Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Back Story

Okay, so it's a risk, but I'm taking it. As I prepare to focus on the rapidly approaching patent deadline, I want to remember why I'm doing this project. Of course there's no going back, but looking back helps me take purposeful next steps when I feel mired in useless effort. I'm never really satisfied doing something for the sake of doing it; I want there to be a valuable outcome. At the heart of my intention, I want to create work that benefits others. The reason I'm doing this is so I can give in a bigger way, to be a contributor. Making a shift from dependency to independence means looking for opportunities to give rather than to recieve. During the ceremony at my father's burial, a family friend read a poem with the line "you may bury my hands but don't bury the work of my hands". That line broke me. I sobbed loudly for the rest of the service. It was embarrassing but if you knew how much my father worked with his hands to make my life comfortable you'd cry too. A lot.

And now I want to throw off the cloak of depression and vulnerablity, to simply not care about things related to sales. It never really matters in the beginning anyway. Everyone has to start somewhere. I am somewhere in the beginning and it is a very small beginning. But I have these valuable experiences in my past that will help it to grow.

I have left so many jobs that it's embarrasing to write a resume. I would not have left these many work places but my first husband moved us eight times in nine years of marraige. By the time I made it to North Carolina, I found a job I thought would be my life's work. I was managing a small but incredibly beautiful garden center, learning all aspects of the business from growing to merchandising. I was in love with my work, with being outdoors in abundant sunlight and friendly customers. Then, at a time when I was feeling an inner calling to make changes in my personal life and also to pursue my love for books and classrooms, the business failed. The beautiful property with the greenhouses, gift shop and massive walnut tree was sold to a developer. Everything was destroyed. They burned the house that was the gift shop and cut down the hundred year old tree. A big part of me died with it. For months, I walked around with a feeling that my soul had been amputated. At that time I was also experiencing divorce.

So, I did what many single mothers without jobs do. I asked for temporary help from the government, adopted a seriously frugal lifestyle, found part time work and went back to college. I was going to pursue my dream of teaching. Things were very difficult at first, but gradually life unfolded in such a beautiful way that I now appreciate the struggle, and am even nostalgic for the days when I only had coffee and toast to eat. There was so much less to maintain, and so much more time to watch the sunset and read wonderful books. So much more time to form new friendships.

My part time job was as a maintenance assistant at an apartment community. It involved picking up trash in the parking lot. I enjoyed this job. I didn't feel humiliated. I got to have a walk in the morning air before the residents went to work. It was completely peaceful. On one of those mornings, a man sitting in his car saw me walk by with my trash picker and my blue plastic bucket. A voice in his head said "there goes your wife".

Of course he shook himself and forgot all about it. But the voice turned out to be right. Proving to me now that even the most humble occupation of picking up cigarette butts and empty fast food cartons from a parking lot has a purpose. Not only a purpose, but a hugely rewarding outcome. It lead me to the love of my life and the birth of our son.

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