This is the first post in the ‘Let’s get real about change’ theme.
A memorable (re)defining moment* began in the last semester of college. It was a great time for jobs and it was fun to have so many options. I used my electrical engineering degree to take the job with a French company that said I would be anywhere in the world except North America. Not knowing what country I would end up in kind of excited me. After discussion with others, I happily said ‘yes’ to the job with Schlumberger International. Luckily, they placed me in the Far East.
For me, I was taking the proverbial leap off a familiar cliff and learning that I could fly. I could now be the adventurous person my dreams had shown me…and my Sagittarius horoscope says I am. LOL
I was standing on the edge of a precipice and strongly desired changes were at my fingertips. My imagination saw it while looking in the abyss full of potential. I reassured myself: I earned this opportunity with my degree. Then, the realization that for much of my life I had felt on that edge desiring change but held back. That old familiar feeling of being suppressed was a strong energy that pulled me to stay where I was. Like a gravitational pull.
This is how the ego works to prevent us from changing. My ego knew how to balance my set of my pains, limitations, dreams, thoughts, failures, successes, etc. It would have to rebalance itself and fights to do so. This is why we get an idea, then suddenly we hear thoughts and feel feelings that keep us in check. It is a tricky aspect of our consciousness.
Commit to change while being mindful of how the ego is going to attempt to stop you. Everytime a self-limiting thought or feeling pops up, re-choose your change. Do it again. Then again. Keep re-focusing. At some point the ego gets it. This is going to happen.
You have proven to yourself that this is important. You have begun the process of taming your ego. It has its uses but change is not one of them. Remain focused because the only way it will not happen is if you give up or let it go.
External change causes emotional change…
All changes you make in life involve changes in some emotion(s). Of course, being from an alcoholic family and growing up in a small town with its restrictive expectations, I could not show these emotions. They leaked out with my best friend or my mom, at times. It does not mean my emotions were not happening. I was just well trained in not showing it or discussing it. Macho. Machismo since that is all I learned from male role models. A lesson later unlearned.
Internally I had a mix of emotions and thoughts. Fear and excitement of adventure, new wonders, grief of leaving, nerves wondering what country, will I know enough, will I enjoy it, is this a bad or good decision plus the gravitational pull to stay in the familiar box of life. Oh, how much I wanted to take this job.
My biggest heartfelt concern was that my mom had been in a wheelchair for 2+ years and was divorced living in an old farmhouse in the middle of 126 acres in southeast Texas; population 150. I felt guilty thinking only of my dreams. Since a doctor had told me 3 years prior “your mom is going to die”, I was especially feeling conflicted; she was 1 in 20 women who got well from the new treatment but ended up in a wheelchair.
She continuously reassured me and told me I had to take it. She had help and would be alright.
If it were not for mom I would be working with my ‘broken’ dad in his Interstate 10 gas stations and wrecker service. He did not want me to go to college. Leaving to go to campus for the first time, he told me that he did not want me to go. I said I was going. He abruptly stopped paying for it the day I transferred from Lamar University in Beaumont to Texas A&M University in College Station. My mom sacrificed for my tuition. Then I got a few part-time jobs.
She had never mentioned my education without saying it does not end until I have my Bachelor of Science degree. She sacrificed in many ways for me to get my degree. She was also the source for inspiration at times; much needed. She gave me two books when I was in high school that spurred my thoughts that I could live a better life. Wayne Dyer’s The Sky’s the Limit and Dr. Maxwell Schultz’s Psycho Cybernetics. Books that altered the way I interacted with my thoughts and had me reconsider my place in life.
Whether or not to take this international job was clear within me. It felt like my soul was screaming at me YES while pushing me to just do it. All my engineering friends thought I was crazy. It felt like I could not ‘not’ take this job.
To me, that has become a Life Sign from my soul that I have to follow now. We always have free will to choose and sometimes the choice that suits us is so obvious that it feels like we do not have a choice.
Have you ever been there? Felt that?
To me, that is when my soul is finding the mothership, the Presence that knows my best life. Following that makes life easier. I am to follow the Lead and in its wakes, the path is clearer.
I had spent my youth since fourth grade on our farmland in tiny village, Texas. I chased cows, ran from snakes, rode horses for a while, shot the 22 rifle to scare the varments from eating our melons in the garden, shot tin cans off fence posts, played with dogs and cats, drove my go-cart across the pastures (once hitting a red ant bed. Their bites hurt). My best friend and I shot bottle rockets at each other. One of us in the barn. The other away on the shell road. I’m glad we did not burn down the old barn that leaned to its left a bit too much 🙂 Eddie and I would sit at the edge of the dynamite hole (a pond created by great uncles with a case of dynamite). We talked and dreamed like kids do.
My parents commuted to Houston for work. So, I was entertained by nature and sometimes a friend from miles away would be over. I remember watching every plane that flew over (that wasn’t a crop duster) and dreamed of being on them; working and living. I had only been out of Texas twice; Ruidoso, New Mexico and Monterey, Mexico. That last one was a Spanish class field trip on an un-air-conditioned school bus in the hot summer. We bounced all the way there and back 😉
I accepted that job offer with Schlumberger International.
I believe that what overcame the fears and old gravitational pull was the energy from youthful exuberance where mountains are surmountable + the focus on the prize + the dreams as a child of flying globally + emotional support. Note: As we get older there are ways to harness this sort of energy and focus. Too much to put in this post.
I had earned this and that felt great. And, then, this daydreaming of flying on planes from childhood was coming true. I did not know that’s how life works.
