Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 4/30/2009 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - More Than the Sum of the Parts

Martha's Big Adventure -- More Than the Sum of the Parts

By Martha Randolph Carr

A really good financial crisis is a great time to shed old illusions about ourselves, whether we want to or not. Take me, for example. As I've mentioned before, the apartment I rented in New York City was sold by the owner and I was given notice three weeks before closing. It was barely enough time for a short panic, a lot of apartment hunting and then giving in to the process and letting go of how I felt it should work out and particularly at 49 years old. A scale of emotions was compressed into a short amount of time.

I could have fought being forced out and there's no better place on the planet than New York City to be a tenant fighting for personal rights. But I kept coming back to the idea of everything happening for a reason and a long court battle didn't seem like the purpose in this case.

As a result, everything I own is now sitting in storage somewhere in New York City. There's a small pile left over that can fit into a suitcase and a computer bag but the rest is in a six by nine steel cage and locked away. This is not how I saw being middle-aged as a kid growing up in the suburbs.

There's a temptation to ask a lot of questions right about now that are all designed to figure out what I did wrong to end up here. I'm betting there are a lot of readers engaged in the same dance as well this year. However, many of you may have noticed that there's also no end to the personal flogging of our self esteem and no solutions that evolve out of it either.

There's even a special ring of hell in all of this where well-meaning friends and family chime in with questions about what we should be doing in order to rise up out of what they have deemed as a nice, fat failure. The list of 'shoulds' are creative and detailed but are generally a giant step off of the path we've chosen for ourselves.

Lately it's been suggested to me that I should be a lot richer by now as a published author and syndicated columnist. There's the body of readers, where's the pile of money? It's been decided that it must be a problem with promotion. The solutions have included filming my own show with a camera I'd need to find to post on an internet channel where hopefully people would find it in big enough numbers to grab advertisers who would pay me. Another hard-pressed suggestion was to constantly tweet or blog or come up with a newsletter so that more people would notice my existence. Pointing out the current readership of millions seemed to only confuse them. There should definitely be bags of money at my feet and there has to be something I'm doing incorrectly that can be fixed.

Or, here's a much saner notion. There are times in our lives where we can do everything according to a well thought out plan and things still turn out differently than we had desired. We can save our money for a rainy day and find out that the stretch lasted longer than the money. Or we can invest in a job for thirty years and be laid off with a severance package but 20 years left before retirement. And we can own the modest home of our dreams and find we're having trouble making the mortgage payments.

It can all seem really unfair but there are times when that's life. The more we can see it as happening and get out of the self pity part where we think it's happening specifically to us the faster we can actually live in the day we've been given.

Let go of the idea of fair, which only means payment for doing the steps we decided would get us to a destination. Grab on instead to the plan that says your value remains constant and the rest is all window dressing.

Get up every day with the idea that you'll start from where you are and do what you can reasonably do today. If this is a great day, fly as high as you can and if it's a tough one, try not to hit the mailboxes.

But stop keeping score or looking for signs. Instead be present in your own life and look for a balance that includes family, friends, community, career and service.

If any of those categories is missing or underdeveloped see what you can do to fill it out a little more. As for me, I will be in the woods of Virginia for the next few months writing columns and finishing that thriller. All of the striving to hunt down fame and fortune will have to wait for another day. More adventures to follow.

If you'd like to get involved in the 2009 America Challenge to raise funds for community-based charities email me at Martha@CagleCartoons.com for more information. Together we're going to build stronger communities and empower ourselves.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2009 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.

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