On Showing Up (and Knowing When to Quit)

I’ve been thinking a lot about showing up lately; about being present in my life, living according to my values, and playing to my own strengths. In particular, I’ve been examining the ins and outs of my day-to-day, thinking carefully about what is working about my routine and what isn’t. What feels right and what feels wrong. 

Until about a month and a half ago I was enrolled in the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) PREP program (or “preparatory courses” as they are now called). My plan was to squeeze these super-condensed courses in one at a time around the edges of my full-time work schedule, eventually leading me to prestige as a CPA some five or six years down the road.

Except I wasn’t in it to be an accountant. I thought the program would be a great way to gain knowledge and skills to apply to my work in the world of nonprofit community organizations. And, to be honest, I think part of me just wanted to show off those three little letters behind my name. What I didn’t realize was just how intense the program would be and how negatively it would impact my ability to perform in those aspects of my life that I hold dear (volunteer work) or that are necessary to keep me level-headed and effectively manage the depression and anxiety that I’ve lived with since I was a kid (self care). 

After struggling to fit in approximately 20-25 hours of study each week on top of 40 hours at work, I began to question my motivations and ability to live this way for the next five years. I sat down and had a conversation with myself, asking a few difficult questions. Was this path in line with my values? Was the damage to my mental and physical health worth the outcome? Was this really all that important to me? Could I still have an impact and a meaningful career without this education?

What I decided, eventually, was that becoming a CPA just wasn’t important enough to me to continue, but that trading that time for something else - investing myself more deeply in volunteer and community work, doubling down on self care, and really sinking into my life - is what feels right and in line with my values right now. In the short time since deciding to drop the program I have stepped into a more executive role on WFC's board of directors; started reading and learning more about poverty in Winnipeg's inner city; spent real, quality time with friends and family; and, this past weekend, made the journey out to Steinbach, MB to take part in the first Steinbach Pride March. 

Ready to march in Steinbach.

Ready to march in Steinbach.

The change in my mood now from a short time ago is something else. I’m sleeping better, eating more healthfully, getting more exercise, and spending more time connecting with the people and the world around me. I’m working on not being afraid that “just” having a bachelor’s degree and boat loads of relevant skills and experience won’t be enough to keep me employed in my field of choice. And while I’m not done with professional development just yet, I’m now looking forward to attending seminars, reading books, and learning more about things that truly interest me.

Have you ever quit something that just wasn't working for you? What happened?

Oh, Hello There. (An Update)

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I didn’t mean to announce that I would no longer be posting my kindnesses for the 365 Days of Kindness project and then disappear, but that’s exactly what happened. The past month has been a hectic one for us, and this blog took a back seat as J and I worked our way through some pretty big life changes.

On Moving

We moved at the end of September.

It’s such a simple thing to say. We moved. But in practice it was so much more.

We moved. Relocated. Uprooted.

Leaving our little apartment behind was a decision we - I - struggled with a great deal. I was 24 when I moved into the little building off Corydon. It was the first time (and quite possibly the last) that I would ever live completely on my own, sans roommates or romantic partners. When I moved in I was deeply depressed, reeling from the end of an engagement, struggling with a severe drinking problem, and feeling very much alone.

My life was a complete mess, and so was I. But that empty apartment felt a little bit like hope.

I spent four years living in that space; two of them with J. It’s where I decided to leave the alcohol industry and quit drinking; where I gave up cigarettes for good; where I decided to finish my degree. It’s where I chose to leave small business office administration behind and pursue a career in nonprofit, and where I learned how to take proper care of myself.

It’s where I gave myself a chance, took a life that was in shambles, and turned it into something beautiful.

I love our new home. I love living downtown. I love having a beautiful, functional kitchen. And, just as much, I love the little off-Corydon apartment that allowed me the space I needed to grow as a person and craft this life that I am so totally and completely enamored with.

Our new view.

Our new view.

On Work

I mentioned last month that I have taken on a new position at work, but I didn’t dive too deeply on what that has entailed. I transitioned out of a coordinator role and into an executive directorship at the nonprofit I work with, and the change has taken some getting used to. I am learning a lot about what it means to be responsible for running an organization (albeit a smallish one), how to create work/life balance in a challenging position, and how to prioritize when all of the tasks on my to-do list are immensely important and should have been done, like, yesterday.

I’m also learning to quell the feelings of overwhelm and anxiety that threaten to take me over and instead focus on taking my days one task at a time. It has been challenging, rewarding, and a true test of my commitment to carving out a space for myself in the world of nonprofit work. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On 365 Days of Kindness

You guys, of all the decisions I have ever made, deciding to stop posting my kindnesses each week is up there with the best of them. I am still performing and recording kindnesses every day, but I now feel as though I continue to work towards completing this project not for the sake of proving myself to others or making sure I have blog content, but because it has added something very meaningful to my life. My focus is where it should be - on kindness for the sake of kindness.

On What’s Next

I’d like to say that I have a clear idea of where I want to take this website, or my online life in general. The truth is, I am still working on figuring out the role that I want spaces like Twitter, Facebook, or this blog to have in my life. I’ll get there eventually, but for now let’s just say that sporadic, whatever-I-feel-like-typing posts are probably going to be the norm around here for a while. I feel pretty good about letting this be whatever it will be and am looking forward to getting back to enjoying blogging as a hobby without feeling like it is an obligation.

That’s where things are at. My life these days is very full, very rich, and I am loving every minute of it.

So what’s new with you?