Learning to Love What You Have



  • Recognizing that part of being a decent person is not taking what you have for granted
  • Finding love in what you do

I used to think it was a NYC thing my always lusting over the next best thing. But I liked to separate myself from other NYers because I desired something bigger, immaterial. I desired to move to a third world country to begin work at a nonprofit, likely in disaster relief, education, or housing development. I wanted to help those in greater need than those in my country, as no matter how poor, Americans can somewhat count on a relatively robust welfare system.

All this felt a noble pursuit, but in the background I was feeling material frustration. 

After selling my half of a Hoboken condo I shared with an ex boyfriend, we had enough to place a 25% down payment on a 3rd property, our neighbor’s home, which would allow us to double the capacity of our Bnb from 3 to 6 bedroom Airbnb rentals. We had enough to pay for a renovation… if this renovation were to cost that of our original, identical, next door property. But this house required more work – $150,000 worth to be exact – as it was a gut renovation.

I felt threatened that the cost of renovating this property was preventing me from living my better life.

Over the course of the last few months, I began applying to part-time jobs that involved a nonprofit or environmental sustainability drive. I figured doing so would allow me to take a step in the direction of working for a non-profit, while earning a little extra cash to bolster our housing renovations. An offer to work remotely, part-time, supporting Leyla Acaroglu, founder of the Unschool and Disrupt Design movements, I was excited to work for someone that teaches others to live sustainably.

The end goal was good – supporting someone that was working to change the world one mind at a time. But the more I started reading emails (remember this was remote – so every task is simply directed by email) sent for this new position, the more I saw this position was no different from my current one. It still involved setting up someone’s schedule and booking travel arrangements. However, it was missing all of the good things that make up my current role. There were no small children to brighten my day with their endless questions, whimsy, and smiles. There were no loving co-workers to make me feel part of a team. Leyla is inspiring, but without the actual contact, she could not impress me the way that my current employers do as they juggle 500 things at once to succeed at their work and at home.

It lacked the personal touch one gets working directly with one’s employers and co-workers. Understanding the inner mundanity of this new, remote, support role, the more I recognized how much I enjoy the passion and emotion that is wound up in working for a family. There are so many moving parts to my current job, and they don’t all involve me sitting put at a computer all day. I had not recognized till then, the overwhelming, whopping benefit of working and moving in-real-life around employers that I respect and revere and with co workers that I have a genuine connection with.

How had I not realized the intrinsic benefit of this?

It’s kind of neat, because as a result of this fumbling about, I better recognize how good I have it to be in a position that is such a fit for me. I used to get down on myself for not being fully immersed in a non-profit position, but in the end, I recognize that I can still help people as I too often forget that my employers and their family + my co workers are all part of an eco-system that is helping one another to help others beyond our small circle.

My employers both have jobs centered 1) around helping people and 2) around bringing joy to others in her work. They also generously support important charities and are raising children to have sound guiding principles that will encourage them to be just as giving. My supporting them allows them the time to teach their children these values, and of course I get to do the same in my interactions with their children. I don’t think there are many days that go by when I’m not teaching their children about how recycling or composting works, or re-using discarded objects in their artistic creations.

Beyond that, I’ve become involved in a lot of voluntary work supporting families who cannot afford test prep to offer their child a shot at preparing for the free NYC Gifted and Talented exam. I’ve started offering free assessments and admissions and educational consulting over the last 8 months, and the interactions I’ve had there always leave me feeling energized and grateful for the connections I am making between families and educational opportunities.

Doing good is not all about 100% committing yourself to a cause.

Doing good is about living your life making tons of small decisions that you know are the right ones.

Doing good for me starts with appreciating what I have.

I am so, so lucky to be a citizen of a country that has allowed me to save up enough to torture myself with renovations.

I am so, so lucky to be able to feel remorse that I am not more involved with directly solving the world’s larger crises.

I am so, so lucky to earn enough to take what I earn and donate it to those who can more directly support solving our world’s larger crises.

It may seem a selfish endeavor to work towards owning three properties with my husband, and sometimes I get down on myself for working towards financial goals with these places. However, I have to remember that both my husband and I will deed all of our worldly belongings to the charitable efforts that we support. In our deaths, new life will flourish.

And it’s ok for me to take up a job that I enjoy and that I feel I am good at because I can accomplish much more being happy in this support role, than I can being unhappy in a different one, even if it is more directly supporting movements I want to advocate for.

I feel funny for being 33 and still only beginning to figure these things out. Only now being able to not take for granted the wonderful career I’ve managed to find myself in that is every bit the right fit for my busy body and mind. All while living in a city so diverse and full of opportunity for me to continue to devote myself to meaningful causes.

Why is the photo for this post you with a birthday cake?

And that is why the feature photo for this post is me sitting in front of a birthday cake ablaze, completely beaming. Because right now feels like that. Recognizing the value that you already have is just like this – celebrating something really good.