“Maybe I don’t really want to stay in higher education. Maybe I really do want to go back to non profit work. I’d still be helping people right?” If my computer screen could nod, I’m convinced it would have nodded with empathy.
I began to reconsider my goals, and think of going back into non profit work. However, as I was scrolling down the lists of next career move preparation opportunities on idealist.org I was interrupted by a Macy’s ad for shoes.
Stay with me.
I clicked and entered the magical shoe world of Macy’s online, oohing, ahhing, no way I could walk in those-ing. And then I saw these gorgeous red shoes. Granted I have three pair of rather fantastic red shoes, but these were different. I started doing the calculations for the shoes that would add some sparkle to my wardrobe as long as they didn’t add sparkle to my budget. But as I started picturing myself in the shoes I couldn’t help but think of another lady who had a rather fantastic pair of red shoes….Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
As I thought about Dorothy and her shoes I thought about how she got them and then I thought about what her life looked like just before she got those sparkly red shoes. Her life was dull and lacked color. If you remember the film, Dorothy doesn’t begin to live in color until after she accidentally kills the witch and starts her journey down the yellow brick road to find the wizard so she can return home.
I put the shoe adoration on pause an then I clicked out of idealist.org. Going back to nonprofit work because the opportunities I had hoped for in higher education to allow for more growth and better utilization of my knowledge, gifts, and abilities were not coming as I hoped would be like Dorothy’s life pre red sparkly shoes. It would be life, but it would be a dull ashen grey colorless life. I didn’t want that.
Here’s what I’m learning- in order to LIVE a life with vibrancy and sparkle, whatever that is for you, you have to be willing to forgo the familiar, run of the mill, business as usual. I know, I know, the whole Oz deal was a dream and she fell on the witch quite by accident. However, if you think bout it, the munchkins didn’t see it that way. Whether Dorothy knew it or not they needed the series of events in her pre color sparkly shoes life to happen so she enter into the color sparkly shoe life and could save them.
When we dare to forgo the mundane and resist returning to that which is safe we actually have the option to impact people’s lives, people who were waiting on what seemed like happenstance or feels scary to us. I can’t tell you how reluctant I was to start this blog. While I don’t have thousands of followers, readers, or commentators, I consistently have random thank you’s each week on any one of the five posts that made some one laugh, reflect, have a necessary conversation, give themselves permission to start or stop something, etc.
I’m also learning that life post the norm can be exhilarating and provide opportunities that the old life simply would not have offered. A part of what I am very grateful for as I work in higher education is the financial flexibility I have. The programs I get to create for the campus community are programs that I am certain many non profits, including the ones I used to work at would find beneficial, engaging, and enjoyable, but could never have afforded. The voice that I have in higher education is amazing. I like to think it is the same voice I have when I worked at non profits, but somehow in higher ed my voice seems to carry more influence and remains welcomed at the table. That’s not at all to say I felt ignored when I worked for my other organizations. It is to say that due to the nature of on profit work my voice was sympathized with, case loads didn’t allow room for my body or face to be at a table, and it didn’t catch the ears of people I knew I needed to partner with for optimal success of my clients, the agency, and the community.
As I reminded myself why I felt that I needed to leave non profit work as I was experiencing it and doused myself in higher education, I knew there was just no way I could allow my impatience for the right opportunity where I’d experience continued growth, challenge, and better stewardship of my gifts and abilities be the reason I returned to nonprofit work. Not yet anyway (I would totally consider starting my own non profit or serving as a consultant to non profits to better help them secure funding and other resources to better support staff, clients, and the communities they serve in the distant future).
This week I want you to whip out the sparkly shoes-LIVE in color. Now I have no idea what that means for you. It may mean you literally LIVE in color lie you decide to pain your nails jungle red instead of nice n’ nude, or you go for the turquoise scarf instead of navy. It may also mean you go see that movie you wanted to see on Tuesday night instead of the weekend and going straight home to brief more cases or stay late at the office because you’re “swamped”. Maybe you’ll try a salsa class this week or zumba. Maybe you’ll finally end the relationship that you know is draining the life out of you or perhaps you’ll quit the job that has been chiseling away at your sanity. Whatever LIVE-ing in color looks like for this week just do it and then do me a favor, add some sparkle to the comment section below and share what LIVE-ing in color means to you.