My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘overcoming obstacles’

Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

Kickball-Photo

One of my favorite books which I just got done rerereading is called Rules of the Red Rubber Ball by Kevin Carrol. With only 95 short but very sweet pages, pictures and even super fun cut-outs, it really vibes with my inner six-year old self.

I bought this book just over 5 years ago, right after I was fired from my very first big-girl job. Confused, angry, disappointed, hurt, worried and terrified AF, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was thrown a pretty wicked curve ball (pun intended) and was completely confuddled. One day while perusing the stacks at my local Barnes & Noble, I can across Rules and became transfixed. It was such a simple book with such a simple messsage, yet it totally and completely transformed the way I thought about my life.

Books, man. They’re pretty damn powerful.

The entirety of Rules is centered around a red rubber ball, much like one we all used to play kickball and dodgeball with on the playgrounds of our elementary school. More than that however, the red rubber ball that Carrol speaks to represents that one (or two or ten) unique dream(s) that lives inside of us all. That dream of traveling the world, of buying your first house, of landing that incredible job and of finding love.

The red rubber ball.

The author believes that we find this red rubber ball in a moment of complete innocence, as if we were really playing that game of kickball or dodgeball on the playground. It’s when we’re playing that we’re free to stumble, to run, to let loose, to let our hair get messy and our jeans grass-stained. We may scrape our knees, but we brush it off, a brief sacrifice for the fun we’re having and the memories we’re making. It’s when we’re playing that we fully allow our imaginations to run wild, where we give ourselves permission and the space to dream, where we aren’t limited or constrained.

Do you know what your red rubber ball is? What it is that makes you come alive? What gets you out of bed each morning? What do you go to bed dreaming about? Are you pursuing it? Going after it full-throttle?

Each day contains 86,400 seconds. That’s 86,400 opportunities to chase, kick, catch and run after your red rubber ball.

Right after I had lost my job, I was incredibly lost. All that I had worked so hard for was gone just like that. I had failed, not only myself, but my family and friends who I was convinced would be so disappointed in me. It took a lot of self-reflection, a lot of thinking, a lot of talking to those closest to me, and a hella ton of Ben & Jerry’s, but I finally realized what my red rubber ball was. And it just may have taken getting fired from my job to find out what that was, to give me that swift kick in the booty to start going after it.

If I was being honest with myself, I had been unhappy with my career for a while. And if there is one that thing I believe, it’s that life is way too short to be stuck doing something you don’t enjoy, something you aren’t passionate about, something that just doesn’t make your heart smile or give you all the feel goods.

I, like many people, have a rolodex of red rubber balls. Books, education, making others smile and laugh and feel good about themselves, my family and friends, and of course all things Milwaukee Brewers, Seinfeld and chocolate are all things that get me excited, get my heart pumping and soul smiling. But the one thing that I feel really helped me find what I was meant to be, what I was born to do was my love of inspiring others to go after their own red rubber balls. It wasn’t too shortly after I had read (and then reread) this book that I decided to go after my own red rubber ball, to go to grad school and become the kickass librarian that I knew I was supposed to be.

And you know what? Probably one of the best decisions I have and will ever make. Scary as hell! But just so damn incredible.

We all have 86,400 seconds each day. That’s 86,400 fresh opportunities to live out our life’s work and recommit to our passions. Each day is a new opportunity to chase after our red rubber ball. Bouncing it won’t get us anywhere, we must go after it with both hands! For it’s when we have the courage to go after our red rubber ball today, and everyday, that it will become our future.

Now, who’s up for some kickball?

QOTD: What is your red rubber ball? What’s holding you back from grabbing it?

Lemonade

That is what you make when life gives you lemons…and boy did life ever throw me a barrel of the tart and tangy fruit this week.

As you all know, about 7 months ago, I was given possibly the best news that a girl could ask for…I was given a job (what I thought was my dream job) in a town that I loved. After 3 long years of searching and rejection letters, I finally had done it! I finally had gotten what I had been dreaming about for so very long. I packed my bags, moved half-way across the country, found an uber cute apartment (equipped with my very own “Brewer” room) and began my journey into the working world.

