These past six months have been a true awakening for me. As many of you know and some don’t, I decided to take what I coined as a “hiatus from the norm.” See my norm had become mundane, I felt unfulfilled and I knew I needed to take drastic action to get myself out the rut I was in. I started with my career and decided to step back and take a good look as to what career path would be fulfilling to me. For over a decade, I had been allowing my career to dictate my path and drag me around, never fully understanding why I could not get on board with my success. Secondly, I decided to spend more time with my children. After all the blowing and going of building a reputable company and being tossed around in the oil and gas industry, I found that I missed a great deal of time with them. I no longer desired to be shuffling them back and forth to private schools, after-school care and all the other draining activities that we all stopped taking pleasure in because we were too drained to enjoy them. Lastly but certainly not least, I took a good hard look at my relationships with family members, friends and associates and started sifting through the relationships that felt good and the ones that consistently felt bad (you have heard this before). From all this, I had a true awakening!!
Let’s start with my career epiphany. I knew for a fact that the oil and gas sector had become a snake pit for me and I was tired of it. I needed a change, even at a consulting only level; I needed to escape the industry. I am not saying this will always be the case but at the time, it was a definite necessity. I had landed in a job that offered a hefty salary but lacked any challenge and failed to intrigue me. Believe me, it is true, money does not make you happy. Then there is the IT Company that my husband and I own jointly. While it is nice, I am my own boss and it brings in a nice income, it still did not feel like it was the best fit for my career path. So after discussing it with hubby (the main one who has encouraged my writing), he suggested I focus on the publications company and my writing while I was off. Thank God I listened!!
My writing has really taken off and I am steadily making small strides towards my writing career. I was recently published in an E-magazine through a connection I made on twitter. Since that time, I have connected with a handful of magazines that are interested in speaking with me more about supplying freelance articles for their publication. In between the self-promotion of my writing, I have to carve out time to work on my first novel. Now all this sounds fabulous but I also had to come to some hard realizations. The life draining aspects of the oil and gas industry coupled with the IT company, also came with the realization that they both are very necessary means to an end. You see I cannot live the way I want to, pursue my writing nor even network properly without these two elements in place. I also found that it is not so much the oil and gas sector per se, it is the direction I have allowed the industry to lead me into that does not suit me. I simply need to pursue other areas of interest and not allow the market to dictate my path as much.
I previously thought of myself as the ultimate organizer but I quickly realized the organizational skills required to succeed in the oil and gas industry are not nearly enough for what you need in order to be a writer and publisher. I also have a do or die mentality now as my success lies solely with me, which is frightening and exciting all at the same time. With my new direction, I get to nurture the creative side I have long had to suppress because it simply did not gel with corporate america. On the same token, I get to remain in IT and Oil and Gas, but now I am able to pursue new avenues of interest. The fact that my writing is not the most lucrative endeavor, YET, it motivates me to work that much harder to see where this new path can take me.
I have always had a strong attachment to acting. Anyone who knows me very well will remember my acting days in the theater. I still have that longing to be on Broadway one day, whether it be in the form of acting or as a playwright. Either way one of my goals is to experience a career in Broadway one way or another. Definitely a bucket list MUST! For those of you who don’t know me very well, then now you understand and can appreciate why I am always volunteering at one of the local playhouses in the Houston area. The energy from the theater inspires me and brings me a sense of calm whenever I enter one of the local playhouses to assist with lighting, costuming or more recently, stage manager duties. My writing brings me a very similar sense of calm and I find new ideas in everything I do. To have this side of me finally come into realization, has been a true awakening!
Although I have never been very domestic and far from a Suzie Homemaker, I must admit my family values are very old fashioned. I have always wanted to take a break just as I am doing now and live the life of a housewife. Let me tell you, for me, this time has brought a new appreciation for my family. I have much more energy to listen to my husband and how his day turned out. I love the strategy sessions we are undergoing together to take the IT company into a new direction. I like being able to stay up into the wee hours of the morning snacking and watching movies together and not having to worry about being rested for work the next day. Planning date night is not something to simply be checked off a list of to do’s , but is now a time I relish because I get to have him all to myself. I love finding new places for us to go and planning new things for us to do. I will be the first to admit, we still find ourselves needing to improve but the difference is, I do not see it as a stress any longer. We work at it daily and there are still many ups and downs but at the end of the day, when you can turn to each other, bust out laughing for no reason at all except for the thought of an old memory, you realize it is all worth it. It is nice to be awakened to the fact that you really did marry your true soul mate!
Once I heard about several of our close friends homeschooling and always having the curiosity to try this method of schooling for myself, I must say it is a blessing to be able to see the world through the eyes of your children. There is nothing better than forming a new network with your close friends so you can experience a new journey together. Our children were already close friends, our families already close friends, and so there was no doubt in my mind that we would be successful. I look forward to the outings each week with our cohorts. These days when one of us falls ill, someone in the group will take the kids for the day while the ailing member recovers. We take turns with the kids for doctor’s appointments, meetings or just plain free time. If we were all at work and the children at school, we would be calling in sick, the kids would be missing school and the stress of trying to manage it all would be just as overwhelming as it has always been. We gather to support and encourage one another, even if it is just a quick text or 15 minute phone call; we are there for one another. We can relate and vent to one another about the negative myths and comments that arise from our homeschooling. And we relish and celebrate the fact that this experience, while challenging, is truly a rewarding one. We love seeing our children be more innovative and not be suppressed by a school system that just does not work. I never wanted my kids to learn only to study for a test. I wanted them to have common sense and to have several friends feel the same way, is a definite plus.
