Tuesday, August 10, 2010


*Author's note: I am a slow blogger because it takes a long time for me to fully develop a thought.

"Be not afraid of growing slowly, Be afraid only of standing still."
Chinese proverb

Well, standing still is not something I am familiar with. Life is a whirlwind. Only if you enable it, I guess. My mom always says that I will be the daughter who won't want to stay at home with my kids. She doesn't mean this in a negative way (she stayed home with all 5 of us). She just knows that I am a mover. I like to be busy. And sometimes I overtax myself.

Yesterday I was driving all over the place trying to get things done. I have learned many things from my mom, but one of the most important is this: if you have a lot of things to do, make sure you don't ever backtrack.

I've lived in Chattanooga almost all of my life (minus 5 years of college--undergrad and grad school). It still surprises me when I find a new route around this city. Dupont Parkway is my latest find. It cuts the city in half. And apparently, no one else knows about it, either. No traffic. So, I can go to my doctors appointment at Memorial and then cut across to Hixson to fill a prescription and go to Target. And I never have to go back the way I came. This is amazing to me.

And this is why: In life, we have roads that we travel every day (physically and metaphysically). And then one day, a new road is presented to us. And this road will not pull us off track, but provide a new path to our goals. Dupont Parkway is this for me.
I think my new job is also going to provide this new road as well. I love softball and I never want it to feel like a job. It is my job. I coach and I give instruction which = pay. And now I have a job (a full time job, thank you very much) that is going to challenge me and inspire me and allow everything that I do with softball feel like my hobby, my passion. For this, I feel like I will be grateful for a long time.

I had a conversation during an 11 hour car ride on Sunday that really made me think about why I am doing what I'm doing. Every time I talk to a successful business person, they ask me, "What do you want to do?" I feel a little stupid and a little put off because I always say, "I don't know." And that is the honest truth. I want to be happy. I want to feel like I have the freedom to be happy. I don't want to go to work every day and dread it. I don't want to have wrinkles from stress before I should. And I don't feel like I have to be a quota successful desk sitter to have all of these things. In my mind, I can have all of the things that these successful business people claim to love about their lives because of their jobs without having their jobs. It might take a little more planning and saving, but I will be fulfilled. I will get to see my family. I will get to enjoy every day. I will get to work hard and be challenged (though some of it may be self-challenge, challenge all the same). And I will get to value every little extravagance I can afford.

Have you ever been in a conversation that involved you? And you weren't really even allowed to participate in the conversation? I'm not talking about my parents--to my memory, this has never been how our relationship worked. Earlier in the summer, I was having a beer with some people, about my parents age, who had a large opinion about a big life choice Matt and I are still considering. Kind of made me rethink why I had let them in at all. I could only sit and look at them, thinking who are you to tell me what to do? I get that as we get older, we all think we might do something differently if we had the knowledge at the time. But aren't you glad that you got to explore and realize that on your own? Advice is great. But please, please, don't let on that you think I'm an idiot while you are dishing this advice. It kind of turns me off.

I apologize, but the baby boomers are really chapping me lately. Your parents survived the depression. You adopted their need for money and success. And most of you fell short of happiness. Most of you are divorced. Most of you raised foolish children. And I know that most of you have regrets for the time spent away from what you love. I ate off of your successes, was educated because of them. I'm not unappreciative. But I do recognize that there are ways to be successful without ultimate sacrifice. And my idea of success may be different than yours. I grew up a country club kid, but I do not expect my children to. I will send my kids to a great private school if I can afford it, and if not, I will provide a strong, supportive home life to come home to after a public school day.

I'm not driven by money and I don't think I ever have been. Money means something different to everyone. And money isn't necessarily a bad thing. My brother is going to be a successful lawyer and I am very proud of him. But that isn't what will make me happy when all is said.

In college, I started out as a secondary education major in History. And then I changed to a secondary education major in English. And it took me a while, but I finally realized that I didn't want to be certified in anything. I didn't ever want to feel stuck in something. In ten years, I didn't want to wake up and know that I had chosen the wrong path.

For my graduation, a friend gave me a necklace, that I still wear today, that reads: Traveller there is no path. Paths are made by walking. And that is truly how I feel. I may not know "what I want to do," but I do know that being happy is a priority.

And for me, part of being happy is being busy. Finding a balance between being busy and being crazy is a rough road. I want to have roads forever. I want to feel like I can move along to another venture anytime I feel like its necessary for my happiness. This is not to say that I want to be a bum working at Walmart (for example) if I feel like it, but I don't want to spend my entire life trying to move up in one company. I want to feel in control of my happiness. So while I'm making my way, know that I am working hard in whatever I do to advance myself.

It took my parents a few years to trust this. My mom especially. When I came home, I felt like she was constantly on me about what I was doing. As soon as they figured out that I really am motivated and that I really do want to work and be happy, they got it. If only the world understood us as our parents do.

This is part of the reason that I love Matt so much. He is brave enough to do what he loves to do. He wants to be successful in this, but it is what he loves. But the bravery it takes to walk away from social norms of success is admirable. Its heroic, even. Come to think of it, those are the people I chose to surround myself with. And I think that as we progress as a generation, this is what you are going to see. Sorry if you don't like it, Boomers, but we are going to take care of you as you become incapable without losing our sanity, our happiness.

If you read the June issue of Chattanooga's City Scope Magazine, there is an article about 30 successful people under 30. Most of these people are entrepreneurs, thinking outside of the Boomer box. Successful in their own right. And making their own way. Some of them don't even make that much money doing what they are doing. But they are successful because they are making a difference and they are happy doing what they've chosen to do.

They are busy. And in my mind, if you aren't standing still, make sure you're moving forward. Even if its slower than everyone else thinks it should be. Even if its faster. You make your own path.

"When we are fearlessly who we are, we don't need external validation, just an opportunity to express ourselves, live fully, and serve the world." -Ariana Huffington