Graceful Moments – Day 354 (Thu – Nov 22)

In a moment of grace this morning, I felt the nudge to get up and wash my dishes. I had thought to wait a bit, to make sure everyone was up and awake. In fact, I had just started a movie that hadn’t yet finished the credits when the urge to get up and do them came.

I scooped up my dish-washing paraphernalia and dishes and went quietly to the kitchen. It was after nine, but I hadn’t heard signs of wakefulness from my upstairs housemates. I washed my dishes, laying them on a green terrycloth towel to drain. I was in the process of drying them when my landlady/housemate’s daughter and her son arrived, loaded down with the fixings for their Thanksgiving dinner. I finished drying and scooped away all my stuff just in time for her to start using the sink to bathe the turkey.

A graceful moment.

A little while later, I noticed my landlady outside my window. I first presumed she had taken the dog out for a potty break, then noticed she was looking at something. She turned around and walked back to go inside. I was vaguely aware of a brief glance in my direction. It dawned on me a couple of minutes later that she had gone out to see if the clothesline was available. I had put some towels in the dryer, because I, too, discovered the clothesline was already in use. She has a thing about using the clothesline instead of the dryer. I felt grateful that I truly did intend to hang my towels outside and that I wouldn’t have to hear her tell me again that she wishes I’d use the clothesline. And, I confess, a small part of me wanted to say, “So there!” – which is a not-so-graceful response.

Yet, it still felt like a graceful moment. (Or at least a “Whew!” moment. ;-))

This week has been sprinkled with moments of grace, serendipitous occurrences that suggest things may have started coming together for me. Sunday evening, I opened an envelope from Guideposts to give a friend of mine a subscription to their magazine. In the envelope was a postcard with an angel. She’s holding a young boy who is clinging to her, eyes closed in trust and comfort. It was just the image I needed to remind me of the prayer request I had sent in. There were several things I asked prayer for, but this image reminded me especially of my desire to see my son. (We live just far enough apart to make visiting difficult and we’ve both had some financial limitations to further inhibit the desire to see each other. It’s been over three years.)

I’m keeping the angel postcard where I can see it often to remind me of this particular prayer. Another graceful moment.

Tuesday, I finally bought a book I’ve been wanting to get for a couple of years now. It’s written by Phil Porter, one of the co-founders of InterPlay. It’s called The Slightly Mad Rantings of a Body Intellectual Part One. I’d only read one short excerpt from it before, which is posted on the InterPlay store’s website and seems so classic-Phil.

Later that evening, as I was noticing how uncomfortable I felt from having eaten too much and how squishy the jelly-roll around my middle has become, an unexpected and startling proclamation popped out of my mouth: “I love my body!” In that moment, I did love and appreciate my body, yet as recently as the day before I had been unhappy with the mushier parts and wondering if I would ever again feel good about my appearance.

The very next day at lunch, yesterday in fact, I opened the book to one of the first pieces. The title caught my eye and made me laugh: “lumpy thighs.” Perfect, I thought! As I read, I was surprised at how much it spoke to me. The short piece talks about learning to spend more of our time celebrating our bodies and ourselves just as we are, instead of spending our time trying to “fix” ourselves. I realized that in that unexpected statement of the night before, I had begun to celebrate my body just the way it is. (I highlighted almost two thirds of this piece.)

I “just happened” to buy that book hours before I began to redefine how I see my body. And I “just happened” to turn to a reading in it the next day that helped me to recognize – and claim – this shift in perspective.

Another moment of grace.

There’s so much more going on that I haven’t even attempted to capture here. Indeed, I barely capture it all anywhere. Could it be, as I close in on the one-year anniversary of my first post, that more has been happening than it seems? That I am being transformed in ways I didn’t even realize?

Patience has its rewards

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A break in the wall – Day 317 (Tue – Oct 23)

Do you ever have trouble deciding what to do? Not because you don’t have anything to do; rather because there are too many things to do. That’s how it feels for me right now. I keep floundering. Do I go through mail? Do I organize my shelves? Do I do Step work for my next meeting with my sponsor? Do I start my Step work for the other programs in which I’m less active? (Everything goes back to Al Anon for me, so that’s my primary program and the one that helps me with the others.)

Do I read? Do I relax? Do I blog? What is it exactly that I’m “supposed to be” doing right now – besides hiding from the emotional turmoil just below the surface?

