Day 183 (Mon/Jun 11): Finding my way back

I’ve lost sight of why I’m blogging – or not blogging, as has been the case more recently. It has been such a helpful thing to record my feelings here, to process the work I’m doing or not doing.

Three weeks ago I learned that I was taking too much thyroid medication. My low energy levels were not because I needed more thyroid hormone; rather I needed less. Contrary to popular belief, too much results in poor sleep and a state of increasing fatigue as the body’s metabolism gets stuck in a higher gear. When I found myself positively dragging, thoughts of staying up later to write more posts for my blog simply weren’t on the list of practical things to do to take care of myself.

This is kinda how it’s feeling…

The other thing I’ve noticed is that the longer the gaps between posts, the more I have stored up. So much is happening in what feels like such a short time. My time with the temp position was extended through July on a 2-day per week basis. Now that I’ve done a bit of work in Debtors Anonymous and through a random question from an acquaintance, I’ve realized that the steady income for these two months, although providing much-needed income, are still keeping me at a poverty-level income.

I never knew I was trying to live at poverty level. I knew I was broke and that I needed more money. I even knew that it was ridiculous for anyone to expect to make ends meet with only 14 hours a week at a modest hourly pay rate. But I didn’t truly understand that my income was considered poverty-level. Ironically, I thought that because I’m making more per hour than I ever have before, something must be going well. Right? Wrong! My base of comparison was a job I had seven years ago when rates of pay – and cost of living – for everyone were lower. (Did I mention that I am rather oblivious to certain areas of ‘reality’ – like what it takes to live with all your basic needs met with a reasonable amount of ease?) I think I need to develop at least a wee bit more awareness in certain areas…

I don’t know how frequently I’ll be posting in the coming weeks. I inadvertently discovered that my uncle really doesn’t like me on his computer. The viruses he recently discovered, in his mind, have likely come through my internet use on his computer. He uses his computer a lot, but doesn’t understand how some things happen. That’s okay. I’ll simply avail myself more intentionally of the internet when I’m at the office. Coming in a little early, staying late, and lunch and break times will suffice.

This is how I *want* to feel!

On my radar at the moment: the need to find other housing. My aunt and uncle would like their guestroom back so other family members can come to visit this summer. The challenge for me already is to remember to trust that God is bringing me to a good, new place. I was grateful that the Al Anon slogan we talked about at one of the meetings this weekend was “Easy Does It.” Sound words for me right now, as I am occasionally tempted to “hurry up” and find a new place – as if it were as simple as dropping by the grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread. I suppose one can always do that – if you don’t happen to care about the kind of bread you’re getting or how much it costs.  😉

Positive step(s):

  • Gathering my spending numbers to get a handle on just how much I *do* need each month
  • Gathering my income numbers to find out how much I have actually been earning the past few months
  • Called a friend, then talked with my sponsor when I was tempted to make a hasty decision and rush out of an uncomfortable situation when the timing would not have been in my best interest

Day 151 (Thu/May 10): What am I missing?

I’ve been reading this book – a light, romance novel. I would have put it down after the first ten to twenty pages except that I’ve enjoyed other books this author has written and it did keep making me laugh. What I found troublesome is the way the ‘heroine’ and ‘hero’ start using the word “love” – at least in their thoughts – within a couple of days of knowing each other. But the heroine is intent on warding off all prospects of love based on a marriage that ended badly.

Around page 269 (after I had decided the book was enjoyable enough to finish), I noticed the heroine kept saying the same (stupid) things over and over again. She kept having the same arguments, returning to the same inane reasons for wanting to push the hero out of her life despite all the worthy things she’d observed in him. One too many repetitions of “she loved a man who didn’t exist” (he hadn’t given out his full name until late in the game) led me to increasing frustration and annoyance with her stupidity…until I asked myself how many times I repeat things to myself that aren’t true, that don’t help me, or that keep me from seeing the progress I’m making.

The trip this past weekend raised memories for me that weren’t always fun. I was reminded of experiences that were very hard – emotionally, financially, and in other ways that wove in and out with my journey of recovery. It was a joy to see a familiar face from Colorado; it was depressing to remember that this person had affirmed in me a particular call to ministry that did not come to fruition. It was cool to see classmates in their clergy attire; it was deflating to not know where I’m going in this arena. It was an incredible blessing to have the funds to make the trip; it was (and is) deflating and disconcerting not to know what my income will be the week after next.

