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Moving Forward

February 6, 2018

Hey-o folks. I’ve been more incommunicado than usual, I know. Feel free to lob rotten fruit and molotov cocktails in the general direction of Northern California.

In September I had a bad fall whilst doing laundry (!) and fractured my right ankle and shattered my left patella (kneecap) so ended up on two months of bed-bound rest. I used to think two months of reading, watching movies and series, doing needlepoint, and petting cats would be great. I was wrong. There is too much of a good thing. Medically-forced rest isn’t the same as a vacation, especially when you’re doing it with zero painkillers. I’ve been back at work for a couple of months now, got rid of my walker and cane, and now just have a slow limp to show off. I’ve been told it looks like a cowgirl swagger. I’ll take that.

One of the only good things about my time away from work was that I thought long and hard about the future. I didn’t know for sure if I’d be walking again without assistance. What would that look like? How would that change my life? I thought about home life, work life, and the intersection between the two. What is rewarding to me, and what is not? Where does my joy sit in the universe, and where are the pain points? Where and how do I want to spend my time on this earth, and where and how do I not?

I’m not the type of person to write a motivational post. Well, unless it’s a social justice call to action motivational post, I suppose. But here you go, some motivational shit.

Every time I see the sign below on the pavement or on a street sign, I smile.

Every time I see this sign it reminds me that in life there is no going backward. It’s a small visual kick-in-the-butt to re-focus forward. We each have a multitude of decisions we make every day. We can go left, right, straight, or anywhere in that spectrum in between–but we can’t go backward. Ruminating on the past, lamenting the past, aching for the past is absolutely without joy, because you can’t go there again. Think of the sign above again with an unlimited splay of arrows in every direction (except backward). Which way do you go today with the decision you’re facing now?

Lately I often find myself discussing the pervasiveness of the mid-30s-mid-40s crossroads mode that many of my colleagues and friends find ourselves in. Typical conversations involve questions like: Do I keep doing what I’ve been doing? Do I look for a new challenge? Something adjacent to what I do now or something totally different? Do I actually even like what I do? Do I feel like I’m good at what I do? Do I want another degree? Do I drop it all, pack it up, and move away to do something totally unrelated?

Do I keep on with my family life as it has been or look for something new? Am I satisfied, content even? Do I even like my home situation much less love it? How can I make it better? Have I become complacent? Am I good at being a mom/dad/husband/wife/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/son/daughter/whatever? Do I fake my own death and start a new life off the grid in the woods?

I don’t have the answers for myself quite yet. But after nearly a decade as a library technologist and seven years as a library administrator I’m solidly mid-career, and not sure what to do with the skills I have. Where can I do the most good? Where does my skill-set match up best with the challenges that exist in our world? After being in several long term relationships, with whom can I do the most good and where does my personality match up best with the other person’s?

And I keep looking at that street sign. No matter what, in my personal and professional life I need to keep moving forward. What’s gone before matters less than keeping my eyes trained to my front and sides and looking for opportunities. Because you never know when that one word, that one conversation, that one chance encounter, is going to take place that changes your course for the better.

“Moving Forward”

  1. Wayfinding and balance at mid-career | Information Wants To Be Free Says:

    […] Sarah Houghton (who I believe is exactly the same age as I am or pretty darn close) wrote about being mid-career and at a personal and professional crossroads without any clear sense of direction but knowing that forward is the only way to go. Veronica […]

  2. Mid-career musings – Gavia Libraria Says:

    […] Moving Forward by Sarah Houghton-Jan […]

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