In the past ten days, I have been through an upheaval of body memories and emotions. Old memories are surfacing, clarity is arising around those experiences, and possibilities for positive change are determined to filter through the confusion of unexpressed grief, fear and anger to let themselves be known. I tried writing about this, but I find myself talking in circles and don’t quite know what to do.

Without going into detail, I had an experience of recognizing on a deep level the abusive nature of a previous relationship. I had spent years discounting how I had experienced it because it wasn’t physically violent in direct or tangible ways. Therefore, it couldn’t really have been abusive, right?

“WRONG!” my body tells me.

I’m still trying to sort through the myriad thoughts and feelings that have surfaced and continue to unfold. Later this week, I’m going to work with a dear friend who is trained in areas that will help me to process this. We’re going to do some InterPlay work with this because I need to work on a body-spirit level and avoid getting stuck in my head. I’ve already spent too much time analyzing and compartmentalizing my experiences of this. It’s time to listen to what my body has to tell me about how this did (and still might) affect me.

The thing is, as difficult as this has been (I know there’s a ton of grief just waiting for the right window to open so it can spill out), it has also led to the deconstruction of certain beliefs about myself and relationships. In short, I have realized that something I believed about myself might not be true and that I may have the ability to move more gracefully into a new relationship than I would ever have thought possible.

That realization itself leaves my head fairly spinning, as I continue to integrate this new information.

Perhaps I’ll be able to talk about this more later. As I continue to discover what is and isn’t true about myself, I know it will reshape how I see the world and what I see as possibilities for my life. For now, I’m grateful to discover that pulling out a single stone from the wall sometimes leads to an avalanche that creates a new door to a brighter other side.

(Am I making any sense at all today?)

Just for today I can trust – Day 313 (Fri – Oct 19)

There are  only 53 days left in this year-long journey, but who’s counting? In fact, something tells me I’ve only just begun…

I don’t always realize how tense my body is until something jogs me into awareness. In a lovely devotion I read this morning, the author talks of “letting go into a simple state of trusting God…just for today,” she writes, “I will allow myself to be truly ‘at sea,’ mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually” (Daily Guideposts 2012, p. 322, Marilyn Morgan King). At sea – relaxed and drifting along on the ocean’s current on gentle waves of trust.

“Just for today,” a favorite 12-Step slogan that sometimes eludes me. This morning when I read those words in the same “breath” as the words “trusting God,” I suddenly noticed the tightness in my muscles, in my entire being really. It was as if I were poised, tensed, ready to leap into action – as though I could immediately begin to change my circumstances, even though it was barely past six a.m.

My fridge & pantry…Why ever would I want to move?!

I was feeling the need to take action – in particular, to find a graceful way to move into a better living situation…ASAP! Of course, “ASAP” is the place where grace seldom lives. As soon as I realized that the sense of urgency creating tension in my body does not come from God and certainly does not reflect trust in God, I felt myself begin to unwind.

It was surprisingly like a light bulb turning on when I realized that I didn’t have to trust God every second of every day; I could trust God with just this day and let that be enough. It dawned on me that I don’t have to do it all now. (I know I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ve discovered that some things take more repetitions to sink in and register than other things.) I don’t have to do it all now. Could somebody please turn that into a sign for me and put it where I’ll see it every day?

I remembered that I can simply make progress and move forward, let go and trust, and even wait patiently one day, sometimes one hour or one moment at a time.

Just for today, I don’t need to rush or to worry; I can let go and trust that God’s divine love for me is doing its perfect work in my life. I don’t have to see it; I can be still and know.

Day 166 (Fri/May 25): The unexpected grace of small steps and 12-Steps

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Eccl. 3:1). Time. Timing. Time…

Last Friday I learned that I need to reduce my thyroid medication a bit, which explains the poor sleep and the too-frequent feelings of anxiety. It takes time for the shift in dosage to have an impact, so I’ll have to be patient.

On the heels of this helpful news, I began letting go and attending to the needs for my body to have adequate rest – which includes not pushing myself every minute of every day. With my schedule, it’s been hard to get to many tasks, from balancing my checkbook to writing my blog posts. Still, I realized I could actually create more ease in my schedule. I wonder, now, if that’s what actually opened the door to some unexpected grace.

