A New Chapter (Part 5)

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Today was my last day at the company where I’ve worked my entire career.

I thought I’d at least feel a little bit sad, sentimental or sappy, but… nope. None of that. I tried to be intentional about making mental pictures as I walked through the office hallways for the last time, but I am completely and utterly relieved, at peace and basically just excited for a new life chapter!

I haven’t been telling many of my coworkers where I’m headed next, mostly because of either their anticipated judgement or the actual judgement I have faced from the few people I’ve told. When they find out I’m planning on eventually going to teaching, most of my corporate colleagues think I’m either incompetent (“she couldn’t cut it in the business world”) or think I was unwise to resign without another job lined up (“girl, what were you thinking?!”). Those who know I’m going into teaching are generally incredulous at the huge pay cut I’ll be taking, but – to quote Zac Brown Band – “there’s no dollar sign on a peace of mind.”

After I sent out my farewell note to everyone, I got a flooding of emails back, most of which asked me what I’m doing next. After an eight-year career in procurement, I was amazed at the number of people who erroneously guessed that I’m going into a field related to art or music. For a woman who has spent her career working in oil & gas surrounded by engineers and business professionals, I evidently have quite a reputation for being “artsy”!

“I know you will be very successful on your new career. Are you sharing what the new career is? Church? Singing? Photography?”

“I hope you are pursuing something in art as I know how talented you are in that area and how much you love it!”

“I always admired your capacity and ability to manipulate data and pull out tremendous insights, apart from your arty talents of coarse!”

“You are one of the most talented writers I know.”

“I knew after listening to you sing in the acapella group that you’d start your own band someday. Are you headed off to China? Or headed back to school on in an art program?”

“Enjoy your path and keep in touch.  Let me know when you have a gig at a local club.”

“My friend is opening up a new craft beer bar…  Let me know if you are for hire.”

Last week, I met up with my friend and coworker Farah for one last lunch. She said everyone’s been asking her about me, namely to ask what I’ll be doing next and then to comment, “I’m surprised it took her this long. She’s always been so miserable here.”

It really hurt my feelings to hear that I was apparently so visibly miserable. I thought I did an okay job at least just shrugging and rolling my eyes at the corporate bureaucracy like everyone else. And I was hurt that people said it felt like it took me forever to find another job. I was looking for another job for years, and – in the moment Farah shared this with me – it made me feel like a perceived failure that I couldn’t land another job for so long. But I had to remind myself of God’s faithfulness and purpose in keeping me at this other company for so many years of searching for something else.

Fortunately, Farah stood up for me in those conversations, telling my would-be insulters, “You’re miserable here. We’re all miserable here. All the things Aurora has said and felt are all the things you complain about all the time. At least she’s doing something about it!   You say you’re surprised at how long it took her to leave, but you’re still here and just as miserable as she was!”

It was nice to hear Farah’s defense of me, and it was really nice to hear from all the people who felt inspired by me and told me so. Multiple people told me privately that they think what I’m doing is brave and courageous. They told me it was inspiring to see someone walk away from the golden handcuffs of our outrageous salaries, easy jobs and comfortable lifestyle to do something they’re actually passionate about.

A young employee who already has a side hustle told me in confidence, “You’re actually making me rethink staying here.” One of my first friends ever at this company – the girl who showed me around Brussels during my first week of training – said privately, “I’m so jealous of you.” And my sweet mentee, who I meet for coffee once a week, admitted quietly, “I wish I were that brave.” You can be, I told her. And maybe you will be, I said with a smile.

A few years ago, our company constructed some new buildings on a central campus in town. I was in charge of facilitating the office move for our department, and in the final stages of the migration, my friend Valerie and I went over the to the new campus to prayer walk. I know this agnostic-run, European company would have had a fit if they knew we were walking through the brand new buildings and praying over them, but Val and I – mavericks that we are – decided to be bold in praying for God to be glorified in those buildings and our workplace. At a company as international as this, you don’t have to go to the nations; the nations are brought to you.

