Feed Yourself First
That’s something we say around here when the sh*t really hits the fan. When the cows get out, when the neighbor’s goat herd busts through a rusted fence, when a baby is born wrong and twisted. We are passable at triage now – patch things up, take two steps back and say, “Is that good enough for now? Are you hungry? Go inside and eat, then we will deal with this properly.” Because you can only chug along on fumes for a period of time before your body collapses. I take better care of all my charges with a full belly. So we feed ourselves first.
I thought about that this afternoon as I white-knuckled the steering wheel on my last drive down the highway into an office where I’ve worked for five years. My job there was always funded through contracts forged out of tenuous relationships between agencies and companies. Every summer my future employment was suspect. Every summer I searched for new jobs under the same categories:project management, education, blady blady blah…until the search terms slowly transitioned without my perception of the shift: “farm hand, cheese monger, farmer.” But this summer the contract really is over. This morning I emptied the contents of my computer drives, deleted the detritus of my professional past with just a few clicks. All traces of me smudged out, shined clean, ready for the next guy. I turned it all over along with my badge. And I am officially done.
I will not use this particular moment of my chronology to talk anyone else into my level of lunacy or risk aversion; small elements of each are necessary to make this leap. Know that. I also will not hide the reality that I have an enormous safety net in my husband and family who are supportive beyond measure. Know that, too. I used to think the phrase about counting blessings was corny as hell. But now I wake up to sunrise and roosters on a farm, and I count them. I am grateful.
This week the world lost a literary force, the author of every woman’s secret (or not secret) anthem who was, in fact, the original phenomenal woman. Someone on Facebook posted a quote in her honor that stunned me stupid when I read it: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” -Maya Angelou
That kind of timing is epic, those words written just for me, it seemed, at a time when I say exactly what I mean, but my voice still shakes a little. So for you: dreamers, wanderers, hopers, wishers, keeping-the-faithers, and down-on-your-luckers. For anyone who is worried that what you pursue is too hard, too scary, too big – feed yourself first. Belly and soul. It’s the only way (along with some elbow grease, patience, and persistence) to achieve some clarity about which map to follow, even though it probably does not exist. Yet.
On the way home I caught the tail end of a song on the radio that I had not heard until just this afternoon, made it seem that the sun beamed rays of omens down upon my face screwed up into a confused expression of joy and fear and gratitude and general shakiness. My path is not any more linear than yours. But I’m heading out onto it, regardless.
I’ll probably hum this song along the way. (Sorry for the craptastic quality – it’s all I could find)