Dusting off my Silver Slippers

July 2021 was a whirlwind month. Summer had arrived with hot, dry temps. My yard was full of crispy dormant grass the color of straw, and my black paved driveway was hot on my bare feet.

I’d stepped outside to see the light of day, taking a break from the glare of my laptop. It was good to stretch my body and breathe fresh air. I felt like the summer was passing me by because I spent most of my time in front of my computer these days.

Why am I working inside so much? I should be outside enjoying the beauty of the mountains, my favorite waterfalls, or maybe gathering with my friends. The last few calls I’d received from friends were invites to go on a walk or go for a cup of coffee. Both required me to say no, let’s do a rain check.

Then two conversations with two good friends reminded me that I had the power to create change in my life. Why didn’t I use it?

One day I took a half-day off in the middle of the week. I worked it around my dental appointment. After my cleaning, I picked up my friend who lived nearby, and we went to lunch at Masa Mexican Kitchen and Cantina in Issaquah. Afterward, we went for a walk at Lake Sammamish State Park.

I shared with her how I was too busy lately and how I had been spending my time. I was close to finishing revisions on my memoir. Such a huge personal accomplishment, and I should be excited. But truthfully, I was drained. The writing was so much fun. Turning it into a cohesive book, however, was not much fun. But I was getting closer.

I told her about the things that were bogging me down. One of the bigger things was a contract job I started last September after retiring from homeschooling. Due to the pandemic, my resume writing business was a little slow at the time, and learning how to research and write a STEM curriculum for students in Asia seemed like a fun idea. At least it would keep me busy while my husband worked from home, I thought.

But as time went by, my supervisor kept changing the curriculum submission rules, which meant many hours of wasted time. He’d send group emails to announce the changes with everyone bcc’d, so I had no idea how many were on this team. I might as well be working from Mars. There was no human contact, except when I’d send in a completed lesson, I’d get the brief, “Good job, thanks,” from my supervisor. Do you know how long it took me to write that lesson, sir?

Anyway, it started to take a toll on me. Many changes were made and disseminated to the team, which directly contradicted the master spreadsheet we’d been told to follow. I was frustrated. I would get nervous opening my inbox to scan for new changes. I felt like I was getting buried alive.

Meanwhile, after the New Year arrived, I put an ad on Google for my resume writing business, and it started booming! New clients found me every couple of days. Eager people were seeking new opportunities, wanting to leave their old lives behind and try something new. It gave me so much motivation to work for these terrific clients. Some of them were career-changers. Others were starting families and needing work-life balance. Others were retired and looking to start over with a new direction. Why couldn’t I do that?

The next to the last weekend in July, I completed the manuscript for my memoir. It made me emotional. I felt teary-eyed all day. I worked eight-and-a-half long hours without taking a break. I uploaded the document and book cover and ordered a proof copy from Amazon. My eyes were strained and bloodshot, and my body was sore from bad posture.

By the time my daughter got home from work that night, I had taken a much-needed break. “You look terrible,” she said. I told her I didn’t feel very well. I’d been at the computer all day. So, I sat with her while, hoping I’d want to eat a little something, but I said I wanted to take the dogs for a walk instead. Even that exhausted me. I came home worn out.

And then the migraine struck.

I slept poorly that night. When I woke up on Sunday, I could barely stand to take the dogs out for a potty break. The daylight seared my brain. I felt dizzy, like a hangover or a car accident or something. I canceled my day and went back to bed. I couldn’t even walk to the kitchen down the hall to get an ice pack. I didn’t answer my phone. No TV. No lights. No books. Just me in my bed. I was laid up through Monday.

On Tuesday, I met a friend in Renton. We’d made plans to hike at Paradise on Mount Rainier. I’d had very little food over the past three days and still felt kind of weak and weary. But I craved that mountain air and anticipated seeing so much beauty. I packed a light lunch with cheese, crackers, fresh fruit, and water.

The ride was long, and we talked the entire way as friends often do. I found myself saying the same thing I told my other friend. I was feeling stuck and trapped. I didn’t like my job.

Glinda the Good Witch

Somehow, when I repeated those words, the image of Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz popped into my mind. In my mind’s eye, Glinda was telling Dorothy that she had the power to go home at any time. All she had to do was click her heels and say, “There’s no place like home.” Maybe there was something to that!

My friend and I arrived at Mount Rainier and spent the day hiking. The gushing white waterfalls, the sweet bee-laden wildflowers, and the beautiful mountain with its remaining blue glacial ice were precisely what I needed to restore my soul. Somehow, I knew after that trip that I would decide to write my resignation letter and end the job that was causing me so much grief.

Narada Falls
Mount Rainier view from Paradise

Over the next few days, I prayed for guidance. It had been a while since I’d needed to write a resignation letter, and I wasn’t feeling very courageous. What should I say?

When I was ready, I dusted off my proverbial silver slippers and put them on my feet. I felt confident. I wrote the letter in one fail swoop, printed it, signed it, scanned it, and sent it. Immediately I felt relief, which led me to believe that resigning was the right decision.

Just like Dorothy, I’d had the power all along. I just needed gentle reminders to use it.

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