Day 99 (Mon/Mar 19): Thirteen days – Confessions…, a journey within the journey

Sometimes what looks like a wall is actually a gateway to someplace new

Earlier today I wrote: I’m actually feeling really grateful for my part-time job. On Friday, I received a late-notice, can-you-work-today call from the temp agency. She asked if I was available to work Friday, Monday and Tuesday. I was thrilled! On the other hand, I knew whatever we were doing might not require three whole days, as the last 9-day job turned out to be a 3-day job. As it happens, between Friday and today, I only worked a total of 10.75 hours. I’m grateful for the extra money, truly I am. I’m more grateful still for the distraction of my part-time “permanent” job and the fact that it distracts me from the deflation of such a short temp assignment.

It’s interesting to notice that I continue to think about a “lost” 6-week temp job that sounded great in many ways,

Just taking a step back can reveal new possibilities

including logistically. It occurs to me that the only reason I keep thinking of that job or other “missed” opportunities is because I am presuming that I’ve lost something that was mine to lose, which isn’t the case. I’m also presuming they would have changed my financial situation – which means I’m not remembering to trust God to take care of the details.

On the other hand, it’s fair to honor the reality that it’s deflating to have opportunities shrink after my anticipation rises. I’m just astonished to see how quickly my “fat” check disappeared and…

Ruh roh! I was just starting to beat myself up – and for things over which I’m powerless. See how easy it is to slip into that mode! I gotta remember to not let the deflation determine how I see things. It’s a darn good thing you’re here to remind me that I said I was only going to affirm the good in each day! 🙂

Later today…

God is always there, active, behind every act of releasing and letting go

Last night I was reading some more in Catherine Ponder’s book. She was talking about the power of releasing and letting go. I’ve mentioned before that I’m inching my way through this book, even though I’ve read it at least a couple of times, some chapters more than that. I feel the need to slow down and take in on deeper levels each concept she’s describing.

My car sounded a little odd coming home last night, so I decided to take the train to work after worrying about it. I felt more serene making that decision. The funny thing was, it became an ongoing exercise in releasing and letting go. I didn’t leave the house quite as early as I’d hoped. It would have been early enough if I was driving, but getting to the station, parking and catching the train added extra time. Then the train I needed was having computer trouble, which delayed it arriving and delayed us en route.

I continued to let it go, recognizing that I was powerless to change any of this. It was too late to change my mind and there was absolutely nothing I could do. Whenever anxiety about being late started to arise, I reminded myself that I had no control over this, including the reaction of my supervisor. I kept releasing it into God’s hands. I left messages in a couple of places, although I didn’t have the number for my supervisor. When I got there, she was totally fine and obviously pleased I had left a message with a her colleague.

This evening, I was refiguring my finances and thinking how I would use the small check I’ll receive this week and the even smaller one next week. I kept releasing it all, trusting that God is sorting out details I can’t (and may never) see. I felt serene despite some discomfort in my body. (Too much sitting; too little walking.) So I began releasing even that, electing to do what I can (stretching) and let go the rest.

It’s amazing how quickly things can change when we let go. Around 6:00 I got a call from the temp agency. (Weren’t they closed??) Could I return in the morning and work there the rest of the week?

I’m not holding on too tightly to the expectation of being there all week. We’ll see how things unfold. I am going to talk to them tomorrow about my part-time job and see if we can strike a balance that allows me to fulfill my responsibilities at both jobs. Whatever happens, I’m going to keep practicing letting go. 

Oh, the confession? My body tells me I’m still holding a lot of fear. My mid-back, low-back and hip are not happy campers. I also get a little overly excited when things start changing quickly, careening between nervousness, pleased-excitement and uncertainty about what will happen next. When I say I feel serene, I mean it. I’m just not convinced all of me has caught up with how wonderful it is to need to practice release!

Big and small steps:

  • Still enjoying the step workouts and did a bit of stretching this morning and a fair amount more this evening.
  • Asked the temp agency about shifting my schedule – which opened the door to them suggesting I work it out with the supervisor at the temp job.
  • Found some coupons for having my car serviced.

