Delve into Your Dreams

I spoke at the Los Alamos Rotary Club this week. It was the second time I had presented to their club, the last time being almost three years ago. I was invited back because November is Foundation month, and since I was a Rotary Scholar, they wanted to hear how the Rotary Scholarship impacted my life. Recounting the many ways in which those first interviews for my scholarship formed who I have become was easy, since they were practically the beginning of the rest of my life. 

I also took the opportunity to present the work I've been doing with my book. Before the meeting started, I introduced myself around and took the opportunity to talk with some people. One woman asked, "What will you be talking about today?" I told her my book and topic was about finding funding to do what you love. The woman, about 70ish, said, "Oh! I am way too old for that, but I just learned about this amazing effort being done to help protect giraffes. Everyone thinks giraffes are safe and in no danger, but it turns out they are! So they've developed this technique to transport the giraffes because they are so tall and unwieldy."

What a wealth of enthusiasm! I made sure to tell her right then and there that she certainly wasn't old enough to pursue her passions and it sounded like she even had her project pinpointed. I also made a point of bringing her up multiple times in the presentation. When you take the time to think about what you would do if anything in the world were possible, you'd be surprised at how some "impossible dreams" are already mapped out for you. Do yourself a favor and delve into your dreams sometime, you might find some treasures!

Rainy Day in Santa Fe

It's rainy here today. Appropriate for the first day of fall. Since we don't get tons of precipitation in New Mexico, a cozy rain is always appreciated. One of my favorite things to do on a rainy day is curl up and dream. Dreaming is a big adventure for me. It's my favorite phase of preparing applications because anything is possible. In this cherished state, I can let my thoughts wander to the near future or the far, to a project in my town or to a country far away. I can be doing the same work as I do now, or I could be doing something completely different. Dreams are lofty and fluffy and wonderful ways to envision the journey of life. 

You don't need to have a rainy day to dream. Taking a walk or even just sitting on the couch, listening to relaxing music can allow you to let your mind wander. Try it sometime. Don't force it, just see what thoughts come into your head when you allow some free time. I have a worksheet that I use with groups when I give workshops. It comes directly from my book, which is full of resources to flesh out your future fellowship application. Once you plant an idea of what you want to do, you'll find that opportunities will start coming into your field of vision. And if you're interested in pursuing them, I can help you along the way. Happy dreaming!

Worrying is a Leisure Activity

My accupuncturist told me once, "Worrying is a leisure activity." I wrote this on the board at work once, and my co-workers got really mad. Apparently they interpreted it as "CARING is a leisure activity." Quite the contrary. If you care about something, DO something about it. Just worrying about it (especially in the middle of the night, as I tend to do) gets you nowhere. 

I have tried to take this advice to heart. What are the things that I worry about? Are they valid worries? Are they anxieties that could actually turn into motivation? Public speaking for me was (is) always something that I worried about but by turning the worry into practice and action, I used that anxiety to become a better speaker. 

What are the things that you worry about? One friend of mine recently described worrying about a choice to follow her dreams (and how it would be an utter failure). Following her dreams entailed uprooting her whole family and moving abroad for a year. But that worry was something that was holding her back. Instead, by following through with her brave choice, she is probably making the best possible decision. 

Please share what you're worrying about these days and if there's possibly a hidden treasure of a golden action hidden within that anxiety. Worrying is a leisure activity, but maybe it could turn into a great action. 

Finding Fulfilling Work (and a fulfilling lifestyle)

A good friend recently came back home to Santa Fe and gave me a few nuggets of golden advice to think about. I shared with him my doubts and fears about where my career is headed. He said, "Most people make the mistake of trying to find all their fulfillment in their work."

Being a mom and a transportation planner at the same time. January 2016 Transportation Research Board annual conference in Washington DC

Being a mom and a transportation planner at the same time. January 2016 Transportation Research Board annual conference in Washington DC

Unless you you are one if the blessed people like my mom who has known she wanted to dance since a very young age (and carried through with that passion), you are like the rest of us who jump around occupations for years trying to find "the perfect job."

With very little work experience myself, I thought maybe the work search was like the husband search: there is no such thing as the perfect husband. There is only the perfect husband for me, someone who I can work and grow with in a compatible and supportive way.

And yet what my friend said gave me hope. I have recently learned that there is a term for people who have aptitudes and interests in many different areas: multipotentialites. We are people who love dancing but also yearn to publish academic papers. We have always taken an interest in early childhood development but also study macroeconomics to understand international market trends.

So what is the perfect job for me? There isn't one. I can't possibly fulfill all of those interests in a single position. And instead of searching in vain, or trying to create this griffin of a title, I can feel comfortable in doing multiple things. I can do a day job that interests me (like city planning) and also write about and search for personal fellowships while being an avid dancer and performer in my other time. It's not a lack of focus, it's just a more realistic way to go about living a sustainable life where I don't burn out on doing only one thing.

Resolution: Examining "I Can't"

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions. I find they are hyped and short-term and more superficial than keeping long-term goals. But in the last month, I've felt a major shift in my life that I feel is something I want to keep examining. I want to delve into the things I think I "can't" do and see if that's really the truth. 

Since my daughter was born, my husband and I have felt a lot of pressure to make responsible, rational decisions. I don't mean to blame it on my daughter. If anything, perhaps this trend has been because having kids is the most tumultuous thing that can happen in our lives so fixing some certainty (like long-term jobs, stable living situations, Roth IRA's and life insurance) gives some semblance of continuity.

But I've found that we have also circled a lot around the phrase "I can't" or "we can't." Admittedly, this is mostly when we are discussing traveling back to Africa, but it's still a theme that has started to bind us to our responsibilities. But is that the truth? Is it really not possible to do some things anymore, now that we are adults with a kid?

I've been reminiscing about the days when I would save enough to buy a plane ticket and just trust that all the other pieces would line up. It did seem impossible to act on a whim like that with mounting monthly expenses. But a couple weeks ago, I said, "Screw it, I'm buying the ticket."  

As 2016 dawns and so many exciting things await, I feel exhilarated about is possible if I don't limit myself with "I can't."