not afraid to jump…

I honestly dislike this meme. Outside my comfort zone is usually some level of panic for me. However, when you can be smart about it and manage the risks to a level that lets you cope with the fear, it’s time to take the jump.

Image from This Is Indexed

Ok, truth? I’ve always been scared as hell to jump. As someone who suffers from fairly significant anxieties, I often feel like throat punching the various inspirational bloggers and writers who tell you to just go for it, as though it were the easiest thing in the world to take huge risks for your dreams.┬áIt’s also a little scary when you ask yourself, ‘what is my great passion?’, and you realize, maybe you don’t have one. That is to say, I have things I deeply love, but it’s more about enjoying a moment… Like the feeling I get starting out on a ride on my bike, when the morning light is streaming through the trees. Another is when I’m engaged in a great discussion with students and they are excited and engaged. I feel a deep welling of happiness in my heart when I’m spending an evening with family or friends. I love the excited satisfaction of completing a good design or freelance illustration. I enjoy the pleasure of a good book, or time playing with my pets. I love my art, and design and teaching, but I have finally come to realize after *mumble* years of age, that there is not a single grand passion, instead I have many things that if balanced and enjoyed, make for a passionate life.

So my “grand passion” if you want to call it that, is something very simple; a life well lived. One filled, as much as is possible, with a myriad of things that are important to me, this includes things like art, design and teaching. However, equally important to me is time to relax, to watch a good show, read a book or hang with the people I care about. I want time to pursue my Buddhist practice, time to play, time to work on things I feel matter. I want a life in which I have the balance and focus to appreciate all the little simple things that make up my day, and I have actually been working very long hours and pushing myself for a few months now towards this goal. My interest in minimalism, and easing back from the consumer driven lifestyle was in large part driven by this desire. I’m looking to not be on a cycle of working hard all the time at a job to buy things I don’t really need that puts me in debt so I have to work hard all day to… Well, you get the picture, I want to get off that wheel that so many of us get stuck on.

Girl jumping

Sometimes making a jump terrifies me, but sometimes it makes me feel like this.

Image by Kain Kalju

So I’m sorry it’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been crazy with this change. The big jump is that I am leaving my current job. It’s in my field and I love teaching the students, but it is a job with a lot of responsibilities that were outside of my skill set, and has required huge amounts of time beyond the regular hours in training. It’s been a crazy schedule and I’ve been stressing like mad over the last 2 years to try to handle it all. Long story short, I am going back to working as an adjunct instructor (where you are not full or part time, but get paid just for the number of classes you teach). I have some plans and real interest in new venues of teaching and training that I see as part of where education in my field is moving, and I’m excited to pursue them, but I am equally excited that I will again have time to take my 93 year old grandmother out to breakfast regularly and get out on my bike more than once a week. I look forward to continuing to challenge myself, but without working so far out of my abilities and interests that I am making myself stressed and miserable.

So it’s a jump, but me being me, it’s one I did fairly carefully and thoughtfully. I recently heard an interview with a minimalist who gave away all but 15 things, quit his job and then decided what he was going to do. Um… yeah, no. I will never have that kind of story for you. Sorry people, but anxiety disorders and throwing everything to the wind don’t go well together. In fact, my intention is of living a life that supports minimal stress and maximum time for pursuits, like exercise and meditation, that manage my anxiety in healthy ways. So I lined up adjunct positions and for a while, have been pulling insane hours to teach nights after my full time job as I built things up. So this week is my last week of full time work. Starting next week for a month or two I’ll adjunct for them till they find another full-timer to replace me (which I’m helping with). I will then, on very good terms, be leaving and working slowly towards building a career that I can largely do from home, with a few classes on the ground. I adjuncted for years when I was married, I was very happy and comfortable doing it. So a divorce and huge changes later, and I am in some ways returning to what I know works for me, and in some ways gaining time to pursue other aspects of my field like offering online training, that I’m interested in. This time however, I am doing it without the safety net of my husband’s income, which is a pretty huge jump for me.

So that’s where minimalism comes in. (You thought I’d never come back around to it did you?) I now need to live much more simply and frugally. I’ve been working on my new budget, but now it’s time to live it. I need to stay very organized as I am diversifying the schools I work at, and everyone is on a different schedule with different requirements. I will be at home more, so I want it to be clean and simple and well organized in all aspects. I want to ease away from a consumerist mindset so I spend less as I will, at least initially, and possibly for a while, be making less. I want to work on shifting my focus to doing simple things that are much more important to me. Rather than spending lots of money on expensive meals and buying things, I want to focus the pleasure of being with people and doing things I really care about and enjoy. So, I look down from the edge, excited and scared…

Time to jump. I’m ready.

Have you taken a leap, big or small to pursue what matters to you? Was it the right thing for you? How did it feel to take that jump?