Know yourself

October 7, 2016

All week long I’ve tried to think about particularly insightful things to say here.

I’m not sure I have any.

Here goes: I went back to work.

I was not planning on doing this, at all. It just kind of happened. I hate when people say things just kind of happen, but as it turns out they do.

Summer rolled around and all I could think about was how bored I was. “Ride your bike,” I said to myself.  Twenty minutes after I was done I was bored again. I tried cleaning out the closet and and organizing the refrigerator (ha who am I kidding that last one never happened), but wound up lying on the couch. I was in a slump.

Midway through the season something shifted. I decided to embrace the quiet instead of thinking of it as monotony. I went to the bookstore and got some books. I disconnected from social media. I turned inside and got very still.

Maybe a season of rest is just that: a time to take advantage of being given time to rest. 

I stopped thinking about what was going to happen next and focused only on each day.


I decided to visit my mom and dad.

prairiesaugust2016That is not my mom and dad.

While I was in Canada I got a couple of calls from Santa Monica. I sent them to voicemail. While Chris and I were hiking in the Rockies my phone rang out in the middle of the wilderness. “I hope the bears can’t hear that,” I whispered, gripping the bear spray. Later while we were sprinting back to the car in the pouring rain he mentioned it was another call from Santa Monica, “You must’ve won a cruise.” We looked at each other and laughed.

I never gave it a second thought.


When we got back to California, I didn’t check my voicemail for a week. Why would anyone be calling me? I’m retired.

But then my dentist left a message and a string of others played behind hers. SOMEONE WANTS TO HIRE ME? Panic filled my throat.

“I’m not calling back,” I said. But then I decided I am still the person who returns the call, even just to say no thanks. So I gripped that phone, palms sweating, and prayed to God it went to voicemail. It did. Freedom!

A week later I found myself sitting at the head of a conference table with people I had worked with before. How did I get here?  It was totally surreal. I could hear myself answering questions and making small talk, laughing even! I swear it wasn’t me doing the talking.

Hey, I’m in here! Why is my mouth moving?

For three hours that day I sat with people in jeans and t-shirts, khakis and running shoes. People who ate soup out of a Whole Foods cardboard container. People who make a lot more money than me doing things their way.

People who remembered me.

It felt good.



Cut to scene and here I am. When I left LA that day I said to myself, “Oh hell no, I am not doing this.” For a minute in that room I had tried to put on my old self and she didn’t fit anymore. I felt her slide right off like a slip dress, a visceral experience, my vision blurried as the noise in my brain thundered.

Had anyone else noticed?

Over the next few days I considered how it might feel to do something productive again. But what if I couldn’t do this job anymore? What if my brain couldn’t handle it? I decided to try on my old job.

I logged into my computer for the first time in over a year. The page swam in front of me and I shut it off.

Things had really changed and I was one of them.

The thing I missed most about my old life was being around smart people. I worked with and learned from some sharp tacks. I want my brain to have that again. I want something to do that is just for me. So, despite a lot of fear, I talked it over with the people at the table and we came to an agreement to ease me in.

I’m tempted to say I’m ba-ack, but the truth is, I’m not.

I’ve stopped trying to be the person I was. I can’t go back. I’m not that person anymore. I can only be who I am today, do my best and be honest about what I’m capable of.

It sounds easy, but is still hard for me – which has been the biggest surprise of all.

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  • Reply drollgirl October 17, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    I am not sure what to write here!

    I think we are all constantly morphing. Well at least the conscientious folks try to morph and grow and learn and all that. I think morphing is better than stagnating. Said the chick that has had the same job for 13 fucking years. Grumble Grumble, lol, sigh. But I am trying to find happiness in life. Just sort of realizing that life is short, it is totally whizzing by, and it is up to ME to find things that make me happy.

    BTW, do you ever feel like you have had dozens of mid-life crises? Lol. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe that’s life? I don’t know.

    ALSO, I wish we could hibernate like bears do, and wake up refreshed and ready and excited to do things anew. I get so tired of the slog of work, work, work. It’s such a grind.

    LORD I AM MAKING NO SENSE. I should have composed my thoughts before babbling on and on!

    Anywhoo! I am happy for you, I hope it goes well, and being around smart people IS a good thing.

    Then again lately I’ve been wondering if I HAD to choose, would I rather date someone smarter than me, or someone LESS smart than me. LORD. My thoughts are all over the map lately! 😉

    • Reply This Free Bird October 24, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      I love this! It is a stream of consciousness. It is good to let it all out, think out loud, let the chips fall where they may. One of my good friends always notes that when we go to the movies I constantly pick the coming of age ones. That’s because I feel like we are all, continuously, coming of age. We’re either aware of it and actively making choices within it or mindlessly bobbing along not really gathering all of the learning that is there to be gathered, until one day BAM! something happens and you wake up to realize, I AM IN THIS HERE I AM and get in the game. Either way, yes. I have always been the person moving from existential crisis to existential crisis but I hate the word crisis b/c sometimes it is just the process of one thing to the next. Also, find someone who challenges you but is not a dingbat otherwise you will have no respect for them and mow them down in misery every chance you get. Thank you for saying so many good things!

  • Reply Jen October 8, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    I read this right after you posted it but didn’t comment bc I didn’t know what to say besides the fact that I LOVED this post! You are awesome, brave and smart. Those folks are lucky to have you back and I bet they know it or they would not have kept calling! Being committed to being honest and true to yourself ensures that you’ll do your best. Can’t wait to hear about this new chapter! Congrats!

    • Reply This Free Bird October 24, 2016 at 10:50 pm

      Thank you! You’ve been with me from the get go and seen the bad and the ugly, I ready for some good. I sensed the opportunity for camaraderie here and it was one of the deciding factors. Fingers crossed it continues to work out as well as it has thus far.

  • Reply Courtney Thomas October 8, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I think to think that we’re all constantly in a process of making and unmaking, rendering, and changing ourselves – and it sounds like you’re on the ebb and flow of all that, which is never a bad thing.

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

    • Reply This Free Bird October 24, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      I agree with you, constant rebirth and death of and to self right up to the finish line. It feels good to be crossing over from winter to spring.

  • Reply Amy October 7, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Lost my phone text me I’m trying to stay clear of social media glad you have work!! Just ate chips and salsa for breakfast thought of you

    • Reply This Free Bird October 24, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Texting you. Good news: Girl Scout Cookies are coming out with limited edition cereals effective January. All our dreams are coming true.

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