I am now 18 months into my life after corporate America. I am realizing that the process of deschooling (thank you to the amazing Akilah S Richards’ for deepening this concept for me in a profound way) is never ending and that in that process of shedding old constructs and paradigms, not only do I not have answers but I don’t even know what questions to ask anymore.
Who am I? What is my life’s purpose? How can I serve? What makes me happy? These are the sorts of questions I have been asking my whole life. But I am now wondering if these types of questions are less relevant than ones that ask more immediate questions like: who is in front of me right now asking for support? what feels right at the moment? is there anything my intuition is telling me that I should listen to and that might be more relevant than my strategic thinking?
So, I have been practicing feeling into things. And, from there have created a life where I am spending time doing corporate culture work and executive coaching as a consultant under the Think Human umbrella. I am on the board of the ALC Network. I am on the board of my coop. Joe Criso – one of my soul brothers and true co conspirators in supporting people in living their dreams – and I are starting a partnership of sorts. We are figuring out what this means and how it looks. This summer we attended three different ALF summer trainings – in NYC, Charlotte and Sacramento. Each one was a fairly last minute decision based on what felt right. And each one was amazing – opening up new ideas about the world, about deschooling, about white privilege and systemic racism, about how to make a difference in a non hierarchical colonist manner and about the importance of deep, human connections. Also, Timothy and I got a new dog, Charlie, about a month ago – another example of feeling into what’s next. And, baked into my current life is time in my schedule to do whatever I want. Which, as much as we all fantasize about having that kind of time, it is harder than one might think to figure out how to fill it in a satisfying way.
I just spent a week in Fire Island (with Shari for 5 days and then Alison and Em for 3). During that time, I read some more of Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown (my change the world handbook – highly recommend). I read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – sooo good. I started reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. We also went off island to see BlacKkKlansman – Spike Lee’s very powerful new movie. And I just finished catching up on the last 6 episodes of Queen Sugar – the amazing TV series by the incredible Ava DuVernay.
A couple of the episodes of Queen Sugar (I won’t say which characters on which episodes to avoid spoilers) made me start thinking about “what is my dream?” “where am I in all of this that I am doing?” At the same time, I was having a weird set of battery issues. My car battery randomly died on Friday. Our TV remote died on Saturday. And an unknown electronic was beeping and saying “battery low” in our apartment. We changed batteries on the smoke detector and that was not it! So, for a bunch of hours, we were hearing this crazy message with no clue where it was coming from. Finally, we found, buried in a box, another smoke detector whose batteries were dying. So, I asked myself, if the universe is trying to communicate with me through dying and dead batteries, what is the message? And I think the message is that I am doing a lot for a lot of people, but I am not sure how to recharge my own batteries.
So, what is my dream? What do I really want? What recharges (and drains) my batteries? I just don’t know. I feel scattered. My energy is going in so many directions – toward Joe and our partnership, toward Think Human collaboration with Meredith and Christen, toward coaching and consulting clients, toward ALC collaboration – on the network and individual level, toward Timothy and Charlie and our home, toward Shari’s and my relationship, toward family members, toward friends and former coworkers, toward the board of my co-op (should I run again in November??) and toward the day to day life of food, laundry, bills, being a mom, etc. And, truthfully, I really like all of it and don’t necessarily want to give any of it up. But when the batteries start dying and I ask myself, what is giving me energy and what is taking it away, it seems like more energy is going out than coming in. Interestingly, I got some unexpected money recently and it felt really good. That surprised me. But money is one of my resources. And I have more going out than coming in right now. When people ask me how I am doing and really want the answer, it feels good to me. Going in the ocean this past week felt really, really good. Spending time with Shari when we both have the space feels really good. Having time with Joseph – on the phone and in person feels good. And being able to pop up, go deep with all of you who can do that (you know who you are), refuels me in a big way.
All of that said, I have found myself fantasizing about having a full time job. Making good money and having a corporation’s interest focus my energy. It just seems so much less complicated. Is that truly what I want or what would feel good or make the biggest difference? No. Absolutely not. I really have a problem with how much of our collective time and energy is being spent trying to make the rich richer through corporate America endeavors. I don’t want my life energy to be solely dedicated to that pursuit. But then I also think that I am so good at making money for myself and for companies. And I find it so fun and energizing in many ways. I love watching people grow and succeed. I love how empowering people leads to targets being met and “wins”. I love how much people, in those typically inhumane environments, appreciate being heard and cared about. I get that world. I know that world. I am good at that world. So, maybe that is part of my path – to make a lot of money and redistribute it. I have been able to give a bunch of money away in the past 2 years from my corporate earnings. But is that the best way to redistribute wealth? And, just because I know and can succeed in that world doesn’t mean I should be in it. What if Joe and I were to create a foundation of sorts that redistributed wealth from folks who have money and want to make a difference but don’t have the wherewithal to find out where to place those funds? One of the many things I love about The Pachamama Alliance is that they only take donations from individuals who they are connected with. No corporate sponsors. No foundations except in a very few cases. Maybe if we had a track record for supporting real people making a real difference, we could redistribute way more money than just me getting back in the matrix of corporate America full time? But, I digress. The reason I am fantasizing about a full time job is that there is something missing in my life right now that I crave and I am not sure exactly what it is. Focus? Being energized? Clarity that I am on the right path (my path)? I have such a huge opportunity right now to invent my life. I can pretty much do whatever I want – as long as Timothy is taken care of. So, the question remains – what would feel really good to me?
Yes, I have dreamed of having a coffee shop. Yes, I am driven to make a big difference. Yes, I love the “pop up, go deep” idea and would love to see it take off (actually, I think a blog post on pop up go deep is in order, stay tuned). Yes, I like to write and could imagine spending more time doing that. Yes, I like to take photographs and I like to draw and paint. Yes, I want to amplify messages of people making a positive difference in the world. Yes, I want to use my white privilege to lift up people of color. And, yes, I am being asked to do more and more executive coaching and culture work in organizations. And, yes, I am picky about who and what I say yes to but since I am fascinated by people and organizations, I say yes more than no.
Is it my plight in life to have lots of irons in the fire and be doing the work everywhere all the time or is there an actual path, calling or focus that would feel good to me? Or is it about feeling into each moment of each day and hindsight giving me the answers per my previous blog post?
I don’t know, but I am grateful to have the privilege to even be asking these questions.