Noticings:

  • How tempting it is to try to “force” my body to loosen up and relax. (Uh, it doesn’t work.)
  • How grateful I am to have more work this week.
  • How grateful I am for my present employers (at my ‘regular’ job) – especially for their flexibility when I’m getting short notice about working elsewhere.

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!

Day 95 (Thu/Mar 15): Seventeen days – Changing gears, a journey within the journey

My day was transformed yesterday by the decision to remain judgment-free toward whatever I do or don’t do each day. Since it was a day off work and I had no appointments, I had the freedom to let my day unfold. After that wonderful beginning (i.e., the decision to do 18 days of affirmations only), I let go the plans I had been originally considering (like going to the post office and the library) and let myself be led from one task (or “non-task”) to another.

I had remembered an email a friend sent me a few weeks ago and decided to check it out. She had sent me a link to a website for non-profit organizations and philanthropic endeavors. (Foundation Center) She had suggested it to me because I can subscribe to receive notices of job announcements – which I have now done!

As I explored the site a bit, deciding which types of emails I might be interested in receiving, I found a job listing for an organization I’ve been considering contacting because I admire the work they’re doing. (Contacting them is in my “hope I can get up the nerve to do some informational interviewing here” virtual file. ;-)) I printed out the description, eager to see if I might be a good fit. The position is for an executive assistant. While I am a terrific administrative assistant, I’ve never pursued this level of administrative work.

After a bit of internal wrestling, I finally acknowledged and accepted two things. One is that I don’t really want a job that requires the level of energy this one would require to do well. It’s not that I don’t put a lot of energy into my work – I do. But I want to have energy left over at the end of the day for other things, including InterPlay, Al Anon, and a ministry site I’m developing with a friend of mine. Oh yeah. And a social life.

 The second thing I accepted is that I don’t really want a job that is so critically dependent upon my being there, as this one would be, that there would be no room for the occasional meeting or absence during the work day as my other interests expand. (This job sounds like they want not just a right arm for the director, but a left arm and one or two legs as well. Oy!)

Still, I may consider applying simply for the experience and the possible opportunity to connect with the organization. It really is the kind of place I would enjoy being – in another capacity.

There are a couple of other things I thought about. A couple of thank-you notes to write. A follow-up call to set up an interview at a place I’m uncertain I’d like to work. The interesting thing about the latter is that I had pulled out the message with the person’s name to call, thinking I might call her yesterday. Then I ended up completely forgetting about it as the day progressed. The interview practice would be good and I might even find something I’m interested in doing.

The thank-you notes are in that fuzzy, not-too-certain-if-it’s-the-appropriate-thing-to-do, it’s-kind-of-late-but-still-could-be-good category. It’s also uncharted territory for me. It’s job related, so it’s a little bit nervousness-producing. I’ll keep considering it.

All this is to say that I had lots of opportunities to practice letting go any judgments about what I did or did not get accomplished. Mostly, I’m appreciating how incredibly freeing it was to be intentional about not judging myself. I found that I had to keep reminding myself that there really was nothing that needed to be on a “should” do list for me. At the end of the day, what mattered most was that I felt good about myself, whatever I had or had not done.

No wonder it's all about small steps

The interesting result was that I actually took more steps toward finding work opportunities yesterday than I have in a long time, even though I didn’t have a specific intention to do so.  I’m curious to see what happens in the next two and a half weeks. 🙂

Big and Small Steps:

  • Found an interesting job possibility and printed out the description. I’m now registered on the site and will receive emails about other jobs (plus I can look on the site for more).
  • Filed some job-search related papers in my binder and typed up the “pitch” I had developed at the JVS workshop. It felt good to refresh my memory.
  • Updated my checkbook and know exactly how much is there. For the first time in years, I recently added back into the balance the minimum amount of $150 I was keeping as a cushion. (It has not served me well when I’m as broke as I’ve been in recent months.)

