Tag Archives: Options

A riff on ‘The Compassion Gap.’

A riff on ‘The Compassion Gap.’

I seek out Nicholas Kristof‘s opinion pieces for the NYT because they always illuminate a dark corner of which I was wholly unaware. Not surprisingly, this article about the Compassion Gap really touched a nerve for me.

I cannot count the number of people I’ve spoken with, in reference to this blog, who thought that teaching and performing were their only options, because those two professions were the only options that were familiar. 

When you magnify that myopia by whole communities, towns, cultures? It’s terrifying. 

Using this as a small lens on a small field?  It has reenergized me. These stories need to be told -to illustrate that there are options, to temper the shame of opting out of performing with the knowledge that fulfillment lies elsewhere, to justify (again, always again) the value of pouring one’s heart and soul into studying something that traffics in beautiful intangibles. 

I want to help you tell your stories. If your love of music didn’t fall neatly into “perform” or “teach,” I’d love to talk with you. 

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Gia-Ninh Chuang – From Singer-Pianist to Fitness Professional

Ok, Gia-Ninh. Let’s start at the very beginning (“…a very good place to start…” I think there might be a few musical theater asides in today’s profile. It’s just a hunch.)

Well, starting at the beginning does indeed start with a musical! The Sound of Music, to be exact. I was obsessed with that movie as a child, and went to elementary school knowing solfege! I attended a private elementary school affiliated with the Southern Baptist church in my town. My non-practicing Buddhist Mom and non-practicing Catholic father wanted me to be challenged, and even though it was a sacrifice for our family they opted out of the public school. I was a boy soprano – with super high notes – and no stage fright. I sang in the choir. I remember the first time that I realized that I enjoyed performing was during the Christmas pageant. I played the shepherd Jesse, the shepherd that was leading the 3 Wise Men to the baby Jesus.  It was the first time my entire family came to see me perform, and having that support and buy-in felt fantastic! (Full disclosure – some of my relatives didn’t really get the story… one uncle still calls me Jesse the King.) (Ed. -That will be a great WWF wrestling name someday. Keep it!)

When I reached middle school, I hit the opposite side of that fantastic performance coin:  my voice changed in the middle of a solo at the Regional Choir Concert. I pulled a total Peter Brady. It was traumatic! When the teacher suggested that I lip-sync for the rest of the school year, I was crushed and stopped singing. I had started piano lessons the year prior, and threw myself into practicing – hours a day, just because I enjoyed it so much.

When I hit high school, I got back into singing, and found a strong role model (more on her later) in my choir teacher. I accompanied people, started an a cappella group (back before Glee made it cool…we were called The Suspenders – get it??), made it into All-State. As I approached senior year and college I started thinking about being a choir teacher. I won a piano competition at the Peabody Conservatory, and it seemed like studying music was going to be my thing.

So, you went to school for music.

No.

You see, once I started preparing for scholarship competitions and such, I realized that it was going to have to be my livelihood. And that took much of the joy out of it for me. I was struggling a little bit at home, too… I was in the middle of my coming out process, and it was tough. So, I started my freshman year at the University of Maryland with a Psychology major, and a minor in Opera.

Well, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. But when did your path change?

A pal of mine from the UMD Chorale was teaching aerobics classes at the campus rec center, and pretty much dared me to take a class. It was SO MUCH FUN, and I was instantly hooked.  I thought, “Wait, I could get paid for having fun like this?” Within a month I was enrolled in instructor training.

It allowed me to perform – which was something I enjoyed immensely – but it also allowed me to communicate with people, to translate concepts in ways that they could understand and use (which used the linguistic training I learned as a music minor). Plus, I was surrounded by music – the pulse of my classes was set to music, and having a strong knowledge of musical forms allowed me to customize my spin classes and aerobic choreography in a finely-calibrated way. So I switched my major from Psychology to Kinesiology.

Cool. What happened next?

I dropped out of school.

What?

Well, I was teaching full-time, in addition to my classwork.  But my passion for teaching and helping with my students eclipsed my academic goals.  And I won this big competition – the first ever winner of the AAAI/ISMA Aerobics Star Search in 2002… think American Idol for instructors.  I also had success in fitness competitions as an athlete.  I was 23, and suddenly had all of this visibility and momentum, and I pretty much thought this was my path. Heck, I was on Oprah and ESPN in the same year – if that’s not making it, what is? I decided to stop taking classes and ride that train.