It had finally dawned on me that I had some available vacation time. So I shortened my work days on Friday and Saturday. It seemed like such a small thing, to realize I could actually use my vacation time, yet I had been clinging to those vacation hours out of fear of not having them. Once I decided to avail myself of these hours, I immediately began experiencing more ease in body and spirit.

I was tempted to run

Sunday, I attended a Debtors Anonymous (DA) meeting. I arrived feeling a lot of anxiety and fear. My work at the temp place had been extended through July, for two days a week. That means regular weekly income that might come close to a normal, if not particularly large monthly income when combined with my regular part-time job. It’s been so long since I’ve had an adequate monthly income I hardly know what to do. So I didn’t speak at the meeting for quite some time. I just listened.

What I heard were words of encouragement and hope. One man shared that he had already paid down all but $400 of a $10,000 line of credit in only two years and that his income had increased 50%. Such financial blessing is beyond my ability to conceive right now, but it inspired me nonetheless. It’s the second time in recent weeks that I’ve heard someone share about making so much progress in reducing their debt. I’ve come to realize there are more possibilities than I thought around my financial situation.

I also kept hearing references to DA being a primarily spiritual program. While I can’t articulate what that means for me, on a body-spirit level I know what it means and I could feel a shift in the corners of my thinking.

The next day, Monday, I knew I would have a window of privacy during the my workday and planned to take advantage of it. I called the three creditors whose calls I have been ignoring for the past couple of weeks. I first spoke to the one for the credit card that had not yet charged off and affirmed my intention to pay the $105 to keep the charge off this month. (Although, after making that payment last night, I’ve decided it’s probably in better to let it charge off, so the late fees and interest can cease and I can begin actually paying down the balance.) The call was surprisingly gracious and the representative expressed appreciation for my having initiated the call.

Next I spoke to the agency handling the largest of my three debts. To my amazement (and incredible relief) they are willing to accept $20 payments each month for now because it shows my intention to pay the debt. The rep gave me a website for making online payments when I asked about doing that. What an unexpected blessing!

I cannot rush this process…

The third call was to the company who had been pressuring me for a $500 up-front payment. I had sent them $50 in April and $50 earlier this month. I was again amazed and relieved that they had concluded this was a monthly commitment and that they were okay with that!

After that third call, I simply sat there, practically stunned by the grace and ease of the conversations and the results. I know that in God’s time the rest of this will sort itself out in a way that will be best for me. The results of these calls were an affirmation of God’s grace.

The next day, Tuesday, while I was happily back at my part-time job for the whole day during the week (yay!), I was given the incredible gift of being able to participate in an InterPlay event happening this coming week. My work schedule will only allow me to be there for the opening day and most of the next day, but some loving friends have enabled me to attend for free. I am so excited, I can hardly contain myself! I also attended an InterPlay class that evening.

I left there feeling overwhelmed by the grace and unexpected blessings of the past few days. Is this really all about letting go and letting God move in my life? I believe it is – and I’m doing my best to keep getting better at getting out of God’s way!

InterPlaying…

Noticings:

  • How much easier it’s becoming to let go worry about the details.
  • How good it feels to post again!
  • How much easier it’s becoming to accept God’s grace when it arrives…

Action steps:

  • Calling my creditors.
  • Deciding to stay home tomorrow to let myself simply have the space to rest and catch up on a few things.
  • Picking up a notebook to help me track and get a handle on just how much I spend on what.

Day 149 (Wed/May 8): An unexpected journey, unexpected blessings

I find myself floundering, wondering how to regain the semblance of balance I had only a couple of weeks ago… At least it felt like balance compared to the last few weeks.

Last week was a quiet week, especially in comparison to the preceding weeks, which were all about frantically getting ready for a summit (that, I’m told, turned out to be a great success). I would get home, fix dinner, plan my next day’s lunch, then “recover” for an hour or so before heading for bed. I worked six, sometimes seven days a week. It seemed like there was no time for anything but work. Last week felt like the calm after a storm – at least until I committed to a whirlwind trip out of town for the weekend.

A dear friend of mine was being ordained and installed at his new parish. Not only that, he was being installed at a church where one of my best friends attends. It made for a joyful opportunity to be there for him and to visit with a friend I haven’t seen in a few years. The challenge was the distance – about 8 hours each way, but my long-time friend was thrilled at the prospect of my coming there and more than happy to offer a place to stay. Other things opened the way to my being able to make the trip, both time-wise and expense-wise, from having the money and opportunity for some car repairs to the willingness of both my employers for me to take the day off on Friday. I was grateful.

