Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself~~~ Rumi
Happy 71st Birthday, Momma
I am a planner. Everyone who knows me, and perhaps a few unlucky strangers, know that I am a planner. So, when I decided that I needed more from my man-less, childless, career-less, “How are you guys, what can I get for you tonight?” existence, I knew I needed a plan.
It was imperative that I make a big break from my life, get more from my daily grind or things were going to go very badly for me. I needed, wanted a life upending break, but no reputable agent or publishing house seemed interested in my novel, so I couldn’t suddenly break into the New York Times Bestseller’s list. I wasn’t married, so I couldn’t get a divorce or have an affair. I didn’t have children, so I couldn’t Tiger Mom my kid into Howard University or kick a deadbeat kid out of the house.
But what I could do was tell my ungrateful boss to take that job and shove it. I could put the dream of working for a women’s or civil rights nonprofit as a communications director into action. I could answer the call to travel beyond a milestone birthday or momentous occasion. I could make a plan.
Step One: Figure out where and for how long I wanted to travel.
Step Two: Figure out wants and needs for this epic excursion.
Step Three: Budget for Step One & Two, i.e. planes, trains, booze, and food…and OUTFITS.
Step Four: Figure out what I wanted to do when I returned and what I would need to make it happen.
Step Five: Budget for Step Four.
Step Six: Figure out what classes I would need to take, places where I could volunteer to build my resume and network.
Step Seven: Budget for Step Six.
Step Eight: Put my plan into action.
In 2008, I sat down and sketched out said plan. I decided on two months. A top bucket list item was to live in a foreign country. The number one bucket list item was to live in Paris. Naturally, I chose Paris, my second love after NYC, as my first stop. It wasn’t quite living abroad since I would only be there a month, but to me it counted. My fascination with Italy had only grown after a brief 1999 trip, so I dedicated the second month to traveling Italy with a pit stop in London which I hadn’t visited since another three-day pit stop in 1994.
Almost more important than the trip itself, was what was going to happen upon my return. In order to hit the ground running, I launched a search for a volunteer opportunity that would put me in the arena with the type of company and people I wanted to work with. As luck would have it, the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women was looking for a summer intern just as I began to look for an opportunity. Ignoring the fact that I had been out of college for over a decade and a half, I threw my hat in the ring and low and behold I made the cut.
The summer before my trip of liberation, I organized memberships, answered the crisis hotline, wrote for the bi-monthly newsletter, helped with social media, and set up and broke down chairs and put away snacks after events. For a long hot summer, I worked with some of the most amazing, hardworking women fighting for the human rights of women and girls in New York City.
A well-kept secret is that literally three women---Sonia Ossorio (President), Jean Bucarla (Vice President), and an assistant, plus a dedicated board of directors---fight like mad to change laws, mores, and the day to day lives of women and girls on the isle of Manhattan. These baller women, on a shoestring budget work to provide information and a safe space for women enduring domestic violence, to end incarcerated women being shackled during childbirth, for equal pay, and the ending of rape culture, among many, many other things.
In the spring of 2010, to augment my NOW-NYC internship and the invaluable connections I had made, I took a project management course at Baruch College. The dream was chief communications director, but I figured that I might have to start in admin, and I wanted to be prepared for whatever I needed to do to get my foot in the door.
Like I said, I’m a planner. I learned many things in class, including I was apparently born a project manager and that I am shit at delegating work. I’d rather do it myself. I simply have zero patience.
My trip, which I took a few months later, would require a whole lot of patience because absolutely nothing worked out the way I intended, the way I’d planned---more on that later. But the planning itself focused me, as it always does and allowed my vision to expand because I had created my own personal safety net. So, May of 2010, my plan properly typed up and saved in duplicate, I quit my job and set off for my grand adventure!
How’s that for a sweet fortieth birthday gift?
Thanks for stopping by! Next stop Paris!
In the meantime, be kind to one another, keep on traveling with a feminist eye, and keep on being Feminist AF!
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