Spilling (even more) Secrets

I suppose I left you hanging a bit after the last secret-revealing post. But the secret was that I left my job! Of course, it's only natural that you would wonder what's happened since... 

After about a month of working there and already contemplating leaving, I asked for a sign that would tell me what to do. Later that week, I crashed my car. And I'm not attempting to take responsibility off of myself for being an inattentive driver, but that was a pretty big sign to me!

So I put in 3 weeks notice and booked a long trip home to capitalize on the newfound time off. I didn't know what to do. The jumping is always the scariest part. 

Yoga mat

Since then, some happenings have come together. I applied for and received a scholarship to do another 200-hour yoga teacher training-- the same level that I have now, but this one is certified by the Yoga Alliance which is a whole important or maybe not-so-important deal. Then in August I'll start a 300-hour advanced teacher training which is a deeper level for yoga teaching professionals who want to know most, if not all, of the knowledge. 

For the month of July, I've been subletting a room in Santa Monica, riding my bike to the beach, and basically making all of my California dreams come true. Add to that studying yoga 40 hours a week and it is feeling pretty alright to me.

YogaWorks Teacher Training

No matter how twisted your path has become or how fearful you might be to switch directions, remember that it's never too late to change your mind. That just might be what this is all about anyway: 

"A further meaning to the word yoga is 'to attain what was previously unattainable.' The starting point for this thought is that there is something that we are today unable to do; when we find the means for bringing that desire into action, that step is yoga. In fact, every change is yoga."

Spilling Secrets

Last weekend, my dad was off in Maryland visiting family and checking out the devastating flood damage in a little city that I love so much. During his catching up with one of our family members who happens to be an avid follower of this blog, it was mentioned that I haven't been posting as much recently. I suppose that's because I was jet-setting a bit and trying to make the most of time with friends and family. But I suppose it's also because I have a secret..

I find that it's more difficult to write here during times of uncertainty. It's easier for me to tell you about travels, tasty snacks, and the best hiking trails than to talk about the scattered pieces of real life and my silent search for the next steps. But there are a lot of other places where you could find elephant photos and hiking trails, so you're probably not here for the fluff. I like that about you.

Wolven Threads at Joshua Tree

Back in May, after a few indecisive weeks and a very decisive car accident, I decided to end my term of service with AmeriCorps. I felt guilty and unsure. I didn't want to be quitter, but I knew that the job was not what I expected and was not matching up to the path I wanted my life to take. It seemed like the work experience was based on the dreams of a previous version of me, who had a particular idea of what "work" has to mean, but no longer fit with my goals and vision. On top of that, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that it's a bit challenging to pluck a traveling yogi off the mat and stick them in a fluorescent office with a 90 minute commute.

Once I made the decision, other factors started to fall into place. My manager and coworkers were all very supportive, making it even harder to leave. Space opened up for me to visit home and reconnect with my roots. And some new summer developments have come together that I will tell you about soon!

I'm trying to feel more confident in doing what I know is right for me, without worrying about how it might be perceived. I never want to stop helping people and serving my community, I just want to do it through work that feels purposeful to me. Thank you for being here and keeping me honest.

What I'm Doing & Why

Hi friends! Last week, which began with my 30th birthday, I went on a little stay-cation to the luxurious (seriously!) Crowne Plaza LAX airport hotel to participate in training for my second year of AmeriCorps. For the next year, I'll be serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Bright Prospect, an organization that helps low-income high school students get into and through college.

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I've been pretty open about my move to Los Angeles, but I haven't told many people why I'm here and what I'm doing. That's partially because I'm always doing a lot of different things, and partially because I felt slightly silly to be a 30-year-old signing on for another year of AmeriCorps. 

If you're not familiar, AmeriCorps is a service program where volunteers work in underserved communities for a year or two (sometimes more) to make life better for the people living there. We act like full-time employees, but receive a very modest stipend that is designed to give us the experience of living in the communities in which we serve. VISTA is a program that specifically aims to fight poverty in those communities, and I'll be doing that by making sure high-potential high school students have access to higher education, regardless of their income level.

During my first year with AmeriCorps, I worked in a low-income elementary school and provided 1-on-1 reading instruction to 10-12 students per day. I wanted to test if I'd eventually like to become a certified teacher, and quickly found out that I did not! (Although 5-8 year olds can be pretty adorable.) When the year ended, I decided not to return from my leave of absence with IBM, and instead took some time to teach yoga, travel, and drive for Uber while I figured things out. I also also took a few courses in Graphic Design to pursue some personal and semi-professional interests on the side.

6 months later, I was finishing up my work/trade in Nicaragua and considering next steps, dreaming of Southern California like I had for a long time. I’d done a couple interviews in the area, but nothing really stuck. I kept getting the dreaded, “Contact us when you get out here!” But I wasn’t brave enough to move to one of the priciest places in the world without the promise of a job.

