I have tried for days to write this post.

I have wanted to write this post for months. I practiced it in my head. OK, I had one line down, but still. This should not have been the post that I struggled to write. It kind of bothers me because rarely, if ever, do I struggle to find words to say something. Why now?

I was thinking about it all wrong. I was trying to tell the story by looking behind me, explaining what has led to this moment, this decision, and focusing on the doors that have been closed. But none of that matters, really, because this isn’t about what came before. This is about what is yet to come.

Allow me to digress for a moment. It’s relevant, I promise.

When I looked at Kat’s writing prompts for this week’s Writer’s Workshop, I read her list of last week’s favorites. Way at the bottom was one that struck me. Jerralea (at Jerralea’s Journey) wrote about the gift of belief in herself: “Often, when God is ready to use you at a new level, you will start to feel dissatisfaction for the way things are in your life. This is so that you will be ready to do something new.”

That’s true, I thought. Very true. It’s why at the end of a school year, teachers get kind of tired of the students in their classes and the students get very tired of the teacher. It’s a normal part of the cycle. It’s how we’re able to let go of one another. And nobody thinks about the year behind; we all think about the summer and, eventually, the new school year that will follow. When it’s time to say goodbye, you know it.

I have felt that dissatisfaction Jerralea described about some things in my own life over the last several years. It was minimal at first, almost unnoticeable. But over time, with changing circumstances, that dissatisfaction grew. I was changing and I knew it. I wanted something different; I had become someone different. It was time to say goodbye. I just didn’t quite know how.

I read a lot of Thoreau. I read him over and over again. Some of my favorite lines – and the ones I have found the most inspirational – come from the Conclusion to Walden.

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one…

I learned this, at least…if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary…

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

That’s exactly what I am doing right now.

To borrow Thoreau’s words, I have a new and different life to live and cannot spare more time for the one I have been living. I have spent hours upon hours imagining my life from this point forward. I am stepping across those invisible boundaries and laying the foundations underneath my castles…

I quit my job today. Well, several days ago, now. With a great deal of support from those closest to me, I committed to the decision to do something new, something different, something that enables me to live the life I have imagined for myself and my family. That life, very simply, does not include punching anyone else’s time clock and so I am setting out on my own. I have “hung out a shingle,” so to speak, and am now effectively self-employed.*

This is huge. HUGE. It’s exciting and terrifying and dizzying all at the same time. This decision has been a long time coming and has so many reasons why. But rather than focus on the doors I close behind me I am focused on the open door ahead.


Thanks to Kat and Jerralea for the inspiration I needed to find my words!

*Come back again to find out more about what I’ll actually be doing!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

39 thoughts on “The Open Door

    1. I like brave as a descriptor here more than other words I could think of. I think it’s brave – it’s certainly a big choice for someone like me who doesn’t like surprises and uncertainty. More is coming – just too much to put all in one post.

  1. I know it’s scary but it’s exciting, too. My husband has been self-employed for the last 27 years. It wasn’t a decision he made – it was just something that happened. It has its advantages and disadvantages but I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Good luck. I’m anxious to hear what your plans are.

    1. That’s exactly how I feel…scared and excited. I have read a statement on Pinterest or somewhere that if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. So I’m sticking to that theory! These are scary and big! I am so glad for your insight here on your David’s self-employment. It’s encouraging. More details on my plans are forthcoming!

  2. I wish you well in your upcoming endeavors. How brave you are. I overthink, and overthink, and overthink, until one time it is clear – as things became clear for you in Jerralea’s post. I am so happy for you. Going forward and closing the doors behind is so HUGE.

    1. Thank you, Val. It was a lot like that for me, I think, as I was working up to this choice. Think, overthink, think, overthink, think some more… It all finally reached a point where I knew the answer, then just needed to screw up the courage (and a plan) to do it. So here we are!

  3. HUGE doesn’t even say it, does it? Congratulations to you on this momentous decision and this very brave act. How wonderful that you have the opportunity! But what is this new work you are doing?
    I so get what you say about punching someone else’s time clock. I think there are people in the world who need a job for structure in their lives, and there are people who put structure in their lives, job or not. Brian and I divide on this line. He openly states he needs a job to stay focused. I much prefer to make my own focus. If that makes sense? But we need more income so I MUST start looking into tutoring. I have a plan that is narrow and perfect and therefore, will be hard to meet. Let’s stay in touch on this.

    1. Yeah…HUGE doesn’t even begin to cover it. I think it’s brave – it feels right. I will come back with more on what I’m doing next – just didn’t want this to get too long and drawn out.
      I always wondered if I would ever be the kind of person who could work for myself – I figured I wasn’t. But the more time I have to make my own choices, the more efficient and effective I find that I am. I guess much depends on whether what you’re doing is what you really want to do or not.
      This thought was interesting…”I have a plan that is narrow and perfect and therefore, will be hard to meet.” We definitely should talk more about this.

  4. Quitting a job can be a really good change. I know the feeling you were talking about on wanting to quit, but not sure on timing. I wanted to quit my flower shop job, but couldn’t decide on when or how—they always seemed to need me. Then, abruptly, I had a respiratory allergic reaction to a new tile floor they put in. That provided me the perfect exit door. What they needed no longer mattered. What I needed did.
    I can’t wait to hear what you’re doing instead! Thx for visiting my blog

    1. It’s funny how sometimes in situations like that, we are presented with that perfect exit door like you described. And we definitely have to think about what we need, not anybody else. Do come back for more about what I’ll be doing next!
      Thanks for visiting here, too. I’m popping over to check out your space now!

