A new chapter begins 1.24.24

every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. ~ Buddha

Technically, every day is a first day.

We’ve heard this said so many ways and we know it to be true. Recently I heard this version “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” This is attributed to a Chinese Proverb.

Maya Angelou’s words appeared in my gratitude journal this week “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” All very true, but they each take some serious discipline to embrace.

I’ve always loved the more visible cues to “begin again”. I love the energy of New Year’s Day – not so much for all the resolutions and intentions, but for the lightness and possibility. January 1st gives us a thoughtful opportunity to write the first words written on the page of that new year…a story about to begin. Here in Saratoga, I love Labor Day as the eve of the beautiful season of autumn, of harvest, of reaping what we’ve sown. And, of course, I love birthdays (especially mine – as the only child that I am), as a day to reset the calendar and say “what will I see, what will I do, what will I be this year?”.

Most of all, I love “First Days”… of whatever! For whatever reason the Burgart part of my brain latches on to dates of often very obtuse days (and not as many real-world important ones). I’m something of a specialist with remembering when people I love start new chapters. One of the most important for the Maven and I in recent history was April 10th (2018) – our first day of our new life in Saratoga. That was followed by May 1st (2018) – my first day with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Today, January 24th, I’ll etch another “First Day” in my career chronology as I walk in the office for the first time in my new role with the team at Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga. Indeed, a new chapter will begin!

Reflecting and preparing for reinvention

Compared to most people in my extended circle, it feels like I’ve started a new professional adventure more often than most. I just asked Google and it says “It is estimated that most people will have 12 jobs during their lives” (source: apollotechnical.com). Absent any exploration of the data, I’m game to say “sure, sounds about right!”.

My question is, how many times have I done this? And, more importantly, what have I learned along the way?

Quick summary of Kim’s career path (#Ivedonealotofthings)

  • Camp Counselor – Camp Strawderman (summer job)
  • Waitress – The Spot (summer job)
  • Education – Oldfields School (teacher, dorm parent, admissions office)
  • Various Temp Jobs in Washington, DC (let’s say 5 assignments in 1996-1997)
  • Banking – Riggs Bank
  • Technology – CivicZone
  • Technology – PromiseMark
  • Economic Development – Virginia Economic Development Partnership (Trade)
  • Economic Development – Virginia Economic Development Partnership (Investment)
  • Economic Development – Research on Investment
  • Consulting – Starting Gate Global
  • Venture Capital – Mid Atlantic Venture Association
  • Philanthropy – Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation
  • Philanthropy – Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga

Well, how about that? Today I will start my 12th new job, not counting my summer jobs and counting my two distinct jobs at the VEDP separately (same boss, but different work and different colleagues). I’m not certain this number means anything at all, other than the fact that I * should* certainly should know something about how to “be new” and, hopefully, how to make the most of this next opportunity to begin again.

Truly, I love being new and savor the myriad of feelings that make up “newness”. I love meeting people on their first days and I always share my advice to “embrace the weirdness”. Being new is such a strangely ephemeral thing. At first, it’s all consuming. You don’t know anyone’s name, what they do, how to work the copier or where to find the restroom… and then, one day, you just do! As an extrovert, I love the thrill of walking into a room full of strangers and wondering who I’ll meet and what new information I’ll learn. For all of us, every time we do this, there is a chance we will meet someone who will radically change our life (or we might change theirs). As much is this is always true, today is a special one for me. It’s a new day and a chance to bring and be my best self as I write the first words of this new chapter. Pretty darn exciting! It’s a great chance to put all the lessons learned through my first 11 first days in to action. But, that begs the question… what are they?

Looking forward, and making the leap!

Since my last day at the TRF on January 12th, I’ve been focusing on the “exhale”and directing my energy into the letting go part of the process. It’s been a bittersweet uncurling of my fingers from around the trapeze bar. While my heart will never leave that work, Saving Horses and Changing Lives, it’s been important to unwrap my (tightly wired) brain from around the people and projects that have consumed me for these past 6 wonderful years. It’s been a good 10 days and I’m feeling pretty well rested and reset. So now, today I’m focusing on the “inhale”. Breathing in all the good thoughts I want to bring with me to my new team and my intentions for this next chapter.

It feels helpful to look at that list above and think a bit about each of those first days. What did I learn there that I want to carry with me tomorrow?

For now, before I head upstairs to bundle up for my first day at the farm, here are my main thoughts…

  • Be curious – listen, learn, watch and absorb
  • Be open – don’t jump to conclusions
  • Be patient – let things sink in
  • Be interested – pay attention, hear the stories, observe the patterns
  • Ask questions and listen to the answers (spoken and unspoken)

And, especially in these earliest days, a bit of advice from Lin Manuel Miranda (via Aaron Burr) “talk less, smile more”.

And now it’s time. Heading upstairs to bundle up and head out into the first page of my next chapter… eager and excited to Go Where I Will Grow!