It isn’t particularly common that I have a year where it feels so clear that things are coming to a close. This is also my first decade that has been purely of my own design. I finished my undergraduate course requirements at Dartmouth College in 2008 and finished graduation requirements by 2009. After that it was a tumble off a cliff with about $700 to my name. It’s easy for me to forget at this point that as stressful as it sounds, that was actually a really great and unique period of growth and experimentation.
I did two years of AmeriCorps*VISTA service from 2009 to 2011 and have spent the time since working with City Year, first at its Chicago location, and for the past 5 years for its headquarters. My work career so far has spanned an exploration of service learning in colleges and universities in Chicago to recruitment and admissions of 10 month volunteers to program evaluation support, data management, systems design, and project management. Writing it this way, it’s kind of stunning to think of what emerged as skill sets that, in 2009, I didn’t even know existed, or why they mattered.
As much as I struggled to appreciate my undergraduate time, I have spent most of my time outside of work learning in informal, self-directed, and guided formal capacities. I started a masters in Information Systems and dropped out at the halfway mark. As much as dropping out is framed as something disastrous, the time was enough for me to learn that I had a penchant for skills and activities I’d never conceived of… and enough for me to realize I didn’t want that work to be the centerpiece of my skill set or contribution.
In the past 3 years I realized I want my contribution to be around changing the way people experience work (which also means changing the way people think about work). This led me to complete a Masters in Organizational Leadership and Learning, but it also caused me to dive more deeply into learning about karma and dharma in order to better from what the ideas of action and purpose mean on a larger scale than our industrial and information ages have invited us to believe.
I’ve picked up other certificates along the way, in permaculture design, various Coursera and Treehouse certificates in various programming languages and project management, a crash course in Vedic astrology (jyotish), and most recently my 200 hour yoga teacher certificate (pending the rest of my homework).
About 12 years ago (when Jupiter was last in Capricorn) I started the biggest transition of my life, starting hormone replacement therapy and literally crossing over from one way of being seen in the world to another. As Jupiter has entered Capricorn this year, I’ve leaned more into building up Live Your Own Life as a way for me to organize the personal development and holistic productivity work I want to do with individuals. At the same time, I’m working with Erika Harano to build out Next World Teams, what we hope can grow into a facilitation and direct support service to increase capacity and success of organizations doing anti-racist and anti-oppression work.
If those years were any indication, things will get bumpy, but on the other side of that is total awe, wonder, joy, and purposeful contentment.