“The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” – Fabienne Fredrickson
“Make your choice, adventurous stranger, strike the bell and bide the danger, or wonder, till it drives you mad, what would have followed if you had.” – C.S. Lewis
I made a massive decision two and a half months ago that those very close to me have been made privy to. I kept it all pretty close to the cuff for personal and professional reasons but I’ve decided it’s time to share it now as it’s more real than ever this week. There comes a time in your life when you have to stop, analyze and redirect your path. I did just this and it was one of the most difficult whilst also being one of the easiest decisions of my life. As many of you know, I have two amazing jobs that happen to involve the same network of people (amazing, driven, beautiful people) but one of them is a little more personal for me, in a way that I don’t think I ever realized sort of defines me as a person. You know, it’s funny, I made it almost 32 years of my life not realizing my passion. I was living my passion daily, ever since I was a child, but it never showed itself in my reflection until recently.
I’ve always been a giver (heads out of the gutter some of you). When I was a child I asked my parents to use my allowance to support an adopted boy through Children International named Marvin, a humpback whale named Colt, a bottle nosed dolphin and the Free Willy Keiko Foundation. To me this was normal, I never thought twice. As the years went on I continued to give, not for any type of recognition, but because it completes me. Giving my time, my money (although many times I shouldn’t have haha), my resources, my love, my heart, etc. is what makes my soul shine. I don’t know how not to do this, it completes a part of my soul that is hard to explain. Some may argue that I give too much, and I challenge that many just don’t give enough.
Let’s get full circle here… Almost three years ago I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful man who I not only call my Boss, who is not only a friend and father figure to me, but also one of the founders of CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees, where I’m currently Executive Director). From that day forward I started to follow this passion inside of me that hadn’t yet shown its face. Halfway through working with CORE I met a “superhero” that truly saved my life. It was in his eyes that my passion showed its face and it starred back at me in a way I will never forget. I’ve looked into the eyes of many people and seen parts of myself I didn’t realize existed before, many eyes around this world have been beautiful mirrors for me, but it wasn’t until I looked into the eyes of Eddie Livingston that my soul felt more alive than it ever had. He unfortunately passed away last November and the impact that this loss had on my life is indescribable. It was then that I began to do more self-reflection than usual. After two and a half years of working with CORE while also working my other job I decided to do what I said above: stop, analyze and redirect my path.
So I sit here now after a long work week traveling for both jobs, at an airport, tears rolling down my face, listening to my headphones among total strangers, typing away my next steps for all who care to read them, in hopes that somewhere in my experiences someone learns a little something new about themselves.
On Wednesday I will pack up my home, drive it to storage in Nashville, Tennessee, then head to Atlanta for a month until I buy a new home in Nashville the first week of August. On August 23nd I will begin my studies towards a Masters of Education in Non-Profit Leadership. This is where my heart is, this is what I’m supposed to do, this is my PASSION. There is no better feeling to me than giving back…and that’s what we do at CORE, we give back to our own! I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity and excited to travel down this new path.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this move isn’t easy. I leave behind a city I’ve called home for 6 years, some of the best friends I have in this world and close a chapter that included my first Masters degree, my first two homes, the grieving grounds after the loss of my father and so many memories, good and bad. But this is what life is about, right? A book of chapters that tells our story, a puzzle with so many pieces from people, places and moments all around this world that creates who we are and the mark we leave on the world.
So, with this post, I begin to close this chapter and start a new one. One that I’m so excited to write! Closing a chapter doesn’t mean goodbyes, it means until we speak/meet again. No friendships end for me, I don’t care where you live, you don’t leave my puzzle and your role in my book cannot be erased. The city of Chicago is truly magical and will always hold a special part of my heart. I close this chapter full of gratitude and driven beyond what I thought was possible.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Every calling is great when greatly pursued.” I’ve never heard anything call to me louder than this and this calling shakes my soul alive.
Until next time, Chicago! Here I grow! And to everyone out there reading this, “Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.”- Orison Swett Marden. I believe that I can, so I am!