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Monday, January 4, 2016

An Amish Taxi Driver or a Zumba Instructor

Now, what?   I've been unemployed for seven weeks, my mind is unclouded and I’m feeling as sane as a bipolar person can be, but now what?    I will be fifty years old in March and I am at a crossroads in my life.

For many years, I lived with undiagnosed bipolar disorder.   This left me with a messy trail of mistakes and reckless decisions, not  to mention broken relationships and broken hearts.  I usually changed jobs while in a manic state but always had another opportunity lined up.   Most decisions were not well thought.    When manic, you’re grandiose and firmly believe everything you do will be a success.    Unfortunately, this is almost never the case.   Even my decision to go to Business College after high school was a manic decision.   I didn’t know what to do with my life, and I was terrified of failure.   I had never been one of the "beautiful people" in high school, so my self-esteem was in the toilet.    My mind raced so much it was impossible for me to pay attention, read and study, as a result, my grades were mediocre at best.    Six months after graduation, my mother gave me three choices, get a job, go to school or move out.    So I felt going to school would buy me enough time to formulate a life plan.   

When I was ten years old, I wanted to be a writer.   I had won a contest at my elementary school and my short story was featured in the school newsletter.   I thought I had a gift.   That same year I was humiliated publicly by my teacher.   I was writing a story for our English class and she grabbed my rough draft and began reading it aloud.   As she read my unfinished essay word for word with misspellings and bad grammar, everyone laughed at me.     Then she looked at me with contempt in her eyes and sneered, “You will never be a writer.”   Ashamed, I gave up my dream of writing that day.   While in business school, I was told by my instructor that I should find another field of study because my poor spelling and communication skills would never allow me to succeed in business.  Maybe these teachers were wrong.   Over the years, I have supported my children and my entire family on the wage of a secretary.   I have bolstered the careers of many through my writing and communication skills.  I have helped build companies from the floor up, but always have remained in the background.    Maybe now it’s my turn to shine.   

This is the first time I’ve made a decision with a clear head.   My husband has graciously allowed me the opportunity to discover what I want to be when I grow up.   I sense he may be apprehensive about some of my money making ideas, and with good reason.   When I had my breakdown in 2006 and lost my job,  I decided to make “Foo Foo Flip Flops.”   I worked for weeks crocheting these fluffy summer shoes in the hopes of selling them at a profit.   I was sure I would make thousands of dollars and build a foo-foo empire!   I created business plan projections, brochures, business cards and displays, but then the depression hit and along with it self-loathing and despair.     I gave up overnight.   It was as if a fire hydrant bursting with water for days had suddenly been shut off.    That is what a manic depressive episode feels like to me.   You're on the top of the world on the highest mountain overlooking God's glory, and then drop over the edge, fall to the bottom of the ocean, and find yourself deep below, buried under whale poop! 

After my 2006 breakdown, we moved twice and I worked three part-times jobs.   The stress of these major  life changes led me into a  manic episode and I then decided to become a wedding planner.   Over the course of three weeks, I complied a thick three-ring binder filled with a business plan, brochures and business cards.   I even built a website and got my minister’s license online!   Then came the wave of depression, and I became too afraid and anxious to continue.   I officiated only one wedding, and then put my three ring binder of dreams in the closet next to my box of Foo Foo Flip Flops.   

Recently, I made a list of activities I enjoy and previous jobs I have had.  I’ve acquired quite a repertoire of job skills over that last thirty years, but do I really want to go back to an office?   Or a better question would be, CAN I work in an office again?  The pressure, stress, and office politics has been too much for me to bear.   Do I really have the mental strength to play the business game?

Luckily today, I have choices.   Instead of fixating on past employment, I decided to concentrate on the things that bring me joy.  Zumba made my top ten list.   I have been taking Zumba classes regularly for two years.   I love the feeling I get from exercise, it helps to eliminate stress and keeps my weight at a manageable level.  It's been an incredible tool in controlling my bipolar disorder symptoms.   That's it!  I’ll be a Zumba instructor!   Wait a minute....reality check.. I just remembered catching a  glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror during class.   Did you ever see that episode of “Seinfeld” where Elaine is dancing?  Well, unfortunately, that’s me!      Maybe becoming a Zumba instructor isn’t such a good idea.  

Another favorite thing I love to do is visit Amish Country.   We live twenty minutes from Mesopotamia and thirty minutes from Middlefield, which are large Amish communities.   Maybe I’ll be an Amish Taxi driver?   They always need drivers to take them to Walmart!   I’m still seriously contemplating this idea! 

The number one thing I love to do is write.   Am I good at it?  Not according to my elementary school teacher.    Can I make money at it?   Well, so far I’ve made a whopping seven cents from my weekly blog.   My husband jokes and says he’s going to leave me for a gal who can bring home, at least, a dime!   Is it something I enjoy?  Yes, most definitely!  Right now, we are surviving, our bills are paid and we have food in the pantry.   I have lived poor for thirty years, so in a way, I've been training for this moment my entire life!    Until I discover which road to take, I’ll continue to pray my rosary, trust God, and write my weekly blog.  

Today, I have a clear mind, I'm not manic, I'm not depressed and  I'm confident that with the help of God, I can be anything from an Amish Taxi Driver to a Zumba Instructor.   But being human, I tend to be impatient.   I want results now!   I want a clear sign from God on what to do with the rest of my life.   So today, I cry out "Come on God! Give this crazy Catholic girl a break and show her which path to take!"      Hey, that rhymes, maybe I'll try poetry!


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