Wednesday, April 27, 2016

About that dream you have...

That thing that you always wanted to do… do it!
Yes, that’s really me in my NPS park ranger uniform.  Because, I DID IT!
We are not taught to live this way.  It’s easy to get caught in the trap of living for tomorrow.  Putting off our dreams until we retire.  Staying in jobs that make us feel stuck.  Instead of taking a leap and making our dreams happen right now. 

We make excuses. We think we have to do the job we went to school for, and then got a PhD for.  The ego gets involved and it's easy to start believing the size of our paychecks matters. Until we think that we didn’t have a choice anymore. 

But you do have a choice.  You can do that thing you always wanted to do.  You can ignore the “what ifs” and stop making excuses.  You can carefully plan your escape, step by step.  Then you can work to make it a reality, even if it takes a while.
My first step was serving as an AmeriCorps member in Montana State Parks.  Next, I volunteered (nearly) full-time as a VIP at a national monument.
 It won’t be what you expect. It will be frustrating, terrifying, and stretch your limits.
Sometimes I thought, “Did I spend all those years getting a PhD just so I could take out the trash and clean bathrooms?”
Sometimes I thought, “What am I doing shoveling snow and not even getting paid?
But I was genuinely happy working outside in one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been.  I got to help other people enjoy the trail.  Which is, basically, the one thing that I believe in the most— helping get people outside and enjoy nature.  When you are doing the thing you feel is your mission in life, you find that deep satisfaction within.  The little stuff, like the size of your paycheck and your status, don't really matter as much as you thought.
Plus, I got paid in sunsets.
When you finally get to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, it will feel like you have a smile warming your heart all the time.  It will be so much more than anything you imagine.
The smile sort of says it all.
It may turn out to be only sort of what you expected.  You may think, "What have I done!?”  But then it’s also the coolest thing.  It feels so incredibly right that you can’t imagine why you waited so long.  You wake up every morning and think, WOW, I’m living the dream.

If you are out there, wondering if you should take the leap and make a change in your life.... DO IT!

15 comments:

  1. I think it's great you made the leap. I won't make excuses as to why I don't quit to write full time...because to me they are valid reasons. However, I make sure to find adventure in the small spaces I have, and keep my eyes on the prize!

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    1. I love how you somehow find a way to prioritize, and keep hiking and your passions as part of your life! I think of you as someone who has managed to find the balance that others of us find so elusive.

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    1. Thanks, Renee-- you're an inspiration, and I'll never forget how that night with you on the AT got the wheels turning. :)

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  3. Hi Joan, it's been a long while since I have read your posts and I saw this today. Agreed, right down to the part about DO IT... We exchanged comments back when you were hiking the PCT. Thought you might like to know you are not alone...I gave notice at my job and am setting out to do what I want, not what I went to college for and have been doing for 16 years! If you feel like it check out my blog, twodustysoles.wordpress.com And if you are working at a park in MT, might even see us travel through this summer! :) Congrats, very happy for you. It is a hard decision to make but man doesn't it feel good once you do!

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    1. Hi Aimee, I remember! I'm delighted to see your blog-- how wonderful that you are making the leap too! WOW! It makes me so happy to find a little community, and definitely feel less crazy/alone knowing that more of us are out there. So inspiring! Please please let me know when you travel through northwest Montana/ Glacier/ Kalispell- would love to help you out/ meet you/ whatever.

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  4. WISDOM . . . if only it was given out to us at a much younger age. $ doesn't buy happiness or quality life, nor does status, nor does all that stuff we feel essential to accumulate. Quality of life is the key to happiness. It's our choice to make the sacrifices necessary to bring about change in our life. It's up to us to write our own life chapters. You are a great example of what it takes. HAPPINESS WINS! Congrats on taking that leap of faith.

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    1. It took me such a long time to figure out this lesson. The part that remains hardest is the status-- my identity was so tied into that-- I'm still learning to let it go.

      Thanks for being part of my inspiration-- it helps to have other kindred spirits that show what it means to live a good life, to be trailblazers for defining our own journeys and not taking the well-beaten path.

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  5. okay this is pretty darn cool, do you get to carry a gun? :-D

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    1. Are you kidding?! Me with a gun?!

      The uniform and badge were plenty. :)

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  6. and if your dream is being so close with nature it is indeed a huge dream to live and be blessed with. good for you.

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    1. Thanks, Joe! Yes, I'd been seeking a way to be immersed in nature beyond just weekends. This showed me the possibilities!

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  7. Ok, you look adorable in that uniform! Congratulations! This sounds really exciting. I love your adventure.

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    1. Aww thanks so much! Yep, I still can't believe I got a **real uniform**

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  8. Just catching up on your blog and read this post and was reminded of a quote, "Ships in harbor are safe, but that's not what ships were built for."- J. Shedd. Anyway, wanted to send you my congrats. Your journey has taken you far, Hemlock! Best of luck.

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