Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Ruin is the Road to Transformation"

I always put off writing these…

I don’t know if it’s because it just seems more and more overwhelming with the amount of time that goes by, or that sometimes things just don’t seem deep or inspiring enough to commit to clicking the “publish” button. Either way, I hereby pledge to stop making excuses and just write when I feel the urge (I still write… just not here!) If it bores you… don’t read it! Simple enough.

Judging by the old saying, “teach what you know,” I guess it really isn’t much of a surprise that I work in the field of transition.

I have totally accepted and embraced the fact that we’re all in an ongoing state of transition. Like learning, I like to say, “When you’ve stopped transitioning…you’re dead”

To jump right into it- I moved again. For various reasons that come with living on grant employment, the last few months were really tough. Really tough. A sort of tough that I have not felt since college. It was sickeningly familiar, which made it even worse. I knew, and kept

telling myself it would get better, but there were definitely days when it felt like it wouldn’t. I started to get in a slump where I felt lonely, trapped, and just in one of those, “Why am I even doing this?” modes, when the frustrating experiences, including trying to advocate for my own health needs on top of advocating on behalf of everyone else, just seemed to outweigh the empowering, energizing moments.

Then someone said something to me that was one of the biggest a-ha moments I have had in a long time. It was one I had come to before, but for some reason I needed it in another context for it to finally take. “It’s better to be [one of those people you complain about] a small town Maine girl, who got married at 18, has never left the state and content at the local bar then to know there’s so much more out there and believe you are destined for it, but not do anything to get it, and just sit watching life go by.”

After being initially knocked off guard that my pity party had been so drastically interrup

ted, I realized it was true. Sure, I’ve had a lot of opportunities come my way, but to keep moving forward I can’t just sit refreshing my inbox, waiting for things to fall in my lap.

Finally, when things had gotten about as bad as they were going to, I realized it was time to take charge and start building back up again. I knew I needed to move back home, and I’m lucky I was able to. I swallowed my pride, and left a town I had never grown attached to as hard as I tried, and after yet another U-Haul rental, some pizza and beer for the people who helped, and a lot of organizing and packing/unpacking, I get to spend the last month of summer 2010 with my family, and sleep with my kitty again.

Beyond all of this however, my work life didn’t stop. One thing about this work is that even when the funding stops, the work doesn’t. And somehow- we have to just keep going. As I waited for the giant 8 ball that was my professional life to tell me what I would be doing in the coming months, I attended a two-day meeting in DC.

The meeting itself was an interesting experience, but beyond that,

the trip was yet another turning point for me (yea… I know- let’s rename this blog “Mal’s turning points in DC” shall we?) Not only was it the first time I flew home by myself (fantastic might I add) but also I somehow ended up in a pseudo suite, with a king sized bed, and a balcony overlooking the Potomac River.

So there I am, standing on my balcony, with the summer breeze tickling my face, thinking how my life could not be anymore ironic if it tried. I had just used a credit card to buy a magazine for my flight home to small town Maine, and here I am, not knowing where my life is even going to be in the next month, and I’m on a hotel balcony in DC. My only conclusion was that,if that was rock bottom, then damn. I’m a lucky girl. Stuck between rock bottom, and “I have


And I know that I am lucky, but it does keep coming back to me in different forms. Another thing I have realized is that while I may not have the same group of best friends who I can immediately meet up with at Applebee’s in a pinch I have some amazing people in my support network, and a wealth of knowledge and experience that you can’t even really pay for. Not many people have stayed up talking about Broadway shows with someone who was on tour with Miss Britney Spears herself. My Iphone is a treasure trove of not only connections, but also amazing people who serve as friends, safety nets and an undying support system. It’s pretty crazy to even think about. Want some connections on Broadway- check. Need help looking into programs at Harvard or Yale? Check. A place to stay in L/A. Check. Of course it’s weird to

think that if I were home on a Friday night in Boston or DC I wouldn’t have to be alone as often as I am, like in the place that I actually live, but for now it works, and I have people to see wherever I end up in this crazy country of ours!

As the living situation falls into place for now, until I decide where I want to be for more than eight months, my professional life is slowly settling into an exciting rhythm of energy as well! I am now a proud employee of the NEW Got Transition National Center [for Healthcare Transition]. We have an incredible team, who truly share in the vision of involving young people, and changing the system for the better.

I’m really excited for a new beginning, and with that I have also made a vow to myself, to not take anything for granted. 25 is too young to be jaded and to start being “over” traveling all the amazing places I get to go. Recently I was in Albuquerque, and was so taken aback by the view as we flew over the mountains I remembered how I used to feel every time we took off, whether it was just the one-hour flight to DCA, or all the way to LAX, and that is how I want to look at everything I do. Yea, it’s hard. But it’s also fun and exciting and I’m damn lucky to be doing it! If we, as the “young leaders” are already getting tired of this game, then we really are in trouble.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve fallen; I’ve gotten up, brushed myself off and showed a good number of people, that I’m not going anywhere any time soon. I was told once that my professional mantra aligns with the energy I bring to the sometimes monotone vibe of what we do, and does indeed make me the “cheerleader” whether there are several thousand others or not. So to this next chapter of my life, both home and professional, all I have to say is, “BRING IT!”

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