And things had been going great.

They really were.

I loved the people I worked with. I loved what I got to do every day, learning and creating and delving into projects and ideas that I had never delved into before.

I loved it.

That is until this past Monday morning when my boss called me into an empty conference room to talk.

I could tell from the way she handled herself, the way she nonchalantly asked how busy the day was going so far, that it wasn’t going to be a good talk.

This moment is still on constant replay, playing over and over in my mind. She looked at me and said the words that I had never heard before, words that no one ever wants to hear, words that I had never even remotely saw coming…she said, “Wendi, I am sorry but things are just not working out. We are going to have to let you go.”

Let you go.

Fired.

Terminated.

Kaput. Kapeesh. That’s it.

To say my heart sank would be an understatement. It was Titanic. Complete and utter shock took over me. I was stunned and heart-broken and devastated and scared out of my mind, all at the same time.

I couldn’t believe it. This had to be a dream, a nightmare I was having after a night of too much spicy tai food. Yeah. That’s it. It was all just a dream. Sadly however, this was no dream. My once perfect job, the thing I had prayed and worked so hard for, for so long, was taken from me. Just like that. Without any warning. Without any notice. Just, taken. I was told that although I had done a lot of great things for the company and had been progressing, I just wasn’t progressing fast enough. Of course the first thought that popped into my head was, “Wendi, you failed. You didn’t live up to your expectations or those of your boss and the company. This is your fault.” I thought about what my parents would think of me. I thought about what my friends would say. I have never failed, at anything in my life, so this for me was a pretty hard pill to swallow. To know that you didn’t do your best at something is such a terrible thing to feel. I got pretty down on myself that Monday, but after I allowed for my new reality to sink in, after I talked with my family and friends, and some of my very kind and sweet co-workers who I left behind, I kind of had a moment of clarity.

There are things in life that just don’t make sense, things you can’t control. Either I could fall prey to the negativity and sadness, becoming paralyzed in a hole I couldn’t dig myself out of…or I could fight. I could take this and use is as fuel to press on to brighter things.

Looking back on the past 7 months, I realized that I did do a good job. A great job in fact. I was an excellent employee. I went above and beyond my jurisdiction to help others when they needed it. I loved what I did and I learned so much, not only about design and writing and marketing, but about myself. I learned what I truly am passionate about, what my talents are, and most importantly, how to not let what others may think of me determine what I think of myself.  That to me is the antithesis of failure. I still don’t understand why exactly I was let go, nor do I think I ever will. But you know what, it doesn’t matter because I can’t change what I happened, I can only learn from it and move on. I believe that everything happens for a reason. God has some major stuff up his sleeve for me and even though I am chomping on the bit in anticipation of discovering what that it, for now, I will go on with my life. Like Tigger, I will bounce back from this little drop in the bucket, this little bump in the road, and I will move forward. I can’t change what happened in the past, but I most certainly can determine what will happen from here on out. A good friend of mine said to me that he didn’t believe in ‘blessings in disguise’. He said that the blessing was in how we can find the silver lining in something, even thought it may not be as visible to us as we would like. Very wise, that Chris is 🙂 I couldn’t agree more.

So now what?

I wish I could tell you I knew for certain. For the first time in my life, I don’t really have a plan (and for a girl who usually always does, this is kind of new territory, let me tell you). I am not sure of what tomorrow may bring but you know what, I am kind of excited about that. I can start from scratch. I can find what I am excited about, what I am passionate about and go after it. There’s nothing stopping me. The world is my oyster in a half shell (or is that turtle in a half-shell?). No matter what is in my shell, I am certain that it will lead me to even greater and better things.

With a lot of faith and a lot of prayer, I begin this next chapter in my life. Am I scared? You betcha. Am I excited? Absolutely!  I am a fighter and this is one fight I do not plan on losing.

Question of the day: Have you ever failed at anything? What did you do to combat those negative thoughts?

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