I have it’s spent the past 2 and a half months studying for a licensing exam I wasn’t passionate about to try and get a job I was half hearted about. Neither worked out the first time and I am ok with it.

I saw a psychic in August. She asked me to ask a random question I wanted to go deeper on so I broadly asked about what is going on with my career. She told me to then come up with 3 scenarios in my head about what to do with my job and then see what the cards came up with. When she revealed the cards, without knowing my 3 scenarios, she said number one is a good spot to be in, it’s something I excel at and is low effort to continue excelling and staying comfortable. The number two choice sounded terrible to her. She said that one didn’t feel like it was me and that I was trying to squeeze myself into a hole of expectation which doesn’t fit. Totally not the right move, she said. Number three interested her. She said it would be hard but that it could work, that she sees happiness and eventual, long term possibility of comfort.

These were my scenarios. #1 Stay put for the moment in my current role. Don’t try to do any major changes. #2 Was to get 4 licenses and apply for a job requiring all 4 of them. It would get me a promotion and help me save money for a longer term plan I have. #3 is the long term plan….start my own business. She also said the answers to these questions would start flushing themselves out in the month of September.

Am I annoyed I failed that stupid test by 2 points? Of course. I couldn’t have worked harder and sacrificed any more of my personal time and emotional blockage of everything happening around me. I basically worked for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for the past two months, allowing myself occasional beach breaks in-between studying and practice exams. I would literally leave work at 5 on Friday nights, spend 2.5 hours driving to the Cape and hooking the computer up on the breakfast bar at my parents house and start studying again at 9 pm when I got there. No more Friday night beer after the commute. It was all about warming up dinner they left for me and studying until 11-12. I would get up early Saturday morning and study for another couple hours just so I wouldn’t feel guilty about planting myself on the beach for 6 hours. And no after beach beer. I would go back to the house by 5, take a shower and start studying again. I’d eat dinner by myself while my parents ate in the other room. With the exception of my trip to Denver in August, my entire summer vacation followed the same daily routine. No wonder I lit up in Denver and started seeing glimpses of myself again.

In Denver, I was the happiest I have ever been. I felt so grounded and in touch with who I am and was always meant to be. I promised myself I would stay just like that after I got home. Granted, I haven’t straightened my hair since I got back. I shower every day and let it air dry without brushing it in true hippie fashion. I go to work like that and proudly wear my gold birkenstocks most days, without changing my shoes when I get into the office. But I went right back to studying relentlessly and became quickly miserable and self loathing in record time.

Now that I have failed, I can re-test in a month if I want to. Have yet to decide but knowing me, might try and then give it a rest. I have a hard time quitting things even when devoutly wrong. My parents have always called it stubbornness. My colleagues call it intense determination which is a label I am proud of. I spent my whole childhood defending myself against my parents’ lazy label. I am not at all lazy. Just very good at pursuing things I have passion for and blowing off most things I don’t…except for job stuff. I don’t know where the intensity and internal competitiveness come from….perhaps all the years of being labeled stupid in math and science classes until I got a Masters in Science from a prestigious school.

I have spent the past 2 days decompressing. I did some lunch and strolling through Portsmouth on Friday after failing the exam in the very building I once worked when I lived there 20 years ago. The irony not lost on me. I also realized I parked in the same space I parked in my last day on that job…the very spot where I said goodbye to my ex and saw him for what I thought would be the last time. Fortunately, it wasn’t. I saw him last summer. Despite the fact we dance around being deeply politically divided…that’s me changing, not him….we were on the same pages in our youth…he is a critical friend in my life now and someone I would never want to do without. Just one example of serendipity which does tend to bless me throughout my life.

