Defining Moments

On Jan 2, I found myself without a job. Not a complete shock because I resigned – (I had been preparing collaterally for a while), but when the deed was done, my reality stunned me a bit. I was at a defining moment.

I’d been here before. Back in April 1994 when, after thirteen years, I left a religious congregation to start my life over at 30: I landed in Chicago with a suitcase of second hand clothes and prayer books in hand; no job, no credit history, no real resume to speak of, and my cousin’s couch to sleep on; in May 1995 when the job I’d secured for the year felt too much like the convent I’d just left, I quit with no idea of what I’d do next; after marrying, bearing two children, and realizing we needed a support system – my husband and I quit our jobs in 2000, and headed to California to find a house and employment so we could be near family; and again in 2007 when we had some philosophical differences with the institution we both worked at, we quit our jobs, put our house on the market (just as it tanked) and returned to Chicago looking for work and a place to live, three children in tow.

I’ve had several defining moments if you consider unemployment and moving cross country defining (not to mention marriage and having three children). But defining moments are not always major life changes. Sometimes we are simply confronted with choice. Like the hidden camera program on television we are asked, “What would you do?” 

A few weeks ago as I was driving my children home from school I noticed a teenage girl being head-locked and pushed to the ground by another as I passed by a neighborhood Chicago Public School. I stopped the car, pulled over, got out and approached the young ladies just as a group of teens approached. A defining moment.

On another occasion I saw a man lying on the sidewalk unconscious – as I was running late to get my son to a school event. A defining moment.

This morning my daughter woke me, having vomited all over her bed, her wall, and a good deal of the junk she had let drop around her bedroom floor. A defining moment.

We are all faced with defining moments – some major life events, other simpler happenings in life. But at these moments we get to choose: what type of cut string kite will we be? Will we soar, get tangled in knots, or allow ourselves to drop momentarily for needed repair and start all over again?


  1. I understand this. I’ve told my kids sometimes “you have to do what you have to do” (my version of defining moments). Even if it’s inconvenient. I subscribed to your blog. Looking forward to traveling with you!


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