arranging my purses and totes, carryalls and laptop bags to demonstrate the breadth of options I required once upon a time.
I've donated many of those. Decided to simplify. Feel proud that I consistently carry the same navy bag, ensuring its designer label faces outward proudly. I purchased it with a work award, beaming at it upon arrival for I now have a nice bag.
Then, awaiting a trip to Europe, I delved into credit card points and bought a new backpack. My old one is literally falling apart. I accidentally became infatuated with a Coach wristlet while browsing so I decided to have that as my very own too.
So despite despairing that I have lost some essential element of myself, I remain constantly Katie. I buy too many bags. I have an inordinate fondness for cut flowers. I try to be kind but am too impatient and irritable to consistently succeed. I love God. But too often absently - without the dedication and devotion that relationship deserves.
"Do you miss it?" Two friends - old ones with whom I've not spoken much since taking my new job almost 2 years ago - asked gently when we connected for lunch. In response to my inquiring expression and cocked head, they elaborated. "The travel. The stress. The potential for promotion."
"Ah," I replied, considering it. "Sometimes? Not often. Work stuff aligned the way it should have. I love being here for my mom. I needed the steadiness. The knowledge that I could do a good job but not kill myself. But I do miss the travel - I'm craving Europe like you wouldn't believe."
But just when I was feeling increasingly unsettled - am I not important enough to travel? Why am I not recognized for the work I do for projects that are increasingly high-profile? Is this organization career-limiting? And, if so, given my salary and stress level, do I care? - circumstances shifted.
I was granted permission to go to Europe at the end of May, an event that sends me researching hotels on my iPad twice daily. I'm visiting two new places (to me - centuries old unto themselves) and one familiar locale. I was appointed to a different project and somehow gained the visibility I seem to seek. And I was appointed to a committee that aims to address some shortcomings in my group - a difficult task to be sure, but one I feel is important and urgent. I recognize such talent and passion and creativity in my peers (and managers) that I feel is being misunderstood and unused.
It pleases me that when I have little energy for much of anything, I remain - or perhaps have become - an outspoken advocate for morale.
I listened - over a different lunch - to a brand new colleague talk about her long-term plans. I smiled and nodded over promotions and leadership roles she had in mind. Offered advice when asked. Made encouraging comments when appropriate.
"What about you?" she asked when we were nearly out of soda.
"Long-term?" I asked and shrugged when she nodded.
"I want to be a better person," I told her. "I'm not sure what that means exactly but that's the goal."