piss & vinegar

My mother used to tell me I was full of piss and vinegar. I never quite knew what she meant by that.  It was one of those things your parents tell you that pique your curiosity, but never quite go anywhere.  It usually was something she’d say when I was making lots of plans–which I did quite often.  In fact, that may have been my primary hobby when I wasn’t doing something I had to do!

I thought of that this afternoon.  A friend of mine had laughed at a text I sent him about how I now have my entire life planned out.  Except if I get married in the next five years.  That could be a problem.  Ha.

He told me I seemed to be in mastermind mode lately.  Like I’m creating something out of nothing or something.

I sort of am.  It feels very familiar to me, actually.  It’s exciting.  I love researching cool things and planning out how I will do them.  I love knowing all the details and figuring out the steps I’ll need to take to get there.

But it’s also a bit overwhelming.  This morning, before that text, I called my roommate to get his opinion about when I should do what and if he knew about this or that.  And of course, he didn’t.  Because why would he?  He said it sounded like I didn’t need to decide right now, since it was MONTHS away, and maybe I should just look at my options.  I agreed–acknowledged my feelings of OH_MY_GOD–and just did research.

The thing is–I can’t just research things and not get gut feelings or form opinions.  While I recognize gray areas and embrace them, often, I can also be very black and white.  I have strong reactions to things.  I have a strong intuition, too.  And part of me–that scared part of me–wants a plan there–wants to know everything.

So, I’m really, really good at making plans.  But I’m also super good at changing my mind.  Those gut reactions–those feelings–weigh so heavily on how I live my life.  Something could look perfect on paper–could be perfectly fine–but I might not grab it like I feel I should.  And that sends waves of doubt and that causes a whole host of rapid fire decisions to be made.  It’s kind of what happened when I started that teaching program.  Up until doing it, I had nothing but confidence in it.  All my interviews and conversations had felt spot-on.  But I didn’t end up with the people I met initially.  I ended up in a different city with people who felt very different from me.  And what I expected wasn’t really what they delivered.  Had things gone different ways, I might have very different opinions.  But who I was then–and who they were then–did not mesh.  And what was expected of me was not something I could deliver wholeheartedly.

It’s that whole best laid plans thing.  I never went into it lightly.  I did all kinds of research.  I was sure.  But it’s sort of like online dating.  You can talk every day on the phone and just know that guy is yours. But, sometimes, you kiss the guy and all you know is “not it.”

Part of that is just the nature of living.  We all have blindspots.  We change over time.  And there’s an undeniable alchemy that happens when people come together.  You never know how it will feel.  Feeling, for me, has always been a challenge.  But–in recent years–how I feel determines my commitment.  It never used to.  I used to be able to power through anything.  Now–though–it’s pretty much everything.  I know suffering is part of life.  As a Buddhist (baby), I’ve come to that lens of understanding the world.  I know this.  I will bump into immense pain, sometimes.  Most of these times, the pain is of my own making.  Events happen that suck.  But I choose my reactions.  I choose to hold on tight to the pain.  I make myself suffer.  I choose the wrong thing–often unknowingly.  No matter how much I plan and get attached to these plans, I can’t spare myself this.

But sometimes, you can just see the freight train coming.  Sorta like I know staying in Denver will leave me flat like a pancake.  I could stay and, in many ways, it’s less painful.  It’s less expensive.  It’s comfortable.  It doesn’t involve an insane road trip with my three hellions.  But it’s also safe and uninteresting and painful in ways that aren’t obvious.  Sometimes, you choose more pain because you know it’ll make you stronger.  Sort of like exercise.  No one really loves the journey, but few of us fail to appreciate the outcomes.

I used to be much more attached to my plans.  Rigid, probably.  I knew that was changing when my ex and I planned vacations.  I was so annoyed with his planning of every detail.  I realized how much I appreciated spontaneity–paying attention to how I felt instead of what was on paper.

So, I’m trying to stay fluid–giving myself options.  All of this means rolling with the punches and adapting to what is.  A strength of mine, but sometimes a weakness.

I’ve decided to just full-on go for it.  Since deciding I wanted to be an art therapist, I’ve adjusted a few millions times.  Usually after seeing admission requirements.  Mountains of volunteer work, several course requirements, and other ridiculousness that I’m sure is quite worthwhile–but equally unrealistic.  I took my art courses as pass/fail in undergrad, so I doubt they’d count.  I never took psych in undergrad.  I work full-time.  Life is not full of free time, ever.  So, finding time to volunteer in ways I’d like and finding time and money to take classes before I can even apply to something that isn’t guaranteed is not a good thing.  I have MAT and GRE scores, so that’s fine.  But I get easily frustrated by such things.

Despite that, this time, I just decided that the right program would somehow just find me.  But I wasn’t going to compromise.  If I’m going to do this, I’m going to go for everything.  I’m not going to get a traditional degree and then take some workshops.  Nope.

I found three decent options in the Bay Area.  One looked great, but had sucky reviews.  One my roommate’s ex went to, in San Francisco proper.  And one was very Catholic and small…like my alma mater.  It was also in the Peninsula where we likely will be.  Both of these programs didn’t require tests or stupid psych courses.  (“Recommended, not required” is a beautiful phrase).  The Catholic school did require studio art classes–which would mean me taking some courses over the next year, but I love that and need that anyway.  Not ideal, but doable.  It also had a teaching credential program I can complete in a year.  The school feels familiar.  Traditional and respected, but solid and focused on learning.  The other school is a bit woo-woo.  But it offers all the things I’ve been looking for and feels very vibrant.  And it would get me into the city often, which would be amazing.

My plan is to finish my stupid MNM degree, which has now been pushed to Spring since they canceled the fall course.  That works out and means I’ll be in Navajo country this Spring sometime.  I’m going to continue to work on the UX/UI career transition, but hope to make that move in the next 1-2 years.  I’m going to tackle my art therapy degree first.  I think I’ll apply to the woo-woo school.  It’s a three year program, so it’ll give me time to be completely out of my current industry and into more working on my terms.  Internships are 3rd year stuff, so that means I’ll have more time for me.  Which means I’m going to travel like the vagaband I am before internships start.  Once I’m done with that, I’ll get my teaching credential at the Catholic school.  And then decide if the PhD is what I really want to do.  (I think it is).  I’ll either teach or counsel people for a little while.  Then from there, I’ll either go to Boston or New Orleans for that PhD (should the path continue on).

Of course, plans change, but that’s my rough outline.  That’s where I’m aiming my darts.

I like this plan, but it’s fun to think about the idea that I have no idea what I’ll bump into on this journey.


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