I keep feeling like there’s something obvious I’m missing. Some important piece of this journey that’s eluding me at the moment.

I’m experiencing a slowly growing fear around finances. They’re great at the moment, but I don’t know what comes after this temp position ends. I haven’t yet put aside some of the funds, mostly because I haven’t had the time and energy to figure out where I’m at. I haven’t updated my checkbook in a week. My balance looks good online, but I have a few bills to pay. I have 5 voicemails not yet picked up, probably all regarding my credit card accounts. I keep meaning to play them. I keep wondering when to return their calls. But I’ve been falling into bed early these past few days and I don’t want to talk to them when I’m that tired.

It’s not just my financial situation that’s ruffled my sense of serenity. It’s the unsettledness I feel since this weekend’s trip. Seeing my good friend achieve his goal, his calling, and being asked what I’m doing by people I care about (and some I don’t even know) leaves me again asking myself, What am I doing? What should I be doing?

I’m being affirmed in the work I’m doing. I’ve been affirmed in many ways in recent weeks, including by the friend I stayed with this past weekend. I’m even beginning to see myself in new ways. Yet I feel like I have a case of the “stupids.” It’s as if the most basic choices and decisions should be obvious to me, but they’re not. I’m growing unhappy with my present living situation (staying with my aunt and uncle), but don’t have the financial stability to look into rentals. I’m growing comfortable in certain ways that make me nervous that I’ll be tempted to stay where I am. (Except that I truly would love to move into a place – a room or an apartment or whatever – I could set up as my own for however many months or years I might live there. I’m waiting only for financial stability to actually be able to pay the rent.) I’m so out of practice at job hunting that it now terrifies me to think about taking action in this direction. (It’s time for a few drops of Rock Rose, Elm and Olive in my mouth and my glass of water.)

Then, just in case there wasn’t enough going on, a few minutes ago I learned that my temp job may extend to two days a week for a longer period of time. I’m not sure how I feel about all this just yet. This afternoon has felt unsettled and mixed up. My sponsor and I had our wires crossed on when to meet and my day suddenly became fuller and busier than I anticipated.

What does all this mean? What am I missing??  Or is this merely the stirring up to make a better something when the dust settles…

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 112 (Sun/Apr 1): The “end” of the journey within a journey (April Fool’s?!)

Frond Sunday perhaps?

Happy Palm Sunday, to those of you who attend to such things!

This morning was a mix of emotions. My son was born on a Palm Sunday, so once in a great while, his birthday lands on the day, as it also occasionally lands on Easter. As I watched the young man who plays congas at my church, standing ready to kneel at the altar to receive communion, he suddenly reminded me so much of my son I was soon in tears that were difficult to keep under control. I miss my son and the confluence of circumstances intensified that feeling in that moment. We haven’t seen each other for close to three years now since neither of us has had the financial resources to travel the distance between us.

 I’m thinking a lot about things like that – being able to see my son, for instance – now that my income will receive a boost for the next few weeks. It isn’t as if I imagine this to be a ‘permanent’ change in my level of income, but my recent conversation with my sponsor helped expand my perception of what a possible income mightbe for me down the road and that, in turn, broadens my dreams – which is a nice thing.

Ten or so days ago

Yesterday was a full and nourishing day that left no time for reflecting here. I enjoyed an InterPlay “retreat” day, my Al Anon meeting, dinner with family, then a movie (on DVD – My Big Fat Greek Wedding) with my aunt and uncle after everyone else had left. It felt good to laugh and to enjoy a movie with them. They have so rarely gone to movies that it’s easy to find things they haven’t seen. (Less easy to find things I know they would enjoy.) It was fun to witness my uncle getting so tickled at so many points in the movie. I had forgotten how funny that movie is.

Yesterday...Ruh roh...wrong direction

I appreciated having this “journey within the journey” and it leaves me wondering what’s next on the horizon as I continue my journey of breaking through fear. So much seemed to change in the past eighteen days that I’m still taking it in. Today, when I started to feel guilty for neglecting the growing box of papers, I realized I can continue indefinitely to release thoughts of self-judgment when they arise. It will likely slip my mind now and then, but having this intentional 18-day period of attending to that helped me shift my thinking about myself significantly – startlingly, in fact.

