"What ever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it." Goeth
“If you build it, they will come.” Field of Dreams
“Desire, ask, believe, receive.” Stella Terrill Mann
A year ago today I tapped my fingers on the blond-veneered desk in the building I had traipsed through for the last 23 years, with my stomach churning. Rumors whispered all over the complex about an imminent lay-off and my source was well placed—she sat in an office across the hall from the woman compiling “the list.” Add that to the fact that sales numbers were appalling and, I was "overhead," not revenue generating. Over the past days, meetings had been held without me—confidential information I was usually privy to in my HR role had become hush, hush. What ever else I may be, I’m not dumb. When my boss sent a message that our 2:00 meeting would be postponed but to wait to speak to her later, the heart started pounding hard. And then, I got the call.
For years I had asked myself what I would do if I no longer worked for my former employer. For equally as long, the only answer I knew how to voice was “Not this.” Blind to anything beyond the golden handcuffs of a good salary and excellent benefits, I was so stuck in the day-to-day that it was impossible for me to notice that the answer was obvious—in the newsletters, training pieces and policies I loved to author at work, in the few articles I’d had published, in the countless essays jamming the hard drive on our home computer. It was all there, trapped in a steamer trunk inside my soul—waiting for a little thing like a lay-off to unlock the door.
You know the story. The day after I got my walking papers, Middle Passages poured out of my shocked and confused fingers. What you don’t know, is that a few days later at my first outplacement meeting, I announced in front of an entire group of similarly affected individuals, that whatever I pursued in the future would have to involve writing. After that, the liquid of Middle Passages carried me through—the ease with which words flowed when I thought I had nothing there kept me kept floating when I questioned my skill, on course when I worried about direction. Readers and followers, strangers and friends alike relayed messages about my writing: “You can do this.”
Yes, I am. A year to the day later I hand out my business cards like candy in the supermarket, stuff brochures in restaurant information booths, direct strangers to my website, conduct networking phone calls with friends-of-friends, and for the first time in my work life, every dollar I earn is born of passion, diligence, commitment and joy—each penny worth a hundredfold more than the significant salary I earned before.
So, today is not an anniversary of loss; instead it’s a time to honor a milestone—a speckled quartz rock with a date etched under a glowing tribute, a felt banner hanging from the gymnasium rafters. It’s a time to savor the victories of the last year—the words that kept coming and the readers who found me and keep me here. I thank each and every one of you with a gratitude beyond any phrase I will ever construct. Through you, and Middle Passages, I maneuvered my way down the path to a place where I don’t always doubt myself—where I wake up smiling in the morning, ready to run to what ever project lies ahead.
Don’t get me wrong. Writing for my own development as well as for business is challenging. Sometimes, like yesterday, it’s pull-your-hair-out hard. But it's all good because in the last 365 days, I have learned this: as long as I ask them to—as long as I let them—words will keep coming. It’s up to me. I suspected it then. I know it now. The thought began taking shape on February 5, 2009. On February 4, 2010 I’m shouting it out loud.
I can do this.