A Side-Step is Still a Step in the Right Direction

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~ Anatole France

As if Facebook wasn’t distracting enough, it further flexes its chokehold on me with the “memories” feature which pops into my feed with my old posts from the same day from a year ago, 3 years ago, 6 years ago, etc. It is marketing genius if you ask me, and by genius I mean it sucks you into a time-void and spits you out hours later when half the afternoon has vanished into thin air. I mean how fun is it to see how far you’ve come since that bad ex-boyfriend, that first pie you baked, or partying in Vegas before your Vegas-expiration-age hit (yes folks, when one Fireball shot does you in and your “nightclub” high heels hurt before you even leave the house, that’s when you know your Vegas jaunts are sadly a thing of the past).

That’s the fun about the past though — those memories can haunt you or empower you. Sometimes I cringe about the things I shared on Facebook years ago. Totally TMI stuff. Sometimes I think about how innocent and naive I was. Sometimes I see these past memories in my Facebook feed and wonder if anything has changed about me at all. It has been interesting to see all those Facebook snippets pop up from the past — they remind me just how far I’ve come.

It is surreal to think that just 7 years ago I visited Austin for the first time ever; now I am living here.

Back then I was living a comfortable life in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I’d lived for most of my life. Somewhere between now and then my uterus was growing things it shouldn’t so it had to be removed. As I sat on my couch recovering from that surgery for 4 weeks in 2012, I had an uncharacteristically pessimistic thought: What if those growths in my uterus were actually cancerous and I had died? What sort of life would be lost?

A comfortable, safe, and seemingly subdued life would be lost, I thought. That answer sat next to me on that couch for weeks and I kept trying to kick it off! It was like sitting in the middle seat on an airplane between two sumo wrestlers — it crowded me and I could do nothing but rub against it no matter how much I tried to avoid contact.

I always love the hard questions, even when I don’t like the answers. I have always been a truth seeker. A “why” asker. Like that time I asked an old boyfriend, “can you tell that I’ve gained weight?” His answer was a simple “yes”. Not because he was a jerk but because he was honest to a fault and that is something I loved about him, his authenticity, even when it was taboo. And you know what? Thanks to his response those ten pounds I’d gained were gone before I could even google Weight Watchers. Honesty is a good thing — especially being honest with yourself.

So as I sat on my couch four years ago recovering I was honest with myself about my life. I wasn’t dissatisfied I just hadn’t really colored outside the lines much up to that point. I played it safe — I went to college in my hometown. I graduated. I got a good job. I got a nice car and bought a house. I had a great circle of friends and family close. Got a dog. I had a few great boyfriends over the years. I exercised regularly. Owned a successful side business. I was healthy and happy. My parents seemed pleased with me. For years it all looked great on paper.

I wish someone would have pulled me aside decades ago and told me that looking great on paper, or rather coloring inside the lines, is fine but there are other ways to be than just “fine”.

Just fine.

As I type this today, my life is quite a contrast to what it once was. I am renting an Austin condo less than half the size my home was in Albuquerque. My car is not as nice and new as it once was. I own much less stuff than I did four years ago, by choice. My bank account is leaner. I work from home and also for myself instead of going to an office every day. My close family and friends are 700 miles away. My beloved dog died last April, so there’s that difference too. An unexpected, major difference. In the last few years I have redefined life as I knew it. It has not been easy.

Even though I hustled hard and landed a job at Mood Media (Muzak) within a month of moving to Austin and I was getting paid the most money ever in my career (not to mention a prestigious position being the Executive Assistant to the Global CEO there) I left that job after a year and a half. I knew early on that place was not where I wanted to be. After all, I didn’t lose a uterus and move to a new state to be a slave to two bigwigs and sit in two hours of traffic daily. I had to make myself take the next step whether I was ready or not. Sometimes the next step is a side step rather than directly up. Like climbing a rock wall, sometimes it is smarter to go over first, then up, just don’t look down!

This is my side step. I am doing the things that I want to do — I get to work from home on paid projects. I get to flex my writing muscle (for fun now but I will be paid/published eventually). I get to care for animals through my pet sitting business. I get to go to sleep and wake up whenever I want. The bad news is I no longer get to shop mindlessly at Whole Foods or binge on Amazon Prime purchases or eat at my favorite places. No more paid vacation time or splurging on massages. I have to be reallllllly careful with my time and money now. I am also working more than I ever was before.

So 15 months after I quit my corporate job I am still afloat. I have gained so much confidence by just my money management skills alone. I always knew I was good with my money but this past year I officially made it my bitch. I am excited to see what the next 15 months hold.

Whether changing jobs, moving, or consciously uncoupling one has to accept that there will often be a side-step, perhaps even a step backward in the process. Sometimes I have these beside myself moments, where I wonder how my life suddenly looks like it did when I was a starving student back in college. The “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality whispers to me on occasions (usually after watching Housewives on Amazon) and I panic and wonder what have I done to my perfect life?

Despite those panic-y moments, the beauty of being Yvonne M. Feltman is that I have learned to have a deep trust in life’s flow. I have learned that if you surrender a bit and have faith in the unknowns rather than fight against what is not “perfect” then that openness will bring amazing things. I have made a choice to carry on on this side-step in spite of my fears. I have consciously befriended the good, the bad and the ugly in this process because they are each equal opportunity teachers.

If I am paying attention to those teachers I know they’ll lead me to my next step. I know this is not the way my life will look forever. I just have to keep doing, keep trusting, keep having the faith that eventually things will fall into place. Even if that place turns out to be off the beaten path or some place I never imagined.

…Or perhaps a place I’ve only seen in my wildest dreams.

Written by Yvonne M. Feltman