I slept for 12 hours and the sat in my living room wondering what to do with my unplanned time. I had dinner outside in Cambridge with my sister’s family and deeply enjoyed the summer weather. I food shopped. I watched some episodes of Yellowstone. I attempted to read in bed but was still so tired, I fell asleep 2 pages in and slept another 13 hours. Got up, cooked pancakes for the week and took my dog for a hike for the first time in years. I’m unplugging from one life and plugging back into my real one…the one where I have been wearing birks for so long now, my ankles are torn up today from wearing sneakers the first time in several months. And, I am wearing my favorite new hat which says “be hippie” as well as the cute tank I picked up from Rebecca’s Apothecary in Boulder. That place is awesome. I got a bunch of bath salts, roll on “courage” oil, piñon, goddess cards, “balance” mist….kind of bought the whole store.

With this transition also comes the stuff I don’t talk about. I am acutely aware of it on my periphery but haven’t had the emotional battery to start processing and that’s the stuff which is kicking in now. I am very careful to avoid talking about my family online. It’s my choice to air “me” to the world with brief mentions of them but it is not their choice to have their stuff aired. They are incredibly proud, stoic people who freak out when anyone knows their business unexpectedly.

That said, my dad is having a hell of time with massive back pain to the point he can barely walk most days. He has had to take very strong medications which barely solve the issue. He is not a man to be “down” or complain. But the pain is so bad that even to do something he really wants to do like take me out to dinner for my birthday is a challenge…something we had to time effectively and worry about the wait time for a table because there was only so long he could probably handle being out or the restaurant chair. He works at the golf course which makes him really happy and there have been days he has had to come home one hour into his shift and go to bed the rest of the day. He is discouraged and depressed. The medical community has been failing this man in epic proportions. He is not an “old” guy who is good with giving in. He is an incredibly active, social 73 year old man who wants to golf, go out with his friends, drive cancer patients to their doctor appointments and be able to keep up with his grandsons when they visit. He wants to know he can get through a birthday dinner with his oldest daughter without having to cut it short.

In the midst of all this, he got another kidney stone which happens to him every few years. The ones he gets are severe enough, they require surgery to remove. He frequently experiences problems with surgeries. A coup,e years ago when he had back surgery, he had to have several blood transfusions after. It was scary. When he got pneumonia a couple years ago, he also got sepsis. He almost died. I didn’t talk about that when it was happening. I went to work every day like a good girl and hoped he’d be alive when I could visit on the weekend. He also has a-fib which causes a lot of problems and fainted in a mall once last year…something our mother didn’t mention for awhile after it happened. And when he had his kidney stone removed last month he had complications and infections after that which required ER trips. In fact, we joke about this, but it’s quite normal for me to be at the Cape with my mother coming into my bedroom at 2 am to tell me they have to go to the ER and could I walk and feed their dog when I get up?

He has also had cancer 4ish times. It started several years ago with melanoma. Then prostate, then thyroid and melanoma again. Last year, he had a huge bandage on from his most recent melanoma removal and didn’t want my mother to tell us about it when we had a family weekend at the Cape. Seriously, I think my sister noticed it and couldn’t understand how we were supposed to pretend we didn’t see it and to not talk about it. I mean, she and my sister in law are Ivy League grads. Not that my brother and I are intellectual schlepps but really, he thinks none of us were going to notice that? We are Irish Catholic and definitely expert on denial but not in this case.

The amount of time my father has had to spend this year advocating for himself with doctors, fighting to get an MRI and some kind of diagnosis is staggering. When we argue about how I tell him it’s better to live in other countries he likes to tell me about how you have to get on waiting lists for surgery in other countries…that you can’t always be seen right away. I asked when his next appointment was. 3 months away. Can’t see how that’s much different. I think he overdoes it on America the great. Granted, he’s not a MAGA guy and only thought Trump might be good for bridges and roads. He understands the criticality of DOMA to his family structure and voted for “her.” But I don’t think he’s totally immune to Fox News. It’s hard for him to see he isn’t getting the rights and treatment he thinks he is.

