Tag Archives: adventure

Daring to Dream


When I think of this word I think of imagination and fantasy.  I think of lofty and most likely unrealistic goals.  I think of red Nyquill-induced sleep punctuated by psychedelic animations; or better yet, those dreams that leave behind a sense of a pending something… that feeling that you have just been privy to some great knowledge but you’re not quite sure what.   But in most cases, when we think of “dreaming” I think most of us immediately think about the things we always wanted to do and are sure we never will.  We think of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” detailing the ideal world of peace and love that we all know simply can’t be.  Those of us who are older gaze compassionately at idealistic college students, shake our heads wistfully, and think about how much we could have accomplished if real life had never happened.  We call someone a Dreamer while simultaneously feeling pity and jealousy.  Maybe annoyance. But I think we’re wrong.

Last year I met someone who is the dreaming trifecta.  He is the triple-threat that all Dreamers aspire to be.  Have you ever seen “The Magic School Bus?”  That cartoon where a class of kids gets into a yellow school bus which is imaginatively transformed into whatever type of transport is necessary to vividly exploreVehicle of Imagination whatever their minds think up?  Everything from purple aliens on a warm planet to Mayas in the Yucatan jungles?  This guy can do that; he can keep you entertained for hours with vivid descriptions of whatever world he dreams up.  But because of this unbelievably advanced imagination he sees the world differently.  Things as ordinary as a piece of furniture become vibrating molecules and electrical charges.  And because he sees the world as this thriving habitat of law and electricity and music… he can imagine what these building blocks might become… and what he might be able to do with them.  He has big dreams.  On top of that, he dreams dreams.  I believe in prophetic dreams – I have them.  But what he dreamed about me was so random until it happened, and that’s pretty crazy.  I know the Super Dreamer.  And in getting to know him I learned that the power behind his dreams is his imagination, that thing in the back of our head that defies all reason, that voice that is shushed by logic and learning and common sense, the best friend that most of us leave behind when we grow up.  Somehow, he kept it close.  And because he kept his imagination alive he can resist all the people who try to turn his dreaming into a joke… because he can imagine the day when his dreams will be reality and what all their faces will look like when that happens.  I am beyond inspired by his imagination, and would do almost anything to have such a protector of my dreams.

God's plan is way more exciting than mine!I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams lately.  About how my own dreams are like a roller coaster.  They come and go and change and twist and shift.  They excite and disappoint, they fly and crash.  Exactly one year ago today I was in Oakland learning how to help severe trauma victims who cope through dissociation, a retreat into imagination to protect the mind from traumatic memories (loosely speaking).  That evening I had a session with one of my favorite clients of all time.  I really thought I finally found my spot.  The dream job I never knew I dreamed of.  Yeah, that didn’t pan out, either.  But now another dream is slowly forming.  It’s confusing, this whole evolving process of dreaming.  You think you’re aiming for one thing, and you end up in the one place you never wanted to be… and realize you’re exactly where you need to be.  God is weird like that.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I think about Joseph.  The iconic Dreamer of the Bible.    Joseph, the 11th of 12 sons of Jacob.  While he was Jacob’s favorite, he was still a baby brother with pretty much no power except to annoy.  You can find the story in Genesis 37-50.  I shall share with you my interpretation, in five acts.

ACT I:  Joseph is working for his half-brothers, shepherding out in the field.  (This, by the way, makes me think that he had a great imagination and faith.  Think of King David – the quiet great outdoors is the very best place to develop an imagination and an awareness of a Great Creator.)  Then this 17-year-old daddy’s boy tattles on his big brothers.  There is only one sentence about that, that sticks out like a sore thumb.  No real point of that sentence except to call him out as a narcking suck-up brown-noser.  To top it off, Dad gives Joseph a super-special, VERY expensive, fancy coat of many colors.  He has 10 older brothers, and it’s no surprise they hate him.  Maybe Joseph is a brat, maybe he isn’t.  We don’t know.  What we do know is that his brothers “couldn’t say a kind word to him.”