Yet amidst my eagerness to be there were the stirrings of other intense feelings. I began my own journey through seminary with the expectation that I would become a pastor. That changed my last year there – for good reasons and in ways that I celebrate as well. But the change in my expectations still required adjustment and the emotional pot of those changes gets stirred up when I witness my classmates being ordained.

Thus the weekend became a jumble of emotions: joy and celebration, as well as grief and an inescapable feeling of inadequacy and uncertainty each time well-meaning colleagues asked me what I’m doing these days. “Looking for work” (when I’m not actively doing so) or “doing temp work” (even though it is blessing me) are not the answers I cared to give. So I floundered with what to say and each person heard something a little different, depending on how well I knew them. To strangers who asked where I was “serving,” I usually replied simply, “I’m not a pastor.” Each repetition reminded me that I’m also not doing the work I long to do. Each answer left me wondering how and when I will begin to do the work that calls me, the work that inspires and excites me…

Saturday evening, I headed to my room early, exhausted from the day’s events. I wrote in my journal. I let the pain and grief rise to the surface and wept quietly, when what I wanted to do was to sob loudly. I wondered how I would make it through Sunday morning and hoped my face would not reflect the grief that I knew would still be there.

I always feel better after a night’s sleep, no matter how rough the evening before. I process things physically and something about simply resting and “forgetting” about whatever has been on my mind, as only happens in sleep, allows me to wake up refreshed. It doesn’t mean the grief was gone, but the intensity of the emotions, the pain especially, was significantly less. (I hoped no one would notice the telltale bags and dark circles under my eyes.)

I’m so glad I was able to muster a bit of cheerfulness at hearing my friend preach his first sermon as an ordained pastor. What a joy it was to be able to be there. After his sermon, I turned to my other friend and simply said, “Wow!” She obviously had the same response.

Despite my mixed feelings from the day before, something happened in the hours that followed that morning. I left for home feeling inspired and changed in ways I’m still sorting out. But I’ll have to save an exploration of that for a later post. It is time for me to head for bed and get some rest. As I was getting ready this morning and beginning to feel rushed, I asked myself if I was truly attending to what my body and spirit needed at the beginning of the day. From that moment on, I began to move at a pace that was peaceful, as well as productive. Tonight, I’m going to do the same.

Thanks for still being here. 🙂

(For whatever reason, the computer I’m using is not happy with my attempts to add photos. Maybe I’ll try again in the morning…)

Day 132 (Sat/Apr 21): From persistence to derailed in one short phone call…

I realize I am simply not having enough time lately to write the kind of posts I like to do. So, I am giving myself permission to write some mini-posts. There is just too much happening to not need to talk about it.

Yesterday, I started a post and I probably need to read it to hear the reminders in it for myself. As you can see, it never made it to the site. So, I’m including it here. But first I’ll begin with the derailing part…

My cell phone rang. “Restricted” displayed. Against my better judgment, I answered. After all, my aunt and uncle have their number blocked… It was the creditor I mention below. They’re starting to get pushy. I’m not willing to give them the chunk of money they want. I don’t know what to do right this moment. And my body reacts will all those unpleasant chemicals that scream “AUGH!!!!”

For now, I keep shaking out my arms and jumping up to do some kicking and other “thrusty” movements (as I learned in InterPlay). I’m grateful to be at work at a place where I can do this.

I also cling tightly to my faith and my Al Anon program, reminding myself to simply thing about what the “next right thing” might be. When I slow it down enough, it helps me to manage the unmanageable. I know I’m not the only one who goes through this. It’s just that I feel so alone when it’s happening on that visceral level that shifts me from serene to survival in a split second…

So, I take a deep breath…let it out with a(n audible) sigh…and remind myself that this too shall pass and God is always there for me.

Now, this is what I began writing yesterday/Friday at lunch (and I’m not even going to read it or proof this post – “Uncle!”):

This morning, my reflection time centered around a wonderful passage from Luke (11:5-13). It’s about persistence (“shameless persistence,” according to the New Living Translation). I feel so grateful for this passage and the reflection with it in my Life Recovery Bible (a 12-step edition, with helpful reflections related to the steps, to the Serenity Prayer and to other recovery themes). This particular reflection was on the 7th Step – humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. It talks about the importance of asking for help when we need it – and I realized that’s exactly what I did yesterday.