Noticings:

  • How my step workouts are actually a bit more difficult the way I’m doing them than the way I learned at the gym. (I tried the approach from the gym, which is more “balanced” in that it alternates feet throughout. Yet it’s more of a workout to do ten sets, for example, leading with one foot, then ten leading with the other.)
  • How freeing it feels to have given myself permission to affirm myself only in positive ways. I can let go the “shoulds” without guilt for the next seventeen days (or years?)! Whoo hoo!
  • How often I felt the tingle down my spine yesterday that tells me I’m following my heart.
  • How good it feels to actually know, to the penny, what’s in my checking account!
  • How totally fun it was to have taken the “No Dumping” picture this past weekend, with no idea how I’d use it, yet finding it perfect for yesterday’s post! 🙂
  • How jazzed I get working on my blog posts in the evenings, especially after such a breathtaking shift in direction yesterday. Gotta watch out if I want to get a full night’s sleep! (I didn’t. Oh well.)

Day 91 – Sun (PM), Mar. 11th (91/275): Holding onto hope

It’s interesting to notice how quickly moods shift and elation can become deflation. It’s not so much that I was specifically “elated” earlier, but one phone call from a creditor was all it took to open the door to feeling depressed again.

I’ve been observing these transitions, noticing more specifically the train of thoughts. Much like my experience a week or two ago, there seems to be a pattern to it that is rather similar. I’d like to examine it here and see what comes up. Perhaps you’ll have a perspective to share to help me see this in a different light.

Need I say more?

For the moment – and I’m grateful for my confidence that this is for the moment and not for the long-haul – I feel depressed. Before the phone call even ended, I was feeling defeated, shot down in my buoying hopefulness around expanding work possibilities (i.e., expanding income). The representative called to inform me of the status of my card – as if I didn’t know this already. Really, they are calling to inform me of their status in relation to my debt: how much longer they can work with me, how close they are to “charging off” the debt (i.e., sending it to a collection agency), and don’t I want to speak to their in-house credit counselors? (I would gladly speak to their in-house counselors if they would be willing to accept the tiny payments I can manage now until those payments grow larger.)

Today’s call revealed that the debt is still big and growing (not news) and that the charge-off date for one card is the end of this month and the charge off date for the other card is the end of next month. They don’t need a lot of money; about $238 per month would pay off both these cards within their allotted time (at zero percent interest). It’s just that I have not yet had that much extra money per month and, quite frankly, would rather have it help me get into my own place that turn it over to them. Actually, I’d rather be able to do both. I truly would like to catch up on my credit cards. It’s just that, for the moment, mundane things like food and gas and other randomly necessary expenses are a higher priority for me.

So, back to the present challenge: the depression that threatens to swamp me if I hold these feelings in…

My colorful pens, my trusty journal

What I noticed, as I got off the phone feeling increasingly depressed, is that I am feeling angry. I’m angry at them for not being willing to let me do what I can until I can do more, regardless of how long it takes. I’m angry at them for calling and shooting down my excitement over being able to make at least one, if not more, “extra” payments this month. Mostly though, I’m angry at myself for feeling powerless to change this as quickly as both of us want.

I feel like I’m lying when I tell them I have no other resources from which to draw. I have one tiny IRA. If I cashed it out, I could partially catch up one payment. I’m not willing to do that. (Duh!) I might have an income tax refund coming. I’ll know more in a week or so. But I’m not willing to hand that over either. However big or small it is, I have here-and-now needs that take precedence over past due credit card bills.

I feel angry at myself that I’m still, obviously, paralyzed enough by my fears to not have more actively done something to generate more income. It would be one thing if I was submitting applications right and left. At least I could say that I’m trying. But doing all this inner work, no matter how important, still leaves me feeling like a liar and a failure when I tell my credit card company I’m trying to expand my income. The truth is I dowant to expand my income; I even want to expand my work hours. I just feel inept and overwhelmed, still, about how to go about it more effectively.