You’d think that the hated baby brother would at least learn to keep his mouth shut.  Not Joe.  He has a Joseph's Dream dream and has to tell everyone about it: We were all tying up bundles of grain and all your bundles bowed down to mine!  Now I’m a big sister, and I know that if my obnoxious little brother came up to me and told me something like that all I would hear (regardless of what he said) is “Nanner nanner, I’m better than you-oo!”  No surprise, Joseph’s brothers hate him even more.  But does he learn his lesson?  Nope.  He has Joseph's Dream 2another dream and runs right over to tell his brothers again: The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to me!  Good lord.  Saying that to 10 angry big brothers is practically suicide.  This time Joe tells his dad, too.  Something about how he was telling the story got him in trouble.  “What kind of a dream is that?  Do you think we’re actually going to bow down before you?” If I was his therapist, I would have thought that Joseph spent a little too much time outside feeling inferior to his brothers.

I wonder about Joseph.  I have to assume that he must have been a bit cocky.  He was 17, the favorite, and had the cool clothes.  It’s very possible that he had recently lost his mother, who died in childbirth to the youngest brother.  As a therapist, I can imagine how confused and angry he must have been.  How lonely he must have felt.  Big brothers are supposed to protect you, not hate you – even if you are annoying and cocky.  I imagine that he was clinging to something that would make him special besides just being a daddy’s boy.  How could he compete with so many big strong brothers?  These dreams were all he had.  They were cartoons, really – grain and celestial bodies don’t bow down to each other.  I think he knew they meant something but the only feedback he got was ridicule.  He was rejected and hated because he had dared to hope there might be some truth in these silly ideas that could never be.

Then the world comes crashing down around him.  Joe’s brothers decide to knock him off.  “Here comes the Dreamer… let’s kill him… Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”  In the end they decide to sell him to a caravan of traders on their way to Egypt – after stripping him of his trophy coat, which they drench in blood to convince their dad he was killed by an animal.  So Joseph walks across a desert and gets sold as a slave in Egypt to Potiphar, captain of the palace guard.

ACT II: So our Dreamer Joe is a slave in a house he’ll never be able to escape from in a foreign country where he’s all alone, can’t speak the language, and probably doesn’t like the food.  He’s not 20 yet (probably).  Dreams crushed, heart broken, all alone, just a kid.  With no special coat.  Stripped of everything that matters or makes him remotely significant.  Not his best day.

So much for the “My grain is better than your grain” dream.

But somehow, he pulls it off.  Things go really well.  Joe gets noticed, not because of his coat or his dreams, but because he’s really good at his job.  His boss likes him and makes him a personal assistant.  He’s a good guy, smart, responsible, well-liked.  I bet that when he goes to bed at night and remembers his brothers there is definitely a part of him that sticks his out tongue and sings, “Nanner Nanner!”  (Except now he can do it in another language!)  And a part that wishes his dad could see him now.  He’s still a kid, very early 20s.  Of course he’s tempted to be cocky.  Regardless, he is blessed and because of him Potiphar is blessed.  Joseph is given more and more responsibility until he’s in charge of administering the entire household.  Things couldn’t be better!  The dream is coming true!

unfairOh yeah, he’s also good looking.  And the boss’ wife is a cougar.  She goes after him every day but he has integrity and says no; he will not betray his master’s trust.  But one day she actually grabs him.  He wriggles out of his cloak and races out of there… only to have her say that he tried to rape her but got scared when she screamed, so he ran away and left his clothes behind.  Good grief.  Joseph – responsible, appreciated, trusted, respected, handsome – defeated because someone was selfish and dishonest and took no consideration of the fact that he was a person, too.  But wait.  He wasn’t. He was just a slave.  Disposable Hebrew trash.

And because he was just a slave, and because of another dumb coat used as proof of a lie, Joseph was thrown in prison and forgotten.  So much for the good food and the nice bed… traded for bread, water, and a blanket on the floor.  So much for that stupid dream.  Not his best day.

