The Story of My Life

This week we’re finishing up a major renovation of a 1940’s home in Avondale. Before I started this project, I was feeling desperate to work on a major construction project that involved creativity and benefitted the community in some way. I had taken about a year and half to rest, work less and think about what I really wanted to spend my time doing.

I felt stuck and frustrated at how difficult it had been to get a Passive House project off the ground.

So when Donna Florio approached me to work on this house, I was thrilled. I also imagined that after having spent more time relaxing and meditating, it would be easier to stay balanced while working on the project. I was wrong!!

I was able to still take some time for myself, but this project has been all consuming. All my obsessive-compulsive tendencies were hanging out right below the surface just waiting for an opportunity to shine!

My obsessive need to finish projects and to have things run smoothly is in part what makes me a good project manager, but it’s also what keeps me up at night and keeps me working ‘til 7 and on weekends without any energy or attention left for anything else.

The good thing is that I can do that for a few months at a time and take a break. I love building so, so much, but it’s a world of intense, perpetual stress. I think that unless I am able to magically uncover some coping strategies that I don’t know I have, I won’t be able to do large projects back -to -back indefinitely. But as long as I can work myself to death for a few months and then take a month or two to have fun and be a little more chill, my brain should have a chance to remember how to exist without the adrenaline of constant chaos.

I have also realized (which is probably pretty obvious to most people) that I can’t have 3 careers at the same time. I love interpreting, translating, postural therapy and building, but I can only focus on two at a time and truly do a good job. And I still have so much to learn about all of my professions, so I also need time to keep educating myself.

At the moment, as we finish this project, I’m overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’m thankful for all of the amazing workers that have been a part of this. I can’t do my job without good, reliable subcontractors, and the relationship I develop with them and the quality of work they do, just blows me away. When I’m on the jobsite and we’re all working together, it almost feels like vacation because we laugh and joke and learn from each other. It’s so incredibly rewarding to see how much a whole crew of people can get done in one day!

I’m also incredibly grateful for my work at Children’s. It has provided me with stability and flexibility at the same time. I never have to worry about going hungry, but they are so adaptable to my schedule that I’m able to pursue other things that I love. That’s a rare gift in the business world. My world had become a little too one dimensional when I was at the hospital everyday, but now that I’m there part-time, I’m able to appreciate what a wonderful opportunity it is.

I’m also so, so grateful for the internal peace that I’ve found. Even on the most stressful of days when I’m in tears because of all that’s gone wrong, there’s a general undercurrent of peace in my life. Although my spirit is still restless, I love what I’m doing. The one question that remains in my mind is whether or not I’m playing it too safe. My life is so comfortable that I wonder if I should take a giant leap of faith and travel the world or head to a third world country to do more hands on work, even with all my fears about giving up the illusion of security and a retirement plan. But in the meantime, for the first time in my life, I know that I’m doing what I love and what I’m good at.

I think my work life will continue to fluctuate with some combination of oral interpreting, written translating, building, and postural therapy for the moment. And in my free time I want to dance a WHOLE, WHOLE LOT! I want to spend time exploring the outdoors. I want to spend time with my family and close friends. I want to fall asleep at night reading books that inspire me and to write every now and then when I get a chance.

It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how I’ve changed. I still see the stuck places within me, and I want to be willing to open myself more and more to being vulnerable and available for other people. But I no longer feel aggression towards myself. I don’t hate myself or my body anymore. For the most part, I trust myself and know how to listen to what I need. I don’t have a long list of shoulds or ideas about what I ought to be doing to make other people happy. And the luxury of love, freedom, safety, a comfortable bed, and the trees and the birds outside my window is so much more than enough. It’s a dream come true.

I keep hearing the Dalai Lama’s voice saying, “we all the same, you, me, we all same.” I’ve learned to love and accept my own humanity and that allows me to see the humanity within others.

I hadn’t written in a long time, and I think there are many reasons for that. But one of them is that I often wonder if I have anything worth saying. I wonder if I can say anything important that hasn’t already been said a million times. And for every idea or argument that I can come up with, I also imagine the validity of looking at things from a different vantage point than my own. So it’s hard to say anything with certainty when I know there are a hundred other angles that also express the truth.

I also have just been caught up with the idea of living, just living life without feeling like I have to explain it or make sense of it all.

So as I sat down today to finish this blog post, I realized that this blog isn’t about being right or wrong or having flawless theories on life, love, government or race, but it’s just about documenting my experience- the experience of one tiny human being on this planet.

When my grandparents moved out of the house they had lived in for 50 years, I found my great, great grandmothers diary. She had traveled to China and done some amazing things, but that wasn’t what impressed me about her. I just found myself wanting to know her. And the things she wrote about gave me insight into what her story was, who she was as a person and what mattered to her. That’s what I cared about, and I was so grateful that she had put some of that on paper so that I could know her a little and at the same time, understand a little more about where I’d come from. In every person’s unique story, there are experiences that are universal and validating to other people that read them, and there are things that many other people won’t relate to. But I still believe every story is worth telling, which is what I had to remind myself of today.