And so in my last moments in that new building, I again looked out over the campus and prayed one more time that God’s name would be glorified there; that many diverse nations would be brought in to work here, and that every people, tribe, tongue and nation on this campus would come to know Him intimately and personally.

And then I turned from the window, rode the elevator down, and walked out of that building forever. My work here is complete.

Authentically Aurora

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Starlight Blogger Award

Starlight Blogger Award 05/30/2015

Bitter Ben just nominated me for the Starlight Blogger Award, which is ironic, considering this award was created specifically to “celebrate the creative bloggers who have truly inspired… others through their beautiful and original content, imagery, art, abilities, and wonderful personalities.”

Wonderful personalities? Ha! Oh, Bitter Ben, you are funny…

This award is to “honor those individuals who are considered ‘the light emanating from the stars’“, and recipients are those who bring “light into your soul with their creativity“.

Don’t get me wrong. Bitter Ben inspires me all the time with his creativity. I just don’t know that his beautiful and original content would necessarily be described as bringing light into my soul. I get more of a mental image of Emperor Palpatine from Bitter Ben’s creations. And I say that in the most affectionate way possible, especially considering that Palpatine is a fellow INTJ. ❤

EMPEROR PALPATINE

Anyway, thanks, Bitter Ben. It is my honor and privilege to warm your bitter heart and occasionally give you a case of THE FEELS. After all, I’m a girl who likes a challenge. 😉

Now. Here are the rules (which, like Bitter Ben, I will not follow because I am a rebel, and the bitterness flows through me).

  1. Thank the person who nominated you. I mean, I know I already thanked you up there, but not thank you, Bitter Ben. How am I supposed to let the bitterness flow through me when you’re calling me all inspirational and light-giving and stuff?
  2. Answer three questions (more to come on this).
  3. Nominate 6 other people. I, being a rule breaker, will nominate 3: J at Salvageable, Paul over at his blog Captain’s Speech, and Ally of My Little Piece of Quiet.

Here are my answers to Bitter Ben’s questions:

1. If you had only 24 hours to live, what would you do on your last day?

I was going to be humorous in my answer to this, but then I realized that I’ve already thought about this question, and my answer is pretty heavy. So brace yourselves.

If I knew I was going to die in 24 hours, I would go into action, telling all the people in my life more freely and openly about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and why I believe faith and trust in Him is the only way into a right relationship with God and eternal salvation.

If I truly believe what I profess to believe – that the reason I am here on earth; my purpose; my very identity is all wrapped up in who God is and who I am in relation to Him – there is no other way I could spent my last 24 hours on this earth.

2. What is your favorite hiding place? Or what would you like to be your favorite hiding place?

I spent a lot of time hiding in my closet. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. When I need to think or pray or be alone and hide away from the world, I go sit on a little step stool in my closet. Since I live alone, this doesn’t necessarily  make much sense, but it’s comforting to me to sit alone in the dark. Remember, I’m an INTJ like Emperor Palpatine.

3. If you had the brains and ability to create an invention what would the invention be and how would you use it?

A teleportation device, duh. Best invention ever…. especially if your city has the kind of traffic that mine does!

Nominees, your questions to answer are:

  1. What is your favorite holiday tradition and why?
  2. What is the most difficult topic that you write about and why?
  3. What is the reason you write?

Now go forth and be inspirational!

Authentically Aurora

Bitterly Brilliant

Painting 2New, breaking research shows that over-thinkers tend to be creative geniuses. Although, in my mind, this study is hardly breaking unless it is breaking the mold that says enthusiastic extroverts are the highest performers. Or breaking the spirit of the insuppressibly happy. Or breaking the glass ceiling that prevents the bitter among us from rising to societal success (while we are still living, of course).

This study by Dr. Adam Perkins of King’s College London has found that anxious personalities plagued by negative thoughts trend toward greater creative problem solving than happy-go-lucky types. Although I appreciate when the scientific method is utilized to back up what we intrinsically know to be true, I think we can all look through history and acknowledge that the Greats of each era suffered for their genius.