ACT III: If I was Joseph, at this point I’d be curled up in the corner of my cell and ready to give up on the world.  All I would be asking is WHY.  Other than bragging about his dreams (that seem so silly now), he hadn’t done anything wrong.  What is this great price he must pay?  He’s bright, responsible, a fast learner, everything he does turns out great.  For crying out loud, two days ago he was in charge of EVERYTHING in the house of the captain of the Egyptian palace guard!  If he had just given in and slept with the woman he’d be in his nice bed in the nice house with his nice job and nice reputation.  But he had to have integrity and now he’s in prison, hatefully rejected by the very important man who had trusted him completely.

And maybe Joseph did get depressed for a bit.  But it didn’t last.  I’d like to think that his imagination saved him from the darkness.  That the days he spent in the fields, studying flowers and watching ants be magnificent, came back to him in that dark place and gave him strength.  Maybe Joseph was catching on to reality: it bites.  Maybe he was giving up on his dream.  But he didn’t cower.  He knew that a fall is only failure if you don’t get back up.

Next thing you know, Joseph is Head Prisoner, in charge of all the prisoners!  The warden kicks back and relaxes, because he knows that Joe’s got this.  And he does well, and finds success in everything he does.  Think about it: that means he has the respect of all the prisoners and guards.  The guys down there are real criminals, but they trust him.  Prisoners can be troublemakers, but Joseph kept it all under control.  (On a side note, there’s mention in Genesis 40:3 that Joseph is in Potiphar’s prison.  The authority he was given implies to me that he never lost the respect of his old boss, and makes me wonder if Potiphar always knew he was innocent but had to keep him in jail to make it look right.)

So then there are these two important guys, direct servants to Pharaoh, in prison under Joseph.  They both have weird dreams.  They tell Joseph, who interprets them.  Correctly.  The one guy dies, and the other gets his job back.  The lucky one promises to tell Pharaoh about Joseph and hopefully get him out of jail.  Hope, again!  The whole “bow down to me” thing probably seems pretty distant and silly by now.  At this point, I’m guessing Joe’s dreams have shifted to simply living in daylight, feeling full, and sleeping in a decent bed.  It’s amazing how our dreams can change.

But the dude forgets all about it in the blink of an eye and never tells Pharaoh.  Sorry, Joe.  Not your day.  I don’t think there would have been any way for Joseph to really know what happened.  So he waits.  And waits.  And waits.  A full two years go by.  And he’s down there in the prison, doing his thing (and doing it well), with that WHY???little voice of doubt in his head wondering if he has been forgotten or rejected or if simply nothing he can accomplish will make him more than a slave.  He is owned, and it sucks.  But again, he’s no coward.  He keeps going, and I must imagine that his imagination is still his salvation.  Does he remember his childhood, running around the fields with the animals, picking fruit from the trees, playing with his brothers (before they hated him)?  Is he angry?  Has he forgiven?  Do their names make his skin crawl?  We can’t know.  But my guess is a little bit of everything.

ACT IV: Finally, two years after the guy gets his job back, Pharaoh himself has a couple of dreams.  Disturbing dreams.  Not exactly nightmares, but so real and vivid; the kind you wake up from KNOWING that they mean something important.  But none of the smartest and wisest and most magical advisers have a clue what they mean.  Suddenly things click into place for the ex-con.  Ummm… whoops.  There was that one guy… he got my dream right.

Boom!  Joe gets a shower, shave, clean clothes, and an audience with the most powerful man in the world.   Can you imagine what’s going through his mind?   THIS was his day.  I can hear his thoughts… Seriously?  Pharaoh?  Don’t get your hopes up.  I’ve been burned – no, fried – before.  Not worth it.  Maybe someone lied about me again and they’ve called me to kill me.  But maybe not… there was that dream.  Stop it, don’t be silly.  Just breathe.  Egypt doesn’t like me no matter what I do.  The fields of his homeland flood his senses, and his imagination brings holy peace.  The air and warm breezes, the smell of the fields and the sheep, the voice of his father and grandfather… honor God.  Your great-grandpa left everything to honor God.  This is your purpose.  Cool beans.

