Leap into the void

During my transition from single-parent-homeowner-commuter-office-worker to itinerant sailor, I often said that the process was a kind of suicide, a killing off of an old life, of what no longer served me, of the person I had been. Like one preparing for suicide, I lost interest in my life, gave away my belongings, let go of attachment to things, people, places, and situations that were no longer positive.

timesheetI earned income through the one position I had found after 1.5 years of job seeking, which included 14 months of unemployment. I had also renewed my job search shortly after the federal raid on that employer’s home and business. Yet, three years later, I was still chained to a desk in a basement doing work I didn’t like, for an employer who was ​mean, ungrateful, devious, and involved in illegal activities.

I knew the stats on older job seekers, those without a college degree and security clearance, and those who had been unemployed for more than six months. I didn’t just know the stats; I experienced them first hand. I had applied for almost 400 jobs over the course of five years, and tapped out my network, too. In that time, I had seen the number of job listings fall off sharply, the pay level decline and qualifications rise. Jobs for which I had qualified seven years ago now required a B.A. and they paid $10,000 less than they did back then. I recognized that this Engineered Austerity Economy pushed The Great American Dream out of my reach. My options were to keep making a 75-minute commute to spend most of my time in an isolated and ​increasingly ​abusive work environment in order to pay down the underwater mortgage on a house I no longer needed, or blow off everything conventional and do what my heart desired. Though the thought was terrifying, the latter was my only true choice; to stay was to die a little every day, and it made my life a misery. There was a lot of fear involved in making the choice to live and to have a life, and some danger, too. However, I did not base my decision on fear, but facts, and on listening to my inner voice.

I walked away from that horrible job in the most professional manner possible, fully aware that I would have to sacrifice everything — all I had spent 30 years trying to build — in order to move into My Whole New Life.

Leukemia Cup Regatta 2015A year later, I completed the arduous process to shut-down my life. I gave away nearly all of my belongings, fledged my young adult children, fixed up my house, and turned it over to new owners. All I had left were a car and a few bags of belongings. Also, a whole new self, the person I had yearned to be, but was prevented by the traps of convention and my unhappy attempts at a normal life.

I leaped empty-handed into the void, having to trust that I could fly, and I found that I can. Most people do not need to take such leaps, but many can find smaller hops that make their lives turn for the better. What about you?


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6 Responses to Leap into the void

  1. Deb Neitel says:

    Shay what a beautiful piece. Many of us have come full-circle from the place we came from, where we were molded by society, stereotypes and baggage that we brought into this life. However, there are very few who have truly walked your walk and shed almost their entire protective outer layer in order to be transformed into a new and beautifully made creature! Your transformation was amazing and it was so awesome to be a part of it and watch the transition – you have emerged from your cocoon into a beautiful butterfly, now fly high!

  2. Cindy Gaddis says:

    Wow, Shay! Good to hear about you and your life again. My hope for you is that you find true freedom from this choice that life has led you to make. This past year, I’ve presented a workshop called, Exploring Freedom, that entails this very thing you’ve found yourself faced with (mostly about those smaller shifts you talk about). What courage for you to take this leap! Too many of us (most of us?) are actually in bondage to things and jobs and homes and lifestyles and social expectations. I mentored a family who left their home (short-saled it) and quit their soul-sucking job (teaching high school English) and went into something more affordable (renting) and more fulfilling (welding) and ultimately, freed them from the financial burdens they were under, leading themselves toward what was important: time with three small children (and homeschooling them). May your soul soar!

  3. Merrie Bergmann says:

    Love this, Shay! One friend of mine described what I did as jumping off a cliff, although in a different context, and I certainly didn’t think of it that way at the time … can’t wait to share stories, gal! And thank you for writing this, to remind everyone that all you have to do is … do it! Just do it! xo

  4. Shay says:

    Deb, thank you for your kind words and understanding. You were indeed a part of my transition. Your kindness and encouragement mean a great deal, and your own transition continues to inspire many. <3

  5. Shay says:

    Cindy, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate your kind words, and am excited about your Exploring Freedom workshops. I’m sorry I missed the one you gave at the VaHomeschoolers Conference earlier this month. It would have been fun and interesting to see how your experience and philosophy helped those in attendance. No doubt, you receive much appreciative feedback, and I hope you keep up the great work.

  6. Shay says:

    Merrie, thank you for reading and replying. I’m very much looking forward to meeting you and, yes, share stories. It won’t be long now! Yay!

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