I worked through two years of a pandemic as an essential worker. I put myself in harm’s way often. I gained a lot of respect among people who also worked in my field for my compassion and my skill. I was recognized by my State Assembly person for my advocacy and activism. I had been appointed to a seat on a county commission. I had earned my chair at the head of the social services table. People knew me. I had an identity and it was a good one. I earned it.

 

By Holly Herring

I recently moved to a different state.

It was a decision made not with joy and not to a reunion with loved ones, not a return to “home.” No, this was me moving away from everything I had built for myself. 

I worked really hard the last several years on creating a life for myself that made me happy and healthy. I started my life at a deficit. I had to work at breakneck speed to get to a point where I had the respect of the community around me. Achieving status as a trusted professional had been draining.

There are a lot of bad things occurring in the lives of the people that I work with, the people who live outside. I have, at some time in my life, been able to identify with most of them. I made a long journey that took many years to find myself presented with a professional opportunity to serve. I had an opportunity to serve people who I had shared experiences with—and I took it. 

Now, working in social services in San Diego county wasn’t exactly Wonka’s Golden Ticket.

I worked through two years of a pandemic as an essential worker. I put myself in harm’s way often. I gained a lot of respect among people who also worked in my field for my compassion and my skill. I was recognized by my State Assembly person for my advocacy and activism. I had been appointed to a seat on a county commission. I had earned my chair at the head of the social services table. People knew me. I had an identity and it was a good one. I earned it. 

But, it costs so much to live in San Diego county. My roommate had been laid off during the COVID lockdown. My great big dog developed cancer and the vet bills that go with it. I was watching as rental rates increased much, much faster than my wages. I knew that in a matter of a few short years I would find myself out there, on the streets, just like the people I provided crisis interventions to. And, knowing how difficult it was for these people to get off the streets I knew it would be for me as well. I felt like I had already used up all my good fortune just getting to where I was. 

I was running out of options.

My husband and I were having a very stressful conversation one evening and the tensions were high. Finances were so tight. It was as if every bill we paid came right out of our food bill, and I was already visiting food banks. In exasperation he threw his hands up in the air and out came a cry so desperate it hurt me to hear it, “Why don’t we just run away from here?”

I immediately countered there was no way we could leave. I had so many responsibilities. Nobody knew me outside San Diego and I would never get a similar career opportunity. I would never have this place of importance anywhere else. Leaving now, at the peak of my career and life, was simply not a viable option. I clung desperately to all of the achievements I heaped in a little imaginary pile in front of me.

Lou, my husband, looked at me and he shook off his desperate plea and looked quite defeated now and said “I know.”

The next morning, however, I had a different stance. I had been putting together ideas like a jigsaw puzzle in my mind all night and had some things I felt I needed to investigate because what if……

What if?

I pulled out a blank notepad and my laptop and started scribbling notes as I did searches. I poured out this life calculation I had assembled from news articles, charts, and tables. “Lou, what if we moved to one of the most poverty stricken areas in our nation? There must be a great need for the skills I have and the housing is much more affordable.”

This was an absolutely deranged idea and we actually picked a place off the map and started researching it. I sent off my resume and I interviewed on Zoom. We put in notice at our place, rounded up our dogs and our belongings, and left. I left my life as I knew it, my community, every healthy support I had built, my career that was headed to its peak – we left. 

We arrived in our new state in shambles. We had been robbed on the first night of our journey. We were running behind. The apartment we had been approved for changed its mind and we scrambled to find a new one. The stress of the journey had hit my body hard and I was in need of a doctor, but I had no insurance or money. The job I had come all this way for was not my dream job and I quit. 

Lou, on the other hand, somehow began thriving.

We had been in a new state for two days before he landed a job and was on the schedule full time. While I was feeling very low, he was working with gusto on our relationship, on communication, and he was taking care of me because I was very ill. I had been prepared to crawl under a rock to die and there he was pulling me back out showing me that things weren’t just going to be okay, they were going to be better

I had made it my whole life jumping state to state all alone.

I had always had this unearthly bounce back ability. Somehow, this time I wasn’t able to bounce back and Lou was. I was suffering due to attachment to my reputation, to my community, to this identity that I no longer had and that affected my health and my tenacious spirit.

I had met, befriended, and married a man that really leaned on me in San Diego. Suddenly I was meeting, befriending, and marrying all over again a man who I was now leaning on. This move made him a better person because he embraced the opportunity and shed his attachments to who he was for who he could become. I wanted to become a better person too and open myself up to the opportunity. 

So, here we are, the unknowns Lou and Holly.

We came to embrace new opportunities for our careers, for our relationship with each other, and in our ability to drive in weather. I stripped down my resume to the basics, no frills, all skills. We arrived in this place together and are emerging in a much stronger relationship with each other. We are two people taking off in the three-legged race of life with a clean slate and nothing in front of us but a playing field of new adventures. We are the lucky pair who get to start from scratch, but with a true partner. 

“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life and one life can change the world.” – Unknown

 

Photo: Pixabay

 

Did you like this piece? Want to tip the author? Here is her tip jar: https://www.paypalme

 

Did you like this? You may also like:

 

Adaptive Meditation: Using Your Whole Toolbox

  By John Lee Pendall There are two schools of thought when it comes to sitting: 1) Only use one method 2) Adjust accordingly When we study Buddhist texts, it's clear that each method was created with a specific use in mind. The only one...

Compassion on the Streets.

By Alicia Wozniak I sit in my car for a few minutes each morning after dropping off my daughter, Weez, at school. Time to chill before the day begins, officially, enjoying my mocha. I have the radio on, music playing, I’m on my phone checking out social media and/or...

My Mystical Journey: Finding Zen. {Part 4}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg I’m doing a series of autobiographical posts, regarding what led to the path of a Buddhist priest. I hope you enjoy these posts. I’ll be talking about myself a lot, which isn’t really normal for me. I studied Buddhism and discovered just...

Buddhism is Not About Insight

  By Layman Chushu Breakthroughs are addictive. Many people practice for the joy of insight. This can be an obstacle itself, something else to grasp after and make “mine.” We think that insight is the way, but not all insights are wise. Some...

Comments

comments

Holly Herring
Latest posts by Holly Herring (see all)