So Joe makes it clear that only God interprets dreams, Pharaoh tells them, and God answers.  The dreams are not happy dreams.  Egypt will have 7 years of great prosperity, but then there will be 7 years of great famine.  Famine that will devastate Egypt and all the surrounding lands.  But Joseph doesn’t stop at the interpretation.  This bold young man tells the greatest king in the world what to do about it.  He needs to find someone to collect all the food for the next 7 years so there is enough to eat during the famine.  Pharaoh talks to everyone important, and they all agree that Joseph is the only one intelligent and wise enough to do the job.  So he puts Joe in charge of his court and makes him second in command.  The only person in the entire country who doesn’t have to obey Joseph is Pharaoh himself.  Pharaoh takes his signet ring (essentially his personal signature that makes any order official), puts it on Joseph’s finger, and lets him know that he’s in charge of Egypt (no biggie).  Again, a fancy new robe.  Oh, and a wife.  Joe gets a wife.

For those of us Sunday School graduates who have this story memorized and animated in our minds, let’s pause.  Think about it.  Joseph is 30 in a world where people live to be over 100.  He’s a baby.  He’s not Egyptian.  He’s not even free.  He’s a slave with a criminal record of attempted rape of the wife of the captain of the guard.  He has been betrayed by his brothers, horribly accused by the man who most trusted him, forgotten by the one so grateful to have his dream interpreted.  He’s been in prison for more than 2 years because of a lie.  And in one day he went from prisoner to ruler of the whole land of Egypt, because Pharaoh thought he was good enough.  The realistic grown-up part of me wants to scream at Joseph not to do it because it’s political and they probably just want a good fall guy.  The therapist in me says “See, good things can happen if you hang in there and make good choices” (ugh, could I be more sycophantic?).  But the dreamer of faith buried deep within me just says, “Duh.”

ACT V: So Joseph keeps on keepin’ on.  He does his thing and he does it well.  He stored up so much grain he can’t measure it all.  Which tells us that even though this convict from another land suddenly got an awful lot of power… people respected him and followed the rules.  That’s sayin’ somethin.’  Seven years later the famine hits, but things are okay because there’s a plan and everything is right on track.  Then the famine spreads to the land of Joseph’s dad.  This is where things get interesting.  All of Joe’s big brothers get hungry.

So they travel to Egypt, and bow before the tall man in charge of distributing the food.  They have no idea it’s the baby brother they think is dead, the victim of their jealousy and bitterness.  I can imagine this… Joseph is standing there in his fancy robe and suddenly those dreams of 20 years ago zoom back into his head as if he just woke up from them.  Those pesky little dreams.  Suddenly, in one moment, looking at 10 brothers on the ground before him, it all makes sense.  The dreams and the adventures and the purpose all clunk into place to answer why. It all makes sense!!! Can you imagine what’s going on in his head???  The fury, the joy, the relief, the wonder, the shock.  The triumph of faith within him.  The little brother who wants to shout “BUUUURN!”  The abandoned, sold, betrayed slave who seeks revenge.  The love at seeing family for the first time in over 20 years.  What a boiling mix that must have been.

Joe, your day has come.

Like every good little brother should do when given such a golden opportunity, Joe messes with them.  Badly.  They don’t have a clue, and he milks it for all it’s worth.  He accuses them of being spies.  He threatens them.  He uses an interpreter so they don’t know he can understand them.  He puts them in jail for a few days.  Then he lets them take food home (they are family, after all), but hides their money back in their bags so that they’re scared of him the whole time they’re back home.  He keeps one hostage… how much you wanna bet it was the meanest one?  It is the epitome of sibling rivalry, and Joseph is the champion of little brothers everywhere.

So the brothers (minus the hostage) go home but, of course, eventually run out of food again.  They have no choice but to go back and beg for more, terrified that they will be accused of stealing that money since they were already accused of being spies.  This time Joseph is much kinder.  He invites them to a banquet at his house, which freaks them out even more.  But Joseph feeds them well and is nice to themThe Art of Getting Even.  He cries a lot – hearing their voices must bring up so many memories and emotions.  He messes with them a little more until they are all properly intimidated.  Finally, he breaks down and there is a beautiful reunion.  Joseph brings his father and whole family to Egypt, where they are honored by Pharaoh and given a beautiful giant piece of the fertile land of Goshen.  Lots of years go by, and their dad dies.  The big brothers are really scared now, afraid that with their dad dead Joseph is about to go all Pharaoh on them.  Finally, so many years later, they apologize.  When Joseph hears this he breaks down and weeps.  I imagine this had been his new dream – to hear an apology.  I imagine he often wondered how he would respond, that sometimes he fantasized about chopping all their heads off and other times about joyful restoration.  When the day finally comes, forgiveness washes over him and through tears he says those famous words: “Don’t be afraid of me… You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many.”

