The Great Unknown.

A long December and there’s reason to believe/

Maybe this year will be better than the last/

I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin’/

Now the days go by so fast.

– Counting Crows

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I’m not very good at New Year’s resolutions. Oh sure, I make them. I make them every year, without fail. I’m just not very good at keeping them.

I approach every New Year with renewed enthusiasm, determined that this year will be the year that all of my dreams come true. But anyone who’s ever abandoned their resolve before the close of January will likely agree: it’s one thing to make grand promises in a happy, hopeful champagne haze as the clock strikes midnight, and quite another to do the hard work of goal setting, holding yourself accountable, and meeting the necessary self-imposed deadlines on the way to achieving personal growth.

But this January, I stand on the precipice of a very different year. It’s a year where change is inevitable. A year that has challenged me to live differently. A year that has proposed a dare.

Shortly after my grandfather died, I returned to Los Angeles to discover that the small company I’ve worked at for the last 11 years – essentially my entire adult life – had been sold. There was a new job waiting for me in another state. But not just any state:  it was the state where I was born, where members of my family lived, and where I’d been thinking about moving back to. Surely this was the universe giving me a sign, right?

Well, maybe not. The closer I looked at the job and the ways my life would change if I accepted it, the more the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach grew. While a piece of my heart would always reside in the Pacific Northwest, it was actually all of the time I had recently spent there seeing my grandfather through hospice that opened my eyes to how much I still love my life in L.A. True, Los Angeles can be a harsh and difficult place to live, but it’s also a place of tremendous energy and excitement. It has been my home for fifteen years, and in that time I have built a solid community of amazing friends and gifted creative collaborators. I had been seriously considering leaving L.A., but after my grandfather died, I realized that I wasn’t ready to. There was still too much left undone – opportunities unexplored, projects unfinished – for me to walk away now. If I left before I felt ready, I knew I’d be filled with regret.

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Still, staying in L.A. meant no job, and stability had always been important to me. In contrast to my old position with the small company – where I’d sacrificed pay increases for the ability to work from home, maintain a flexible schedule, and have a tremendous amount of autonomy – this new company was much bigger, and much more corporate. It was a grown-up job. I’d be an integral part of their marketing team, with the ability to climb the corporate ladder and build an impressive resume. This job was a sure thing.

But once I got really quiet and listened to my inner voice, I realized that there is no such thing as a “sure” thing. Here’s what I believe instead: we trick ourselves into investing in “safe” choices and manufacturing the illusion of security to distract ourselves from the terrifying truth that everything goes away. Even us. Anyone who has ever received that phone call, or that diagnosis or that pink slip knows that the foundation upon which we build our lives is fragile, and it only takes a sudden, unexpected gust of wind to send everything tumbling down.

I never thought that, at thirty-five, both of my parents would be dead, and my grandparents, too. I never thought that I’d get married, and that it wouldn’t work out. I never thought that the company I had worked at since I was twenty-three would leave the state, taking my job with it.

But all of those things happened. I wasn’t ready for any of them, but they happened all the same.

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My father was a serious risk taker. I wish I was more like him. In truth, I’m kind of a chicken. Not Dad. He preferred to put it all out on the line and roll the dice. Sometimes, he lost, and he lost big. But he also won, and his winnings made him tremendously successful. It is because of that success and the money that resulted from it that I realized something else: I don’t have to settle for a life I don’t want to live.

A few days before Christmas, I turned down the “safe” job to stay in L.A. For the first time in my life, I’m going to see what it means to not work in service of someone else, but instead to invest in building my dreams and the higher vision of my life. It is a choice that terrifies me, but it is the only choice that I could make. Here’s something else that I believe: my fear is less about running out of the money my parents left me and more about the fact that taking accountability for my life means that there’s no one else to blame if it all goes wrong.

So here I go. This New Year, I am plunging into the great unknown. I am filled with gratitude for the gift my parents have given me, and filled with fear that I’ll screw it up. But my gratitude is bigger than the fear. So is my determination. And so is the quiet, unwavering voice inside of me telling me that this is the right thing to do.

It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe/

Maybe this year will be better than the last/

I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself/

To hold on to these moments as they pass/

And it’s one more day up in the canyon/

And it’s one more night in Hollywood/

It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean . . . I guess I should.

Until next time, friends

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44 thoughts on “The Great Unknown.

  1. Wishing you all the best! BTW I prefer setting goals for the year now instead of making resolutions… It gives me a whole year to accomplish them… And sometimes we need to practice a skill before we get good at it! Takes the pressure off!

  2. “Here’s something else that I believe: my fear is less about running out of the money my parents left me and more about the fact that taking accountability for my life means that there’s no one else to blame if it all goes wrong.”
    Loved reading it. The photos are brilliant. They talk so much about your feelings.
    Happy New Year and wish you all the very best.

  3. Good luck! Nothing but hope for your future. I am also someone who prefers playing it safe, but the few times I have decided to take a chance have always been worth it, win or lose. Betting on yourself is never a mistake.

