keep moving forward

There is More than Red

I recently listened to the audiobook of “You’re A Badass” by Jen Sincero and immediately after finishing it, I went out and bought a hard copy because I wanted to be able to highlight it and make notes and read it over and over and until the binding is good and tired. It is packed with good reminders designed to get you up and out of whatever funk you might find yourself in, so you can get out there and kick some (mostly your own) ass.

One of my favorite chapters started with the author asking you to look around whatever space you are currently in and pick out everything that is red.

Give it a try.

Focus on those things, memorize them, repeat them over and over again in your mind.

Now close your eyes.

Well. Okay. So this exercise might work better if you were listening to it. Otherwise you’ll just be sitting there with your eyes closed, repeating “ketchup bottle” over and over, with no idea what to do next. Since I was listening to the audiobook, I did not come across this logistical issue.

I APOLOGIZE.

The point of the exercise is to close your eyes, and after spending all that time focusing and memorizing the red, she then asks you to point out everything in your space that is yellow.

Huh? I thought.

Was this a trick?

I just wrote an entire rhyming poem called “Red in my Head” and now you’re going to pull something like THIS, Sincero? I do not approve.

But then she pulls a fast one on you.

She points out that if we are singularly focused in our lives, constantly looking only for the red, than we’re not going to notice the yellow, or the blue or the green. And Lord knows there is some green to be seen after all of this rain.

I listened to this chapter of the book about the same time I wrote this blog, and while they touch on the same thing, they stuck out in different ways. While my reminder to “look up” was a reminder that there are always good things amongst the bad, this “find the yellow” exercise was a good reminder that there is just more.

The world is full of so much more than what we might be struggling with in a particularly difficult moment or season. This doesn’t and shouldn’t belittle what we’re going through now, but it can act as a reminder that there are so many more moments out there for us if we have the courage, patience and perseverance to work through this one. There is so much yellow, y’all! So much blue! So many stars and stripes and polka dots. There is more. So take a deep breath, blink a few times, and let all those other colors come into focus.

A Bummer of a Step in the Right Direction

A few weeks ago I applied to a job that sounded like it would be the perfect fit for me. Not only was the company one that I’d volunteered for in the past, but the job itself was one I believed I was completely qualified for and could offer a lot to.

It had been a while since I applied to a job. And even though my current job was not unsatisfying—I have both friendly coworkers, generous bosses and a healthy work environment as a whole—I’ve long dreamed about finding a new home. Somewhere that I can grow and learn and be challenged in new and exciting ways.

Patience was all it was supposed to take. Patience and hard work and determination. And after years of feeling as if I’d done just that, I found this job opportunity and hit apply.

A week later, I got an email asking to set up a phone interview. My stomach turned and turned, wondering if perhaps this was actually it. Maybe this was what I’d been patient for. Maybe this was what I’d been working towards.

The night before the interview, I warned my roommates I would be going into work late the next morning, asking them to send their thoughts and prayers, and not to judge if they heard me pacing back and forth on the phone.

After the interview, I went to work as usual. I pulled into my parking spot and clocked in at the time clock and sat behind my desk. My stomach was no longer in knots, and my confidence was through the roof. I nailed that, I thought, and instantly my mind began to picture me in a new parking spot and behind a new desk.

In the days that followed, my confidence waned. It wasn’t that anything had changed; I still believed I’d given a good interview, and even if it wasn’t perfect, it was honest and a good representation of who I was and what I can do.

Prideful thoughts told me they’d be crazy not to hire me, that there wasn’t a chance they’d interviewed a candidate as good as me. But realistic thoughts countered back with humbling doses of doubt.

What if they don’t hire me? I began to worry. What if this is just another blip on the failure radar? What if in a few weeks, this will be nothing more than a jaunt of unrewarded risk?

Tears flooded my eyes as I sat at my desk. What if this wasn’t it? Could I really continue being patient? And if this seemingly perfect opportunity wasn’t going to work out, then what was I even being patient for?

Over the next few days I felt nauseous with worry. I checked my email obsessively, hoping the next refresh would prove my doubts wrong. But nothing came.

Then, in a seemingly ordinary moment, when neither acceptance nor rejection was particularly weighing on my mind, I felt a sudden feeling of peace. It wasn’t a confidence that things were going to go my way, and it wasn’t a guarantee that I wouldn’t be crushed if they didn’t, but rather a reassurance that whatever happened was exactly what was supposed to happen.

So often I’m someone who’s making plans, setting goals and checking items off lists to ensure that I’m setting myself up for a happy and successful future. I’m always trying to do more, to be more and I assure myself that eventually what I do will lead me where I need to go.

But therein lies the problem.

So often I forget that I’m part of a plan much bigger than me. That what I’m working towards, even on the most mundane of days, and what I’m being patient for, even when it seems hopeless, is something greater than I could ever imagine.

Almost exactly a week after my phone interview, I received an email that the company had decided to go in a “different direction”. And even with that feeling of peace sitting in the back of my mind, I was still bummed. It was still a no, and now that it was a real no rather than one fabricated in my head, it stung—bad. So I took that day and I let all the sad and the disappointed move through me. Rather than go out with my friends, I stayed home and watched a sad movie and let myself be bummed.

As it turned out, this wasn’t it. But even though it felt like a step I didn’t get to take, it was actually a step forward in a new direction. A step towards something else.

So even as I drive to work today and park in my same parking spot and clock in at the same time clock and sit behind my same desk, I can take a deep breath knowing that right now, I’m exactly where I need to be. And that as the days go by and I keep moving forward, my patience will pay off, and where I end up will be far greater than any place I could have ever imagined.