When I Left My Dream Job

and went to play in the woods instead.

“Red Trail” 7.13.19
photo by author

Last January, I walked away from a job that I initially loved and had worked hard to get. Structural changes trickled down and leadership had a massive turn over. New management came through and the environment became toxic.

I felt lost. I realized that I had wrapped my entire self-image and self-worth into my career. I am not sure, but it might end up being a chip on my shoulder for the rest of my time on this planet. The experience changed me profoundly.

Unfortunately, nearly all of my friendships were work-related. It is rather embarrassing and it hurts to say, but losing the shared atmosphere caused my friendships to dwindle quickly. You know how that goes.

At the same time, I inadvertently pulled my head out of the sand and finally faced some hard truths about my 24-year relationship. That’s a story meant for another rainy day, but I mention it to illustrate the Snowball Effect that seemed to occur when I started to evaluate the world around me.

I took a couple of months off and slept. And felt sick. Really sick. Like not able to look in the mirror sick. And I felt useless and aimless and pointless and was filled with purposeless-ness. I mean, I *was* without purpose. I needed something that I couldn’t name. And I was lonely.


On a cold spring day in April, I went into the woods. To hike, to hide, to feel like I was running away- without actually having to run away. It was a distraction disguised as a positive outlet. 

I came up with arbitrary hiking goals that included:

  • Twelve Miles A Day Because Every Day is Leg Day
  • A Marathon a Week or It Didn’t Happen
  • Two-A-Days or Bust (super effective way to avoid being at home)
  • Muddy and Rainy: Better for the Brainy
  • If You Aren’t Crying Then You Aren’t Trying

But, seriously.

To feel a sense of control, I avoided any kind of paved trail and sought to find the more unknown trails. The messier the terrain, the better. The less-traveled, the better. I even made a couple of my own.

Over the course of 4 months, I lost the extra 40 pounds that my “dream” job had gifted me through stress and break-room bakery.

I sprained each ankle no less than 3 times, tore my calf muscle (brutal), tweaked my knee, slipped, fell, bruised, bled, and I might have hit my head a time or two. I worked through each injury, taking a day or two off when absolutely necessary. Basically, there was a lot of ice and kinesiology tape involved.

But I needed to push past my physical and mental limits. The physical struggle was the only thing that offered me release, let me cry, feel alive. Without it, everything remained all bound up somewhere in my head. 

The exhaustion made my sleep a little less restless —  although my legs would wake me nightly with the dull ache of overtraining. But I preferred it, as it was a physical pain that demanded more attention than the emotional turmoil I felt.


I have no real lesson to share here. But I am still out there. Down to 2–3 x a week because of the winter weather and the nightshift job I have to maintain.

And I’ll never stop. I may move to the mountains and make hiking take over my life. The trees, flowers, and even the bugs. The sun, the ice, the mud, the wind, the warm, and the cold. It is all so beautiful.

Maybe I need a hiking buddy. So if you see me out there, stop and say hi. 
If I’m crying, stop and say hi, anyway. It’s a good thing. It means I’m breaking through something.

And I will come out of the woods stronger… or fall down a mountain trying.

CVNP 7.6.19
photo by author

cross-posted on Medium

When You Don’t Know Your Niche

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

I can’t be the only one.

The writers who write about writing tell you that finding your niche is important. How do I do that? Do I write different topics under different pen names? Use certain platforms for certain themes?

Here’s the thing. I don’t really fit into a niche. Sometimes, I just need to write. And when that happens, I do just that. I write.

Something is born from my fingertips dancing across the keyboard of my laptop. Like a funnel, I become a medium between my computer and the universe, the words flow into me, through me, and onto the Word document before me.

Sometimes the words are surprising. It is incredibly romantic to think of how many different combinations we have created using the same words. Like a spilled bucket of ice, cubes flying out in all directions, each of us pulling them back together in our own unique way.

Sometimes the words are beautifully painful, achingly raw, and embarrassingly revealing. Sometimes it hurts to write.

Sometimes the words that are funneled to me uncover what I really need to write about at that moment. So, I continue. Tap tap tapping away, as words become sentences, which become paragraphs… and then are born as short stories, poetry, and recently, a few serious articles, too.

Sometimes I share what I have written. Sometimes I hide it in a sub-folder that only exists 7 layers deep in My Documents with shady promises to come back to it someday.

Sometimes, I DELETE, although a dear friend of mine has recently convinced me to ‘stop deleting, everything has value’.

But does it? Does everything have value? Is he right?

Yes, he’s right. The value is that the words come from within. That they are genuine and sincere and that I pour my soul into them. That matters.

But will my readers find any value? I hope so.

Sometimes I ache to hear my reader’s thoughts regarding the words that I have bled for them. To know that someone looked in between the lines to find me, as that space between words is where the real me is hidden.

Maybe, since I am still new to sharing my writing, my niche will become apparent one day. Until then, maybe someone can share their wisdom as I know I am not the only one.


“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

― Mary Oliver

Cross posted on Medium

Follow Your Future

And then one morning you wake up.

Consciousness overcomes dreams, breaking through that sleepy haze.

Like the barometric pressure subtly shifting, we sense a change in our forecast. The weather vane swivels, our course suddenly pulling us into a different direction.

And in that direction, we will take one step, followed by another, and another after that. And it will feel all wrong. Unfamiliar and foggy, unclear as to what lies ahead. And you hate to admit it, but you are terribly sure that the known lands behind you are not meant for you any longer. Not everyone can accept that knowledge.

Some fight it for lifetimes.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, of course. Admitting that your old life no longer serves you, has you stuck, limited, in a rut, doesn’t cultivate personal growth. You will hesitate. You will look back over your shoulder and see the world of your past while knowing deep down that ‘just head back where it’s safe’ is not really an option.

Because now you know there is something else out there looking for you.

Some kind of inner honing device triggered, a call to arms, a neodymium magnet pulling you towards *it* as *it* demands you to become You.

It’s right. Go. Go, and leave the rest behind.

Going in the right direction may not feel right. But keep in mind that going in the wrong direction does not feel right, either.

Follow your future.


The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

Cross posted on Medium

In the Icy Summer Valley

7.29.19 photo by author
“That Trail Along the River”

The summer treetops shaded us and the hot air
kept us flushed
through the pursuit of the moment.

And when those leaves began to fall around us,
we listened as they
were crunched by our footsteps. There, we stayed,
warm and hazy,
creases from laughter
upon our pink faces.

And then through the
swirling snowflakes
we found
how nice cold noses felt
when pressed
against warm cheeks.

And we ran towards something,
but
towards nothing.

And in the icy valley,
we left it there.
Our energy,
it remains,
as ghosts running
through the trees,
in time-past.
Gone,
but never
really fading.

7.14.19 photo by author
“Down by Morley Dam”

~crm