Change is the only consistent. I know, I know, its a cliche statement, but the thing is, it's true. Today I spend some time self reflecting in a, "life flashed before my eyes", kind of way. I thought about the good, and the bad, with a dash of the ugly, and my conclusion is, shit changes y'all. I'm not talking in a "Whoa is me, whoooooa is me" kind of way. I'm talking in a new beginnings kind of way.
When I look back and assess the things that have gone right and not so right in my life, the unifying theme, each change led to a new beginning. No matter how bad and impossible the situations seemed at the time, no matter how much I hated going through it, each of those events eventually worked out for my good. And let me tell you, my life today is filled to the brim with good.
So, let's get a little personal for a second. Far back as I can remember, I can pull a silver lining from every "negative" life event I have ever dealt with. I won't bore you with my whole life story, what I will do, is give you my top 5 events, with the hopes it will help you find silver linings in your own struggles.
1) My relationship of 4 years ended.
In 2007 I thought I had it all. I was well on my way to finishing my first degree. I was in a amazing relationship with someone I wanted to marry and travel the world with. My family was healthy and happy. All was right with the universe, until it wasn't. Out of no where, my relationship shifted. It got weird, then bad, and then horrible; with no explanation for the change. Needless to say, we broke up. I was in shock, and to be completely honest, devastated. I was young, and this was my first love. I went through a period of time, where I wasn't sure if I would make it out. My friends and family stood by me, and two long years later, I was healed. During this process I had so many moments of wishing for sun to come out. Today, I look back at this moment in life, and I wouldn't change a thing. Through this heart break, I was able to identify with my personal strength, and resilience, in a way I never had before. To this day, no situation has been able to break me down the way that break-up did. Not because life has been easy, I am just better equipped to handle it. My mantra when things get tough, "If I made it through _________ (insert necessary name), I can make it through anything". This tough event was the new beginning of a more resilient me.
2) I couldn't find a job after undergrad...
When I finished my bachelors degree in 2007, I had a head full of knowledge, and no idea how the "real world" works. After months of job searching reality hit me, walking in the door with no experience was not going to land me my dream job. Now, I'm not sure how much experience you have with disillusionment, but let me tell you, IT SUCKS. For the first time, I found myself outside of my school bubble. At a complete lost for what to do next, I did what any self respecting control freak would do, I started my own business. I decided, in the face of invisible opportunities, and watching my friends take non-design jobs, I would simply create my own. In December of 2007, Isoism - Art Culture was born. I had no idea at the time, that I was committing myself to one of the hardest journeys a person could take. In my first couple of years, I lost money, made a million mistakes, got stiffed on jobs, ate lots of noodles in a cup, and stressed more than I every had in life. In those same years I also learned how to manage clients, how to work with vendors, how to be professional, how to say no to work when my stomach is screaming "Say yes", how to fail (this was a big one!) and how not to give-up. Running Isoism has been a beautiful roller coaster. It helped me to mature in ways I never realized I needed. It strengthened my sense of self-dependency. It proved to me, I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to. It gave me a taste of freedom, which to this day, is a huge part of who I am. Isoism grew me, and of all the lessons it taught, the biggest one, was showing me how to believe and trust in myself. 2007 marked the end of my undergrad career and the beginning of understanding I must create my own life.
3) I worked for the State of Louisiana
In 2009, the opportunity for steady income, complete with health insurance, fell in my lap. My parents urged me to consider it, as did my blood pressure, which was tired of stressing about money. The true table turner in this decision, was the amount of strain being put on my love of design, and Isoism. No one tells you, when your passion becomes your only source of income, you may or may not start to hate it. So I made a choice, and started working full-time for the Social Security Disability, while running Isoism at night.
It didn't take me long to realize the job was not for me. Long job description made short, I was one of the many people, that had to make the tough decision of whether a person was eligible to receive their hard earned social security money. So many sad stories of people in desperate need; losing homes, going hungry, sincerely too sick to work– that I had to say no to because of bureaucracy. Every time I got to say yes, felt like miracle, and every no, broke my heart. The job was taking its toll, not just on me, but on everyone I worked with. Joy and smiles were absent in the halls of the office. It felt, and looked like sadness. After my first year I decided something needed to change. I looked into graduate school, and decided I didn't have anything to lose. My parents urged me to deviate from art, but I refused. I had no idea what I would do with a MFA (Masters of Fine Art), just that I loved art, so I was sticking with it. In 2010 I started graduate school, and by 2011, I hit the end of my, "this job is ruining my life" rope.
