In mere hours, 2010 will be half-over, and in those six months I feel I have lived a whole other lifetime.
I’ve run my first – and second – half-marathon and begun training for my first full marathon, in Chicago in October. Just 18 months ago, I couldn’t run a mile and a half without stopping.
In January I began applying for jobs for the first time, really, in my adult life. How quickly I learned the rest of the world does not function the way newspapers do! It was an experience both humbling and heartening. Many of my e-mails and applications went wholly ignored; on the other hand, I was a finalist for the first job for which I applied, and the experience of interviewing – and feeling good about my performance in doing so – was incredibly empowering.
In February I applied for a job at St. Anthony Messenger Press, for which I had a phone interview on Good Friday. (I sure did think that was a good sign!) In early June, I received and accepted an offer from SAMP, marking a change in my career path that I never had anticipated when I headed off to Northwestern, lo, those many years ago. That said, when I headed off to NU, my plan was to become a foreign correspondent and work in Latin America. So there’s that.
The opportunity to change directions while staying in the media/publishing industry and putting my faith into a professional context was too good to pass up. I am so excited about this transition, even as I’m scared of the newness and the pending period of incompetence I’m about to experience. But after 11 years, it was time to make a change.
Change, thus far, has been the hallmark of 2010. I have done dozens of things outside my comfort zone, beginning with practicing the art of networking. In February I joined the American Marketing Association in an effort to expand my professional contact list. What I learned was I also was blessed to expand my list of friends in the process. For the first time I can remember, I quite literally was relying on the kindness of strangers, and that kindness came forth in abundance. What followed were lunches and coffees and e-mails galore, each of which seemed to lead to yet another person offering to help me and sincerely wishing me well. It was a remarkable feeling, to be welcomed into people’s lives, and it helped me believe that maybe, just maybe, I had something left to contribute to the world.
That feeling led me to join the Fine Arts Fund’s inaugural Boardway Bound class in April, my first step toward a meaningful involvement in the arts community. Again, I entered into this with some trepidation but came away feeling as though, yes, there really is a place for someone like me to make an impact. And honestly, it’s been awhile since I’ve felt I could make an impact – a positive one, anyway.
Also in April, I began a three-month stint working as a Metro editor, to fill in for a maternity leave. It was a difficult adjustment at first – new people, personalities, processes – but I realize now how worthwhile it was. For one, I met some wonderful people, especially my friend Sherry Coolidge. She’s an outstanding, passionate reporter who helped make me a better editor and who encouraged me when I needed it. How this woman dropped out of the sky to become my friend, I have no idea. But I am so grateful.
Being in Metro also will prove to be good practice for the move I am about to make. When I started April 6, I didn’t know what was coming, but it’s interesting to look back now and see how the pieces sort of fell into place, leading me to the point where I am now.
I feel as though I’ve worked harder in the past six months than ever before. For a few months, I had two jobs: my job at The Enquirer and the job of looking for a new job. I was also training for my races and, to be honest, battling some increasingly bad depression and anxiety. It was exceptionally difficult for me to manage, and I know at times I failed. I’ve let down my husband countless times, but for whatever reason, he forgives me and helps me and keeps moving forward. I know I let down many of my friends, as well, and in some cases, I fear there are cracks in relationships that cannot be repaired. For what it’s worth, I’m trying to be a better me. And I think I’m kind of on the right track.
If nothing else, I’m a very busy me. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Key West, Germany and the Czech Republic, Southern California, Indianapolis (twice), French Lick, Michigan – even Madeira and Mariemont!
I ate venison for the first time ever – and liked it – and tried my hand at making meatballs (success!), rack of lamb (two partial successes) and pan-seared duck breast (debacle!).
I got to watch John Calipari revive UK basketball and hear former Xavier coach Pete Gillen speak at a banquet.
I ran on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and tobogganed down the side of a German mountain.
It’s been a wild half-year. I have felt as low as someone possibly could – alone, scared, hopeless – but I have rallied with as much strength and determination as I can muster. I actually have accomplished a number of goals I set for myself, and as I look back over the past six months, I have to give 2010 a darn good mid-season progress report.
What will the latter half hold? Hopefully I’ll love my new job, finish the Chicago Marathon without stopping or walking, see my friend Mary Ann kick cancer’s ass, and enjoy a Christmas with all my family tucked into my house eating cinnamon rolls.
Dare to dream, my friends.
Father Gamm's homily Sunday at St. Paul was absolutely spot-on -- for me, anyway.
I asked him after a Mass for a copy of his talk, and he obliged.
I share it here because I think it has meaning for everyone, regardless of faith tradition. I found so much meaning in the sentiment; I hope it inspires you, as well:
On the golf course called “Old Silo,” on the back nine, there is a hole where you have to walk over a foot bridge to get to the green. It is interesting in that there are no handrails on the bridge. I remember playing there one day, and as I started to cross the bridge, I got pretty phobic and anxious and hollered to the guys in my foursome that I was getting scared and freaking out.
One of them yelled back at me, “Padre, it got to me too. Just look forward, don’t look down. Look at me, look at me. You’ll be all right!”
So I looked straight at him and kept walking. And I was OK.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel today, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Eric Lidell was England’s fastest 100-meter runner in the 1924 Olympics. He was expected to take the gold in that race. When the schedule of events came out, the 100-meter race was scheduled on a Sunday, and Eric’s interpretation of keeping the Lord’s day would not let him race on Sunday. So he declined!
The Prince of Wales tried to talk him into violating his conscience. Newspapers called him a traitor to his country. He got grief from pretty much everyone, but he still refused to run. Instead, he suggested a teammate run the 100 and he would run the 400 – a race he had not run before. To make a long story short, Eric won the 400 and his teammate won the 100, giving England not one, but two gold medals.
Eric never looked back. Once he decided to follow his conscience – follow Jesus – he kept looking forward, in spite of public pressure, in spite of being labeled a traitor. In the 1980s, the movie “Chariots of Fire” centered around Eric and those Olympic Games.
What was behind his courage? What made him steadfast and loyal? Eric Lidell spent the first hour of every morning reading the Bible, praying and planning his day. He kept his hand to the plow, did not look back, because he met Jesus face to face each morning in prayer.
If we’re having trouble keeping focused on Jesus, if we’re having trouble keeping our hand to the plow, if we’re experiencing anxiety or worry in our lives, maybe we should consider making some kind of daily commitment. What should that commitment be? What should it involve? Bible reading, a holy hour, prayer, study or simply attending Mass – no one can say. It’s up to us.
But it is important to make that commitment, to stay focused, to look forward in order to be fit for the kingdom of God.
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