But that certain path that I thought existed: win the competitions, teach great classes, give workshops at a conference, get a sponsorship, etc… well, that momentum started to slow down.  So in 2005 I went back to school. (Stay in school, kids…stay in school.)

When I was back in school, a pal told me that Equinox – a fitness company with a reputation for being the best in the industry – was opening its first location in the DC area. (Ed. – This is where I first met Gia-Ninh…I think it was a kettlebell class? I might’ve wept from the muscle soreness two days later, but I went back for more!) She suggested that I apply for the Group Fitness Manager position there. It was a great place to be – I taught, but I also used that psychology background to support and balance the diverse personalities of my instructors; I really felt that my job was to take care of my staff, so that they could do their best job.  And it taught me some valuable lessons about putting the success of my program and my instructors above feeding my own ego. It was both instructive and humbling.

So, from a boy soprano to a successful fitness professional…what skills or habits transferred?

You know, actually quite a number! A large part of singing well has to do with small, precise muscle coordination, and in fitness, you’re coordinating larger groups of muscles. Plus, both disciplines require a strong commitment to healthy living.  Both singers and fitness professionals ask their body to perform set skills on cue to do their job. Taking care of your body is taking care of your livelihood.

I referred to my high school choir director, Dr. Barbara Baker before, but I cannot overemphasize the influence she had on me, both professionally and personally.  There are several things that she said that have stuck with me through the years, the first being this:

  • The stronger your foundation (or, in musical terms, technique), the more you’ll be able to do, especially in less-than-optimum circumstances. Nerves, illness, they’re all things that performers have to work through… the key is to be able to do so without hurting oneself. I find that this particular message transfers tidily to my work in fitness, too – the better your form and technique, the more you can do and the faster you reach your goals without injury.
  • She also taught us humility, and to realize that we were just one part of a larger whole. No FIG JAM. (Ed. – Huh?) FIG JAM stands for “[expletive] I’m Good, Just Ask Me.”  Let your work speak for itself; everyone else will figure it out.
  • I was also constantly amazed at the ways in which she could ask us/inspire up to do more than we thought we were capable. Even as a fitness professional, my approach is about asking others to stretch themselves…don’t show them what you can do, show them what THEY can do.

What advice do you have?

Be nice. I’ve always wanted to be the guy who was amazingly good at his job, but that’s not enough; I want to also be the guy that people enjoy being around and is fun to work with.  When people want to work with you, countless opportunities to collaborate, learn, and gain exposure come your way.  Now, I’ve not always been 100% successful, but it’s something that I work towards constantly.

Protect your body. Being healthy and having a strong physical foundation in your discipline, lays the groundwork for making life easier and more enjoyable.

No FIG JAM. Don’t tell me how good you are, show me. No one wants to work with people who think they’re the better than everyone else.  It’s shorthand for staying humble and always thinking about how my decisions affect the people around me AND my own reputation.

Just do it. At this point in my career, I’ve taught over 15,000 classes. I take a huge amount of pride in the quality of my teaching, and also have found a deep confidence in that amount of experience.

Gia-Ninh has recently relocated to Idaho, where he is continuing his studies and maintaining a private fitness practice. For more information on him or his services, you can find him on the web at http://kineticedgefitnessconcepts.com/Home.html

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Peter Zimmerman – from Performer to Presenter

Peter Zimmerman is the Director of Programming for the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. He’s responsible for booking the majority of the 200+ shows that the Foundation presents each year in two vastly different spaces: a 7,000 seat outdoor amphitheater (The Filene Center) and a 375 seat rough-hewn jewel box (The Barns). Peter’s a colleague and friend, and we’ve talked often about his path…I’m excited to share his story with you today!

So, Peter; start at the beginning. When did you know that performing was your thing?

Back in the 3rd grade! I played the little drummer boy in my school Christmas pageant – I really wanted to play that drum! And I still vividly remember being on stage, the audience all looking at me… and thinking “I really like this!” I played instruments all through high school – was in the school symphony, played in the pit bands for the musicals, but I was really interested in playing in bands. I wasn’t really planning to go to college: I figured I’d gig for a few years and then be a rock star.

But you went to school – where, and why?

