December Reflections and Finding the Path

This is going to be one of those posts where I end up kind of rambling, and I’m really not sure how it’s going to end. I just felt the need to write something, but even as I begin writing I’m really not yet sure what I have to say.

Remember in my post earlier this month when I said one of my goals for December was to take it easy and not stress out over things? I’m happy to say that I’ve been doing a pretty good job with that one. I know this is a busy time of year for everyone, and I’m lucky that I don’t have the responsibility of hosting Christmas celebrations and making sure the house is ready for guests and food is prepared on top of buying and wrapping gifts and everything else that goes along with the holiday season.

This year, I added a new job to the mix the week before Christmas. So needless to say, this past week has been a little more stressful than usual, but stressful in the most wonderful way. Having this opportunity is like the ultimate Christmas gift this year.

And Dani is pretty happy that I’ll be working from home, too.

They say there are three types of work you can do: a job (pays the bills), a career (pays the bills and you feel a drive and commitment to grow and excel at it), and a calling. A calling doesn’t just pay your bills, doesn’t just offer you the opportunity for advancement. A calling truly reaches out and touches your soul. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and it just feels right to you, like this is what you are supposed to be doing.

When I first started pursuing my master’s degree and began teaching for the first time, I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead me, or if I would even like it. Turns out, I loved teaching, and I also loved (maybe even a little more) learning about how to teach. How people learn languages. I was fascinated by it all. I got involved in some projects going on in my department so that I could learn more outside of my classes. I remember one day specifically, walking to my car after class, thinking to myself that I just felt… content. I felt happy. I felt like I had found my thing. I was doing something that was so interesting to me that the stress that came along with it felt worth it. I felt like I was making a small difference. And as superficial as this may sound, I was doing something that was fun to me, and I think that was the most important thing.

I knew back then that I wanted to continue on this path even though I was unsure where it would lead me. Then when I completed my master’s, spent a summer in France, decided not to pursue a PhD, moved to Canada, got a dog, and moved back to Michigan all within a 7-month period, I was, well, thrown off course slightly. I began working in administrative positions and wasn’t really sure how to get back to where I wanted to go, because I still wasn’t totally sure where exactly that was. Hopefully that makes sense. It’s like the vision was there, but blurry, so I couldn’t see my destination and therefore couldn’t map out my route.

So I kept working, and that started to lead me down a different path. 

But this is supposed to be a December Reflections post, not my life story, so I’m going to fast forward a bit, and I’ll get to the point soon, I promise.

Through a series of deliberate decisions and freak coincidences, I found myself open and available to find, apply, and ultimately get the new job that I am just starting. That’s right, both deliberate decisions and freak coincidences. Chance + choice.

I spent over two years trying to plan my way out of my situation. Trying to put together my vision of that perfect destination so that I could figure out how to get there. I was so consumed by the big picture that I was unable to see directly ahead of me. It was like I was looking so far down the path, that I was overlooking the road before me. Have you had enough of my metaphors yet? I ultimately (and I mean honestly, it took me over two years to realize this) decided that it didn’t matter where I was going, not just yet anyway. I just needed to move away from where I was at the time. I was stuck, and I just needed to do something. Take one step. One step away from my current situation was a step in the right direction.

Once I made this conscious decision, everything fell into place.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m at my destination. I will never be there. And I don’t even have a crystal clear vision of what the future looks like (and I’m starting to think I probably won’t ever have that either). But I’m back on a path that feels right to me and I’m excited about all those big scary unknown things that lie ahead.

So I suppose the moral of the story is this: be open to new experiences, even if (especially if) you don’t know where they will lead you. And if you feel stuck, lost, and are having trouble seeing the path ahead of you, try just taking one step forward. You may be surprised by how that tiny step out of the fog can suddenly illuminate the way.

December Reflections

Justin and I finished up all of our Christmas shopping, exchanged our gifts early, and had a date night to see the Cirque de Noel in downtown Grand Rapids.

I began my job and finally got my office somewhat set up, although it’s still packed full of random unfinished projects awaiting their fate (eyeroll).

I DIYed FIVE Christmas gifts. That’s right, FIVE! I’m pretty impressed with myself for pulling this one off, especially considering the fact that I procrastinated starting most of them until the week before Christmas, when I also started a new job. No big deal, right? But I got them done! I realized that in my November post one of my goals was to make and post about some DIY Christmas gifts, but I’m not quite sure how I planned to post about them before Christmas without giving away any surprises. Plus, I was in such a hurry to get them done at night after work that I failed to take any photos of the process. Oh well.

And speaking of my goals for December, my final goal was to sell the set of coffee and end tables I made over that had been sitting in my office for months. And I did!

So all in all, I’m three for three with my goals (I mean kind of) and I’m pretty satisfied with myself. I, for some strange reason unknown to the logical side of my brain, also decided to throw in some additional projects just for fun. I finally painted the hearth of our fireplace so I could check that off my list (I will post about it one day – it’s one of the best DIY projects we’ve done in our house!), painted and finished two end tables for our living room, and began stripping our coffee table to prepare it for a second makeover. Ugh. This one is still a work in progress…

Wow. If you’ve made it this far, bravo! Remember way back in the beginning of this post how I said I wasn’t really sure where it was going to lead me? I just felt the need to share something, but didn’t have anything specific to share. So I just started writing, and here we are. I guess it’s kind of the perfect metaphor to go along with everything I’ve said here today. Sometimes, you might not know where the path will lead you, but if you just start, take a step, write some words, do something, you may be pleasantly surprised by where you end up.

I will be back next week to wrap up the year and share some of my goals and resolutions for 2018. So until then, Merry Christmas mes amis!


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