  5. WONDERFUL!! Inspirational! When you told me to be sitting when I came to read this post, you meant it! I held my breath, wondering if the change was going to be something happy or something sad, and I find myself smiling and cheering for you in the end. It is indeed a bold, brave step forward in life, and I will be praying that you are blessed with the undertaking. We do know when it’s time to make a change. It isn’t easy, but it is so worthwhile. May your dreams lead you to right where you need to be. Can’t wait for more information on what direction you are headed! Congratulations, what a great way to start the approaching Fall season! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Josie. Thank you for the prayers – we can always use those! This will be a great challenge, but I also feel that it will be a great thing for all of us. More info is coming, I promise!

  6. Even though it was much more fun to ponder whether or not you were pregnant, in the back of my mind, I had a feeling you were going to leave your job (teacher intuition). Now you’re going to make me wait to find out what you’ll be doing?! GAHHHHH!!! Why do you torture me so?

    1. Well, if I was pregnant, it would be nothing short of a miracle since it’s pretty much impossible. Haha. 😀
      Teacher’s intuition, huh…now I’m curious as to why you had that instinct.
      Not intending to torture…just felt like to outline the new plan here would get long and tedious. I’m working on that one next!

  7. Wow, that’s a huge jump to make. I’m so glad to hear that you’re taking a risk and doing something that you want to do. Heading out on your own can be really frightening, but you’ll learn so much along the way. I like the way you put it – focus on the open door ahead.

    1. Yes, this is a huge jump and definitely frightening. I know it’s the right choice, though, so that makes it a bit less scary. I think the best way is to look at what’s ahead, not what I’m leaving behind or why. There’s no reason for re-hashing or regrets. It’s just time to move on.

  8. I can’t wait to read about what new adventures you’ve planned. Your insight into how teachers feel at the end of the year was interesting since I’ve always thought about how hard it must be to let go of each class of children. Good for you for following your heart! I think you’ll find success.

    1. Thanks, Jean!
      It’s a mixed bag of feelings, really, Jean. You can’t spend that many days and hours with people and not grow attached in some way. It is hard to let go on one level, and that’s why I think we get that little blessing of being ready to separate from one another.
      I am definitely following my heart on this, so I am hoping for great success!

  9. Wow! Congratulations, I’m so happy for you. I am familiar with that relief of ending something that needed to be done and the apprehension of not knowing for sure what is to come. Enjoy the peace you get from moving forward, you will find your footing and a new path is exciting!

    I loved that line from Jerralea’s post last week too. Something about it was just really striking to me, it was like an aha moment. Because it’s true, all the signs are there when it’s time to move on, we just have to recognize that’s what they are.

    1. I think that’s exactly it, Kat – this needed to be done. I’m not positive what the future will bring, but we have a good plan and the support of good friends and family. This will all be great!
      I’m so glad you pulled out that line from Jerralea’s post – it was really the thing that got my fingers moving on this. The deed was already done, but I couldn’t figure out how to put it into words.

  10. I read that same line from Jerralea and found it so powerful as well. I mean, I didn’t quite my job or anything, but still!
    Can not wait to hear what you have up your sleeve. Hope it is ultimately very satisfying and successful.

    1. Oh, wow, people kind of think the line from Jerralea made me quit – it didn’t! It just helped me put into the words the fact that I had done it. Her words just kind of summed up how I felt leading up to it.
      Anyway, I promise I’ll have more on what I’m doing very soon.

  11. Wow, I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to find out what you will be doing next!

    I’m glad you liked that line from my post. I truly felt it was a God-inspired-thought, and when I looked back over my life, I could see where it had played out that way. How would we ever go to the next level if we are too in love with where we are?

    Anyway, may you step out in faith and reap great benefits from taking a chance.

    1. Thanks, Jerralea! I’m working on the “what I’m doing next” post so do come back!
      I was so glad Kat pulled out that line from your post – it’s exactly the words I couldn’t quite find to tell about my decision. That discomfort, discontentedness, can drive us to the next great thing.
      Thanks for the good wishes and for visiting here! Hope to see you again. 🙂

  12. How wonderful that you were able to realize that you had become something different than the life you were leading … and more importantly that you were brave enough to take the step to reconcile the situation.

    Congratulations on making the leap. I hope you and your family will be happy with the change.

  13. Oh Lisa!!! I am soooo excited for your brave step of letting go… and taking that faithful leap into tomorrow!!! I love that quote. Oh do I love it.

    You are ready. You are able. You are exactly where you need to be….

    1. You know, Chris, I really do think this is exactly where I need to be and this is exactly the time to do it. Yes, it’s taking a whole lot of faith, but I believe it’s all going to work out wonderfully!

  14. Congratulations!! I followed you here from Chris’ place and I think it was kismet that I did. I did the same exact thing just two months ago. And the past two months have been exhilarating and terrifying and I’ve wanted to throw up just about every day but I have never doubted that I made the right decision. Best of luck to you!!

    1. Hi, Tricia! Wow – you just never know who you might find and connect with through someone else. Glad you came over! I think your words about sum it up – exhilarating, terrifying, and feeling like I just might throw up are pretty accurate! I know in my heart that it was the best choice for me and my family, though, and the future is going to be most excellent.
      Best of luck to you, too!

  15. OMgosh,
    what an inspirational, powerful post.
    I LOVE that you are open to new beginnings, journeys, adventures.
    God will surely direct & guide you into your next purpose here on earth.

    1. Thanks, Kim. I am certain that God has directed me this far already. It is a new beginning and definitely an adventure! It’s a little scary right now, but also exciting. And it feels right, so I think that’s a good sign. Stay tuned for more developments!

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