Saturday, May 22, 2010

Confessions of a Former Optimist

Some people will find it very hard to believe that once upon a time, I was an optimist. People hear my laments over and over again. I lament where I live. I lament the loss of a career and/or the lack of one now. I miss Nashville. I miss my family. I lament over broken relationships. I lament the past, the present and sometimes the future. But truly, once upon a time, I was an optimist.

I used to run a very large Senior Center in Connecticut. When I finished my degree at the University of Missouri in Recreation and Park Administration it seemed an odd major for an uncoordinated girl from Brooklyn NY with three small children and pregnant with the fourth. However, you have to know my emphasis within Parks and Rec for it to make sense.

My emphasis was Therapeutic Recreation with a specialization in Aging Studies. I had the required coursework for a certificate in Aging Studies. After four years of working at a neighborhood mental health facility in Missouri, we moved to Connecticut. Finally, I landed my first job in my chosen field.

My office was in the basement of the town hall. I was to start their program for Senior Citizens and their new Senior Center. I taught line dancing myself. That was fun! I learned the ways of Connecticut. I used to think that your town was like your godfather in Connecticut. People called for all sorts of reasons.  I learned well. I moved on to a bigger Senior Center.

For nearly ten years, I rode a great career wave. It was a great ride. Not only was the Center bigger it grew while I was there.  I had a large staff. I was respected statewide in my field. I knew the state politicians and more importantly, they knew me. In 1995 then Representative Barbara Kennelly chose me as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. Also chosen as an alternate for Senator Chris Dodd and as a delegate by the then Governor, it was a recognition of my leadership in the field. I had a growing national reputation as well.

My administrative assistant at work was also my best friend, prayer partner and closest ally. She was the classic glass is half-empty person. I was the classic glass is half-full. What a great team we were! I would dream, she would bring me to reality. Together we planned and implemented amazing programs and special events.

Sometimes I would wonder how I got there. I had set my goals high. I had reached many of them. Life was good. Not only was it good professionally, it was good personally. There were struggles with family issues but I had this optimistic attitude, then I might have called it faith, that God would work everything out.

It was good spiritually. Lunchtime would find me on my knees crying out to God for revival. It came. I had purpose. I seemed to be a whole person riding a wave of blessing in most areas of my life. After years of hard work, grit and determination, life was at least half-full.

Suddenly the wave broke. It broke leaving shattered pieces of me along the beach. I will likely write in more detail about this part of my life at some point. I have mentioned it here. Vicious people who spread lies and malicious innuendo, perhaps generated by jealousy destroyed my career. Unsubstantiated accusation became fact in the minds of people. I was brought to the brink of despair. I was like Humpty Dumpty. I was sure there was no way to be put back together again.

Eventually by God's grace, I was put together. The scars from the cracks and broken pieces remained. I have  never ridden a wave like that again. I am not sure I would take the risk to swim that far from shore to catch a wave like that either.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my optimistic days. I’ve been thinking I need to start seeing the glass half-full again. It may not really be half full but there is something in that glass. I'm still breathing. But I am not sure I can. Before it came natural and my vision was 20/20. Now I need glasses. I need to find those glasses. I need a new prescription for seeing.

It might even be worse. I might have cataracts. I am going to the Great Physician. Only He can give me restored vision and remove the cataracts. I need to see more clearly. 

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