The last couple of days I’ve been pretty stressed about my credit card debt situation. At a time when I finally am receiving some decent (albeit temporary) income, it seems I am getting resistance to my desire to continue making payments. The person at the collection agency “offered” me the option of giving them $500, then continuing with my small monthly payments (for a period of time not clearly defined) to bring things to a kind of “halt,” where they would cease their more aggressive efforts to collect on the debt. Sounds good, at least from their perspective.

The thing is, I’m wrestling (and starting to get ahead, finally) with the guilt of knowing I actually could pay if I was willing to sacrifice other needs – and am not willing to do that. My car visited the auto-hospital yesterday for a check-up. She received minor servicing and a diagnosis of front brakes in imminent need of replacement, a squeaky belt in need of same, and a leak in the oil pan (which is fortunately still covered by my extended warranty). The brakes and the belt replacement are going to run close to, you guessed it, the exact amount the collector would like me to hand over to them.

I totally reached the frazzled, stressed, can’t-figure-out-which-end-is-up stage yesterday afternoon. I had headed to a Debtors Anonymous (DA) meeting Wednesday, only to find the parking lot filled with both cars and homeless people. (The meeting is at a church that ministers to the homeless.) I was running late anyway and found myself unwilling to leave my car unattended with all my stuff in it. (It’s sadly acting as a storage extension at the moment.) So yesterday, when the fuses in my mind were about to blow, I tried calling a friend from my Al Anon group who also attends DA meetings, but didn’t reach her. Next I texted my sponsor (who also attends DA herself) to see if she might be available for a phone chat.

We connected later and I’m so glad we did. She affirmed my intention to take care of myself and my vehicle first. She reminded me of the progress I’ve made. (Always helpful to hear.) And she applauded the fact that I’m finding out about my options and learning what I need to know if I have to go the worst-case route. (I refuse to use the “B” word on my blog. If you use it, I’ll edit it! ;-)) We talked for almost an hour and it was amazing how helpful it was just to be able to talk to someone about how stressed I was feeling.

That ends what I wrote yesterday. Today, I’ll simply leave it there. I enjoyed a lot of serenity for about 36 hours. Now I’ll look toward rediscovering it again as I wrestle with how to respond to this morning’s unwanted phone call.

Thank you for being there… Things are kind of hard right now…

Day 128 (Tue/Apr 17): Visiting places on the emotional map

So much yet to come together...

Now I remember why it was almost an entire week between my last two postings. This temp job is exhausting! When I see how stressed my supervisor is, I find myself especially grateful for my recovery journey. Of course, it’s easier to notice things when you’re not the one in the middle of them. I’ve been wondering what I might do to help her let go the fear that everything won’t get done. There’s this huge summit we’re preparing for and, since it’s the first one like this they’ve done, she’s a little freaked out about it. There are about fifty million little pieces needed to pull it all together and time is fast approaching. So I’m doing what I can to help – which is, of course, why I’m working there in the first place.

I must say, it’s interesting to be able to observe the way other people are handling the stress of this situation while also observing my own responses and reactions. Yesterday, for instance, I had a healthcare appointment. It was at a clinic I’ve never been to, to see someone I’ve never met. I tend to be skittish around medical doctors to begin with (I much prefer the chiropractic/naturopathic routes for my healthcare) and throwing in the whole “everything new” piece had me on edge.

Anytime I meet a new doctor, we have to do a kind of dance that reveals, for me, whether or not this person actually respects the fact that I know something about my own body. Too often I have met doctors full of their own arrogance, who are convinced I couldn’t possibly know anything. So, knowing this about myself and my history, I prayed and did my best to let go of all my fears before going there and while I was there.

I put it all in my inner "God box"

I was hoping for an on-the-spot blood draw to check my thyroid, but such was not the case. They don’t have that facility and the doctor wanted to check my cholesterol as well. With this, my anxiety rose. While I would actually appreciate knowing where my levels are these days, I dislike having to do the fasting bit. It isn’t required for thyroid testing, but it is for the other. The doctor also wanted to have me do another kind of test and I felt things spinning out of control. I didn’t want all that! I just wanted to know what my current TSH level is so I know if I need to adjust my thyroid meds!