I went to Adams State in Colorado. I initially majored in French Horn performance – got a full scholarship through my H.S. orchestra teachers Craig Bailey and his younger brother Brent Bailey. I really explored everything I could in the arts, and found myself more drawn to the acting side of things. It got to the point where I lost my scholarship because I wasn’t participating in any of the ensembles – I was taking Shakespeare and acting classes (as well as the education requirements that my mom insisted on), and they became my priorities. I was awarded a B.A. in Theater Arts, Speech Communications, Secondary Education and Music. (Editor: Please tell me that it took you more than 4 years to do all that!) I did it in 4.5 years.

Incredible! So, then you’re out of school. What were the Seven Stages of Peter’s Career? (Ok, that riff on the Seven Ages of Man didn’t quite work…forgive me.)

Well, my first gig was as a gravedigger – an important first experience for any arts administrator. (Editor: Seriously? That explains a lot…) I taught for four years in public high schools in Colorado and took the summers to work on my own artistry. I was part of the IATSE crew for the Denver Theater Center, but also acted in the ensemble. (It was a repertory company – talk about learning how to multi-task and prioritize!) Eventually I moved to New York, mostly because I wanted more visibility in Denver, but was told I had to go to NYC to achieve that. I lived there for 2 years and acted – film, tv, stagework, touring -with some real success. But I had some hesitations. My physical type was really common, and I wasn’t a triple threat the way my competitors were; it was going to take a whole lot of work to get me to the next level. And I had a three-year old…the schedule was making it really difficult for me to be the kind of father that I wanted to be.

So, how did you make the jump from acting to presenting?

Remember this: never burn bridges. My student teaching supervisor from college, Ken Foster, and I kept in touch throughout my public school years and my sojourn in New York. That connection got me my first presenting gig, at Penn State, where Ken headed the department. I started a little bit at a time, at first throwing myself into implementing Ken’s vision, and eventually to bugging him for more responsibility. He let me create a children’s theater series – and actually witnessed one of my biggest flops…Peter and the Wolf…don’t ask. He gave me the freedom to succeed OR fail – he was both a safety net and a sounding board, but if I didn’t seek it, it wasn’t forced upon me. And, even after the Peter and the Wolf fiasco, he never chastized me – just asked me what I had learned from the experience.

I cherished his mentorship – I stayed at Penn State for 9 years. I found that I could still be involved in the theater, but could also have the stability I needed in order to have a family.

Heck, I can’t imagine leaving – what could’ve been better?

Well, actually, there was something! I took a job as the CEO/Executive Director of the Colonial Theater in Keene,  New Hampshire. (Keene had been a big town during railroad heyday, but when I was there the population hung right around 60,000.) It was a beautiful small vaudeville theater with a lot of character, and interesting programming – The Kinks, Little Feat, the Smothers Brothers, all acts that I got to know when I was there. I LOVED it. It fit all of my skill sets: raising money, grant writing for 2 successful capital campaigns for theater and marquee renovations, presenting live acts and film. We increased our staff and our budget was in the black, so I think I was good for the theater, but the job was great for me, personally, as well.

OK, now I’m totally stymied: were you looking to leave the Colonial? How did you end up at Wolf Trap?

Actually, it was a personal ask from (Wolf Trap President & CEO) Terre Jones. Through some common acquaintances and a star-crossed raffle at APAP,  we got to know each other. It seemed like time to take a risk, to step up. And it was a good move – I’ve been here for almost 14 years.

What aspects of your current job/profession give you the greatest satisfaction?

I am a fan of the deal. There’s a price on my head for how much I have to book, how much money I need to make for the organization. Confirming a booking gets me jazzed – closing a deal and following through to completion is the best feeling. Speaking honestly, however, there are lots of amazing acts that get away – probably two for every one that actually takes the stage.

I also loved teaching – I feel that impacting young people is important, and I get a lot of professional satisfaction from mentoring. If I had to go back to teaching at this point, I think I’d love it!

And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to getting a bit of a rush from being one of the folks that has access to some of the best performers in the world. There’s a status that’s accorded the level of access that I have, and while it’s not the whole picture, I still feel pretty awesome when a performer that I respect calls my cell to say hi.

Indeed! I’d kill for a few of those numbers, myself! So, it’s advice time. What words of wisdom do you have for the next generation?