Tomorrow begins a new day at a new job, so I will keep this short. I’m feeling a bit nervous, so I’ll make a point of reading something encouraging and relaxing before bed. I recently started reading Arianna Huffington’s On Becoming Fearless…in Love, Work, and Life. I have read two of the chapters so far (the ones on being fearless around money and relationships) and now I’m reading the chapter on being fearless at work. It is nourishing that part of me that is becoming more courageous. I plan to order my own copy. (Libraries tend to frown on people keeping and marking in their books.) I like Arianna’s philosophy and the premise of the book. I definitely recommend it!

I shall return to posting several times a week, rather than daily. (Yesterday’s ‘missing’ post was simply a logistical issue.) Perhaps another “journey within the journey” will present itself. Perhaps I will simply continue on this path of discovery as I learn how to balance work and all the other things in life. It’s been a long time since I worked full-time. It’s going to be an interesting five to six weeks or so!

So much yet to happen

Noticings:

  • The time and my need to wrap this up and post it so I can prepare for bed.
  • How often I tend to employ caveats and qualifiers in my writing – which is something I’d like to change. (Which is, of course, another caveat/qualifier! Sigh…)
  • How peaceful my body has felt since yesterday’s InterPlay time (despite this morning’s tears and hints of depression that are normal to all these sudden changes).
  • How nervousness is trying to sneak in as time flies and all the things I want to do to get ready in the morning are coming to mind.

Day 110 (Fri/Mar 30): Two days – Change happens in a moment, a journey within the journey

It's a bit scary, but oh, the possibilities!

What a powerful affirmation of the willingness to let go and trust! The five-to-six week temp position came through on my terms – to work only 32 hours a week (except a couple of weeks later in April) in order for me to be able to honor my part-time position. And at the higher of the possible pay rates!

I am still taking in what it means to be willing to stand up for myself, to honor my needs and to act with integrity, all in the face of possible rejection if the other party, in this case a potential employer, decides I’m not worth it. The thing is, I am realizing that I am worth it. And it has only taken me…um…well…a long time to get there. (Let’s not count the decades.) 😉

Today I am feeling grateful for my time with my sponsor yesterday. She affirmed and applauded my desire to act with integrity and stand up for my needs. And she helped me to see a bigger picture of my value when we talked about how much money I would need to earn to be able to live the kind of life I’d like to live. What I envision isn’t a life of luxury, but rather a life in which I can take care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, including having the time and money for fun, for health care and for being able to simply enjoy life – things I have neglected in recent years.

Sometimes even that which nourishes us can overwhelm us at first

For the past…well actually probably for too much of my life, I have allowed myself precious little time for fun. At the present time, InterPlaying has become one of the few resources for fun for me, either when I’m playing with others or because I’m allowing myself to see the playful side of life because of what I’ve learned through InterPlay. Thinking in terms of a spending plan that specifically includes money set aside for “fun” is new to me. In fact, thinking in terms of a spending plan that includes everything, from food/rent/living expenses to clothes to fun to other things that are fulfilling, if not “necessary,” is a new experience for me.

When my sponsor asked me if I had ever figured out how much I need to live the kind of life I want to live, I told her the mere idea of trying to figure that out overwhelms me – whereupon she promptly pulled out a pen, I pulled out a business card (to use the blank side), and she and I quickly developed a spending plan for me. It was so simple with her asking questions and helping me find answers I didn’t know. Left to my own resources, I tend to get tangled in the notion of being accurate and literal. But I’m learning.

One step at a time...

I suspect this post is rambling because, quite frankly, I could crawl into bed right now and sleep for ten hours. This sudden change in my financial state for the next few weeks is almost, but not quite overwhelming. It’s a lot to take in and I find myself surprised at how serene I am under the excitement. I know this temp position is a “windfall,” lasting however many weeks it lasts. So I want to exercise wisdom and discernment around how I use – and conserve – the resources that will bless me in the coming weeks.

Today I was blessed with the gift of some new clothes for work, thanks to the generosity of a friend. I also bought a few things with my most recent paycheck. Little by little, I’m acquiring a more professional-looking wardrobe. As much as I prefer comfortable and casual, I am learning to appreciate the look and feel of a more professional image.

A lot has changed for me in the past couple of days. I know God has a plan and this is another step along that path. Let me walk with wisdom!