One of my closest friends in the group has a son that is only 8 but is on 9th grade level math. My 9 year old daughter is reading on a 9th grade level and once we discovered this about both our children, we have set up times to meet so they can work together on each subject. Working and trying to be everything to everyone, I never realized how little I knew about what my children were learning; what were their strengths and weaknesses and the areas of interest they had (like my son loving science and my daughter wanting to study Greek mythology). In the Fall, all our little ones will be attending a university type school where they will be on campus 2-3 days a week. The beauty of this is that they will have the best of both worlds and one member’s son was enrolled this past year and loved it. How cool is it that our children get to start off a new school year with like-minded individuals, exploring subjects at their own pace. I will be the first to say, it is a huge adjustment, it is hard work, requires a lot of discipline and is not for everyone. But as long as we are still learning as we go along, it remains a true awakening for me!!
Another awakening has definitely been my spiritual awakening. The trials of adapting to such a drastic change in lifestyle have not been without peril. However, the good news is that my relationship with God grows stronger and stronger every day. I was nowhere near the Christian I aspired to be. I talked a good game but it took this time off for me to realize that I was failing to make God a priority in my life. There are so many distractions when you are blowing and going, you have very little time to remain consistent with what is truly important. I am amazed how if you open yourself to it, the rough patches in life can make you anew. I have truly been made anew!! Change and doubt run hand in hand with the devil and his plan to keep you in a rut. I now have the time to be proactive in my bible studies and not reactive. Meaning I do not simply go to the Lord when there is a problem. I don’t just thank Him when things are going extraordinarily well. No, my hiatus has allowed me to have a right relationship with God. He is my Father and I go to him all day, every day and just hold conversations. I could not before but I see now exactly where He expects me to improve, lead, grow, nurture and develop into a Godly lifestyle. This new direction has helped me overcome past hurts, accept what I cannot change and revel in the fact that I am reborn again. Spiritual connectivity is a priority for me and a priority in all my relationships. If I had only the sense to do this sooner, I could have been living a much more peaceful existence. The relationships I have built from this new level of spirituality make me feel good inside and out. They are positive, I am more positive, I am more at peace and it is easier and easier to allow the elements that do not fit in with His master plan for me to fall by the wayside. Because you see, I am awakened!
All in all, I truly believe that without this hiatus, I never would have been able to ascertain which direction in life is truly best for me and mine. I no longer feel an obligation, guilt or sorrow behind loving people from a distance and just plan disconnecting with others. I can now HONESTLY and TRULY say I can find a positive in every negative. The downside of evaluating relationships is I had to cut loose a lot of family, friends and associates whose negativity and judgmental attitudes were weighing me down. However, the upside to this is that I have built the strongest support system and surrounded myself with a self-made family and group of individuals who inspire me to be a better person; not their version of a better person. No, my circle allows me to be the best person I can be without losing who I am, what I stand for and my overall purpose in life.
Another downside to stepping out on faith is that you have to learn all new lessons. One of the hardest lessons for me has been the new need to budget. I used to spend without care or real budgeting because I knew there was always more where that came from. But when you are in the midst of a new endeavor, you have to learn to budget and be more frugal. You have to spend money to make money. I must say I am still in training mode but the upside to this, is that my finances are a lot cleaner, I know where every penny goes and for the first time in my life I AM BUDGETING!! LOL! There are times I miss the office interaction, that guaranteed bi-weekly paycheck, the ability to drop off my kids at school and allow their education to be someone else’s task. However, the upside to this is that I get to pick and choose my coworkers, my children get to form new friendships wherever we go and I get to meet and form relationships with the parents that I might not otherwise get to see outside of birthdays.
Lastly, the downside of this life altering experience is that I have to hear snide comments from the naysayers who on their best day can’t even begin to do half of what I do. But the upside is that I HONESTLY AND TRULY no longer care. God has helped me to realize that it only has to make sense for me and mine. See my awakening has only just begun and I am eager to continue on this fascinating journey. Although I have always gone my own way, been my own person and have always preferred to roll alone and never with much of a crowd, it is a blessing to be reaffirmed by the only one who truly matters, my Heavenly Father, that this is the person He has always meant for me to be. Through my daily conversations with Him, I have discovered that the main ones who want to check off what you need to change are simply the ones that are lacking true enlightenment for themselves. Thank God for prayer and that you can do it from a distance with these individuals! Can I get an Amen! LOL
But truly, on a much simpler note, it is nice to see the fruits of my labor through a fresh set of eyes. It is nice to have a new appreciation for my husband and all he has sacrificed for us. It is a beautiful thing to have ironclad bonds with your children. It is truly a wonderful feeling to have a great group of friends where we understand each other and accept one another for who we are and can agree to disagree. Most of all, it is always nice to look around and find the same relationships that I value today are the very same people that have always been there from the start and have always been the ones that made me feel the best. Thus, the most important aspect of “my awakening” has been my new found appreciation for the simpler things in life and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that I am just fine the way I am!