One day, I finally decided to browse the AmeriCorps jobsite-- just to see! I had mixed feelings about my first year. I learned so much about what humans are capable of; I was part of an awesome and irreplaceable team; I felt on fire about pursuing my passions and working with equally passionate people. At the same time, it was hard to record 1600 service hours for a stipend that barely covered rent. I also worried about how it would look. AmeriCorps is popular with the fresh out of college, idealist crowd, so almost everyone in my first program was 22 or 23. I'm 30 now, and I hear your 30’s are supposed to be about expanding your career, planning for a family, developing expertise, etc.

BUT the job seems perfectly aligned to what I’m looking for: it will be a lot of writing, putting my new graphic design skills to use, building experience in non-profit marketing, and gaining entry to the Golden State. This is a dream that I'm now living-- using the rewards from my previous more comfortable job to fund adventures and service projects that are important to me. What better way to invest? (The stock market, 401Ks, and personal property that would deliver long-term returns, you say? Nonsense! That's not for the life of a wandering spirit!)

I’m sure it will be a challenge going back to the 9-5 schedule, but I’m positive it will be a rewarding learning experience. And you can bet that the yoga teaching has already started and will continue on every evening and weekend possible. Thank you for following along and being here to read this! I'm so grateful for your continued support.

When I Grow Up

Now that I don't have a job-job anymore, I've been making some money driving for rideshares. I enjoy it, since the people are friendly and the hours are very flexible. I get to converse with nice riders and drive around the city of my dreams pretty much whenever I feel like it. If it's a social ride, which it surprisingly almost always is, we get to talking about how our days are going, where everyone is from, and what my other job is besides doing this. This certainly must not be the only thing that I do, since I am not an elderly person or a non-English speaker. It would be hard to believe that driving could be a full-time choice. And, of course, there is something else I do, that allows the investigator to classify me and sit back to enjoy our ride to 6th Street or work or a BBQ restaurant or wherever it is they might be visiting that day.

After hearing about the driving thing and the teaching yoga thing, most people ask me about the future. I've heard variations of, "What do you want to be when you grow up?", sometimes word-for-word, on at about 75% of these cross-city journeys. But here I am, grown, and the answer seems to still be plotting its way out, whether I've explicitly decided what to call it or not.

For now, and hopefully when I grow up even more, I am not a thing that can be so easily defined. I am not a story that settles me into a single-termed box which has been pre-arranged in someone's mind. This is _______. She is a _____________.

I am (and you are) much more than a single ___________! 

"But what do you do? Like, for money? Like, to live?"

And so the ride goes.

I understand these questions. I'm never put-off by the forwardness or the conversations that follow. Can I see myself doing this long-term? Am I making enough money to live? Are there that many people interested in private yoga classes? Do I ever want to have a salary again? They're the same ones I ask myself on the regular. I am only interested in the abrupt jump to find a label for this person driving them from place to place. I must be a thing that can be categorized with a title. Is it just "Uber driver"? Something with more slashes and creative pursuits inside? An entrepreneur? What we do professionally is so much a part of who we are, or how we are viewed, by our world.

On my last night at the beach this summer, I did not sleep well. I slept barely, and woke up at 4:30am after tossing and turning for a while. I thought, "Well, it's my last day here so maybe if I wake up again in about an hour, I'll go for a run and watch the sunrise over the sea." And so, after staying awake for another hour, that's what I did. It was refreshing, private, and beautiful, and reminded me to always be glad to be where I am.

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So assuredly, when I grow up, I want to be a person who has time an energy to watch the sunrise over the sea. And, for now, that's what I am.

First Days

Today was my first day at school and we spent it doing 8 hours of arts & crafts, so I think you could say that I'm on the right path.

Literacy First in Austin, Texas

But all fun, cheetah borders, and elephant-shaped die-cutters aside, changing jobs is like entering a weird, alternate universe type time warp where you can never feel too sure if you're doing the right thing. No matter how deep your roots have grown, it can be unbalancing to suddenly pick them up and repot yourself someplace else.

The night before my first day of training, I found myself unable to sleep. You might think that after 28 years of being me, I'd confidently have it all in the bag, yet, here I was, inexplicably nervous, wondering where to sit or what to wear. Should I bring my lunch and be a lonely lunch packer, or go out to meet other people? Was I making the right choice for my yet-to-be-determined career goals? Do I really want to wake up before 7am every day? And the pang of uncertainty that always haunts us: what happens next? 

You might also think that after 3.5 years of living in Texas, I'd know better than to wear jeans for two days a row in early September, but that's neither here nor there. So I wore the jeans, went out to eat on the first day, and sat in any empty seat I could find. Some of the other questions linger, but the arting and crafting helped ease my mind.