So many possibilities on the other side of the gate

 

Big and Small Steps:

Let go worry about the cost as I looked for things that would enable me to dress more professionally for my new temp position – and was blessed with the gift of more than a hundred dollars worth of new and used clothes.

Exercised restraint (admittedly aided by fatigue and growing hunger) in shopping for a few more things that I paid for myself.

Noticings:

The push-pull of emotions around spending money on new clothes when the way I’ve seen myself has not quite caught up to the image I now want to present.

The surprising ease around accepting my friend’s generous gift of clothing. It felt like a little more of God’s plan.

How exhausting such big and sudden changes can be, even before I start living them.

Day 104 (Sat/Mar 24): Eight days – The good grief of letting go, a journey within the journey

Ruh roh...It's been rough...

 I’m striving to let go my nervous apprehension. I’m not sure I tracked my spending accurately with this last small paycheck. If my checking account is overdrawn by more than a few dollars… Let me go check it now…

Actually, let me wait a bit. It occurs to me that letting this go is what’s called for, since I’m powerless to change choices I’ve already made. Earlier today, I was talking with a friend of mine. We were talking about releasing. She has realized she needs to release some of the stuff she has in her place. She gave away some of her kitchen things, finally letting go of the need to make sure they went to just the right people. I could relate to that feeling, of wanting to give things away but wanting to make sure they went to people who would appreciate them. As she was talking about this, it dawned on me that giving them to a thrift store, especially all those wonderful ones that are run by charities, would put them out into the world where “just the right” person might more easily find them. It was helpful for me to have her talking about this process.

When she talked about going through some papers, especially old letters, that’s when it was obvious the work she was doing was hard. It’s the emotional attachment that keeps me hanging on to some things. If not that, then it’s the fear of needing or wanting them again. With all the fear and uncertainty I’ve experienced in the last…well, perhaps most of my life, as someone raised in a home impacted by the family disease of alcoholism, it’s no wonder I’ve accumulated so much stuff. Life has always been too uncertain to take the chance of letting something go that I might need.

This past week, with my days busy working, then coming home and relaxing in front of a DVD while I ate dinner, before writing my blog posts, I kept thinking about what life might look like if things suddenly became “normal” and I could actually afford to find and pay for a place to live and begin supporting myself again.

Sometimes it's not the right time to move

You know, it’s literally been decades since I’ve been a single person, all by herself, taking care of herself through her own efforts. It’s no wonder it feels so scary! For so many years I have either not been alone (with either husband and/or son to share my days) or I have been supported through other means (like student loans all through grad school).

I keep forgetting that there are many ways in which my life is a whole new experience.

I’m not yet sure where the balance is for me. As I move through these sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle shifts in my schedule and my days, I notice the little things that make a difference. Sometimes, it’s the letting go of the routine that has kept me steady (or so I thought). Other times, it’s developing a new routine. Still other times, it’s none of the above and all of the above all at the same time.

The paper-collecting box

Letting go of things can be hard, for we get attached to things that seem important, even are important for a time. But when exactly they cease to be important can pass by unnoticed until we suddenly discover they are a burden we no longer want.

 I do not know what lies ahead for me or how I will make it through the days and weeks ahead. I keep letting go when things start to feel overwhelming or scary. I know that I trust God and I want to trust Hir more. The process of experiencing this continues to involve the letting go of deeply held convictions around my own self worth, which leads to a lot of tears, even a sense of loss as I let go old perceptions about myself.

This morning I wanted to read something about grief because I have been feeling a lot of sadness and loss lately of things that aren’t always easy to identify. Sometimes I think it’s simply grieving the loss of the familiar. I know it’s letting go of long-held beliefs.

Where might this go?

There’s a passage in Nehemiah (8:7-12) when the people are weeping after learning about “the Law.” The priests who are teaching them tell them not to grieve, that their strength is in the “joy of the Lord.” Then it says, they went “to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.” (NRSV) It struck me that what they understood was the depth of God’s love for them.

I feel so close to “getting” that, too, at ever deeper levels – levels that will enable me to truly believe I deserve to receive God’s abundant blessings. We all do.

Big and Small Steps:

  • Called a friend and offered her a ride to a place we both wanted to go.
  • Let go worry about the time and discovered I got all my errands done in plenty of time this afternoon.
  • Decided to work at my regular job tomorrow after learning I don’t need to go in to the temp job, since I was already mentally geared to work a few hours. (Yay for more time at my regular job!)

