Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Opportunity & Optimism

Maybe hope is the thing with feathers (nod to Emily Dickinson), but optimism wears big yellow steel-toed construction boots.

A little over two years ago the corporate world decided to send me packing. I was distraught. My entire life had been built on 40 hour (plus some) a week jobs. I dropped an email to my brother, lamenting my woes, fears and feelings of failure. He wrote back, simply saying, "Terrific! Another opportunity for you to prove how awesome you are!" I know he was being only partly facetious, but I still flipped the bird at the computer screen when I read his response. Yeah, easy for you to say, Mister Cushy&Secure!

Thing is, he built his business - in an industry he's loved since he was a kid - from the ground up, while raising two young children. He's worked very hard, long hours making his version of the American Dream come true. He's a good man and deserves all of the wonderful things in his life. So, I really only flipped him the bird because he's my brother, and hey... that's what big sisters do (when Mom's not looking).

Not being one to completely shun anybody's words, especially when I admire them and value their input in my life, I kept going back to his email. I kept re-reading that line, "Terrific! Another opportunity for you to prove how awesome you are!" I twisted it and turned it in my hands, viewing it from different angles until I saw it...

...are you ready? Yeah. Maybe you're not as slow on the uptake as I was.

I wasn't a failure for losing a job. It was circumstances that had failed me. I was still the same capable person I've always been.

"Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor."
~Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods

Baby brother was right. I had an opportunity on my hands. I could ignore it and let it drown in a sea of apathy (argh! ptooey!), or I could nurture it and let it thrive on optimism.

You know me. I chose optimism. And I looked at the complete length and breadth of the opportunity before me. I could dig through a spiralling economy for another 40 hour a week job, or I could take a shot at doing something I really loved... art.

Optimism won't go anywhere without a little tending. It requires a little sweat and sacrifice - otherwise it's just a feel-good waste of time. I sold off things that I could sell. I made do with very little. I had no idea where or how or when or what, I just knew I had to try for something different.

It was scary, but it was good scary.

It didn't come in a neat little line of well ordered ducks. Stuff in my life rarely does. Stuff in my life likes to go ninja on my ass - yes, even the good stuff.

I had opened the door to Opportunity and Optimism. Surprise, surprise, other opportunities wandered through that open door.

Because, months later, just when I was about to give it up (purely for monetary purposes), Steve walked through my door. Barely a week into our relationship, he was already talking (unprompted by me) about moving me into his place, and where we'd put my art stuff, and ... well, geez... just being so loving and supportive that he was pretty damned hard to resist. (He still is... all of that! And then some.)

Out of that came other opportunities, which of course, only birth other opportunities, and so on. So, yes, I'm an optimist, and maybe a cockeyed one at that...

...but mix it with a little opportunity, and I manage to get things done.


  1. Love your post, Barb! I chose Opportunity too! Thanks for bringing your beauty to the mat every day...

  2. Fabulous! This girl needs to get her big yellow steel-toed construction boots on. :-)


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