Fourteen years ago some icy snow was still on the ground after the melt the week before, not knee-deep like this year, and the birds had started to sing the songs of spring. I was working, working, working; a corporate consultant with corporate email, voice-mail, name tag,
laptop, home office, corporate American Express credit card, corporate headaches and gray (or maybe white or black or navy…I’d had them all) Ford Taurus traveling across Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Superior visiting two to four nursing homes a week. But I also had four weeks of paid vacation, sick days, 401K, stocks from the corporation and a regular automatically deposited pay check.
I had a personal mission statement in my Covey Franklin planner which read; “I value truth and information and new understanding. I value family and love and building relationships. I value excitement and adventure and physical harmony. I value achievements and accomplishments and recognition.
I aspire to success in family, which is strong interdependence and comforts and optimum growth for all. I aspire to success in business, which is recognition and compensation. I aspire to lead to influence toward success. To teach wellness and healing and growing. I aspire to be an outstanding speaker. To be heard. And to always be learning and understanding. I aspire to personal well-being, physical and mental that will support the achievements of all my life’s mission.”
I often had a flight out to some meeting, Dallas or Memphis or Atlanta…somewhere with easy airport access. I was in demand for helping teams do projects, like business opportunity planning (how should a facility put together a plan for example an Alzheimer’s unit, or wound unit or what would be in and who would be on the teams that quality reviewed facilities). During February my big project was on staff retention. In the nursing homes we prioritized problems and worked to solve them, the success rate was gratifying. It was fun and I was doing what I had said I wanted to do.
I was worried though; my daughter was a ninth grader and I wasn’t home enough. She wrote for English:
Alone is a room with no doors.
It’s an empty room with black curtains and locked windows, frostbitten walls and holey floors,
They creak and stir with age.
Alone, is a crowd that stretches as far as the eye can see, yet not a friend in sight.
Alone, is silence, a restless silence, that burns and scorches the soul.
Alone, is me.
My husband worked for UW-Extension in 4H, which involves a fair amount evening meetings, he wasn’t home enough at the right times. And I was working, working, working.
We had a Disney World/Sea World, Orlando, Fla., trip planned for late April. I had enough air mileage that there was a free ticket to haul along a girlfriend for company for our daughter; it was a fun-filled trip. In between April and June, my husband, felt he needed to intervene ‘crossroads with daughter.’ I disagreed – too reactive. Plus, it’s the time of life for changes, I kind of remember that age, ha ha. Of course, he did, too. Then in late June, she and I went for a week of horse camp, we had a great time and I began the planning decision to quit my full-time corporate life.
Interesting that the penny I pulled out of my desk drawer had such an important year stamped on it, a year that changed the trajectory of my career, but also changed some of my daughter’s life choices and gave me the chance to more fully honor my mission and values. And it all started in 1999, when the birds were announcing spring, as the snow disappeared in northern Wisconsin.
This writing challenge was based on the idea of finding a piece of change and writing about what you were doing that year of the coin. I pulled out my old work calendars, photos and journals and checked the NOAA forecast and Farmer’s Almanac for Milwaukee weather (since my records only mentioned workouts of walking and on the Nordic Trak…which indicated snow sports not happening).
Can you go back, find a year and write about it? Was it a changing time in your life or someone else’s?