to be in the present. Now, as I approach the 28th turn, I am starting to think...it's time. I don't know exactly what that means--how narrow or all encompassing it should be--but it feels appropriate.

On Friday, I will turn 28. It feels like maybe it's time for the transition phase to be over. I need to embrace this period of life fully. Let go of the guilt. Explore new dreams. Find meaningful routines. Stop apologizing-albeit mostly to myself-for needing something so different from what I had ever expected.

It's time.