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I've been thinking a lot about choices lately. About how some choices bring about expected change, and how some changes are not necessarily by choice. How it's so hard to know if you're making the "right" choice. At times figuring out what the "right" choice even means seems impossible. Thinking about whether it's best to make choices based on one's gut, one's heart, or one's head. (I tend to follow my gut and heart more...which doesn't always make for an easy outcome, but rarely am I regretful.)

I've been thinking about choices a lot lately because over the past 2 years we have experienced lots of changes in our little corner of the world. Some expected based on choices made. Some not. And honestly, I'm getting a wee bit weary of some of the struggles which we face on a month to month, week to week, day to day basis. It has made me question choices that have been made earlier in my life, at times wishing I could turn back the clock and get a second chance. But then again there is so much about my life I would not change for anything else in the world. My hubby. My girls. My friends. My community.

The funny thing about choices is we can weigh all the options, play through all the scenarios in our head, but we don't REALLY know how things are going to play out until a choice is made and life moves forward. And in the real game of life one rarely gets a "do over." Though if we are lucky we are blessed with enough time to make new choices, chart a new course so to speak.

Change can be difficult for me at times. But without change there is no growth. And even though the status quo maybe comfortably familiar, it's not always comfortable. That being said, I'm think I'm ready for some change and to make some choices necessary for facilitating that change.

Almost nine years ago I applied to massage therapy school. Long story short, I ended up not going. I opted to take a full time job outside of the wellness/health-care field and do the "sensible" thing in preparation for our growing family. (Just when all this change was about to take place I found out I was pregnant with Lexi. Amazing how suddenly one's thought process changes when the thought of caring for a small dependent off-spring is added to the mix.) Over the next 5 1/2 years I made some great connections with amazing people, gained some valuable skills, and opened our lives up to a whole new community within our community. This coming August it will be a full 3 years since I left the security of that position to follow my professional dreams. And I'm happy to say while the journey hasn't always been easy, it has been amazing and I am so thankful for the strength I have found in being my own boss. One of the goals I had in mind as I made the transition was to once again start the steps necessary to someday reapply, and this time ATTEND, massage therapy school. My desire to do so is probably even stronger now than it was 9 years ago thanks to my yoga practice. I so much more appreciate the value of holistic, integrative well care and have truly found my passion in life helping others to find that understanding as well.

This winter, given all the financial struggles with which we have been faced over the past 2 years, a light bulb of thoughts started to flicker. Instead of waiting for the "right" time, I started to wonder if NOW was the right time? If my dream could be part of the solution to our problems? After all, I COULD go back to working full time outside of the health care field in order to contribute more financially to our budget, but I know eventually I'd be right back where I was 3 years ago...making plans to refocus on wellness and to rekindle my business. A business that I would be so sad to step away from giving how much it has grown in 3 short years.

So I started to shift my thinking. WHAT IF I just went ahead and made the commitment to continue moving down this path? WHAT IF I just trust and have faith that everything will be OK in the end?

Thursday I went to Iowa City to visit the same massage school I had applied to in the fall of 2000. Since then the location, name, and the director of the school has changed. (Now the East West School of Integrative Healing Arts located in North Liberty just north of Iowa City.) I needed to make sure the unique program characteristics that first drew me to the school were still present before I allowed myself to get excited about moving forward NOW, instead of "some day". I'm happy to report I am just as excited about the possibility of very SOON becoming a massage therapy student as I was after my initial visit. I'm still very drawn to their program and felt right at home in their new location which happens to be adjacent to a Core Fitness facility. (I have to admit, I was drooling over their group exercise and Spinning studios as we were touring the full facility.)

However, as excited as I am, as much as my gut is telling me this is the right choice to be making at this time, there are lots of details that need to be figured out in a relatively short amount of time to make this dream a reality. Classes start the end of August. The biggest hurdle for my brain to attempt to jump is the question of finances. By attending the new part time program which the school will be offering for the first time this fall, I could both go to school and continue to teach my full weekly schedule. (A necessity if we plan to continue to eat for those 6-8 months.) The part time program also offers some flexibility that would come in handy when I'm considering childcare options as I honestly can't add daycare expenses into the mix and have any hope of making things work.

Since Thursday I have found myself creatively problem solving different options in my head. Can I find someone interested in exchanged of services (childcare for massages) to find care for my kiddos? Where can I look for tuition and book funds? Grants? Scholarships? Loans? The equity in our house? Flat out ask for donations? My thoughts are churning with possibilities and at times I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to even attempt to start figuring it all out.

So I'm putting it out to you blog world. If anyone has information on available funds or creative ideas about funding approximately $8000 worth of educational expense (plus a small bit extra for commuting costs) PLEASE leave a comment. Send me a message. Whatever works. I'm not usually one for asking for help, but we've seen how well that's been I'm asking for your help. Many thanks in advance!

On a slightly different, but related, note...

My brother watched Brea on Thursday so that I was able to make my visit to Iowa City alone. I took advantage of the few hours of kid free time to:
  • Visit the Crazy Girl Yarn Shop in Coralville. (Where I DID NOT buy anything. Look at that self control!)
  • Eat lunch at Sushi Popo in Iowa City. (Talk about choices...eating sushi alone is so much harder than when you are with someone else so you don't have to narrow down your choices as much!)

  • Shop at the New Pioneer Co-op for some bulk grains, crusty bread, and yummy dark chocolate. (When I get massage school funding figured out you can bet I will be visiting the co-op at least once a week while I'm in town. Love, love, LOVE the co-op!)
It was a lovely day and a much needed break from the normal routine. I'm always amazed at how refreshing just a few hours of such time can be. Thanks Tiny Circus for letting Brea chill at the farm!

I'll keep you all posted on how things are shaping up as I have something to report. Until then, thinking caps on everyone. Momma needs to go back to school!



Laura said…
Good for you! Change, even very good change, is always scary. I will certainly be on the lookout for opportunities that will help you reach your goals. Thanks for your post today as it is also motivating me to my own discernment today. "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." You can do this, Jenn!
MS said…
Jenn, you would be an awesome massage therapist. I'm sure you can make this work.
Anonymous said…
You've got the expert of obtaining grants living in your house right now. ASK HIM!!! Good luck on pursuing your dream. Aunt C.

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