Gathering words of encouragement

It’s all well and good to talk about small steps and the progress I’m making. I doappreciate that. Truly. It’s quite another thing to have a creditor breathing down my neck and not be able to say, “Hey, I’m going to be able to catch up my payment in x weeks (or months). Can you hang in there just a little bit longer??”

Just for tonight, or perhaps this moment, I’m feeling angry, frustrated and powerless. I feel deflated and defeated. This is why my morning reflection journaling time is so important to me, as is reading books like Al Anon’s Courage to Change and Catherine Ponder’s Open Your Mind to Receive.  It’s much like pouring clear water into a class of long-dried mud. It takes time – and lots of water – to loosen the old patterns of thinking and clear the way for the new. It’s amazing just how many repetitions of certain words and concepts it takes for the encouragement to build and build until the depression or defeat doesn’t stand a chance of survival. Fortunately, I have a lot of reps of that variety ‘under my belt,’ so I know I will feel better when I start my day tomorrow.

Two wonderful verses come to mind right now. I think I’ll hold onto them this evening and use them for my reflection in the morning.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps 30:5 NKJV)

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.(Ps 143:8 NKJV)

A favorite book, my journal, a reminder

Day 89 – Fri, Mar. 9th (89/277): Oh, what a relief it is!

This post really will be short. I’m back at my regular job (whoo hoo!) after three rather fun, but incredibly mind-and-body-numbing days of intense data entry. I say “intense” because it was entirely repetitive. I archived some 1500 files and my neck, shoulders and wrist are barely speaking to me at the moment. Actually, perhaps they’re speaking a lot: they’re saying, Don’t even think about it!

The funny thing is that yesterday, because of the monotony of the task, what I did a lot of (besides hundreds of mouse clicks) was noticing. So that’s what this post is about.

I noticed how it felt oddly, vaguely demeaning when a male employee went by and greeted us cheerily, “Morning, guys!” The fact that we were all females and he was male left me pondering why it’s okay for me to say, “Morning, guys” to my female companions, but his doing so felt like invading my turf. It’s rather like, I can call my brother a jerk but you can’t. (I don’t consider my brother a jerk, btw.) I wondered if I would have had the same reaction to another woman calling us “guys.” (Btw, in case you haven’t checked your dictionary lately, “guys” can refer either to a group of males or a mixed-gender group – the classic linguistic tradition that defaults to male references as “neutral,” while female references can only refer to exclusively females.)

I noticed that sitting up straight and holding my posture gently, to relieve the stress of constantly gazing down at a laptop, was more helpful than trying to force a more rigid and deliberately anti-slouching posture.

I noticed the new-job, settling-in patterns of the small group with whom I was working. Even though it was only our third day there (and the last for most of us, as it turns out), there was a growing comfort in our surroundings and a growing confidence in our freedom to go down to the café to get a snack or to partake of the cupcakes and goodies by the kitchen area. I didn’t partake of the goodies, but only because they were foods my body no longer enjoys. (Thanks be!)

I noticed that, in response to a particular sound, someone asked of another co-worker, “Is that a cough or a sneeze?” When the co-worker said it was a cough, the first person did not offer the usual “Bless you” she had been saying in response to (perceived) sneezes. (She’d said that to me a few times when I coughed, apparently thinking I was sneezing.) The history of saying “bless you” has to do with the perception of keeping evil away in order to stay healthy. Why do you suppose it is that we do not say “bless you” when someone coughs?

I noticed that it’s easier to remember to move and shift around more when my body complains of discomfort or pain. This, of course, is just plain silly, since moving and shifting around more in the first place would likely avoid the pain.

Finally, I notice that I’d like to be “on the clock” at work in just a few minutes. So I’m going to post this, sans pics this time, and get to work doing lots of wonderfully non-repetitive tasks that require thinking and evaluating and making choices. Whoo hoo!!!

Day 87 – Wed, Mar. 7th (87/279): Oy! Did I ever work this much before?!

