Here’s what this blog comes down to, really: I’ve taken a leap and, with some trepidation, I’m looking to stick the landing.
A few weeks ago, I walked away from what was by far the best full-time job and choir I’d ever known—not to mention a very easy climate and a number of friends as close as family—to move from Denver to Austin. Since then, I’ve been living off savings, taking some time to get oriented, assess my situation, and find the best path forward.
Why the leap? In a word, because I was restless. Even after 13.5 years, I never felt fully at home in Colorado. More than that, I’d started going in circles. Granted, life is cyclical, but this life was becoming a little too superficial. Things were familiar and mostly comfortable, but such roots as I’d put down were far too shallow. I was settling for the good at the expense of pursuing the very good.
On a more mundane level, I moved because the things I liked in metro Denver were too far apart: I was spending way too much time in my car and enjoying no overlapping communities (e.g., randomly running into acquaintances, discovering that friends of mine know each other independently of me).
Even if I hadn’t relocated, however, I would likely have reduced my hours at Alpine Valley School in order to concentrate more on my school-related nonprofit. One of my key premises in launching the Center for Advancing Sudbury Education was that full-time school staff are too busy to fully attend to both operations and development. Problem was, I found myself proving my own premise: as a full-time staff member at AVS, I was neglecting CASE.
I do have a bit of a cushion, having lived like a poor grad student the past several years. So intend to take this time to find ways to fund my dreams; to secure paying work in which I deeply believe; to prove that idealism can be viable. I signed a staff contract with AVS so that I can keep working for/with them remotely, and soon I’ll run for staff at Clearview Sudbury School here in Austin. Also, I just auditioned my way into two choirs, one of which seems very comparable to the one I was so attached to in Boulder.
This is all rather exhilirating, and somewhat scary. I’m going on instinct here, cultivating an intuition that, frankly, is a bit underdeveloped. (Here’s yet another reason I’m a Sudbury advocate: to help more kids grow up intact, following their inner voice, figuring out what they want and how to achieve that—unlike all the adults who need years to master such things, while also unlearning the old lessons that disempower and restrict.)
Is this such a wild leap, though? Am I risking too much? I don’t think so. Frankly, the longer I live the less I believe in the concept of the mistake. Of course one can neglect to think things through; one can jump into something without considering possible consequences. But I have discovered that planning only takes a person so far: at some point, you just have to jump, prepared for various contingencies but not knowing what’s going to happen.
In my case, I took months, if not years, to make this decision; I did a fair amount of research and consulted many knowledgeable friends. If this new life ends up being less than or different from what I want, that’s really no big deal: I’ll just make another change. I can leap however many times it takes, all the while supporting myself and getting ever closer to the life of my dreams.
In the meantime, I watch my savings steadily hemorrhage and ponder to what extent I can afford to invest my time in building up CASE, working part-time at Clearview, singing in choirs, and looking for work that pays reasonably well. When must I start scrounging for whatever freelance writing and editing work I can find? Should I get back to marketing my children’s books? At what point do I begin looking for a university or government desk job?
Look for future posts in which I try to work out this balance of working for my dreams and covering my bottom line. Expect a series of plottings and schemings as I attempt to cobble together income from fulfilling, creative sources and ensure that the work I love and the work I do for money become increasingly the same work.
And if you have thoughts, suggestions and/or information on potential CASE donors or freelancing jobs—by all means, please speak up!