All posts tagged Transitions

Lists. Choices. Decisions. Oh My!

I  am making a list and making it more than once. Maybe more times than that. In fact I think I’ll split the one list into two or three lists because the decision facing me is bigger than one list can handle.  I’m making these lists to help me answer the question: which way do I go?

“Asking the right question is half the answer.” Aristotle said. So perhaps this isn’t the only way to pose the question. And if one believes the adage, “there is more than one way to skin a cat,” there may be more than one right answer.

Therefore, I’m making multiple lists to help me answer this question: Given the choices presented to me, the opportunities unexplored but in my sight, the options that are still partially formed dreams, and my talents, desires and needs – how do I do “what’s next?”

Bottom line: I’ve been working on my reinvention from a corporate advertising executive to a writer/essayist/storyteller/multi-media person of words for several years. After my one and only layoff I took a year off from looking for jobs because it was pre-recession and the seemed right to take a break, to assess where I had been and make some adjustments for where I was going. Assuming I would live into my 100s I had another half-life to live and I wanted to live it purposefully. Even with that faulty assumption, I wanted to live more in-line with personal objectives.

Post-recession I half-heartedly looked for corporate jobs and non-profit opportunities. Nothing I found made my heart pitter-patter. More often my gut clenched when I read the job description and envisioned the lifestyle that accompanied it.  So I took a part-time job teaching graduate school, a couple consulting jobs and I went back to school. I love school. It has always been a good default for me when I’m not sure what to do.

After receiving a certificate in creative non-fiction I decided to focus on being a writer. One writes to be a writer. But to be a writer that is read and shared takes a lot more than just writing.

I had moonlighted as a writer while working a full-time job in the last century. That makes it sound so long ago, and while that’s true, it feels like just yesterday when the sight of my column in the Sunday paper or the sound of my voice on the public radio station made me fall in love with my creativity each and every time. Not fall in love with me, but with an essence of me that loved being out in the open – fully voiced, fully exercised, and eager for more. I felt alive like I hadn’t felt doing research on salad dressing or writing creative briefs for air freshener.

So I made a deal with an angel and stopped looking for corporate jobs, resolved myself to working for less than waitress wages while teaching at a premiere college because it gave me prestige, validation, a business card and something to talk about at cocktail parties. Nothing shuts down a conversation more than when you tell someone you’re a writer and the only recent evidence you have of this self-claimed title is a blog or an unpublished essay, or file of essays.

Then I set about my reinvention, which lasted well over a year and a half. Probably half of the time was spent learning how to navigate the day-to-day-ness of my totally self-structured, non-corporate life and handling some unexpected speed bumps –who knew that the little country of Liechtenstein would play a large role in my reinvention. I also needed to bring Husband on my journey. This isn’t so easy when Husband is a lawyer – a litigator. Nebulous, finding-your-self and selling your-self journeys don’t fit so easy into an evidence box.

I’m not making excuses for not feeling reinvented yet or ready to be released on my own recognizance as a newly reinvented woman cum writer/media person. I did the assignments – I’m a good Catholic girl, after all – and I attended all the calls, except for the time I was in Liechtenstein. I bought almost all the books, read parts of almost all of them, and all of a couple. The material came fast and furiously – vision boards and cascading goals, the prefrontal cortex and the gratitude journal, false beliefs and negative self talk, the ego and the heart. Who’s talking to whom, who’s taking the lead?

I walked the path each month during the call and fell off the path between calls. Got turned around and retraced parts of the path. Sometimes I just decided to run and catch up with my accountability gang because I just didn’t want to be alone. So even though I don’t feel ready to receive my reinvention certificate today, because 1) I don’t believe I’ve learned all the material, 2) I definitely don’t know how to apply all the material and 3) I believe that I will always be reinventing myself – I must leave this formal reinvention stage of my life.