Noticings:

  • How nice it was to let go the seeming urgency to check my bank balance. I think I’ll wait till after I post this…
  • How scary it feels to be on the edge of poverty week in and week out…
  • How peace-bringing it is to let go and trust.

Day 103 (Fri/Mar 23): Nine days – The gifts of letting go, a journey within the journey

The clock had last chimed 5:30, not 4:30. Ruh roh!

 Just as I was thinking to myself, Yes, it is hard right now, the title of the Murder, She Wroteepisode I was preparing to watch displayed on my computer: “Trials and Tribulations.” What a hoot! It made me laugh. 🙂

This morning I awoke a full fifty minutes after my alarm should have gone off. It’s a quiet alarm – I’m sure it did go off. I just didn’t hear it. I believe I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever slept through my alarm clock going off – and I don’t need all five fingers.

The interesting part was that I wasn’t nearly as distressed about it as I would have been not that long ago. I simply considered how to streamline my morning and what might I do differently. Fortunately, as has been my pattern lately, my clothes were already laid out and waiting in the bathroom and my lunch was partly made because I hadn’t eaten what I had prepared the day before. Instead of doing my devotion time while I ate breakfast, I fixed my breakfast immediately and ate it while I was preparing my lunch.

I felt a wee bit uncertain about leaving without doing my usual devotion time, but it seemed okay for some reason. I soon discovered why…

Each page awaits completion...especially today's

Rather than get into my philosophical-thinking mode (which often happens) or getting into my ‘rather like blogging (only on paper)’ mode (which happens often as well), I used the drive to work as a time to talk to God. Actually, I’m not sure I made it down the driveway before I was mopping my eyes with a hanky. The letting go of my usual morning routine, begun as soon as I saw the time when I woke up, had done its job. With nothing else to distract my attention beyond attending to light traffic, I was soon in an unexpectedly profound “conversation” – which was mostly about speaking words of release and listening to that inner voice.

It was an amazing experience and helped me to know that letting go of even my carefully-guarded morning devotion time, or at least the structure of it, can be appropriate at times. (Although I may yet spend time in my journal this evening. I truly enjoy and appreciate the time spent with a listening heart and pen in hand.)

This week has been surprising. I ended up working 33 hours at the temp job and will work a bit this weekend. I worked almost half my usual part-time job hours and hope to get in the rest, or close to it, tomorrow. What a blessing!

I’ve been too busy to do something I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks. I’d like to set up ‘graphs’ to track two things I’m working on these days. One will be to track my step/stair exercise progress. My goal is to be able to do one hundred sets in a go with a certain amount of ease. I have no idea how long it will take. The idea came when I realized what a difference my random play with balancing (i.e., on one leg) made in my leg strength. I thought, if such a sporadic and inconsistent effort made that much difference, what might a more intentional effort do?

The other thing I want to track is the lows in my bank balances. That may sound like an odd thing to want to track, but when my checking account has only $3.71 in it for days before the next paycheck arrives, I’m thinking I would enjoy striving to raise that low balance each month. There’s something about being able to “see” progress – as in a chart or graph – that makes it more fun and easier to grab onto for me.

Yet I’m letting go even of these and the temptation to hurry up and figure out how to get something like that posted on my blog. I’ve got one chart started (the step workouts, which are easy to track). The other chart will require gathering of data and producing a chart. Then I’ll have to figure out how to put something like that on my blog. One of my fellow bloggers does a nifty job of this on her site and she inspired the idea. (You know who you are! ;-))

Notice the tiny puddle?

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to take things as slowly as needed, listen for cues to look this way or that, and let go all the things I haven’t got done, knowing they’ll get done when they need to be done.

Big and Small Steps:

  • Letting go my usually set (almost in stone) morning routine and shifting things to fit the time I had this morning.
  • Letting go a possible temp position next week because I knew I wouldn’t be able to function well at that hour and I wasn’t willing to give up a retreat next Saturday.