Make connections: there are geographical ramifications to this business, and it can be hard to advance in the same geographic/organization. Extend your network!

There’s weren’t any Master of Arts Management programs when I was starting out, so I’d recommend talking to a talent buyer who’s in their mid 30s-40s to get the lay of the land. And examine the differences between non-profit and for-profit companies – the cultures are very different, and the goals are as well.

Find out how your current skills overlap with the job you want. For example, I learned budgeting and marketing when I was gigging in college…from there it wasn’t so hard to parlay that into production schedules for my educational theater productions or to Penn State or the Colonial. I learned time management when I was working that rep/IATSE job at Denver Theater Center. It all transfers.

I’d also learn how to say no. In my business, ‘no’ is the 2nd best answer. (‘Yes’ is obviously the best!) Maybe is my least favorite word – decisiveness saves time and money.

As I said before, don’t burn bridges. No matter how crappily you’re treated, suck it up. I have a million stories from colleagues across the nation to back that maxim up, but it bears repeating. Show up early. Stay late. Make yourself indispensible to your superiors

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Monday Inspiration

Again, Jessica Nagy of Indexed totally has my number. (Today’s example is this graphic, “Not Just for Kids”)

As does Bikram Choudhury.

“Never too old, never too sick, never too bad to start again.”

Indeed.

What would you start, if you thought you could?

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Age of Reform

ImageKurt Ellenberger wrote a thoughtful article for the Huffington Post about the arts and higher education. In it, he talks about the ways in which college music programs prepare students for a field that is shrinking, and doing so using models that are based on the artistic realities of the 1950-70s. Key faculty are charged to recruit, to provide the economic engine that will power the educational train: but, with undergraduate degrees costing near 50k, graduate degrees close to if not more, it’s a lot to spend for a career with no clear path to employment at the end of the journey. I’d agree with him that we need to rework the system a bit.

I remember talking with one smart, savvy singer a few years ago…he was frustrated at the lack of a clear path, and remarked “My buddies who are going to law school know how long they’ll be in school, how much it’ll cost, what they can expect to earn when they get out. I’m going to have close to the same amount of training in my field as they will in theirs, but I may not even be able to make an honest living.”

He was frustrated, and rightly so. There are very few guarantees in our current economic climate, but among artists they number even fewer. One could place the blame on the academic institutions, for taking students who obviously couldn’t make the grade. But, as someone who auditions a fair number of undergraduate singers every year, I can say that the rates of change in a young voice can be both profound and quicksilver: even during the small window between their autumn audition and their arrival in late spring for rehearsals a Studio Artist can sound – for better or worse – like an entirely different animal. 

So, how to reform this model that obviously doesn’t work? Mr. Ellenberger talks about diversifying: finding the things that make each program special and capitalizing on those key elements. You can likely pull the names of schools who have done this off of the top of your head: Berklee for jazz, Juilliard for classical music: Rice in Houston has a reputation for singers with strong technique, University of Maryland for skilled singing actors. (There are many more…but there are also many programs whose strengths are not clearly defined.)

I think it’s a step in the right direction. Rigorous coursework, one-on-one mentoring and quality performance opportunities are still the building blocks to strong, vibrant musicians, regardless of discipline. But I’d also, in this age of specialization, call for two other aspects that should be mandatory in that education:

  1. Exposure to professionals in related fields, or professionals with that same undergraduate degree who have transitioned into something different. A panel, once or twice a year with a group of people who sat in the students’ places, but have found a non-traditional way to use the knowledge that they gained. 
  2. Cuts. (Controversial, no doubt.) Being asked after a number of semesters to rethink your choice of a degree if your teachers see you struggling with the coursework/physical demands/lifestyle is not a bad thing. (Although at the time I think it probably can feel very much like one.) To have a group of people that know you give you honest feedback and offer you options? It seems like a very responsible kind of guidance. And also, to know you have to dig in to succeed, to stay in the program? (Or to ultimately prove them wrong?) Well, taking that responsibility upon one’s own shoulders can be empowering.

Thoughts? Put on your arts education reformer’s cap, and tell me what you’d recommend.

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ROI.