I leave wistfully and a bit anxiously because I find myself in a state similar to when started: facing opportunities in a new world – a world of writing and media  – and a choice to go back to an old world – corporate marketing. The new world is much more defined than when I started and that is good. There has been movement, successes and a great big wild ride into writing a book that needs to be ridden some more.  The corporate marketing job, which found me since I wasn’t looking for a job as promised in my deal with the angel, is interestingly different than the one I left. It lacks many of the loathing characteristics that made it easy to turn my back on corporate life.

However, I have steeped myself in the creative expression of my life and exploration of the world. I know I do not want and therefore will not forsake my dream and passion of expressing myself through writing, of connecting with other women through words, of feeling alive by seeing my words in print or hearing my words spoken. I won’t do this because 1) I believe my talent lies in connection through communication and I can make a difference that way and 2) I won’t disappoint myself by walking away.  Goodness, I have a book proposal waiting for an agent. Life’s Too Short –And So Am I will be written!

All this means that I need analyze to what the corporate opportunity can bring to my table to make the feast better, not just fatter.  So it’s time to go back to my lists, which I will check more than once in collaboration with my best collaborators, much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It’s pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways.

Wizard of Oz, 1939

There’s nothing that wearing a pair of red shoes can’t solve.

My first ever podcast, produced by Broad Shoulders, is now up and streaming at www.storyclubchicago.com/podcast Broad Shoulders is a collaborative effort of the live reading and open mic nights in Chicago committed to bringing the Chicago live lit community to a broader audience. If you didn’t know, Chicago is the self-proclaimed live lit capital of the world. And I’m happy to be part of it, broad shoulders and all.

Thanks to Nico Lang of inourwords.com, Dana Norris of Story Club Chicago, and Keith Ecker of Essay Fiesta. I had a great time writing the piece, performing it at Story Club, and finally taping it. So much fun that I don’t even mind that I was introduced as Julie Davis in the opening segment. That really doesn’t bother me because I was later introduced as Julie Danis (just like Davis but with an N) and my name is spelled correctly on the website. Maybe I should have changed my name after all. That last sentence won’t make sense unless you listen to my story about getting to marriage in mid-life, all the way to the end.

Happy Listening.

www.storyclubchicago.com/podcast

Click on Podcast

Installment #3 – I hope you enjoy the whole podcast, but if you want to skip to my story I’ve included the time codes below.

2:47 Julie Davis mention

15:17 Julie Danis introduced

15: 50 Julie Danis tells a story

Managing The Bucket List

Out on Lake Michigan last night, I discovered a new way to manage my bucket list. I have problem with lists. I make them and then think I’ve accomplished the items on the list just because I’ve listed them. So when my friend, Pamela, announced “I have just fulfilled something on my bucket list that I didn’t even realize was on my list,” I took note. Do something and cross it off the list that it wasn’t even on and embrace the sense of accomplishment that comes from the mental check mark that says, “Done.” Now that’s an efficient and winning way to manage a list.

Just in case you’re wondering what Pamela crossed off her list…”listening to the Grateful Dead (via Further:Phil Lesh & Bob Weir) while swimming under the stars!”

“…just keep truckin on.” Grateful Dead

“Live a recommendable life.”

Those were the words of advice given to recent graduates of the part-time Integrated Marketing Communications master’s program at Northwestern University’s Medill School by Paul Rand, President and CEO of the Zocalo Group. He’s an expert in word-of-mouth marketing where recommendations make all the difference between success and failure. Good advice for anyone crafting their future.

Here’s a list of the advice gathered from attending four graduations this spring:

“Pay attention. To the 8th graders of St. Clement School, Chicago, IL.

“Be kind. Be Real. Persevere.” To the Seniors of Oakwood High School, Oakwood, OH.

“Setting priorities is not a compromise but a choice. Change directions before you fear you can’t afford to change direction.” To the Seniors of Denison University, Granville, OH.

“Live a recommendable life.” To the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate students at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Quite a lot of food for thought.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers