Present Tense

Do you know when to leave?

I was chatting with a friend recently about her job.  Like me, she has been on the radio for many years, but she finds herself in a situation where more and more is demanded of her, with very little input and no extra money.  She’s been moved around, her duties change monthly and she generally feels unappreciated and sorta bummed.  I get it and probably a lot of you do, too.  She is struggling with what to do next.

She asked me how I managed to thrive in my radio career, amidst rampant downsizing, consolidations, syndication and sadly, instances of horrible management and I thought about it.  First, I  learned to put myself in situations where I fit in, where I could grow and learn and hopefully, thrive.  But, I think the most important thing that I’ve learned over the course of my almost 30 year career, is to know when to leave.  Know when it’s time to move on.

The more I thought about it, the more I’m convinced that it’s one of the hardest things for most of us to do and yet it’s probably the most important.  Knowing when to leave.  It doesn’t just apply professionally, it applies to life in general.

I’ve left jobs that were obviously not a good fit, but the bigger leaps were when I left jobs where I was well-compensated and successful; when people looked at me and said “are you nuts”? I’ve moved from cities that I liked and the same question arose from friends and colleagues.  Logically, I knew that I was in a decent situation; I was leaving something that was working on some level, but it was no longer working for me, at my deepest level.  Full disclosure: I’ve also been told (okay, I was fired) to leave various jobs and to be honest, that worked out for the best, too.

I’ve heard from a lot of people lately who are worn out, stressed out, freaked out and they are stuck.  Stuck in the idea that they HAVE to make their current life work, because there is no alternative.  That it’s better to be in a horrible situation that you know, rather than leave it behind to seek out a better one, because maybe that better one isn’t out there.  I’ve used my career as an example, but it could be another part of your life.  Relationships, habits, reactions, friends, job, money, etc.  Whatever isn’t working in your life.  You don’t have to stick with it.

Sit and ponder your life and your choices and your decisions.  How many times have you made a tough choice that scared the crap out of you and then six months later, you look back thinking, “I wish I would have done that sooner.  Why did I wait so long”?  Sound familiar?  YES.  We instinctively KNOW when it’s time to leave, to move on, to move forward and yet it can be so hard to listen to our inner voice that’s telling us we’re not in the best place.  That inner voice that manifests as stress, restlessness, sleeplessness, anxiety, over eating, over drinking, frustration, sickness.

And think about this:  maybe moving forward is actually circling back.  Back closer to your family, back to what you originally wanted to do or be until life steered you in another direction; back to the healthier, more relaxed lifestyle that you had before you had kids/money/obligations/status, etc.  Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “Is it time to leave”?

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , | 12 Comments

How about a mid-year reset?


I wrote this last December and realized this week, that I had abandoned much of what I pledged for 2012. As we get into the “silly season” of a presidential election I thought it might be relevant reminder for a lot of us, so I’m re-posting.  Or maybe it’s just a reminder to me that I had certain goals for this year and  since we’re halfway through, I need a kick in the pants to live them.

So, my friends how about a mid-year reset?

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is kind of a netherworld between regret over the past year and the exciting potential to begin anew.  Time to mull over what worked and what didn’t, while you try and formulate the way forward into another year.

Maybe the past year was rough, maybe it didn’t live up to your expectations, maybe 2011 flew by and you didn’t lose the 20 pounds or get a better job or save as much money as you had hoped.  The beauty is that we all get a mulligan; a do-over in 2012.  Every year, every day for that matter, we can hit the re-set button and start again.

2011 was a better year for me than 2010; I made some personal progress in some areas that I felt that I needed to work on.  I developed some new skills and hobbies.  I let go of some stuff and I re-connected with some old friends.  As we all must plot the way forward into 2012, my goals for the coming year include developing more humility and grace.  I admire those traits so much in others and they don’t come easily to me.

You see, I have a tendency to evangelize.  I try to bend people to my way of seeing or doing things.  When I see the light, I want everyone to see that same light, to have that same epiphany that I’ve experienced.  It’s my ego, mixed with an equal part of wanting people to be happier, less frazzled, less scattered.  There are some philosophies and behaviors that I feel strongly about and I’m compelled to force them on others.  No more.

What I’ve realized is that I can only control me; I can only impose my will or my beliefs or my knowledge or my epiphanies on me.  Look, a lot of you have lived your lives this way for years.  I’m usually a little late to the party, when it comes to self-realization and self-control.  I got here through study,  introspection,  observation and finally, acceptance.  People are gonna do, what people are gonna do, regardless of how I think they should behave.

The basic message of Christmas is what crystallized this for me: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men”.  Christians say they believe in Jesus as their personal savior;  his message fills their hearts and their lives, yet many Christians seem to ignore what I believe is Jesus’ main message: 1. We are all sinners and 2. Love thy neighbor. I don’t study the Bible (that’s a whole other post, my friends), but I’ve read it and those two statements seem to distill it all down into a very simple premise that I intend to follow, even though Jesus is not my personal savior.

My no-nonsense husband put it this way:  “God didn’t mean for it to be so complicated”.  YESSSSSS!  So, whether you are religious or a searcher, like me, it’s this:  Take care of your own business and stay out of everyone else’s.  We’re all flawed, messy humans and the only person that you can fix or control, is YOU.  That’s it.

We can guide, we can teach, we can influence and then, we must accept.  Simple.  We make life complicated and frustrating when we list all of the things that we ‘wish’ other people would do:  drive better, be more polite, go to church, don’t go to church, believe in God, don’t believe in God, vote differently, spend money, save money, raise your kids better, blah, blah, blah.  Look, we’re all ‘that person’; you know, the imperfect one.

So, in 2012, I will work on me; I vow to stop bitching about everyone else because that takes away valuable time from my true work.  I won’t worry about other people’s sexual orientation/diet/political views/spending habits/parenting skills/religion/work ethic.  To paraphrase the J-man, who so many of you follow, “it’s time to worry about the plank in our own eye, dudes”.  Simple?  Yesssssssss!

June 9, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Let’s hear it for INTROSPECTION!!

Life is a whirlwind, isn’t it?  Time sweeps us along, even though we may not  feel like being swept.  We feel over-scheduled and overwhelmed, leaving no time or space to think or plan or just ponder our lives.

I’m a committed ponderer and have been for sometime, particularly since I stopped drinking.  I went inside to see what the root of my abuse might have been and even though I really never found the answer to that (probably genetics and unhappiness, mostly) I did begin to uncover some other tidbits.  It’s interesting that once you allow (or force) yourself to be still,  you begin to achieve some clarity about your beliefs and your motivations.

I’ve been pondering and seeking what I want the next phase of my life to look like.  I’m not a settled person.  I have a strong desire to move; physically, mentally, intellectually, spiritually, philosophically.  I tend to be restless and even though I’m a bit of a homebody and I do enjoy my routine, I’m ready to move on; to shake it up .

I’ve been in restless mode for over a year, now.  It probably began around the time I turned 50.  There’s something about realizing that you’ve been walking on earth for a half century that causes a reassessment of your life.  You start hearing about people dying in their 50s and 60s and it can be horribly depressing. On the other hand, it can be a kick in the ass to start facing our own mortality and the reality that we really don’t have all the time in the world.

The key is to stop and listen; whether through solitude or meditation or yoga or art or long runs or walks, you have to listen to yourself.  That means leaving the iPod behind while you exercise, sitting on the porch/deck/patio alone with your thoughts and no distractions.  Writing until you start to peel away the layers of the onion that is your consciousness. What is it that you seek?  What is it that is making you restless/anxious/emotional/angry?

I’m as guilty as anyone.  I have a difficult time putting down my iPhone or iPad.  The TV is on way too much, as is the radio in the car.  It’s a way to NOT deal with whatever is eating at me, nagging at me, bumming me out.  I must turn off the outside noise and listen to the inside wisdom.  We all have that inner wisdom, if we are brave enough to hear it.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past two years of the “Jane listening tour”:  I intuitively know what I need and it will be revealed to me if I’m open and willing to act.

For instance, I’ve wanted a place in northern Michigan, near Traverse City for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in southern Michigan, my family would go “up north” most summers.  My husband and I have visited the area several times and dreamed of owning a few acres, near a lake.  We figured that the chances of finding a property that we could afford and that met my very specific criteria were slim.

And yet, we are now the owners of a beautiful 10 acre farm in that area.  The story of how that came to be is completely random and implausible.  This opportunity appeared out of nowhere and I let it in.  I could have easily said, “oh, this is too hard or too complicated or it’s too far away or too impetuous or too expensive or too irresponsible”.  All valid excuses to not move toward what I knew in my heart was my destiny.

I was open to it.  Maybe just for a week or a day or whatever, but I leaped.  Because I was listening.  I took the time to allow that which I was seeking, to be revealed to me.  I knew that I had to act on this opportunity because I had prepared myself.

I know this all sounds kind of airy-fairy, metaphysical, right?  But, I’m not sure how else to explain or verbalize the intense sense of clarity and “rightness” that I felt. I know without a doubt that my commitment to turning off the outside world and listening to ME is the reason.  Too many of us feel guilty for taking time away from all of our ‘obligations’ to find the time and inclination to listen to ourselves.  But, we have to.  It’s imperative for your life going forward, not only for you, but for those you love and serve.  You have GOT to find you and when you do, LISTEN…..

June 2, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 5 Comments


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