One of my favorite summer “work” activities has to be helping to prep artists to talk to the media, and in the process learning a little bit about them that we could use as a ‘hook’ for interview pitches. I have a list of questions that a pal and former colleague started, that we’ve added to over the last few months. Questions range from practical (“What can’t you travel without?” “What’s the best advice you’ve received?”) to philosophical (“Do you think sports salaries are merited?” “Where does the current system of young artist training fail?”) to totally whackadoo (“What’s your juiciest backstage story?” “Who was your worst colleague?”)

(For the record, those last two questions I would LOVE to hear the answers over a pint at the Vienna Inn…but find a graceful way to decline them in a real interview.)

One gentleman we spoke to came to singing after studying business for quite some time, and he had a markedly different perspective on the field, his work, and his responsibilities. He treats his career like a business: which it is, although we artsy types have a difficult time reconciling the art with the business. (There’s a reason that we can all still identify with the folks in La bohéme…) Another alum of the company puts a certain percentage of every contract into a fund that is meant to reinvigorate his artistry: language work, coachings, travel, research…if it informs his music making, it’s fair game for the fund.

I stumbled across this article, and it made me wonder if we’re not doing our field a disservice by not addressing these business aspects in our training programs. Return on Investment seems like a cold way to look at the profession; taking the passion and alchemy out of the art form. However, I hear every summer from singers whose friends are in law school, medical school…these pals know how long it will take to get their degree, to likely find employment, and how much they can expect to make when they begin their professional career.

Ain’t nothing like that anymore for classical musicians, if every a thing did exist.

But when is the right time to address these issues? Undergrad? Grad school? And, is it possible to address it when each career path is so very unique?

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A Framework for Creative Change

There’s a lot of buzz out there about the creative class… those people, regardless of industry (and while I might take some serious flak for it, I am of the opinion that not every person pursuing a performance degree/career is, in fact, creative. But that’s a topic for another post.) are innovators. In his book The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida states that “access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steel-making.”

 

That quote is 10 years old, my friends.

 

Adobe did a research study on UK workers, which showed that most people – fully two-thirds of those surveyed – felt that they were not living up to their potential. To quote Dylan Jones-Evans (Western Mail, 7.14.12)

“Four out of five believe that there is an increased pressure in work on being productive rather than creative. In addition, risk aversion is seen as a barrier with “playing it safe” being the strategy usually adopted by organisations which results in those who are innovative and entrepreneurial having their ideas stifled by those who are less creative. They also feel there was a lack of time to create new things and that they cannot afford to be creative.”

 

Hello, US Classical Music Market.

 

We’re seeing the big 10 operatic warhorses in heavy rotation. We’re seeing young artists inhabiting the roles usually given to established singers. We’re seeing a heck of a lot of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms on chamber music programs. Companies are cutting back, scaling back, folding. Audiences are aging and shrinking. In terms of building a younger audience? We are the 98-pound-weakling trying to woo the quarterback’s girlfriend. (She’s mostly not giving us the time of day, but we’re not giving up yet.)

 

How much of that, I wonder, has to do with an art form in serious transition? In its heyday, having season tickets to the opera was akin to what having season football tickets are today. (singers/athletes; audiences; financial models and arenas…the sports analogies are really endless.) But that nostalgic glow is only attractive for a small margin of the population; those folks who are in a position to donate, to keep small companies afloat and to shore up the finances of larger ones.

 

It’s a difficult time to be an artist. (although, let’s be frank…has it ever been easy? I mean, we all know how Bohéme goes, right?)

 

In the current climate, it’s only natural to harbor some doubt… there’s some serious math to be done, weighing passion against sacrifice, talent and preparation against the national field. Personal preferences can take a backseat to financial necessity.

 

What if you’re the one playing it safe? With a desk job and a 401k and a nice apartment? And a constant headache and difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and the tendency to self-medicate because you’re just somehow not feeling it?

 

The Harvard Business Review has some advice. As a former (reformed?) teacher, there’s something inherently less scary/more doable when imagining a career leap as a curriculum or night course…setting up an experiment, finding ways to gather more information, sticking to a timetable rather than experimenting endlessly. (That’s called ‘having hobbies.’)

 

What scares you the most about making that transition?

 

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A Virtual Toast to Transitions.