Noticings:

  • How much I enjoy and appreciate using my foam roller to massage/adjust my back.
  • How often I think of my unshaven legs as looking like Tom Selleck’s – except his look better. (And how much fun I have with this image while it’s too cold for shorts. ;-))
  • How often I enjoy noticing young men who remind me of my son. It may be the haircut, the way they walk, or simply their general appearance. For example, the young man who plays the conga drum at church makes me think of my son.
  • How forgiving my body is when I eat too much.
  • How quickly the rapport between myself and my co-worker at the temp job shifted when I noticed how I was feeling (not good) and let it go. Our relationship went from distant to friendly without any effort on my part. Amazing!

Day 98 (Sun/Mar 18): Fourteen days – Grace and space, a journey within the journey

Have you ever had those moments when there’s a collision of graceful happenings in your life? They come out of the blue, completely unexpected, and are made all the more beautiful because of their happenstance. Yesterday I had such a day.

After carefully updating my checkbook, I did some errands. A new toner cartridge. A new thumb drive. (My recent photo-taking indulgence needs more space!) Gas for the car. A few essentials at the grocery store. Then to the library to hang out for a while before the meeting. Libraries are one of my favorite places to be. My watch battery died a couple of weeks ago, so I set a quiet alarm on my cell phone to notify me when I needed to leave for my Al Anon meeting.

In the meeting, I recounted the insanity of my having rehashed the communication mishaps of the previous week – the crazy stuff that led me to this journey within the journey. I forgot to mention that I’d been called to return to the same temp job. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the meeting, everyone helped return the chairs and I organized the materials. People were enjoying chatting after the meeting. I didn’t even notice what time I left with a friend of mine. She doesn’t have a car, so we sometimes enjoy the opportunity to catch up while I drive her home. We often go by the store as well.

Yesterday, this angel told me she wanted to pay for my groceries as an expression of appreciation for the many times I’ve given her rides. I was stunned! I had been wondering if I had enough money from my recent check to spend on groceries, what with a couple of bills yet to pay and the (expensive) toner cartridge to buy. Yet God provides.

While we were at the store, I couldn’t reach the rice-milk carton I needed. It was on a top shelf and there had obviously been lots of people buying some that evening. The remaining cartons were out of reach for all but the tall. An attractive man noticed my struggle and handed me one. When I remarked that they needed to rearrange their shelves, he began doing just that. Later, he was just ahead of me when my friend and I came up to the checkout counter. It occurred to me just how easily it can happen, when people meet and connect.

When my friend and I pulled onto the freeway, listening to a beautiful song from Like Breathing, I was amazed at how few cars there were. It was like landing in an expanded gap between groupings. I thought we might catch up to a congested spot, but it never happened. God had my attention. So much serenity on a “busy” freeway on a Saturday evening.

After dropping off my friend, I experienced the same thing getting back onto the freeway. Yet I could see a lot of headlights a fair distance behind me. I was playing that song again and the tears started flowing. Between the generosity of my friend and this incredible experience of virtually no traffic at a time when lots of cars were actually on the freeway, the notion of a chance encounter with someone…it all came together in a powerful affirmation of God’s grace in my life.

As I continued to reflect on the experience this morning, I noticed even more things. More moments of grace that had happened throughout a day when I’d chosen to let go worry or concern about such mundane things as time or hurrying.

  • I took the time for lunch and left a little later than planned, but decided not to worry. Traffic was light.
  • At a traffic light, when I asserted my (debatable) right of way, I realized I didn’t want to be or feel pushy. From that point on, there was increasing ease.
  • At the library, the lot was full, but the street next to the library was free, with several spaces. They quickly filled within a few minutes while I ate a snack in my car before going in.
  • There were lots of people in the library waiting for their turn to check out materials. I found a short line and enjoyed a tiny tot “helping” her mother scan the items.
  • I found parking spaces with ease at the places I shopped.
  • I went through checkout lines with little or no waiting.
  • My friend blessed me with a large sack full of food.
  • Then God cleared a wide swath for me all the way home!

When the tears came, my question for myself became: Am I afraid of receiving bigger blessings?

I’m still working on the answer…

From a beautiful card my son sent me...words I need to read - often.

 

Big and Small Steps:

  • Attended an ACA Al-Anon meeting this evening. It was nice to just sit and listen.

