Learning to downshift

Quitting my first full-time, big girl, professional job and moving to rural western Maine were decisions I worried over. I turned the proverbial worry stone over and over again in my hands until it disappeared. And then I just jumped. Or rather, jerkily, slowly, haltingly, drove.

Learning to drive stick at 27 was not something I planned, but as I’ve learned: necessity breeds competency (well, in the best scenarios). As I drive the good ole beat-up Mazda, it keeps reminding me of things I somehow forgot. Chiefly: slow the eff down way ahead of the stop sign/trailer home being moved by the family to the middle of the road/flock of wild turkeys (seriously).

Slowing down is not my strong suit. From the start, I went from crawling to running, training wheels to straight down the 45 degree driveway, high school to college to work to grad school(s) to work. I have always been a victim of my own momentum.

Until this point, my momentum has served me pretty damn well. I have lots of fun ‘success’ boxes I can check, but at the root of my life I am still seeking my place (or places) and my “spirit job” (see: “spirit animal”).

Arguably the hardest part of this funemployment journey is to downshift. To understand within myself that my value is not measured in accomplishments validated by paper (be it money or degrees), and that I am capable of creation outside of the bounds of direct reward.

However, I am still my type-A, list-loving, organizing self, so I thought I’d set out some basic goals for each day of this blog. All subject to change on a whim.

  • Mondays: Manresa [wherein I “exercise” in the Ignatian sense]
  • Tuesdays: Lectio Divina [wherein I read and review a book a week, all genres]
  • Wednesdays: Offbeat [wherein I do something out of doors]
  • Thursdays: Handmade [wherein I make stuff…and things]
  • Fridays: Homemade [wherein I explore my new community]

To make this official, I sent a couple of the scariest letters of my life today:

deferral letter

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear, for newer and richer experience.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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6 thoughts on “Learning to downshift

  1. Nice article. Best of luck!

    An upbeat extension to the analogy: While downshifting can reduce speed, it can also increase torque and lead to acceleration, simply press the gas. Just be careful not to blow the engine. As is such.

    Perhaps the new list of activities and added time will shorten the journey to “spirit” job, animal, land.

    • Thanks, Ian – good call on the engine metaphor, I’m still learning. And yes, that’s the hope. Send any suggestions my way; and you’re always welcome in Maine!

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