Do you ever have those moments, they only happen every once in a while, when things seem to snap into focus and you can suddenly see things that weren't there before? Maybe you had a sense of something but could never find clarity . . . you stumbled around, bumping into things until WHAM a door opens and all of a sudden you see what you need? And you didn't even have a name for what you needed, you could only sense it, until it's right in front of you, and then, you know, you just KNOW, that's what you were looking for? And after seeing this thing, whatever it was, you knew which direction you needed to move in? And it helped make all the other decisions so much easier? Because now you know what's essential and what isn't and what will help you towards your goal because FINALLY you know what your goal is?
I don't have any tattoos, but I thought once that if I were to get one, I'd like it to be an image of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, looking out the doorway of her house, post-tornado, seeing the colorful scene of Oz for the first time. That's what I'm talking about - seeing things the way you've never seen them before.
I've had those experiences a few times in my life . . . it's happened in my marriage, in my parenting, in my spiritual life. I've had mini-moments like this in my working life, and they've happened a lot over the past few years. I had one when I realized what degree program I was going to get into.
Well, I've been thinking a lot over the past months about what direction my work life will go in. I have the things I care about, and the lifestyle I have to maintain (less about stuff, more about quality time with the family). I have the equation of work experience + education (or lack thereof). I have what seems to be my skill set (as discovered so far, at least). I have what opportunities are available to me in my city, region and during this recession.
I know I want to help people. I know I need to make a living and that I'll be the main breadwinner for at least a few more years until my husband graduates and gets a stable teaching job. I know what issues I care about and specifically things that really spark my mind within those larger issues.
One question of mine has been - do I continue into a Master's program? If so, what type? Another Non-Profit/Public Service generalist program? Or something more specific, like Public Policy or Public Health? Do I really even understand what I'd be learning in those degrees? Would they serve me for what I want to do? What DO I want to do, after all?
Another question has been - what sort of job can I get, with my specific background and education? Can I step into a higher role in an organization even though I've never done that sort of work before? If I have to start at the bottom, will I make enough money to support my family? Am I truly satisfied with being the lady behind the desk who makes it possible for others to go out and fight the good fight? Do I want to do some fighting myself? Will fighting wear me out so I'm not good when I go home? What time will I get home, anyway?
Am I missing something? I do this a lot - feel a pull towards something, think I need to radically change my life to incorporate that new thing, and after a while, determine that really I just needed to make some small changes. Am I doing that now? Do I really just need to get back into volunteering? Or is this really something I can do professionally?
What if I think I want to do this (whatever this is) professionally, and it turns out I'm no good? Can I handle that? What if I invest my time and money into an education for this direction and it turns out I'm not good at it? Or my specialized degree doesn't really do much for what I end up working with? Or I realize, too late, that this isn't really the direction I should have gone in? What if I plan and invest in going North, when really I should be going Northwest?
Anyway, all of that rambling spilled out of me because I wanted to say this: I think a door may have opened for me today. Maybe it was just a window. But through someone else's link, I came across an organization that puts all the things I care about into one mission statement, and that mission statement is this:
The mission of the Center for Community Change is to build the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better.
All the things I want to do? That I care about and never get tired of talking about and learning about? The things that affect me and everyone around me? Wrapped up in that mission statement. Neat and tidy.
This organization is based in DC and I won't be moving there, I think I'll likely be in Chicago for the rest of my life . . . at the very least until my kids are out of school. But if an organization like that exists, and this being Chicago and all, chances are, someplace in Chicago has a mission like that too.
I just have to find it.