Noticings:

  • How nourishing libraries can be for me when I simply want a place to be. I love the quiet, the sounds, the excitement of little kids insisting on scanning their own books at the checkout station, the patience of parents who are teaching their children the value of this place.
  • How I still tend to overeat when I’m feeling some anxiety – perhaps especially when I’m not acknowledging the anxiety in order to deal with it in healthier ways.
  • How I still crave something sweet after dinner, even though I haven’t indulged in sugary desserts in a number of years. Interesting how eating patterns linger…
  • How serenity can linger and stay with me for some time after it arrives.

Day 97 (Sat/Mar 17): Fifteen days – Healing cannot be rushed, a journey within the journey

This morning, I worked on my blog first thing – before breakfast, before bathing, before making my bed. I don’t normally do that. Yet every now and then, it feels good to enjoy the freedom to start my morning differently.

Perhaps it was because I began my day with my blog that my first reading and reflection in my journal led me to the inspiration for a new blog. There are times when I want to talk about God and faith and the many things that cross my mind in this realm that aren’t particularly a part of this conversation here. Now I have the beginnings for a new site. I look forward to starting it.

The second reflection I read this morning helped me remember why I’m here, doing this blog – especially with regard to my illusions around what it means to break through my fears. Among my (many) favorite verses in the Bible are these words accompanying my second reading: One thing I do, forgetting these things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal… (Phil. 3:13-14 NRSV)

A year ago January, I experienced in these words the subtle difference between reaching forward from where I am now and trying to leap over the present challenge to something down the road. I’m still learning how to reach forward from where I am in this moment. Yet I’m getting much more patient with myself and appreciating the fact that leaping over obstacles isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes it is. Other times we miss huge and wonderful opportunities to be transformed when we try to avoid the hard stuff. I’ve spent too much of my life already doing that. In recent years (decades actually) I have discovered that unexpected blessings often come only through the struggles.

In discovering that, I have learned that some experiences will not, cannot, be rushed.

I am in just such an experience right now. It seems like every time I try to hurry some part of it along, I end up in a heap on the ground, having tripped over the very thing that actually needed my attention. So I’m reminding myself – often – that I need to move slowly enough to pay attention to my steps and to notice when I need to change direction.

Looking back to where I’ve been, through reading my journals from a year ago, I continue to learn from past experiences. This morning I appreciated traveling through one particular journey of healing. It gives me a perfect example of how journeys of healing cannot be rushed.

The morning after my thyroidectomy (as a result of Grave’s disease, a hyperthyroid condition), I was able to speak (a very good sign), but sounded to my own ears like a bullfrog. In the days that followed, I continued to feel like I was croaking when I spoke. Yet others told me my voice was soft, but otherwise normal sounding. (It was devastating to feel so alone in my experience with my voice!)

When I first attempted to sing, I couldn’t sustain any note for more than a second or two, and there were scarcely any notes I could access at all. Six weeks after the surgery, I was beginning to ‘stretch’ my voice. I could sustain a note for a bit and my range was expanding. My volume, according to others, was getting stronger as well. I discovered I could sing (a bit) in falsetto what my voice could not quite do in full.

 I’m not sure when my voice began to sound “normal” to me again. Perhaps I simply got used to the new way my voice sounded, with less “software” in my neck. In the weeks and months that followed, I gradually regained my voice. I practiced singing to some of my favorite CDs while driving. I remember the day I could actually sing a particular song at a worship service. (I cried in gratitude!) I had to take care of my voice through this journey, moving slowly, expanding gradually, since my throat quickly grew hoarse if I pushed it. Yet little by little, I found my way back to being able to sing (and speak) as vigorously as ever.

The defining moment for me on this journey with my voice was when I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do to rush the healing process. It was going to take as long as it took and I was powerless to change that. Once I grasped that, I was able to relax and let myself move slowly, gently, giving my body and my voice the time they needed to heal.

This journey of finding the courage to change is so much like my experience with my voice. Once in a while I forget that this is a journey not only of recovery, but of healing.

 

Big and Small Steps:

  • Leaving my phone turned off at times to give me the space to think, to create, to nourish my body-spirit. It also gives me the space to choose when I want to talk to creditors who hope for more than I can give at this moment.
  • Changing the title of this section. “Action step(s)” never felt quite right, since some of these things aren’t all that “actiony.” 😉
  • Taking the time to recognize that I needed to write and post this now unless I wanted to be up late this evening.
  • Looking for some books at the library about women and courage. (Delighted with the first part of one book and finding another interesting. One more on request.)
  • Realizing that plans for how I approach this blog are flexible and it’s okay to experiment and try new things.