Dream it to achieve it.
On my first day of employment, my best friend since fourth grade, Eddie, picked me up to take me to the Houston airport. I could not stop crying leaving home, and my mom, Tuffy my dog, and what I knew. Then we talked on the drive and I cried a little more when I got out of Eddie’s car at the Houston airport. Whew, how life changed showing me how much I loved them through my tears.
I sat on the plane headed for Singapore via Los Angeles. My god. Singapore. As soon as I felt the power around me revving to take off I was gloriously filled with excitement, anticipation and appreciation. The huge smile on my face was matched by the huge smile in my heart. That was when I began to feel free. I was going 20+ hours on a plane to a foreign land. Awesome! Plus I am really happy that my stomach was okay flying. My only childhood plane ride was across Texas. The stewardess got mad at me and my mom for me not using the barf bag.
Arriving in Singapore
We, the new crop of electrical engineers and physicists, trained in Singapore for a while. I found it so incredibly exhilarating that all these guys came from different countries. Wow. Befriending those from Nigeria, Japan, Switzerland, England, France, Australia, others. That sort of thing always opened me up in some new way. In training, we learned how to put out fires and how to drive in bad road conditions. I remember being told: If you do not wear your seat belt while with the company, you will be fired. So, at age 23 I began that safety habit.
Walking with these new friends was so much fun. Singapore has a reputation of being extremely clean. It is. They still have a law banning chewing gum so it does not end up on the sidewalk.
Now, onto my first trip to Indonesia
I flew to my first assignment in Indonesia arriving at the Balikpapan airport. Interesting pilot maneuver of dropping straight down from a mountain into the airport in the valley. It was a BIG roller coaster drop flying into that city. Balikpapan is the capitol of the state of Kalimantan.
Customs? is in that shack? Hmm. This is going to be interesting
Since I had been at Texas A&M and liked to dance, I had learned country and western dancing, aka kicker dancing. That was the big warehouse dance place we called the Hall of Shame. At Lamar University, we disco danced. Yep, that dates me.
I arrive at this customs building that was a two-room shack, raised up on blocks. Where there should be windows and doors, there were none. I am 6′ 4″ wearing my cowboy hat, western boots and a belt with my name on the back. Considering the average height there, I was very tall in this outfit. I do not think I wore that outfit again. I replaced cowboy boots with hard work boots. I replaced my cowboy hat with a work hard hat.
With this, I got nervous but it was okay. This is their way of doing customs. I was in this for the adventure and new experiences. It’s full-on now, dude.
Fortunately, on the plane an experienced expatriate had me re-fill in my customs form. He said just write ‘personal items’ and ‘no value’. Otherwise, they will take some money or some items or both if I declared a value. Hmm. I now know I have entered a strange land. Such excitement in me.
Seeing the first military dressed customs officer was interesting and puzzling. He looked at my customs form and at my cowboy hat. He opened my suitcases and then motioned for me to give him my cowboy hat. I did not know better, so multiple times I said ‘no’ and shook my head ‘no’. I was able to walk away wearing it.
Walking out of there with my belongings, a lot of children wanted to help. I tried to quickly calculate the dollar to the rupiah exchange rate. I think I gave a huge tip because I did not know how many rupiahs to give. This was my first experience of local children in a third world country. It was a shock to see the conditions and their almost lusting for money or food. They had to. My heart felt it.
I was driven to the Western hotel where expats stayed; western, as in developed countries. I wanted to walk so another expat and I explored some. Dirt streets. Vans with loudspeakers driving the streets. A language that was so foreign. Yippee!
This place to eat was interesting, so to speak. Doors open. Some flies. We sat down at one of the picnic bench tables. Hold on… this is a new experience: The waiter went to the window display of food. He picked up that room temperature food and sat it on our table. Hmm. We talked some then ate it. We figured if this is what they do, then why not. I am fortunate my stomach agreed it was okay. We were charged by the estimated amount of food we ate. Though, from then on I ate at the restaurant in the motel.
Expatriates camp in the jungles
The next morning I got into a helicopter for an exciting 45-minute ride into the jungle. The pilot flew in the Vietnam war. He asked us if it was okay for a more exciting flight. Of course, yes. He dropped down quickly to fly above the mostly un-driveable road between the forest of trees. Yep, it was exciting. My first helicopter ride. My second foreign country. The beauty. The third world-ness. The friendliness of the locals. All of it was fulfilling my long held need to see other lands.
We landed in a camp for working expatriates near the Mahakam River Delta on this island of Borneo. Talk about new experiences.
I learned that it is valuable (sometimes, a must) to stretch myself, thus my life. I learned I could thoroughly enjoy life through new experiences. I could manage some fears that came up. I was enough to do the job well. I met a multitude of people from other countries, new cultures, new ideas. Plus the beauty of eye and heart pleasing vistas that no words can describe. Flying… Mind and Heart are expanding.
What did you do in early adulthood that stretched you?
Was it fearful? Then exciting? Or something else?
How is an inkling of a dream nudging you these days?
Is there a way to nourish it?
You do not have to jump in recklessly. Set it as a goal and get curious about what this means to you. The energy of curiosity will bring new ideas to you from your intuition, hearing it from someone, noticing a news article or whatever way it can reach you.
*(re)define is from the book: Your (re)Defining Moments: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be Author Dennis Merritt Jones; his Amazon page
I am finishing up a zoom class about this book. It has been a new perspective on perceiving, processing and propelling personal growth.