Sometimes in our careers, for one reason or another, the words "I quit" or "I'm moving on" come up. If you plan ahead to put aside time between jobs to reenergize and/or pivot, here are some tips on how to constructively use your gap time.
As those of us go through the waves of grief and anger after this debacle, I want to offer the following encouragement for getting back to chipping away at the challenge before us. Because we can't afford to linger in denial, anger, and grief...we need to start working now.
As a 4th generation Chinese-Japanese American and a person of color (yes yellow is a color), I know anyone who is different from the white American stereotype have two options when they wake up: (1) give up and be consumed and battered by the hatred or (2) fight each day to change the landscape and shift mindsets.
I have learned from three generations of my Japanese American family (great grandparents, grandparents, and father), who were in incarcerated during WWII in the internment camps in this country (a federal order placed by social Democrat FDR no less), that every day was a fight. My family lost their livelihood when they were put in the camps and were scared of the racist rhetoric aimed at them. They left the camps with nothing and had to start all over. Every day, like so many at the time, they woke up feeling they had to prove they were as American as their white counterparts. This was giving in to the dominant paradigm and yet many continued each day to point to the injustice while still working to this day to feel recognized as a group in this country.
People of color, LGBQT, women (or anyone "different" in this country) wake up every day, not knowing whether they will be harassed, killed, abused, berated, loved, or see another day. But they wake up no less and decide whether they walk out their doors to fight the hatred and violence, flee, or let it swallow them up. My point being, we can try predicting the future of this presidency all we want but it won't stop there being the next day and the next day after that. What will you do to pick yourself out of the pit of despair?
This is Day 1...will you fight for yourself and other disparate groups, communities, our environment to make a better tomorrow?
We can persist and flip the script.
Today was a relatively peaceful day. I got choked up with a couple tears welling up at one point while holding Naomi as I looked in her eyes and saw my father inside her fiery spirit.
On March 20, 1996, I was woken up around 5:45am by my dad as he asked me if I wanted to go to morning Aikido practice with him and mom. I said no as I had been up all night studying for an exam or something (I was a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School) and was exhausted. He said "okay...get some sleep. I love you." Half asleep I said " I love you dad." And those were the last words between the two of us. Apparently, my father was not well that morning and sat on the side lines of the dojo mat. Later he went to his doctors with a friend. The doctor did an ECG and did not see any problems. So our friend left my dad by his office in midtown and dad proceeded to do a task before heading into the office. He went to a nearby Citibank to withdraw money and soon after collapsed from a heart attack. He was alive while in the ambulance, but passed away in one of the city hospitals soon after. I can only imagine how lonely and how much traffic there was to get him to the hospital.
I attended school like usual, but I was also hustling to get myself set-up for an editor position in Tech's literary magazine, Horizons, so I had something to put on my college applications. As I walked outside with the magazine's advisor, I felt like someone had doused me with water and I felt a sudden emptiness in my being. When I arrived home, the air was cold and I saw my mother sitting alone. The first thing I asked "where's dad?" She told me what happened and I was stunned. Then I started to panic about things that didn't matter at that moment, like school work. I called friends to take down notes for class and flatly explained my dad passed away. It wasn't until a friend said "Mieko...shut up...do you realize what has just happened to you?" I'll have to say, my memories before his passing are fuzzy. Afterwards, life was more crystal clear as I was reminded to live life fully and for the purpose of something greater than myself.
It was a few weeks till I got to see my dad again, as we waited till spring vacation. Not easy to see your father in a casket; even harder over the years to not hear and then start to forget his voice. Every year as I look back, I realized life is short and we live on earth for some reason. My dad was a loyal husband, father, son, brother and friend. I know my life trajectory changed due to this moment in time. I felt guilty for a time about feeling fulfilled with who and what I have become after he died; by that I mean, all the amazing things I have done were due to what he left behind for me and his passing was a trigger point for a change in mindset.
Twenty years have passed, I look at what has happened for my family and I without him. And then I remember, though not physically here his presence shows in many ways in all our lives.
Thank you all for reading this reflective journey and rememberance.