I have been thinking a lot about “next” moments. Or seasons, whatever colloquialism you want to use. It’s essential meaning is all the same: It’s the moment we confront we have a choice to make: to remain where we are (physically, emotionally, philosophically, etc) or do something that feels really big. Not because an opportunity is presented to us or because someone else is impacting the decision but because a deep feeling inside our bones speaks up: “It’s time to grow now.”
Most recently, for me, it has been moving to Chicago. I’m not sure I can accurately articulate my reasons for leaving Minneapolis. My life there was truly wonderful- my career was thriving, challenging and meaningful; my friendships were thoughtful, fun, complex and heartwarming. But my insides, my spirit, my bones…they weren’t all the way in the way I wanted to be; in the way I wish to give myself to the world. So after 10 years, in a space in which most everything made sense, I made a choice that maybe didn’t. I recognize people make choices like this all the time, I’ve made choices like this one before, but honoring the value of perspective – this one felt more meaningful for me. I felt terrified and ridiculous. Exhilarated and stupid. At ease and yet oh so tangled. It also ended up being exactly what I needed. (For the record, I’m giving up on the idea of “what’s right” – who really even knows what that is anymore?)
While in the new Windy City I call home, I recently had a valuable conversation with one of the smartest, most fascinating and thoughtfully expressive people I know. He somehow managed to find the center of the Venn diagram of all of these feelings I’ve spoken of above. It was beyond valuable, actually – a rare shake-you-awake kind of conversation. He reminded me that having high expectations for oneself is imperative to not only achievement, but on many levels, happiness. I’ve always considered myself an ambitious person, but there is a discernible difference between ambition and expectation: Aspiration vs belief. When you search synonyms for expectation the forms it takes is downright magical: assumption, chance, confidence, fear, forecast, hope, intention, possibility, trust.
He also reminded me that life is rich with disappointment, but that can’t halt the pursuit of the “big” or the “scary” thing that could define your purpose. And, in fact, more often than not, once you become friends with the quest for the “big scary thing”, it doesn’t feel so intimidating anymore; it’s just what you did, what was next. As I wrap myself in this idea, a really magnificent thing has started happening. A quiet, but ever present reassuring whisper:
“See? You figured that out. You’re OK, deep breath, keep going.”
As has now become my annual schtick of practicing a new mantra each year (with my best gal, Ari), I’m getting a jump start on this one, because it lit a fire. Actually, my friends, I’m literally lighting these words on fire, not to make them disappear, but because fire is a sign of forging will and determination; of the divine power that burns deep in our soul.
JANUARY 1 EDIT: I’m taking a little liberty and lighting one more word on fire in honor of the official new year making its entrance.
I set ablaze LOVE – in the hopes its flame will spark beyond wishes and into belief – becoming my strongest weapon and a shepherding force in the pursuit of work, ideas, growth, relationships, and self. In this fresh round of 365, I will no longer simply desire it, I will expect and believe it is meant for me, for you, for all of us.
Here’s to 2019: Expect of yourself. Assume a healthy chance of fear. Forecast confidence. Hope with intention, possibility and trust; and in all that you do – pursue love.