EPILOGUE: So Joseph died when he was 110 years old, and embalmed in Egypt.  I don’t know much about embalming, but I do know that it was a long and expensive process reserved only for royalty or the very rich.  So we know one thing about this ridiculed Imaginative boy, the Dreamer of impossible dreams, the betrayed brother, the falsely accused man of integrity, the forgotten champion… one thing we know without a doubt:

He mattered.

It strikes me that we have nick-named him “Joseph the Dreamer.”  The man lived 110 years, saved the whole part of the world from starvation, and was second in command over all of Egypt… but we remember him most for two weird little dreams he had when he was a teenager.

Joseph always mattered, because God had a plan for his life.  But for many many years it sure didn’t seem like it and it didn’t make sense and there were no answers.  But Joe somehow held onto these dreams, these silly crazy impossible dreams.  I choose to believe that his imagination fueled his faith.  It is only with imagination that we can find the light and hope and purpose in the middle of prison darkness.  Joe hung in there.  He kept doing his best even though no one could tell him why his story was so painful.  Even though he got interpretations to every dream but his own.  Could I do that?  Would I be so strong?  Would I remain so faithful and live with such integrity?  I hope so.  I don’t know.

When I look behind me, my path is littered with bits and pieces of once-beloved dreams.  I think back over my own adventure… I have been rejected, kicked out, betrayed.  I have failed miserably.  I have excelled and felt like I was finally on the brink of “making it,” only to be knocked back down again.  At this point in my life I have immense respect for Joseph.  I’m just a few years younger than he was when he got his answers.  And I’m learning.  The longer I live the longer I realize life really is.  I feel less rushed and more patient.  The energy behind my dreams is slowly fading, but my passion and determination is growing.  Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be.  The youthful energy propels us through the stupidity and foolishness we must endure to gain experience and wisdom… which really can only come through making mistakes (and lots of them).  Joseph learned to dream as a child.  He learned to administer as a slave.  He learned to command the respect of others as a prisoner.  Each chapter felt like a failure, but without these experiences he would not have been a good ruler.  And it was as a ruler, with the power to imprison and punish, that he learned to forgive.  He never guessed that his dream would turn out the way it did.  There was no way, as a kid watching the sheep in the field, he could have ever in a million years imagined that things would have fallen into place the way they did.  You just can’t make that stuff up.

So may we dream long.  May our imaginations protect our fragile dreams through the tough times.  May we never forget what it was like to play barefoot in the dirt under a hot sun.  May reason never overpower our hope.  May we never give up on the impossible.  Most things were impossible once.  But above all else, may we never trade our dreams for apathy.  Because maybe today isn’t your day, but tomorrow might be the day that everything suddenly makes sense.

Dream shamelessly.  I dare you.




That Flighty Temptress . . .

So now, as my mind reverberates with the cacophony of mental vibrations resulting from the clashing of my many worlds, I am forcefully reminded of the word God spoke into my heart when I was 17: “I have given you a homeless heart.” Today, I feel that deeply. Here I am in my little apartment, the place I have called home longer than any other, but I feel strangely out of place. This awkwardness, this sense that I have traded brightness for stability, will continue until the vicious and monotonous pace of work and life sweep me up again. In a few weeks this grief and inner conflict will be a distant memory, and I will again be comfortable in this habitat that I call home.

The question is . . . do I want to be comfortable?

I wrote that almost exactly 8 months ago, in the last week that I did any real blogging, right after I got back from my month home in Mexico.  And ever since, that last question has taken up space in the back of my mind, one of those thoughts that wavers on the divide between consciousness and disregard.

