Friday, March 26, 2010

Thoughts on My Name

Most of us don't put a lot of thought into our names. Much like the color of our eyes, we have our names from birth. While our name is a fairly flexible piece of ourselves in comparison to our genetic traits, it's amazing how attached I was to mine and defined I who had become by it.

I was married at a very early age and subsequently divorced not much later. Any woman out there who has gotten married knows what a pain it is, and at the time of my divorce a paperwork swaff-oo (on my own part) kept my married last name. The only way to get my birth name back was to change it via the courts and at the time that was just too much work. Besides, my career was budding and I was already engaged to be married to the second man who won me over, so what was the point?

Well, the engagement didn't work out and I am now in the process of changing my career. I wanted to be who I really am, both inside and on paper. In most venues of my personal life, I was already representing myself with my birth name but because of that piece of paper I couldn't change my name on a bank account or a pay check. So nearly seven years after the divorce, I finally took the plunge, went to court, and it's legally done.

I was surprised at how happy and different I felt, even though all I did was get a judge to sign a piece of paper. When I get my Personal Trainer certification, my birth name will go on the certificate instead of a name that represents a time in my life full of strife and growing pains (not that I am free of those). Naturally, my mother asked me what I will do if someone else proposes; a question only a mother would ask and be concerned about. My response is to deal with that if the time comes. Considering my prior experience with "disengagement" I know anything can happen. So when anything does happen, at least I can be me, through and through, while I work with whatevcr life tosses me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts on the Fear of Change

According to Newton's First Law of Motion, a body at rest will stay at rest and a body in motion will stay in motion. As life hurdles me through the journey, I've come to understand this Law does not just apply to mechanics. I believe it also applies to human beings on a psychological and spiritual level, which is why so often we need an outside force to get us going rather than come up with the force ourselves.

All too often, people stay in places they don't want to be. From bad marriages and unfulfilling careers to toxic friendships or habits, as humans we struggle to change ourselves. Change is difficult, even good change. Newly weds get "cold feet" just before walking down the aisle and I think we all have experienced job interview jitters, even if the interview is for our "dream job." How do we overcome these feelings? The force to change the velocity or direction of ourselves must come from within. We can't always rely on outside events to prompt life changes.

Recently, I have experienced the fear of change in a large way. I made the decision to start changing careers and actually took steps toward this change. I have to add the "taking steps" part because I have been contemplating changing careers for at least four years, and since then have done little but become addicted to the lifestyle my current career provides. In my "day job," I make a decent, middle-class wage. I have health insurance, three weeks a year of vacation and two weeks of sick time. I have a large desk, a great boss, a flexible schedule, and am surrounded by a group of fun and fascinating staff people. It's a non-profit that provides housing to low-income people, so there is a noble cause involved. Not only does my career make my life "better," it makes the lives of others better too.

Despite all this, I have a restlessness about myself I can no longer bury. It manifests in many ways: sometimes I'm bored when there is lots to do, sometimes I call in sick for no reason, and worse of all, sometimes I get snappy, angry, or spiteful towards the work itself or towards anyone in my path. Negative feelings bubble up like carbonation: pour on the workday and many of my unlikable traits fizz to the surface. These negative feelings become comments or actions which are unlikable at best. My career brings out the worst in me, and I don't like it. Yet it seems like a necessary evil to my survival.

The dislike for myself was just enough force from within to start making changes. My dream of being part of the health and fitness industry became an obsession. I once again began seeing myself training others, teaching fitness classes, and writing articles and books. When I talk about fitness with others, I get excited and am overflowing with ideas. I have been told more than once by people who do not know about my dream that I should "be a trainer." So finally a couple weeks ago, I took an important first step: I registered for the certification exam. There was barely enough force inside me to do this. As I typed my credit card number on the registration screen, my heart accelerated and my fingers trembled, presumably with fear of the uncertainty and commitment of follow-through this change will bring. However, as soon as I printed the confirmation email, the fearful heart rate turned to a joyful, excited one. My attitude soared so high one of my office mates noticed enough to say "Boy you're in a good mood today."

I still have a ton of fear to resolve. Not only do I have to pass the exam, but I have to be new to an industry and gain experience. As the transition ensues, I will have to balance that with the need to pay a mortgage and hopefully retain at least a semblance of my T'ai Chi studies and spiritual pursuits. I have to keep faith that just because I don't know what the road looks like, doesn't mean there isn't a road. And that I am in motion, I have the momentum to stay in motion.