Then grace stepped in. The doctor renewed my prescription on the spot, for the same dose I’m on now (which is easy to tweak as needed). It turns out the lab is not only open at 7:00 (earlier than some of the labs I’ve gone to), it is a short distance down the street from my “regular” job. In other words, God is making it very easy for me to have the lab work done as conveniently as possible. Once done, I can go to the office, feed myself, and spend a few hours in an environment that is fully supportive.

The thing is, I didn’t know all this about the lab till later. When I got done at the clinic and learned they do not validate parking, I tried to have my ticket validated at the offices they’re connected to. Unfortunately the person who had told me she would validate my ticket was not in. The rate is $1.25 for every 15 minutes – something I had not bargained for. I’ve been so broke for so long that even this small expenditure felt like too much and I burst into tears once I got in my car. I knew it was irrational and that I was overreacting. I also knew I was reacting more to the anxiety of seeing a new doctor and feeling out-of-control about how everything went.

It seems so odd and so silly to fly all over the emotional map from day to day. It feels so incongruous to go from bursting into tears to feeling deep gratitude for the little graces, all within a matter of hours. I suppose the moments of tears or anxiety won’t go away; they will just become easier to handle and last for briefer periods. I’ve noticed this already and appreciated it many, many times.

On the way home today, after a frantically busy day, after assuring my supervisor that it would, indeed, all come together, while inching along in the rush hour traffic, I was blessed by the most wonderful song on a CD I had not yet played. I don’t remember all the lyrics, but they said something about the river of peace holding my hand. It was a wonderful song to hear after a busy and hectic day…

Grace...

Noticings:

  • How blank my mind is right now…and how okay I am with that! 😉

Day 120 (Mon/Apr 9): Kipping

Some things take time to bear fruit

Have you ever done gymnastics – particularly on the uneven parallel bars? Well, it’s been a hundred years since I’ve done that and I was never particularly great at it. But I loved it anyway and had a great time trying to do as much as I could…and as much as I was brave enough to try.I remember learning to kip on the unevens. It’s that move you see the Olympic and other televised gymnasts do with such grace. They make it look so easy, as if anyone can do it by just leaping toward the lower bar, hands outstretched to grab it, swinging under it, then doing a sort of abrupt snap back with the arms and hips (the “kip”) and, voila!, you’re on the bar with your hips at hand level, ready for your next move. There’s only one teensy little catch: your untrained body has not a clue as to how to actually make this move!

I remember trying and trying and trying, seemingly countless times, but my hips and legs and everything else couldn’t seem to get the knack of that sudden movement that seemed so effortless when I saw others do it. Since it involves arms and hips and legs and hands all working in one coordinated movement, it seemed like different parts of my body would get their particular part, but trying to get everything working together felt impossible. Then I almost got it. And once I almost got it, I got more of it – until suddenly my body understood what it was supposed to do and I could do it!

Patience has its rewards

The thing is, there were too many little parts to this move to be able to mentally teach myself how to do it. My body had to experience it to get it. Once my body had experienced it, then it got a little easier and easier. (Perhaps more accurately in my case, it got less and less awkward. ;-))

I suppose I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I learned to kip because there are certain things in life that I just don’t seem to “get” how to do yet. They involve lots of steps or pieces or bits of knowledge that need to come together to do them with ease. Thankfully, not too many of them are the kind of thing that don’t work until all the mechanics are in place. What a relief! I don’t have a set of unevens to practice on.

Around financial matters, this morning I had an unexpected piece fall into place. With my usual monthly paycheck having landed at the end of the month, along with a decent-sized check from the temp agency, I had a little breathing room. It didn’t feel like I was spending much, yet when I checked my bank balance this weekend, I was startled at how little I had left. What the heck happened, I asked myself.

This morning I discovered that nothing “happened.”

As I wrote in my journal, reflecting on this seeming insanity, I found myself using the word “able.” I’ve been able to catch up on some of my grocery shopping. I’ve been able to buy a few clothing items. I’ve been able to restock some of my nutritional supplements. And so on. All of a sudden I realized that what I had been experiencing with regard to purchasing some of these (needed) items was what would be normal if I had a regular, full-time income. None of the purchases I was making in the past couple of weeks were unusual, indulgent (if you don’t count a few extra snack foods) or extravagant. They were simply the things I have routinely been buying, plus a few of the things I have not been able to buy in recent months.