I’m torn between wanting to write this and wanting to give my eyes a rest after being on the computer for eight solid hours at a temp job I started yesterday. I am so grateful for the coming income and simply the opportunity to have another, different work experience. Yet the work is mind-numbingly monotonous. It takes just enough thought that you have to pay a bit of attention, but it’s unbelievably repetitive.

Select cell. Copy. Alt-Tab. Enter number. Click search. Click refresh. Click on document. Click, click, click. Paste cell contents. Move to next cell. Repeat. 

They're all the same...yet not...

Oy! Make that “Ooooooooooooooyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

It’s ironic how incredibly distressed I was Monday late afternoon when I finally learned the whereabouts for this job. It wasn’t the where that got me; it was the expectation of “business professional” attire.

I don’t own “business professional” attire. At least not if you’re speaking of the very professional attire, such as pumps, slacks, blazers and button-down blouses. Nope, nope, nope. The only thing on that list that I own are slacks – and probably only one of my three non-denim pants truly fit into the “slacks” category. (The pair I like the least, of course, because apparently “slacks” are not make of anything but human-made materials like polyester and rayon. BLECK!!!!)

However, on the UP side of all this… It turns out that the drive could be during somewhat heavy traffic, but the worse traffic is actually going the other direction. Whew! Plus, I discovered that I can not only leave early to avoid the busier traffic, I can start work earlier and leave earlier accordingly. Yay! 

Remember to play!

I also want to mention that the anxiety I felt about the dress code actually mellowed out within a couple of hours. It felt longer because I was truly freaking out before I calmed myself down and started thinking sanely again. Classic Al-Anon overreaction. I thought I was getting better. Actually I know I’m getting better. I just didn’t realize I wasn’t immune from those overreactions. Sigh… Step by step…

Back to my earlier point, I really would like to keep this short. My eyes and my right hand/wrist have been working hard all day long for the past two days. I was so wiped out yesterday, I was asleep by 8:30. Tonight I might do the same, but I’m glad to not be quite such a mush-brain.

The goofy thing is that most of my life I’ve worked 8:00-5:00, Monday through Friday. Although it’s been several years, you wouldn’t think it would be that hard to get back in the groove. And maybe it isn’t. Today was a tad easier than yesterday – although that was in part because we had some anomalies to help capture our attention. (When you’re doing literally hundreds of repetitive entries, anomalies border on excitement!) I’m curious to see what it might feel like to be working 8-hour days again. It’s been a long time. Although I am clear about one thing: I do not want to be a full-time data-entry person!

Before I started this, I received an email in response to a resumé I have posted on a job-hunting site. After doing considerable research, it turns out that the company contacting me is another staffing agency. (This was not the least bit obvious on their website.) I let them know some of my preferences, in terms of logistics and availability, and asked them to tell me about their application process. At the moment, I’m too tired to care (especially given the location and time-requirement of this particular, possibly-available position), but I realized I can always keep the options open.

I'm learning to bloom where I'm planted

  Now I’m going to enjoy having the house to myself and having a couple of hours before bedtime. Early to bed, early to rise may not make me healthy, wealthy, and wise, but it sure let’s me enjoy my favorite time of the day a little more easily. 🙂

Hmmm. So much for keeping it short…

 

 

Noticings:

  • How important it is to shift positions often while working in virtually the same position all day.
  • How lovely it is to have some stairs to walk up just to get the blood moving through my legs!

Action step(s):

  • Kept the option open to get setup with another staffing agency.

Day 76 – Saturday, Feb. 25th (76/290): Noticing the depression, the peace, the bursts of energy and more

Yesterday became a surprisingly peaceful day. After getting to the office and taking the time to write my last post, I soon found myself going through the tasks on my desk without any sense of urgency or need to hurry. I simply kept attending to one thing after the other, beginning with being able to post data on my colleague’s computer without having to rush, since she wouldn’t be in for a few hours.