Or we can just read through my old blog posts. Or talk to my mother. She has suffered my genius, lo these many years.

selfportraitVincent Van Gogh, iconic Post-Impressionist painter, suffered from severe depression and eventually committed suicide. He wrote to his brother, “I am unable to describe exactly what is the matter with me. Now and then there are horrible fits of anxiety, apparently without cause, or otherwise a feeling of emptiness… at times I have attacks of melancholy and of atrocious remorse.”

Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that writers are 121% more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder and nearly 50% more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy and Ernest Hemingway all appear to have suffered from clinical depression. Charles is my gloomy groupie, Leo is my caustic comrade, and Ernest shares my melancholy mojo. We are indeed Brothers in Bitterness.

Open TabsThe Karolinska Institute also discovered that creative types tend to have higher levels of schizotypy. *Twitch, twitch* They are less able to ignore extraneous details; their brains do not allow them to filter. As a result, they take in more information than most, exhibiting keen skills of observation.

Think of famous fictional detectives: Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Adrian Monk and Miss Fisher. All of these champions in intuition share a remarkable attention to detail, and this characteristic, coupled with their ability to synthesize vast amount of information, is largely what made them brilliant.

SherlockMasterful detectives see patterns and connections that others miss. According to American psychologist Scott Kaufman, “It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas.” But the very attention to detail that makes these characters so great also lends itself to bouts of overthinking, anxiety and OCD.

Great inventors through the ages also frequently suffered from a neurotic fretfulness. HigherPerspectives writes, “In a sense, worry is the mother of invention. When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs through the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death.”

broodingDr. Adam Perkins explained his research, saying: “It occurred to me that if you happen to have a preponderance of negatively hued self-generated thoughts, due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of the medial prefrontal cortex… that means you can experience intense negative emotions even when there’s no threat present. This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator. Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person… It is easy to observe that many geniuses seem to have a brooding, unhappy tendency that hints they are fairly high on the neuroticism spectrum.”

Anxiety is linked to a stronger imagination. OCD is associated with concentrated skills of observation. Depression is correlated with deep thinking and heightened brain function. People with these traits often exhibit what are perceived to be negative personality patterns as a result of incredibly developed, creative brain function. Like so many things in life, this creative genius is a double-edged sword. “But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” – Anne Brontë

Authentically Aurora

Helping Hand Award

Helping HandWhen I get outrageously bored and feel stuck in the mundane, I start creating – doodling in meetings, daydreaming during long commutes, or developing song lyrics while trying to stay conscious during a particularly tedious conversation.

Actually, when I get really sad… or mad… or happy… I start creating. I’m an artist. That’s what I do. But when I get bored is when I really, REALLY start to daydream and think about possibilities of what COULD be. It’s my way to escape the present.

And, in the past few weeks and months of trying to escape the present, I’ve been mulling over the idea of developing my own blogging award. I was thinking I’d call it the Encouraging Blogger Award… or something catchy like Aurora’s Award for Affirmation… or something not-so-catchy like the Not-So-Bitter Blogger Award.

But then – THEN! – I got nominated by Brighton Bipolar for this thing called the Helping Hand Blogger Award (thanks, Brighton!). I didn’t even know it existed! But it’s exactly what I’ve been daydreaming about because I’ve been wanting to let a number of you know just how much your comments and feedback mean to me.

The Helping Hand Blogger Award is meant to recognize bloggers who not only write encouraging, inspiring blogs, but also take the time to invest in their fellow bloggers through kind and insightful comments. This blogging community has been such a blessing to me over the past year; you really have become family. The best kind of family: the kind of family I never actually have to meet… or go on vacations with… or talk to about politics over Thanksgiving dinner.

But seriously. Thanks, dear blogging friends, for your support and encouragement over the past several months. A special shout out to my Helping Hand nominees, who I hope to meet someday, either on this side of heaven or the next:

Hugs,
Authentically Aurora