Last week, he finally caught a break. His urologist said he saw something from one of his kidney scans. He prefaced it by saying this wasn’t his specialty but he could see what appeared to be a build up of fluid pushing against the sciatic nerve. My dad and I went to dinner last Saturday night and he was optimistic again. He was talking about how this should be simple to fix and counting the short months until he could be back on the golf course. My father measures every cancer and illness by what he has to get through to get back on the course. Radiation…4 months. Back surgery…by Fall. Kidney stone…a few weeks. Fluid removal….by Spring if not the few winter days when the course isn’t frozen and it’s unseasonable warm.

Not that simple. He actually has to have another hip replacement surgery. The fluid build up is coming from his first fake hip he got at age 48. That’s shocking to me that he wasn’t much older than I am now when he had an actual hip replaced. They did warn us then it may have to replaced when he got older. By the time he got his second hip replaced they had been completely revamped so that he would be able to depend on the 2nd one forever. False sense of security, I guess. Time to re-visit the first one. Hip replacements aren’t necessarily life and death, nor terminal illness. But it’s a lot rougher at his age and the recovery is far worse than his previous ones. And, that’s if he survives surgery which is just never a given with him. This is downright scary. He is going have to re-calculate when he will get back on the course which means he is goi g to be depressed again. The depression alone is worrisome considering he has severe PTSD.

On top of what he is going through personally, he recently found out his baby brother has prostate cancer too. The second time. And the prognosis is poor because our fabulous, world class health care system missed the boat on taking his PSA seriously. For the love of God. Prostate cancer is in our family….his brother, my dad had it. And yet, the doctors didn’t monitor my uncle enough. It has traveled to his bones. His kids are in their early 20s. He hasn’t even retired yet. And when his wife retired about 2 years ago, she was diagnosed with great cancer. No sooner had she gone into remission then he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And now it’s back aggressively. My father is very upset about this.

So this is all the stuff in my periphery I have been pushing back against allowing in. I couldn’t get distracted. My parents seemed pleased I was working on licensing and potentially getting promoted so I could worry less financially. That failed. What they aren’t up for is me starting my own business and someday walking away from my “golden handcuffs.” How can I not consider it? Ever since they retired, it’s been nothing but illness. They enjoy their retirement in spurts but never to the full extent of matching their enjoyment to the toil it took to get there. That’s wrong. Other countries are not like this. They actually “live” their lives the whole time. They get by with less from a materialistic standpoint but they don’t do to themselves what we do. They don’t live in this perverse world where it’s all about saving enough money for our retirement to the point we work so hard we aren’t living the entire time along the way. We are getting through only so our bodies can break down the moment we stop having to get up for work.

I can see this all around me. I got too educated to be able to ignore it. It’s so wrong to me. And yet, I am doing the same thing myself. We all are. We are killing ourselves to have a nicer house, a better lawn than the guy next door, a nicer car than the family down the street, the biggest tv, the top shelf tequila, the best shoes….more, more, more, better, better, better….I am as guilty of it as my paycheck will allow. I don’t have the nicest house but you know I would if I could. I don’t drive a Mercedes but I would if I could. I like my trendy clothes. I like my highlights, my shoes, my leather jackets (plural.). But I want to stop. I want to stop all of it. I want to be healthy. I want to be mindful. I want to slow down my nervous system. I want to feel like I am not wasting time just by sitting on the couch petting my dog or having spent an hour writing when I could have been cleaning something or working or anything else. I am SO unhappy in my Monday through Friday week. The know it’s killing my soul and that I have so much better to offer than to just continue the rat race. But how the hell do I get out of it? How do get myself Into a space where I can run my own business, be the boss I wish I could be without all the bureaucracy, someone who unites people in healthful pursuit and can also be more available for parents who could use my help?

By studying every day, I was able to numb my brain and focus solely on really unimportant stuff like why rich people trading in the market need to have “options”and “margins” just to “bet” on trying to get richer. HonesTly,my inability to grasp options as well as I needed to isn’t about being stupid, it’s that I am truly hung up on why anyone needs to do it so much so I couldn’t absorb it. I think it’s bullshit and I just don’t penetrate bullshit. It’s way out of line from who I am and who I want to be.