My life has generally been one of churning change, at least since I was 11.  Living between countries, moving between homes, never quite unpacking, constantly saying goodbye.  The closest I’ve ever gotten to choosing change was moving to California.  It was absolutely my choice, but I made it because after weeks of interviewing the only other career option I could find was the grocery store I worked at all through college.  I know that it was God’s way of pushing me out here.  I spent about 5 months reveling in the naive belief that I had finally found stability.  Then it all unraveled and I found myself in yet another maelstrom of constantly shifting change.  A year after that, I found Chamberlain’s.  What a mess I was in those days!  Depressed, lonely, unfocused, insecure, self-conscious . . . I could go on and on.  I should have been fired so many times.  But I wasn’t.  People believed in me, saw my potential, didn’t let me quit, protected me, listened, guided, and were ever patient.  Slowly, I finally found my stride.  I listened, I learned, I came out of my fog, I grew up.  I made friends.  I finally, truly, and completely unpacked.  I got cats.  I bought furniture made out of real wood.  I became confident, I learned how to trust my instinct.  I finished my master’s degree with honors.  I grew, cultivated, and maintained an amazing network of colleagues who speak well of me.  I became someone who, for the first time, feels like my someone.  I’m not perfect and I’ve got problems, but they’re STABLE problems.

Needless to say, I have CLUNG to this stability.  It has been my lifeblood, my one great accomplishment.  I have had opportunities to let go, but I haven’t.  I’ve had reasons – really GOOD reasons – to walk away, but I dug in my heels.  Do I want to be comfortable?  A. B. S. O. L. U. T. E. L. Y.  I want to feel safe and adequate.  I want to be better than anyone else at what I do.  We all do.  Change does not endorse these things.  Not at all.

And yet that thought clung to the sides of my brain . . . do I want to be comfortable?  On a whim and out of curiosity I did a quick job search just to see what was out there.  Item #2 on the results list: Social Worker for the Refugee Foster Care program at Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.  Must speak Spanish.  Hmm.  Interesting.  Yeah, right.  I don’t know if I’m ready for THAT kind of change. . .

That Sunday my pastor came up to me with that look that says I better pay attention.  “God wants to do something in your life this year.  He wants to take you to new places.  He wants to do something in your life, but you can’t go on what you feel.  You can’t go on your emotions or on your thoughts.  You just have to have faith.  That’s your word for this year.”  Aw, crud.

So I went and talked to a few people, told them about the job.  The consensus was unanimous: everyone said they felt it in their guts, they got goosebumps, they felt so much excitement . . . irrefutable confirmation.  So I updated my resume (which I highly recommend if you’re ever feeling a bit inadequate – it’s a great morale booster) and sent it in to Catholic Charities in the third week of January.  I sent it in too late, but they were planning to hire again soon so just call back in a few weeks.  Okay, I can handle that.

As the months slipped by, major change did indeed start to happen.  Chamberlain’s got reorganized, and I was promoted.  The changes were a result of some really challenging advocacy by myself and my coworker; it was a time of grief, loss, victory, and learning.  I am definitely stronger because of that experience.  Since then, I have had the opportunity to help implement things that have desperately needed implementation.  I have been able to be creative again and develop new ideas that work.  I like my job more than I have in years.

And then the call came in June.  They don’t need a social worker, but they’re over-funded.  They’ve decided to incorporate a mental health component to the Refugee Foster Care program and need a clinician to pioneer it.  Would I interview?  Deep breath. . . okie dokie.  I knew in my gut that this was it. I honestly gave them every reason NOT to hire me.  I told them I needed a lot of transition time before I’d be able to start.  I told them I think clinical theory is generally irritating and that my clinical perspective is called common sense.  I told the supervisor interviewing me that he’s really bad at responding to emails.  I showed off my dry wit in discussing the possible benefits of “duct tape therapy.”  Turns out that all that stuff actually made them like me more.  They didn’t want anyone obsessively stuck into a theoretical mindset.  They countered my 30-day transition request with the assumption that I would want 45, and said they’d rather wait longer for the right person.  They joined my humor with their own even stronger variety (or rather, the kind I pull out when I’m NOT sitting in an interview).  They said they wanted to make sure that whoever they brought in would fit in well with their office culture and be able to handle some decent practical jokes.  They told me at my second interview on July 12th that I was the first of three second interviews and I’d hear back in a week or so.  Thirty minutes after I left the building I got an email asking if I could come in so they could extend me a formal offer.