I remember the day well. I was on my way to work, fully believing it was Wednesday, only to find out it was Friday. Now, I know what you're thinking, HELL YEA, it's a gift from the universe realizing it's the weekend, when you thought it was Wednesday. In actuality, it shook me in a huge way. I had been so busy rushing through the work week that I lost days. I didn't know where the days had gone. I realized at that moment, I needed to quit, or I would wake up one day, 50 years old, and unsure of how I got there. So I did, with this declaration to the universe, "today I'm going to quit this job, and a year from now I'll be designing my little heart out, and teaching college". I quit that day, worked hard and finished grad school with Isoism supporting me, and a year later my declaration became a reality.
Through this ending I learned to stand by my choices, even if no one else stands with me. I also learned to trust in the power or setting intentions. This ending also taught me faith in myself, and the universe.
4) I went from being a mom, to not...
In 2010 I fell in love again, but this time it was with the most awesome 5 year old I had ever met. I never saw myself as the mom type, but this kid...man this kid. I spent two years coparenting her. I called her "my little human". I knew from the moment, I watched her have the time of her life "playing" with a gang of imaginary people, that she was my kind of kid. School events, tying shoes, learning how to ride a bike, homework, illness, birthdays and being sad, I was there with her. So when I was faced with the choice of, move to Houston Texas, or be separated from her, it was a no brainer. I landed 2 great jobs one as a graphic designer for Whole Foods Market, and the second teaching design at a local college. So, without hesitation, I packed up my life, and made the move. Shortly after, due to events outside of my control, things changed and I went from being a mom...to not. It was heart breaking to say the least, but despite my efforts, there was nothing I could do about it. The transition was tough. I was in a new city, with everything I asked the universe for a year earlier, but with a heart full of sadness.
I'm still not "over" that awesome little person. I don't think I ever will be, but from that situation, I learned to appreciate what you have while you have it. Life can change in the blink of an eye, nothing is permanent, because life itself is impermanent. This ending led to a change in my mindset. I made the unconscious commitment to fully give of myself always, in all my undertakings. This, has been one of my greatest lessons learned. In this lesson, all the possibilities of life exist.
5) I moved to California
Three weeks ago I moved to California. It's been a beautiful choice, fueled by, you guessed it, an ending. In September of last year I found myself faced with a door wide open, full of nothing but opportunities. I lost my final ties, keeping me in Houston Texas, and I had choices to make. On a whim, I decided to apply for Professor jobs all over the world. I'm not exaggerating here, my list included Egypt, Mexico, China, and all over the US. I pulled together my materials, sent off my first application packet, and before I could send out any others, I was contacted for an interview. The process was a whirlwind. Between preparing for the interviews and flying back and forth to California, I had little time to consider the choices I was making. Then, as quickly as it all started, I heard the six words I was working for, "We would love to have you." I accepted, full of excitement, then immediately the world came down on me like a ton of bricks. What have I done? Discomfort set in.
The process of getting to California has truly been amazing. It has also been extremely lonely, leaving behind all my friends and family, that I care for deeply. After day 3, it hit me, I am alone here. I have to rediscover myself in a place I have never visited, outside of my interviews. Fear hit, sadness hit, then strength hit. As I sit here typing this post, I am well aware of the struggle, and the beauty that awaits me. It's terrifying and exciting at the same time. The ending that got me here, taught me the world is a beautiful place, full of opportunity, IF that is the perspective I choose. So I am choosing the perspective of growth beyond fear, to be open, to believe in myself and have faith, to be present and give of myself fully, to trust my choices, and to bounce back from any obstacles I may encounter. Im choosing to live by the lessons life has taught me.
When I look back over my life so far, my heart is filled with love. The five moments I've chosen to share with you here, are a tiny offering of all the moments that have made a impacts on my life and path. In this moment, with you present, I offer my sincere gratitude to all the experiences of my past, and I welcome, with an open heart, the experiences yet to come. Life, is present with me, and I am here to live it!