Wow! What a difference it made to be able to recognize this. I still put on the brakes and want to move slowly with regard to how I continue to spend, but I gotta tell you – it sure feels good to know I was simply taking care of myself in what shouldbe a normal, healthy fashion.

So I continue to remind myself...

Big and Small Steps:

  • Returned the phone message from the person who called in an “attempt to collect a debt.” (Admittedly, I was relieved that I got her voicemail. ;-))
  • Checked on my student loan status and was relieved to discover all but one (which I knew about) are still in deferral for a few months. Whew!
  • Gently informed someone when she (unintentionally) left me feeling dismissed through a poor choice of words.

Noticings:

  • How quickly the sensation of hunger produces mild, but nonetheless obvious feelings of anxiety.
  • How palpable the shift was while journaling this morning, when the fourth “able” helped me see things from an entirely different perspective.
  • How much I long to have more time and internet access to explore other possibilities, like resources for other people’s photos to use. (I’d love to have a pic of a gymnast doing a kip to go with this blog, for example.)

Day 119 (Sun/Apr 8): Ups and downs, and wondering where the Easter eggs are hidden

I noticed the tension (and pain) in the tops of my shoulders yesterday, anxiety that sprang up when a phone call answered yielded nothing but silence, even though I was at work and such “non-calls” have occurred almost regularly in recent weeks. The neurotic part of me shifted from wondering if it was someone trying to scope out when people are in the office to wondering if it was a creditor trying to find me to serve some papers – even though that sort of thing wouldn’t happen until “normal” channels were already exhausted. It’s the kind of paranoia that tempts me to stop automatically identifying myself when I answer the phone at work, and I didn’t like feeling that way.

Maybe if I keep talking about it here, it’ll help me sort things out. Maybe you’ll have bits of wisdom to offer when you read this.

It dawned on me yesterday, that it’s okay if I make an occasional mistake. I caught myself worrying about whether a particular task had been done “correctly” (i.e., perfectly, all the pieces, no mistakes). Then I saw the ridiculousness of worrying about it, since anything that might have been missed could easily be corrected. I’m not sure I’ve realized just how often I do this – worry that I haven’t done a “perfect” job. I think it’s time to start letting go and recognize that I don’t have to be perfect or do things perfectly to be good at my job.

Odd that I never noticed just how much of a “thing” this has been for me. Because it wasn’t to the level of “obsessive” or “compulsive,” I didn’t realize there was this underlying anxiety around doing everything right. (How appropriate that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice suddenly came on the radio as I was experiencing these feelings! It’s how I feel when I’m busily trying to catch up on work and wondering if I’m doing it well.)

The past several days have been a strange mix of the space and freedom to be myself in the house, with my aunt and uncle gone, and anxiety as I face my financial challenges and have no one to divert my attention when I come home from work. Their absence is a mixed blessing.

This morning, I awoke later than usual, grateful for the ease of my Sunday schedule. I was just about finished with my journal reflection, when I realized I had time to make the 9:30 service, rather than the 10:45. (Yay for Easter Sundays, with extra services!) It was a delightful mix of “traditional” and “contemporary” music, with the bell choir opening (love it!) and the traditional (but robeless!) choir singing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ (awesome!) during the first part of the service. The remainder had the contemporary group that I enjoy so much. It was nice to have both a wonderful and earlier beginning to my Sunday – especially because it’s “catch-up” day for me with regard to household tasks. (I’ve been pretty lazy about some things with nobody else around.)

This time alone also leaves me a lot of “think time.” As a result, I’m puzzling over something. I’ve worked 40 hours a week most of my adult life until six and a half years ago when I came to grad school. Now, for this past week and this coming week, I’m working 46 hours each week, Monday thru Saturday, and I have felt tired much of the time, with little energy for anything beyond work. The two weeks after this, I may work even longer hours, though I haven’t quite figured out how (or if) that will work. My question is, why is this so exhausting?

I spent my first four years in grad school preparing for a job that requires 50, 60 or even more hours per week and I was looking forward to it. Then I switched tracks and prepared for a vocation without a clear structure to it. I presumed I might have a “regular” job and pursue my vocational interests during evenings and weekends. When I talked about those interests with my sponsor the other day, she remarked how “alive” I was when I was talking about them. They are my passion! Which makes me wonder…

Will I have more energy to do the things I’m passionate about, regardless of my schedule? Is the exhaustion I feel now really all (or at least mostly) about the ongoing financial stress with no clear solution yet within sight? Am I deluding myself in believing I will have more energy when I am doing more of what excites and, well, energizes me? Or will even that be exhausting?