The odd thing was that I ended up working much longer than I had planned, not out of any compulsion to stay or sense of obligation, but because I was simply enjoying the freedom to be here and to work as long as I wanted. I got caught up in catching up on a particular type of correspondence, which helped me to work my way through some incomplete tasks that were filling up my folders. It felt good to clear them out one by one.

Working in a part-time job with far too much to do in far too little time often presents the challenge of picking and choosing which tasks garner my attention at any given moment. Perhaps that’s why yesterday was so nice. There were several people in the office, which doesn’t happen all the time. The atmosphere was quietly productive in a serene, sometimes playful sort of way. And the truth is, I was enjoying being around people, even if we weren’t often in conversation.

These past eight days have been a strange mix of depression and loneliness, peace and connection, small bursts of energy and sudden “who turned off the lights?!” moments of fatigue. I appreciated reading that Lent is a time of slowing down. I can use some slowing down right now, even as I sometimes feel the need to shift gears into more action. It gives me permission to attend to the inner journey even more closely.

When that happens, I find I’m able to notice things I might otherwise rush past. For instance I noticed I was able to respond differently to a call from the staffing agency. When they called to see if might be interested in another temp position that is farther away than I would like and would require a commute through a particularly congested stretch of freeway, rather than hesitate and send out the signal that I wasn’t interested, I said, “Tell me more.” That simple act gave me a few moments to adjust to the idea that even though this is far from what I would consider an ideal location, I want to be open to what might be there and, certainly, to the much-needed income. I never know when I might encounter unexpected blessings, like those that came through my last temp job.

Perhaps it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, being able to say, “Tell me more.” Yet for me, it was a new and helpful way for me to respond when my kneejerk reaction was to inwardly groan at the prospect of that particular location. It’s moments like these, when I’m able to respond in a different, healthier way that I appreciate this journey of introspection and moving slowly.

Noticings:

  • How nice it was to choose to relax and stay at work yesterday until I felt ready to leave.
  • That it was a good decision to stay home this weekend, as much as I would have liked to have said good-bye to my aunt with my cousins and siblings.
  • How good it feels to be able to dance and move and “babble” today.
  • How much I’ve enjoyed having pictures in my post and wondering where to find more.

A word about “noticings”: Noticing is something we do a lot of in InterPlay. It’s not about making judgments or trying to make meaning or sense of whatever we’re noticing. It’s simply observing what it is and letting that inform our experience in whatever ways it does.

Action step(s):

  • Attending a Day of Deepening at InterPlay, giving my body and my spirit a space to play, to move and to be in community.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to the possible temp job despite the location and schedule because I want to be open to possibilities, rather than closing them off.

Day 67 – Thursday, Feb. 16th (67/299): Leaving the rest to God

This week has been a time of changes, blessings, disappointments, gifts… I’ve noticed some things as I continue to reflect on this journey.

A year ago, shortly before Christmas, I found myself wanting to focus on the twelve Days of Christmas. It wasn’t so much what I planned to do as the fact that I had a place to direct my focus. What I noticed, as I turned my attention toward attending to those twelve days – which is something I’d never done before (I don’t think singing the song counts ;-)) – was that my Christmas suddenly didn’t feel quite so empty or lonely even though I was just as alone as I had been before. In fact, in some ways, I was more alone than in previous years.

I recognized in this something I’ve been experiencing recently. As my attention has become consumed with financial issues, I have seemingly lost interest in other concerns, such as the desire for love and romance that used to be on my mind virtually all the time. I’m increasingly interested in attending to my own self-care and, with that, being able to let go the things I’ve never been able to control but have nonetheless clung to as though I could control them.

Yet even this awareness doesn’t stop the tears when they well up, triggered by something I’ve read, something I’ve watched on TV or a DVD, something that reminds me that the road is still rough, hard, a long way from where I want to be. This afternoon I learned that the longer-term temp job didn’t come through. Disappointment seeps in amidst the gratitude for the extra twenty hours of income this week and I didn’t realized how much so until something on TV raised tears when it wasn’t especially sad.

