I cannot believe it has been over a year since I worked full-time for a large national non-profit as the Manager of Diversity and Inclusion. Most of the time, those days seems so far away and distant, like a fuzzy memory of a Heather that once was. Every now and then, though, they careen back into my consciousness and I wonder what city I am supposed to be going to next and what deadline is approaching for metrics and reports and outcomes.
It was a very difficult decision to leave that life. What I held in those spaces was a safe and sure recognition of who I was and where my path was taking me. I had job security. I had a purpose. I was helping create change on a massive scale. I was a part of something big.
That person knew her work and knew it well. The love affair that I have for working in diversity and inclusion has not diminished in the least…if anything, I am now learning how to cultivate my own strong voice independent of the tethers of an organizational framework.
Despite that sense of security in my professional life, there was major upheaval in my personal life. My husband and I had been married for five years, but in that time maybe spent just under a year under the same roof. Our relationship bent under the weight of airport goodbyes, short weekend visits, and missed birthdays and anniversaries. In addition, my health – mental, emotional, and physical – deteriorated as the strain of being on the road 90 percent of the time and without connection to friends, family, home, and routine began to take its toll.
I was torn.
With my work, I fulfilled my calling. I was doing the job I was put on this amazing Earth to do. I was also lonely, scared, and unsure of what was happening personally. I wish I could fully articulate all that was happening during the months leading up to my decision to make a change. My friends and family who know me best could probably describe it much better than I ever could.
In the end, as the pressure built and I began to falter, I knew I needed a change.
Two things – among many – inspired me to make a radical shift in my life. In addition to the support, encouragement, and understanding I received from family, friends, and colleagues, these two things made me examine how I was living and what I was living for.
I’m sharing them with you because I’m feeling called to remind myself today of just why I manifested the changes in my life. If any of you are contemplating a major shift in how you are living, maybe they will help you as well.
The first was the film “I’m Fine, Thanks: A Documentary” produced by Adam Baker and directed by Grant Peelle. This film captures stories of people from across the United States who choose to live a different life than the one expected of them by mainstream society. It is funny, heartbreaking, and most of all, absolutely inspiring.
The second is the amazing poem by Charlotte Davies, “Revelation.” This poem moved me to tears when I first read it and then when I witnessed it paired with Seb Montaz’s brilliant cinematography…I just knew I had to move, shift, and find a new path.
What inspires you to move, shift, change, get out of a rut? What leaps have you made in your life?
If there is anything I would say to you now. Take the path less traveled, go places you’ve never seen and stretch the limits of what you believe to be possible.