Noticings:

  • How much I’m continuing to enjoy taking digital photos. My library is growing and I’m seeing so many little things I might otherwise have missed.
  • How shifting the language from “Action step(s)” to “Big and Small Steps” changes the language I’m inclined to use from past tense to ongoing. Interesting…
  • How helpful tears of release can be. (It’s not too late to invest in Kleenex stock – I’m sure I’m raising the value! ;-))
  • How glad I am that I’m out of grade school where some children insist on pinching each other if they aren’t wearing green on St. Patty’s Day! (I don’t wear green. Perhaps I could try some leaves in my hair??)
  • How good it feels to be able to tithe more than once a month, even when the checks are small. 🙂
  • How glad I am to be here, with you now.

 

Day 96 (Fri/Mar 16): Sixteen days – Getting out of God’s way, a journey within the journey

I was stunned at the turn of events this morning – especially when I considered the last few days.

I found myself still wrestling with being powerless to effect any change in my job status. Still enjoying my part-time job; still hoping for more work. It was a joy to receive my paycheck yesterday; a challenge to realize how little it will take before it will be gone, since my printer’s almost out of toner.

A conversation with a friend yesterday reminded me of how much harder I make it for myself. I hold onto something, trying to change it, powerless to do so. I give it to God. Then I take it back. I realize what I’ve done and give it back to God. I forget and start chewing on it again. Back and forth. Back and forth. She reminded me that God loves me enough to give me the freedom to hold on, even while hoping I’ll let it go. It was fun to be able to laugh about how foolish we can be.

This morning I received a call from the staffing agency: “We’re sorry for the short notice, but would you be able to come into work today?”

Would I! Within an hour, I was back at the place I worked last week, slightly nervous, yet eager to work, grateful to be called back and grateful to be earning more money for this week.

 What’s truly amazing, though, is the context surrounding this blessing.

Since today, Friday, was going to be a day off, I hadn’t set my alarm. I relaxed last night and slept well. I woke up before 5:00, right about my usual time. I awakened slowly, enjoying the time to stretch, talk to God, and consider my plans for the day. Mostly I had no idea what I’d end up doing. I got up and began my normal morning routine of showering, fixing breakfast, then doing my reflection journal time. When I was done, I was considering writing the thank-you note I kept not quite getting to all week long. It was to have been to the people at the place I worked last week. No need for it now! (Or yet.)

At my ‘desk’ I noticed I barely missed a call from one of my credit card companies (the phone was still off). Then I noticed the battery could use a bit of freshening. I had just plugged it into the charger when I saw the call from the staffing agency coming in. The ringer was still off and I was fixing to text a message to a friend. Wow! Talk about timing!

In short, everything around my being able to work today (and at least Monday next week) was God’s timing:

  • Friday was a day off, though I often work on Fridays – I was available.
  • I was up early and had already showered and eaten breakfast when the call came – I was virtually ready. (Just had to change clothes and pack a lunch.)
  • I caught the call while the ringer was still off because I was holding it in my hands. A miracle!
  • I had postponed calling to set up the interview for another job – an interview I would probably have had to cancel to be available to work.
  • I kept postponing writing the thank-you note – and now it’s not needed.
  • I needed a little extra money to take care of printer toner and a couple of other things – and God has provided.
  • I had just yesterday succeeded in letting go any expectations around if and when I might get “recalled” by this company – and… Well, you know the rest!

Right now, I am feeling so grateful for the amazing gift of God’s timing when I get out of the way!

Big and Small Steps:

  • Took a few minutes to do some much-needed stretches this morning. My body sure appreciates it!
  • Let go of the desire to polish this post as much as usual, since I’m starting to fade and I haven’t even got this online yet.

Noticings:

  • How easily things happen when I let go and remember to leave God in charge.
  • How nervous and excited I was this morning, even though I was returning to somewhat familiar territory.
  • How much I enjoy the InterPlay CD I’ve been listening to this past week. I realized I can “play” along with the artists on the CD!
  • How often I forget to do some planned tasks, only to discover they weren’t meant to happen.
  • How eager I am to get to sleep!

Note: If you want an audio InterPlay experience, I highly recommend the CD Like Breathing (available with the book What the Body Wants or separately). It is filled with beautiful, delightful and even wildly fun tracks!

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