A Fragile Existence

We visited an ice castle in the mountains. Oh that sounds so wonderfully dreamy and fantastic and it was a site to behold. The castle was built over many days and includes slides, arches, towers, caves and tunnels. It took almost a month to create and about 10,000 icicles per day were harvested. The icicles were built and assembled alongside and over color-changing lights that created a breathtaking show. It felt as if the visitor had escaped to a far-off winter wonderland.

When we entered the castle, I tiptoed and carefully selected my steps so as not to disturb this frozen work of art. However, the size of the crowds were astonishing and as we proceeded through the castle I could see the influx of guests and hear the icicles fall and crunch. Some people even snapped off icicles to hold and for play. Of course this monstrosity of icicles was created for fun and enjoyment, not to whisper and tiptoe through but I couldn’t help noticing that while the structure was tall and massive and large enough to hold hundreds of people that it also was in another way much more fragile.

We too lead such a fragile existence. Over time and through our childhood and experience we grow and build a tough exterior. We do not come crashing down at every unkind word or hurtful conversation or broken relationship but it chips away. The hurt breaks off one icicle and then another and then another. Our core still stands however our being, our heart is changed one tiny moment or interaction at a time.

In the words of Holly Butcher, a 27 year old woman who recently lost her battle with cancer, “That’s the thing about life, it is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.”




Do what you’re passsionate about and you’ll never work a day in your life. A sharp shift in the American ideal has changed what used to be a 9 to 5 society that punched in and out of work on a time clock to a country of travel bloggers making a living our of their upscale RV complete with WiFi and a slick WordPress site. I’m not upset. I’m befuddled…confused.

Being in a sales industry, I belong to multiple Facebook groups and click on way too many webinar links that fill my Facebook feed with online classes for the entreprenerial beginner filled with excitement and short on cash. Recently, I watched just such a video of a couple in their mid-20’s. Throughout the video, the couple promoted their online training series which would give you the tools to make money doing what you love. His and her trendy flannels, stunning good looks, and the rural residential setting illustrated their happiness and freedom from societal norms. Their work was their passion which led to wealth and a lifestyle completely of their choosing. Okay. Sure.

Me being me, I googled the lovely couple. The only information I could find out about them was that they help people discover their passion, build wealth and live a life without limits. Great. Is that a job? Do you have to accomplish anything prior to launching this career? Apparently not. Deep breath. I am not bitter. I’m so happy that they can make a living by talking about making an extraordinary living.

Passionate people are fantastic. My friend who wakes up four times a week before 5 a.m. to run and train for her race of the month. Musicians, artists, and dancers who have the dedication built by practicing their craft everyday of their entire lives. This list could go on – social workers, app developers, lawyers and others who are “on fire” for their work. But what about everyone else who is doing something  mundane?

Thank goodness for the nurse at my doctor’s office who never looks thrilled. I appreciate that someone works at my bank and the gas station and the grocery store. These are all services and goods that I need. I don’t think the cashier at my grocery store feels like he’s living out his life’s passion and reason but I don’t know what I would do without him. Here I sit, raised by parents who punched a clock looking at a younger generation creating vlogs on YouTube and feeling confused.

My reality lies somewhere between the classic desk job and a fashion vlogger on YouTube. As someone who’s done accounting for small companies, been an analyst, an event planner, managed a team and been an assistant, my career has afforded me opportunity and pays the bills but I’m not out on a yacht live-streaming my wild parties. I’m typical? Maybe normal is a better word. My work is my work, not my passion.

I see the non-fiction books littering the shelves that will teach you how to make money living out your passion and how to only work 4 hours a week. That sounds great. What if your work isn’t your passion? Or you don’t really have a passion? I kind of work out, take nature walks now and again, enjoy the library and like to read. Can someone pay me to read books at the library in my fleece sweatpants? If so, sign me up!!!! I’m passionate about those sweatpants (you would be too if you tried them on).

All that being said, I’m trying to enjoy where I am right now. I’m not hanging up my dreams (or my mysterious, nameless passion) and resigning myself to my life. My life is great. I have a loving family, resources to live a comfortable lifestyle including a vacation or two here or there, and I dabble in the enjoyment of occasional photography and writing and excessive reading.

I’m finding enjoyment in the here and now (don’t roll your eyes at that). In community, conversation and yes, some comfort. My job affords me the ability to provide for my family and throw in a few extra “treats” or “luxury” items here and there. Schedule flexibility is available to me when I need it and my boss understands that family comes first and believes it. My career choices have given me countless opportunities to meet people who have become dear friends and whom I’ve helped achieve their goals. Everyday I help people through a difficult process/transaction with as much knowledge, grace, expertise and kindness as I can and sometimes they’re even grateful.

Yes I’d love to be a millionaire who works 4 hours a week (although most of the reallly successful people I know work a lot more hours then that). For now, I’m going to put down the passion books and know that appreciating the present is important. Being grateful for the now is crucial. Perhaps my passion will dramatically reveal itself or I’ll go on a quest in search of it, but today I’m going to be extra nice to the cashier at my grocery store.

The Monotony of Life.

Fall is a season of physical and tangible change. In Colorado, the Rockies will often be covered with a light layer of crisp white snow, while the surrounding trees transition into fiery reds, oranges, and gold. It’s breathtaking and locals flock to the mountain to bask in nature’s glory and the change in scenery. The change is natural, predictable and consistent. Why were the trees given this ability, yet I struggle to make any change at all?

Recently, I heard a wonderful TED talk during which the speaker continually encouraged listeners to FORCE themselves to change. The more she said FORCE the more I cringed at the visceral sound of the word. Who wants to FORCE themselves to do or be anything? And when you think about it, what are the other options? To naturally make changes in our lives? To discover change that requires no effort?

During this talk, the speaker outlines how we work towards the stability of adulthood. Once we arrive, we find ourselves doing the same things day in and day out. Driving the same routes. Eating the same foods. Watching the same television shows. And one day, we wake up to find ourselves bored and unsatisfied. Thinking about this, I can see the patterns; whether healthy, unhealthy or just needed, of my own life and the monotony that weighs upon me. I’ve already see that show on Netflix. I don’t want to clean the bathroom. I don’t want to send another email or add another appointment to the calendar. The monotony of autopilot can easily rob a person of their joy….if we allow it.

So, tonight I will take a walk, spend time reading with my children, carve out some precious time for myself, and set my alarm just a little bit earlier. I’ll probably still clean a bathroom or kitchen or pick up some room in my house but I’m hoping that carving out just thirty minutes of enjoyable time during which I don’t revert to autopilot. A mere half hour or so of choices that will not add to the monotony.

Author’s Note: After publishing this, I realized the kids have extracurrilcar activities tonight and my husband is out of town and I’m watching my friend’s children. Maybe I’ll try for 15-20 minutes but dang it, they’ll be the most fabulous 15-20 minutes of my day.