Yet there have been blessings this week as well. The possibility of additional paychecks coming at regular weekly intervals got me to thinking about how to more wisely use the income. In recent years, I’ve often quickly spent any monies that came to me, as if to spend it quickly was the only way to enjoy it. This week, I came to realize that each paycheck would and could only be a small piece of the resources I would need to be able to get back on my feet and move forward.

I began planning – loosely, lightly, carefully. Tithe first. Pay a little on my credit cards. Put aside a little toward rent or a rent deposit. See if I might buy a piece of clothing here or there to expand my “professional” wardrobe. (Most of what I have is in the jeans and T-tops arena.) Remembering my plan from a little over a year ago when I got my new cell phone, to purchase one ringtone a month (which I’ve actually not done), helped me to realize that all these things can happen in small steps.

As unremarkable as it may seem to actually think about and plan financially, it is nonetheless a remarkable experience for me. It is virtually uncharted territory for this long-time instant-gratification addict. I suspect it took a kind of “hitting bottom” for me, where I ran out of available resources to discover and discovered that I can do without this or that, at least for a time.

I was also unexpectedly blessed in the temp job I had when part of the job involved looking at photos of condos and apartments and homes. My work involved uploading photos for “profiles” of places for rent. There was something about seeing so many beautiful homes that opened the door for me to begin dreaming. In fact, it opened the door to dreams bigger than I’ve ever truly had. For the first time that I can remember, I could actually see myself being able to someday afford one of those homes. They weren’t places for the very rich; they were simply nice places that people with good, solid incomes can afford. For too long, I have let my limited resources determine the size of my dreams and the past two-days have expanded those dreams in an unexpected and wonderful way.

Okay, it’s late now (for me), so I’ll close by saying that I’m appreciating all that’s happened this week. The ups, the downs, the changing tides of what I would and wouldn’t be doing for the next few weeks. As I was reminded to do in a reading from Courage to Change, I’ll attend to my responsibilities and leave the rest to God.

Actions step(s):

  • Listened to my body’s needs and got a long, full night’s sleep Tuesday night (9 hours!).
  • Did my best at my temp job (and was affirmed by my boss, who may call me again to work there if I’m available).
  • Called the temp agency to check in, rather than waiting to see if the other job was available. So much better than dangling in the unknown.

Day 65 – Tuesday, Feb. 14th (65/301): Where’d she go? That energetic younger me…

I’m beginning to suspect that God is trying to bring me in gently to the full-time working world. The temp position I interviewed for Friday may yet come through. In the meantime, I have been blessed with another temp job this week. I worked a very full day yesterday at my regular job (ten hours), knowing I might have difficulty getting there while doing this short-term temp job.

Today I worked 7 hours at the new position, which is conveniently close to my aunt and uncle’s. The “commute” time is all of about five to six minutes, plus a couple of minutes of walking. Whoo hoo! I’m wondering, though, about how ridiculously tired and sleepy I am this evening. It’s only 7:30 and I’m so ready to go to bed! I actually will head in that direction once I get this posted.

It’s so goofy. I am so tired, yet so grateful for this challenge of doing temp work while striving to keep up with my usual job. It will be much easier at the temp position next week, since it’s within easy walking distance of my regular job. Still, I wonder if this is God’s way of easing me into a busier, fuller schedule.

I’m most curious to see what my energy level is like once I’m actually receiving more income. Will it improve because the financial stress eases a bit, even if temporarily (i.e., until a permanent position finds its way into my life)? Or will the longer hours leave me tired in a different way?

What I have noticed is the boost of confidence I received yesterday when I was offered this week’s temp job and told that the other place liked me enough that they were willing to wait a few days for me to start there. I can’t tell you how encouraging that was after having job applications that often yield not so much as an acknowledgement.

I’m holding all this lightly, curious to see where it leads. Both of these new positions are temporary, so the need for employment still exists. I’m a little too tired to do any searching this evening and may do most of that on the weekends for a time. We’ll see. Mostly I want to keep taking all this one step at a time.

