Saturday, January 08, 2011

Reflections of book club and of 39 years of life

I love my book club.

We have been together for 5.5 years (I think... or is it 6.5 years?) I think it is 5.5 years because I am pretty sure my son was just shy of one year. It is a great core group of women. One of my best friends suggested starting it to my other best friend and myself way back when. We each invited 2-3 women and wa la. Here we are 5.5 years later.

Last night we noted that it was our original core group of women. We have added to the group, but it is interesting to me that none of the newer additions seem to have as strong of a commitment to the group and I am not sure why. I wonder if those of us there from the start just had a stronger investment? Or if we failed in making other people feel welcome? Or maybe some of both.

Last night I failed to even buy the book. I had excellent intentions actually, but the book I was reading, "The Girl Who Played With Fire" just kept going on and on. And I am not one of those people who can successfully read two books at once. I must finish one before starting another.

The book was The Alchemist and I did read a primer and a few spoilers and reviews on the book before going to book club so that I wasn't completely clueless. But yes, I did a lot of smiling and nodding. As the conversation went on I actually did have a lot of thoughts to add based off of the flow of conversation, though I didn't so much because it isn't my thing to jump in and yap about a book I didn't read. I was there just to enjoy the company.

Thoughts on the book were all over the place, from one woman who absolutely loved the book and would put it in her top two (or did she say five) to others who said, "eh". That's par for the course with our book club. We rarely get across the board agreement on a book, yet we all still love each other.

A few of the thoughts really resonated with me. How do you move throughout your life? How do you make the decisions you make? Why do you make the decisions you make? Are there omens? Are there signs? What if you get to the end of your life and well, it sucked? Are you the only one to blame? Is that because you were ignoring the signs? What is happiness in life?

Huge questions.

The woman who loved the book made me want to read it most when she talked about how in her life, she goes along a bit and then evaluates - "am I happy?" If yes, great. If not, "how do I make it better? How do I fix it?" Then make it happen.

I can completely identify with this.

When I was growing up and through college I let things happen. I rarely made things happen for myself. Things just happened around me. I followed the crowd, I did what others did. If it made them happy, certainly it would make me happy, right? I majored in chemistry because I did well in it, not because I loved lab class (though I fell in love with my lab partner).

I think I got this from my parents. They are/were both great people, but they were young when I was little. Things happened to them, and while they both got better at making things happen for themselves as they got older, my early formative years saw them as being thrown around by circumstances and not in charge of the circumstances.

It wasn't until I graduated from college, worked for a year, applied (unsuccessfully) to grad schools my advisor told me to apply to, that I really realized it was up to me to pick myself up, quit whining about things that have happened to me - because really, I had a great upbringing and life and a future wide open to me - and make things happen for me.

I applied to grad school again and picked myself up and moved a few states away to a mid-range school that seemed to fit. It was the single hardest thing I have ever done, but really my first jumping off point.

Many of my decisions have been gut reactions. What feels right? Then do it.

I have had to remind myself a few times to take the reigns and make things happen for myself. I can only really rely on myself to know and do what is right for me.

I have talked a few times before about making decisions to change course, to make myself happier, to move myself in a different direction. I have recently made another move in life to make things just a smidge better. I finally realized that in my career I have been doing what is expected of me as a scientist. What my mentor a few years ago wanted for me. I kept ignoring and denying a direction that was popping up for me.

In October I decided to listen to that inner voice and make the step to follow a different career path. I went and talked to a few people who have since jumped onto my team and have encouraged me to follow a new path and have even gone so far as to put me into positions to enable me to further this career path.

I look at my path since leaving Colorado for grad school and I have to say, it just keeps getting better. 39 years so far (that realization is starting to hurt my gut), 15 years of following my heart and wow.

Who knew it could be so good?

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