As I listen to the sounds and laughter of the Easter egg-hunt party next door, I wonder, where are my Easter eggs and what colors will they be?

Big and Small Steps:

  • Checked out some books at the library to help me figure out some of my financial options.
  • Let my choice of service times this morning be determined by how my morning went.
  • Caught up on lots of laundry (including my sheets and the new things I got the other day).

Noticings:

  • How readily body memories can be triggered around certain experiences, even if the mind is okay with things.
  • What a blessing gentle music can be when I’ve been feeling anxious.
  • How scattered my thoughts can be when I’m distressed and not having time, in that moment, to address my concerns.
  • What a delight energetic music can be when my energy is sagging! (Like Superman or Star Wars themes. :-))
  • How much food ends up in my mouth when I’m stressed…

Day 115 (Wed/Apr 4): Taking time to breathe…

I didn’t realize how tired I am and how rushed I’ve felt till I had the opportunity to slow down a bit in the last 24 hours. Last night, I didn’t get home until after 7:00, after working all day, then running errands. I wasn’t about to begin a blog post as late as, well, actually as late as I am now. But I don’t want to keep not posting, so I’ll just keep this short.

I’ve been at my new temp position three days now. Today, I worked half a day at my “regular” job in the morning, then the temp assignment in the afternoon. I have to say, my whole body-spirit felt like dancing as I was driving to my regular job. It was delightful to be back in the familiar comfort of working with people I know and appreciate and enjoy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the people at my temp assignment – I just don’t know them very well as yet.

I’ve noticed this week just how much I feel rushed. I catch myself with my shoulders hunched and I don’t even know how long they’ve been that way. Then I realize I’m feeling tense, like I have to hurry, hurry, hurry. I’ve been reading more in On Becoming Fearless (by Arianna Huffington), in the chapter on work. (I’m a book “nibbler,” btw. I’m a slow reader to begin with and some things I like to read slowly to take them in.)

Each moment *is* a gift!

Huffington talks about workaholics often being afraid that they need to prove themselves. They keep pushing themselves out of a (misguided) need to constantly prove themselves. This thought has been coming to mind when I notice myself tensed and pushing. There’s the usual new-at-a-job, hope-they-like-me kind of nervousness that certainly drives my efforts. But I think it’s more than that. I sometimes have that same feeling at my regular job, although that, admittedly, is often driven by the frequent circumstance of too little time to do all that needs doing.

This morning, I realized I just didn’t want to keep rushing. I’m already getting up early and I wanted to get to work extra early this morning, with this first “split shift” work day. So I opted to not fix a full lunch and bought a burrito at a fast food place near work. Even that small choice created some ease to the beginning of the day. This evening, I’ve let go lots of things and might have foregone this, as I did last night, except that so much is happening and it helps me to be able to share it with you here.

With my aunt and uncle out of town for a few days (they left this morning), I’m enjoying the space and freedom to not wash my dishes right away, do my laundry (I’m waiting for the second load to finish drying), leave my lunch and breakfast “bags” (of things I use to make them) out in the kitchen, and generally enjoy the space to breathe a bit. For a few days, I won’t have to drag my bag of breakfast cereals and my bag with my lunch containers back and forth between my bedroom and the kitchen. I’ll have the freedom to cook my dinner whenever I’m ready, without coordinating with my aunt’s time in the kitchen. I’ll even have the freedom to get on my uncle’s computer anytime I need.

To sleep, perchance to dream...

There’s so much more I could say, but you know what? I’d like to wrap this up and start moving toward bed!

Noticings:

  • How good it felt to be able to work at my regular job for a few hours today.
  • How nice it is to be appreciated at my temp assignment.
  • How peaceful I find the sound of rain on the roof.
  • How perfect God’s timing was this past weekend, with an InterPlay retreat on Saturday and an enjoyable Palm Sunday before being thrust into a busy 46-hour work week schedule.
  • How the wind moves the curtains through even the closed louvered windows in my bedroom.
  • How much I look forward to the time when I will again enjoy a morning where I don’t have to get up and go somewhere…
  • How nice it’s going to be to not have to be quiet when I get up in the mornings for the next week or so!

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