Plan B Nation on NPR! (plus a few thoughts on faith)

NPR Sign

Plan B Nation is ending the year on a high note, having been featured in a terrific report by Karen Brown on New England NPR. You can listen, here. (My writer friend Naomi Shulman, also featured in the segment, tells me the story begins at the 7:25 mark. If you’re not sure what that means—I I wasn’t—try starting about halfway through.)

[12/3/12 update: there is now a separate audio link for this report.]

As I listened to WFCR this morning, I marveled once again at how quickly things can change. I launched this blog just last month—November 13, to be exact. Since then, I’ve published more than 20 posts and connected with dozens of amazing readers from all over the country.  I’ve also picked up a bunch of freelance work, started drawing up a business plan, and—for the first time in quite a while—been feeling pretty optimistic.

If you’d described this state of affairs to me two months ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.  In fact, as I’ve written before, I almost didn’t start this blog.  I was at the point where it was hard to believe that anything I tried would pan out.  To put it diplomatically, I was feeling sluggish. Psychologists call this “learned helplessness,” this much I knew. But while I was clear on the diagnosis, I was clueless as to the cure.

I’ve written a good bit about transitions lately—about why they (always) suck and also about key points to keep in mind while wrestling with change—but I failed to mention that they rarely proceed at a steady pace.  We work and work for what seems like forever with no apparent result.  And then one day, for no apparent reason, everything seems to shift.

I’ve seen this in my own life again and again. And I was reminded of it the other day when I spoke with a lovely friend who had been waging a lengthy and devastating struggle with Lyme disease. She’d followed doctor’s instructions for months, to no obvious effect. Then she woke up one morning to find that the pain had disappeared overnight.

In the same vein, in my own (and still ongoing) transition, I’d been doggedly plugging ahead for more than two years, without sensing much progress. I’d given up keeping count of the number of jobs I’d applied for. And while I got the occasional freelance project, they were few and far between. Then, out of the blue, things started to click.

In this way, change often feels more like a quantum leap than like a steady climb, as if we’ve traveled from point X to point Y without passing through the points in between. We may wonder why things took so long if all we had to do was this.  (The answer: Because that’s just how transitions seem to work.)

For me, this is where faith comes in. And by that, I don’t mean some abstract metaphysical belief—I’m not someone who believes that Things Work Out For The Best or Everything Happens For A Reason. (In fact, I’m the sort of person who responds to such claims by instantly invoking the Holocaust or genocide in Rwanda.)  But I do believe in cause and effect—the power of our actions. I have faith that if we keep taking small steps, our lives are going to change.