Act on Opportunities

By Martha Otice

October, 2016: Act based on opportunities to contribute to others and yourself, leaving no one out. Making new commitments, which return to you 100 fold so your cup spills over to continue contributing.

OPPORTUNITY: “A set of circumstances that make it possible to do something” Webster’s Dictionary

Albert Einstein

Early on in my teenage years I had to learn to take a look at my circumstances and begin to develop a course of action that was right for me.

At the age of 14 my mother passed away from a kidney disorder and two years later my father passed from a stroke. I was the youngest of 8 children – 2 boys and 6 girls – a large Italian family. It was after high school that I started to work for the Maryknoll Fathers. I became very excited about the mission work of the fathers and the sisters, and made a decision to enter the convent.

This became the beginning of many ‘sets of circumstances for opportunities.’ I made the decision to enter Maryknoll after much thought and prayers. I really didn’t consult with family and friends… I knew it was something “I” wanted to do.

My life has always been that of making decisions… I was able to feel on an intuitive level that something was either right or wrong, and I would proceed accordingly… of course praying and giving it thought.

Through my journey in life I have met so many wonderful people along the way that offered guidance, who really cared about me and my desires. I have previously spoken about my High School teacher who was so supportive in helping me academically after my parents died, when I found it difficult to concentrate and focus on school work. Then there was my High School Assistant Principal who tutored me in math so I would be able to take the college exams prior to entering Maryknoll.

Of course, meeting such strong and dedicated women in Maryknoll inspired me. When I left Maryknoll, I was completing courses for my BA and met with Sr. Eucharista, Dean at Rogers College. She gave me the opportunity to complete my BA but I was very hesitant to return to Maryknoll. I remember her telling me, “Martha, are you going to let your pride get in the way of your education?” It was at that point I realized I had to take every opportunity to shape my future.

All of this may sound as if I had/have my “act together”… not at all … I can and do, at times, get caught up in the planning and managing of a situation. With the planning and managing comes disciplining … structuring things to happen … and taking a risk.

I really feel very blessed and grateful for my life and circumstances. Education was always important for me. I was able to find a work schedule that would allow me to go to school and get my BA. I went to Montclair State and got a Master’s degree in Counseling. Then, upon the recommendation of the Director of Cottage Life at Andrus Children’s Home where I was working, I went for my MSW in Administration. For several years I worked as an Administrator in the social work/medical field, always loving what I did. Then I decided to go for postgraduate degree in Clinical Social Work, so I could see clients as a therapist.

These details of my life are not to ‘boast’ about my accomplishments; They’re to share the facts of learning to overcome the death of loved ones, disappointments, not being sure, set-backs, etc. I learned the art of spotting opportunities and developed the courage to use them.

After 9/11 in 2001, I made a decision to leave a very satisfying career both professionally and financially to go into private practice working with couples and individuals. It was at this time I began to realize that I was “doing God’s work” helping others to find themselves, being supportive in their time of emotional pain and holding their hands in the process of life.

I then made another life change to move out of New York and relocate to Florida. I remember a friend saying to me, “Wow Martha! It takes courage to give up all you have here in NY and relocate especially at your age.” (I was 65 at the time.) I didn’t see it as “courageous;” I saw it as something I wanted to do, another opportunity. I love my life here in Florida. I continue to work part-time as a therapist and love it, love it…

I definitely want to spend more time seeking and pursuing opportunities that can change my life and the lives of others. Maryknoll was very instrumental in forming who I am today; for this I am grateful. Also, I have been walking with God at my side… never alone.

Next: Questions to Reflect on: When do I Act on Opportunities?

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