  4. Okay….first post went way!! grrr…i’ll try to recapture my thoughts….yes well, good for you. I think you are in the right time and place for you. You’ve clearly taken a step that needs to be taken for you and what the hell, I mean you’ve already lived and done what not in the N.W. I sense there are many things that amount to the “unfinished business” that is L.A. In the end, better to do that over the “safe” path, as you noted, and have no regrets; no matter the outcome. The important issue of taking the risk and going with your passion is clearly a decision made with tempered ambition, recent lessons and the growth you’ve navigated through as life has and will force you to face is already serving you well and I sense your parents would be proud of and are perhaps resting easy as they watch over you. Not knowing you beyond a just a couple of your blog posts doesn’t seem to give me any reason to believe you will one day be repeating your words begining with “I never thought I would….” that will end in your basking in the satisfaction of achieving some of your life’s goals and dreams. Can’t wait to read those posts and I hope we’re going to get all the good stuff while you journey on……..I’m a fan.

  5. You’ve got me too! Also a fan having discovered your blog yesterday. Also 35, it seems we have many shared experiences, so I will continue to follow with great interest. I echo Jaimeas’ words too – wishing you all the very best for 2016! Look forward to seeing how your journey progresses!

  6. Very well written. It touched my heart as I too went through a similar loss and at age 32 have lost both parents and grandparents. I too am embarking on this new journey of self fulfillment. It’s scary but so is life. Good luck to you!

  7. Wow , you are really brave and strong , and so true , everybody wants a safe life but while you are running after that you forget the main thing … living . Taking risks is human … Failing is human …but can only know light when you saw the dark 🙂 So good luck and i think lots of people believe in you and that your dreams come true 🙂

  8. Very brave post and very introspective. When we think we know the safest option, we never really had one in the first place! Looking forward to exploring your blog (:

    Happy New Year,

    Chelsey

  9. Dear Sarah –
    Yay! LA is a great choice. Even more importantly, you have said yes to yourself and YOU are a truly great choice.

    As Tyrone Wells wrote (Time of our Lives),”…the hardest part is the when you know” Now that you know, Sarah – the hardest part is behind you. And, you are in for the time of your life.

    I write with a little bit of envy. You made a choice at a great age and stage your life. I made similar choices, but not until much later in life. That’s my one reqret – that I didn’t have enough courage at a younger age. You do… and you did…

    And, now the sometimes gritty but always glorious City of Angels has one more real life angel committed to sharing her heart and soul and time and talent. As I said – Yay!

    Melanie

    • Oh Melanie,

      Even though the circumstances that brought us into each others’ lives were unfortunate, I am incredibly grateful to know you. Thank you for your kind support and encouragement, your wisdom, your wonderful, giving heart. I feel you cheering for me and it spurs me forward. And know that I am cheering for you, too. Sending you so much love and I hope you know that you can still do the things you want to do. It’s not too late. You just have to decide, and take a first step. xoxo

  10. Los Angeles. My hometown. It’s a scary place where the most beautiful dreams come true. It’s people like you that make L.A. what it is-a city of dreams, accomplishment, success, and fortune. Good Luck. I miss my city everyday.

  11. I enjoyed reading this. I felt like I was reading about myself because I to fear change. Change in job security. Change in places I move to. Change in about anything I choose to do in life is scary. But truthfully it always seems to work out for the best after I change anything in my life. I wish you the best of luck!!

  12. I loved reading this one, up and down several times 🙂 Your write ups put me in a peaceful cocoon! I guess its worth all the chaos, when you plunge in and grab the chances in your life, and I hope to follow this path 🙂 thank you for a beautiful post 🙂

  13. Eu sempre adorei as fotos da natureza e tudo o mais. Não conheço o mar mas tenho vontade de conhecer. Enfim, estas fotos ficaram incríveis, adorei a cor brilhante do sol, isso pra mim é magnífico.

  14. It is funny how sometimes we are trying really hard to choose between two options and actually life has prepared for us a third one – something completely different. In April i could not sleep for a few days trying to figure out should I go to Singapore for an year doing a proffesional internship and building my career or should I stay in my country – Bulgaria and take control over the family business. Well, at the end I ended up in Southampton, NY and right now I am in Denver, Colorado neither doing an internship nor being in the family business. That is the beauty of life. You just need a good heart, positive attitude and patience. 🙂

  15. Lamps are us; and beings of constant changing motion.

    The recreation of one’s life is an internal motion, it’s necessary or else we become lamps without the shades; you know old furniture, and who wants to be tweed, leatherette, or avocado Gucci forever?

    We are spiritual being, the species human in constant changing motion; if we are not, then life is over prior to the age of our Physical body’s expiration date. I am not sure I would have wanted to be planted wearing blue denim bell bottoms, burlap sack shouldered linen five button collared shirt and fake suede waffle stompers, those cloned lug soled city boots. Or a three piece polyester disco suit. I cannot stand redundancy and yesteryear’s fashions.

    Did you get your nuts fixed upon he Catalytic Converter? : )

  16. My pleasure Sarah. and thank you for your kind comment, it really means a lot to me, and I will cherish your words, thank you : )

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