Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Words of Wisdom and Sights of Splendor

No, not from me! Hell, I'm feeling decidedly unwise and unsplendiferous these days.

Oh no -- these wise words and splendid sights were bestowed upon me.

The first wise words of the day were offered to me by Fayegail Mandell Basaccia, author of Dancing in my Mother's Slippers, with whom I met in Ashland for coffee this morning. Having recently read her book about her very intimate journey with her mother's struggle with (and ultimate death from) ovarian cancer, I felt a connection before we ever met -- and an even stronger one even before we'd settled in to sip our lattes. The conversation was immediately comfortable and flowing as we discussed the loss of our mothers, but also our similar careers in non-profits.

I told FayeGail about my dilemma regarding vision & purpose vs money & security in my career choices, especially as I move forward. She offered some wise advice: "Maybe you can think of it in terms of moving toward the yesses and moving away from the nos." That immediately struck me, and I immediately knew that she was right.

I get scads of e-mail solicitations from high-tech firms who see that I'm a project manager and that I've worked in electronic media. They must figure that I'm a techie, Microsoftie-ish PM, but I bristle when I read those job descriptions, knowing that I have no passion for those positions. My first instinct already IS to move away from them! And fast! It's not that I can't do them, as much as that I'm not good at what I don't love. So I do instinctively move away from them.

In contrast, when I see job descriptions like this, from the organization that strives to make cultural exchange programs available to disadvantaged youth, or this, from the organization that strives to support all birthing women, no matter what their financial or social circumstances, I get positively giddy with hope and excitement. Those are absolute YESSES! Until, that is, I find out what the salaries are, which is what happened at the tail end of last week's interview. Unfortunately, that salary (and many in the nonprofit arena) was half of what I normally make. And then that whole "three more kids to put through school" attacks me and my heart drops into the pit of my stomach because I feel that I've let myself, disadvantaged youth and unsupported birthing women down (because truly, I'd be good at those jobs!)... but that I have little choice right now.

The other words of wisdom came from Lou when we were discussing relationships, communication and the concept of intimacy. She said, "Arguments can be a form of deep intimacy... when they're conducted well." That was encouraging to hear -- not because there are many arguments in my relationships, but because there are so few.

Depending on one's family background, conflict can be threatening or it can be liberating. I grew up in a fairly loud, very open family, where arguments began, were worked through, and ended. Not only did everyone survive the argument, but often (not always!) it led to a deeper connection. Tom grew up in a much quieter, more reserved family where arguments were rare. So in our relationship I believe that an argument can be part of the process toward new resolution and closeness, whereas Tom sees it as much more threatening and ominous. He prefers to avoid them if at all possible and I see them as the bridge one must sometimes cross to get to the next leg of the journey. The idea of a well-conducted argument deepening intimacy is a helpful one. Not because I like arguing; I don't. But I do like deepening the most important relationships of my life and it's encouraging to know how many forms that can take.

And sights of splendor? Are you wondering what long-winded tome I'll launch into about that? None. I'll just leave you with a few photos of the Oregon sky as we drove from Ashland toward some mountain lakes nearby -- which is where 26 family members will gather over the weekend (and I'll probably have to go blog-less for three days).

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Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog, and regarding your career dilemma, I think if you're planning to put 3 adults through college over the next 4 years, you're going to have to sell your career soul to the devil and take a higher-paying techie-oriented type of job. You can always change your career after college is done. It's only 4 years. People have worked jobs they hate for much longer than that.

OR...go with your heart and take a lower-paying socially-conscious type job you love and let your adults help pay for their own college educations. Loans are available for that sort of thing, and they have much longer earning years ahead of them to pay off the loans than you do.

Sorry, I know it's not what you want to hear, but that's how I see it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful meeting with Fayegail. Hope your family gathering is super fun!

Anonymous said...

My hubby is much like your Tom--arguments are to be avoided at all costs. Such a change from my ex, who would argue about anything and everything. I went from one extreme to the other in husbands. I prefer the way things are now, but it does create problems at times and a lot of guessing on my part what it really is that he wants.

Doctor Rick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doctor Rick said...

I'm not like your hubby. I want to talk things out, but get frustrated if my wife tries to avoid discussion. Yet, I probably argue too much and need to lighten up a little.

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