There’s a wonderful principle we practice at InterPlay called “incrementality.” Basically, it’s the acknowledgement and appreciation of the fact that we got to where we are incrementally, one step at a time, and we’ll get out of where we are to where we want to be the same way – incrementally, one step at a time.

This week I’m grateful for income coming and the prospect of making it through the month with a checking balance that will likely be in the double digits if not the triple digits. Thanks be to God! Whoo hoo!

Now, I’m going to head toward bed, one sleepy, fuzzy-headed step at a time and trust God to sort out the details and the timing of the remainder of my week.

Action step(s):

  • Sunday morning, I again practiced “networking” when I chatted with a parishioner and she said she’d send me a link to a website that might help me find work in the non-profit arena.
  • Turned to readings in Courage to Change to give me peace Monday morning, since I knew my day might turn upside down quickly. I’m glad because my day sure ended differently than it began, as is the case with this entire week.
  • Went through all my unopened email at work Monday and enjoyed taking the time to get a lot done that day.
  • Sent a request to connect with a friend on LinkedIn, alerting him to my interest in chaplaincy, since this is his field.

Day 61 – Friday, Feb. 10th (61/305): We were not given a spirit of fear

How fragile courage can be when it’s new, unpracticed, still developing… I went to work today, looking forward to the brief phone interview for the temp job, already planning how I might accommodate my present work responsibilities for the weeks I would be largely unavailable during normal business hours if I get the job. I wanted to give my colleague a heads up, in case my schedule needs to abruptly change. It caught her off-guard, as it had me, and the timing was poor. My eagerness rapidly shrank back to distress and concern. Would it work? Will I have to choose between a job I’d like to keep and a job I may need to be able to make ends meet in the coming weeks?

I was truly wishing I had my copy of Courage to Change with me. I would have turned to some pages on fear, worry, or some similar topic. (The thought to bring it had been there when I was getting ready for work. Once again, I dismissed the nudge I was getting from you know Who.)

So, I cast about in my memory banks for some 12-Step wisdom and remembered that I can choose what kind of attitude I want to hold. I could let my dismay and renewed fear dislodge the confidence I felt earlier this morning or I could remember that I need to take care of myself and trust God to work it out.

The irony, I realized as I was writing this, is that I had been given a classic “fear not” verse just this morning during my reflection time. In fact, I had recorded three such verses in my journal:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy…” (Luke 2:10 NRSV)

Perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18 NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7 NKJV – This is one of my favorites.)

I’m also now remembering the spider that startled me when it dashed across my comforter as I was preparing for bed last night. Oy! Spider reminds me that if I am not decisive enough about changing my lot in life, I may end up being consumed by my fears and limitations. (Sams & Carson’s Medicine Cards, p 209) I wasn’t thrilled to abruptly encounter the speedy little critter, but I appreciated the message. (Services were held for it this morning…)

Ya think Someone’s trying to tell me something about letting go of my fears and moving past them? I can take a hint! (And I’d prefer not to wait till the 2 by 4 is needed!)

I don’t know what’s going to happen with the temp job. I didn’t receive word one way or the other this afternoon, but the gentleman interviewing me said it might be Monday morning before we (candidates) would know. Until then, I’ll plan my work keeping the possibility in mind, but let go the worry about receiving the job. I know that if I am fortunate enough to get this or some other position, God will be able to sort out the details.

Action step(s):

  • Went into work early and caught up on some personal emails.
  • Responded to an email that came because my resumé is posted on a job site. The message undoubtedly goes out to everyone with a resumé on the website (they’re looking for sales people), so I flipped things and asked the inquirer to let me know if he knows anyone who needs a good admin!
  • Asked a friend, who inquired how things were going, to let me know if she hears of any admin positions. She said she’d keep it in mind. “Networking” again! Whoo hoo! 🙂
  • Boldly shopped for some healthy foods, knowing that God will provide if I run short later in the month.

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