(Does this come in an IV drip?)We hosted a small symposium this past weekend. Kim Pensinger Witman and I were fortunate enough to attend the Opera America Conference in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, and were both inspired and challenged in the seminars which we attended. But oftentimes our artists are bypassed from these larger discussions, or they’re expected to listen but not participate actively…the general directors dictate the tone and flow of the conversation. (It’s not a criticism – the GD’s are the ones who deal with those overarching principles on a daily basis…they should be the folks to initiate the discussions about strategy and the state of our art.) We wanted to give our singers an opportunity to join the conversation.

We called our two-day event Recitative: Plain Talk About Opera, recognizing that what we wanted to do wasn’t glamorous or sparkly…not aria-like in the least. We wanted to raise the questions that the singers/directors/artistic admins were pondering, but maybe hadn’t had the opportunity to discuss. And we asked a group of people who understood our demographic to help us with these discussions.

(Have I mentioned that, by and large, opera people are generous and helpful and agreeable? The colleagues who assisted with these discussions – artistic administrators and general directors and singers and conductors, from companies in our own market to Left Coast-ers, and even a representative from the Continent! –  surely were… we are indebted to them for their time, their thoughtfulness, their candor. Opera people are indeed pretty cool.)

It was a fantastic, provoking, sometimes heated two-day discussion. I was struck very early on with two observations: firstly, that there was such a passionate feeling towards both the art form and the collaborative structure of the art form. (not a surprise, certainly, but it was a wonderful realization of the intensity of feeling.) Secondly, that there were so many people who had started as singers who were now deeply involved – as artistic administrators, casting directors, general directors – in a non-performance aspect of the art. Do they contribute to the discussion as administrators? Most certainly. Do their words hold a different weight because they know firsthand what it’s like to biff a high note in public or trample over an overture in rehearsal with a respected conductor? I think that they might. They know what it feels like to perform at the top of their game. They’ve been moved by an exceptional performance, whether as an onstage colleague or an audience member. It’s invaluable information…and sure, a lot of it can be learned. But maybe not all of it.

It’s not an unusual path, for sure…transitioning from singer or actor to artistic or general director. I’m glad that there are so many people leading companies who, at one point, made the noise…stood in the spotlight…took the curtain call…and ultimately realized that they were meant to support the art form in a different way. Raising a virtual toast to transitions!

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Common Sense, Illustrated.

I’m a huge fan of  Jessica Hagy, the author of Indexed. She has a new graphic up at Forbes.com called 20 Ways to Find Your Calling. And, in her beautifully succinct manner she defines steps to becoming an adult. (My favorite is obviously #3. (“Say yes to odd opportunities.”)

(Isn’t that how I got myself into this mess in the first place? Indeed, I think, happily, it was.)

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Celebrate the Mess!

I am such a fan of people’s stories.

A huge fan. And not just of the final product, but of the whole ongoing process: the passion, the struggles, the discernment, the adventure of a new path, the satisfaction of recommitting to a routine or activity that brings comfort. But I’m finding that folks often apologize for the process…for leaving their original passion, for floundering before finding the new avenue.

Quite frankly? Those messy moments are so very telling. I am also a HUGE fan of those creative messes.

I remember being called into a meeting at my HVAC job, where my bosses quite generously offered me an opportunity to advance to their sales team. I had no real knowledge of the business, had a limited background in the science and technology behind the product, and while I enjoyed the office and the challenge of educating myself about widgets and airflow and humidity (and also learning to RTFM) I was pretty sure that I didn’t belong there. But I really didn’t know what I wanted to do…so I stammered my way out of the meeting, letting them know how flattered I was to be considered. I slept on it, and shortly thereafter tendered my resignation to finish my teaching certificate.

It was a messy situation, a snap decision, but ultimately it was the right thing.

Do I regret my widget days? Not at all – I learned how to function in a linear, masculine office, figure things out on my own before asking (and to also not be ashamed when I needed to ask), and speak my mind plainly and clearly. But I also didn’t realize that my (wholly unformed)dreams didn’t jive with my circumstance until my bosses showed a willingness to invest in me.  It was a catalyst, a get-off-your-butt-and-make-a-choice moment.

I’ve referenced Danielle LaPorte before, but this posting is a theme that I think bears repeating:

You don’t need to burn the dock to push off your boat.

You don’t need to dis’ how you’ve done things in order to do things differently.

There’s no need to criticize the past to validate the future.

But we do.

She goes on to say that honoring the path that got us to -or even past – the messy part is a vital part of our own story. And I would heartily agree.

Celebrate the mess, my friends!

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