And so it has transpired that because of a trip to Mexico that led to a blog that ended in a question that stuck in my brain and caused me to consider the words of my pastor I applied for a job that I didn’t get which allowed me to get a promotion to learn so many things and develop a lot more confidence so that when a position was invented and tailor-made for me I would be ready to recognize and answer the Call and choose . . . change.  A new adventure.

And now . . . let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, Adventure. 

– Albus Dumbledore

So now I find myself facing the most dramatic change I’ve ever chosen, and wondering what the heck I was thinking.  It is much more difficult than I ever imagined.  I knew it would be hard, but I never imagined how much of my identity and my confidence is wrapped up in my job.  Chamberlain’s has been my home, my family.  I’m honestly not quite sure how I’m going to make it without these people and without all these kids running around all over the place.  Things will sure be awfully quiet.  And I’ve been grieving. . . a lot.  It’s kinda like a mini-suicide, choosing to walk away from this amazing place that has become part of me.  But again, I am blessed.  My new supervisor left a similar position about a year ago, and went through a very similar experience.  He had the compassion to ask me how I was doing, and then gave me my first directive: take an extra week between jobs to grieve, rest, and do something fun.  My 45 days became 52. God knows our needs.

Today was the day that I announced that I’m leaving.  All the grownups and all the kids, back to back.  I had the conversation 7 times, and they asked me questions that required answers:  Why?  Why now?  Do you want to leave us?  Can’t you wait until I leave first?  Will you forget us?  If you’re sad, why do you want to leave?  Just tell them you changed your mind because you love us too much!  Who’s gonna take care of us?  You’ve been in my life for so long, how can I do it without you? . . . It’s amazing the gift children have for mirroring our own thoughts and emotions back to us.

My answers came to me easily, without my planning it.  When we’ve learned what we’re meant to learn, there’s no more action.  And when we’re not active, we stay still.  And when we sit too long on the couch just because it’s comfy and we love it and are happy there, we get fat and lazy and stiff.  And if I get fat and lazy and stiff in my job, I’m no good to anyone.  You’ll always be in my heart.  I couldn’t forget you even if I tried.  You’ll always be able to find me if you really want to.  And no, I don’t want to leave you at all, but I need to.  It is time.

And I think about adventures.  No adventure begins without a goodbye, without a loss, without a significant risk, without throwing yourself into the unknown.  We must indeed step out into the night to pursue Adventure; she beckons us with hope and promise and excitement, luring us into the dark where all our wits are tested.  I’m afraid of this dark; I’m not sure what I’ll find in there.  Depression tempts me, pulling me back into the safe cocoon of isolation I lived in . . . before, during times of change and uncertainty.  I have a healthy fear of that place, and now I have the chance to find out how well I stand on my own two feet.  But over and over I hear in my head, “You can’t go on your emotions or on your thoughts.  You just have to have faith.”  So to the best of my ability I’m ignoring the doubts and crying through the grief and moving on.

I know this is right.  I’m excited, thrilled in fact!  It’s so weird to be so sad and so excited at the same time.  I get to create, invent, plan, organize. . . with a lot more available resources.  I’m really good at that stuff.  I get to grow my Spanish into a professional arena, which is something I’ve been wanting for a long time.  I get to immerse myself in other cultures again, dive into that long-dormant passion of culture and identity and assimilation.  All my years of obsessing over who and why I am, all the philosophizing that drove everyone crazy . . . it matters now.  These passions, these questions, the years of searching through my grief, the goodbyes, the moves, the uncertainty . . . it has new value.  God planned it all, he made me who I am and how I am so that I could be what He has made me to be.

So here we go . . . time to finish strong and hurl myself into the dark tunnel so I can feel my way through to the adventure on the other side!

“Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.”

– C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

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