“Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
(Mary Oliver quote found on “Goodreads”).
I was working at my dream job. Naive, with stars in my eyes, I was a mere twenty-eight years old and part of a design team at a high profile interior design firm. The clientele included the wealthiest people in Chicago. I traveled around the country assisting the designer as he created second, third, and fourth homes for his clients.
I had my sights on making it big – and making big money – all the while being creative too! (I did say I was naive, right?).
Before taking this “dream” job I was working at Eddie Bauer on Wabash Avenue in Chicago, selling hiking boots. Now that WAS a fun job. I knew all the stats for the boots and could do a proper fit ensuring my customers had a good hiking experience. But then this opportunity arose. A friend of mine from my first career in the dance world wondered if I’d like to interview for his entry level job at the design firm. (I think I might have told him once that if he ever left that job I wanted it…so, call me, maybe?). I interviewed for it and was offered the job. Eddie Bauer countered with an offer to move up into a better position in the store, assistant management or something or other. I remember sitting with the man who became my husband and going over the pro’s and con’s of each job. I ended up leaving Eddie B’s and going with the design firm. Through that job the man who became my husband got a job too – working for the computer company who supplied the design firm with their computers. Now we both imagined a life of luxury and ease. It was after all the mid 1980’s and “everyone” was making money. (Well, not everyone. Those who were in the arts, as I had been in the early 1980’s, were NOT making money….thank you Reaganomics for slashing funding to the arts...).
Well anyway. As you might imagine, this dream job was not. Definitely not. But I did learn a lot about the lives of the really wealthy, the 1% who hold most of the wealth in this country (maybe the world? no probably not THAT wealthy)….I learned a lot about the behavior of people who feel entitled. Two memories remain with me to this day. One, the realization that one client bought a dining table for her fourth home that cost more than I made in an entire year. Just the dining table, antique French country, $35,000.00. (I think I made about $26,000.00 plus benefits and that was a pretty good income in those days). The other memory is of a client who called me irate, yelling at me because his sofa was back-ordered. It was a custom made sofa whose fabric was back ordered. I got the impression that the client thought I should call the manufacturer of the sofa and order them to produce his fabric sooner so he could have his sofa when he wanted it. Right. That didn’t happen. But honestly, the idea of it.
And then there was the staff dynamic stress. Seriously awful angry behavior.
My survival mechanism for this crazy-totally-NOT my dream job job was to practice yoga. Every morning I’d get up early and practice yoga and meditate. It helped. Through out the day I would practice the deep breathing of yoga, encouraging my body to relax even as I was being yelled at by a crazy-man.
Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?
(My therapist wondered why I stayed...)
Four years into my dream job I quit. Turns out they had a rotten maternity leave policy and I wanted more time with my newborn baby. So I quit and stayed home with my precious daughter. And I learned to really breath and to really appreciate life.
Turns out, taking care of my infant daughter, being able to stay home with my kids, was my dream job. Now my kids are grown and I have another job that I love. But I am still a mom (and a wife – we just celebrated 28 years of marriage)….. I look forward to celebrating my daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday this Friday, being her mom, making her a birthday cake.
Because it’s still the dream job of my life. So take a deep breath, there will be candles to blow out, and a lifetime of love to celebrate.