Tuesday, Jan. 17th (37/329): Job Talk…Just for today

Monday morning began with reflections on the previous day. It felt like the light had started to shine in the darkness of my recent experiences of feeling so overwhelmed. A little later in the morning, it felt good to go to the women’s InterPlay class and have the opportunity to dance, connect, babble and tell stories. I talked about this blog, about a new blog/website I’m beginning to create, even a little about my dreams. It felt good to finally register the new blog/website and make a start. Good – and a little bit scary.

The shift felt positive, transforming even. Later, I organized my handouts from the various job-search workshops I’ve attended. The rest of the day I relaxed and started thinking about what concrete steps I might take toward seeking employment.

This morning, I awoke and checked to see if there was anything in particular I needed to do to prepare for a meeting with my employment specialist today. Guilt and anxiety started creeping rapidly into my day. The coming meeting reminded me of the work I need to be doing, not just learning about doing. I had precious little to report.

I chose one of my favorite verses to use for my first reflection: Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) I needed a sense of courage; anxiety was gaining ground.

I noticed something as I wrote the verse in my journal. It says that God will strengthen my heart – not me. It’s not something I do myself; it’s something only a Power greater than myself can do for me. I took some comfort in that. Which is good, because I felt thoroughly deflated later in the day after my meeting with the employment specialist.

It seemed like I had done virtually nothing since I had last met with her. I hadn’t submitted any resumés or job applications or done any informational interviews. I hadn’t even called the people I know I want to talk to about their experiences in chaplaincy, to see what possibilities it might hold for me.

On the other hand, as I reported what I could, I realized I did do a few things. I did scout out job possibilities on Craigslist a time or two. I did get on the university job listing site and see if there was anything there for me. I did talk briefly to two people about wanting to meet with them to talk about chaplaincy work. I did check out a lead one of them gave me (though it didn’t get me anywhere – yet). And I did receive a call from a staffing agency about a position (I unfortunately wasn’t qualified to fill), which enabled me to let them know I am available for work.

Yet I completely discounted, even dismissed the tiny steps I have taken. The times I looked for employment possibilities were dismissed because I didn’t find anything that led me to submit an application. At the university, there were no positions for which I was qualified that fit. I haven’t followed up with either person to whom I mentioned chaplaincy. And I still need to call the staffing agency regularly or I will fall off their radar again.

In short, I may not have done as much as I’d like, but I’ve done more than I thought.

Earlier this evening, I discovered I have not talked about the one thing I was determined to talk about every week – job hunting. It’s time to begin both talking about it and directing more of my energy into it. I’ve nudged my thyroid medication back up toward what was normal before the stressful move the end of November and that may help with the physical energy. As for the emotional energy…

I rediscovered my “Just For Today” Al-Anon bookmark. I’ve been carrying it around all day, reading and rereading the first statement: Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once.* It’s helping me remember that I cannot do everything all at once.

Action step(s):

  • Met with employment specialist
  • Registered a new blog/website to begin developing the consulting work I want to do
  • Did some careful meal planning to stretch the tiny amount of money I have left for the month
  • Mostly, I’ve trusted God a little more by letting go more often in the past two days

*This bookmark and other Al Anon literature are available at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org and at Al Anon meetings in your area.

Sunday, Jan. 15th (35/331): Private journeys

I attended a memorial service today for a dear friend’ husband, who passed away New Year’s morning while she was at church. He died peacefully in his sleep, just hours after they had shared an enjoyable evening, planning more of their future together after more than fifty-five years of marriage.

As I listened to the stories about this unobtrusive, remarkable man (whom I had never met), and especially as my friend shared briefly about what a wonderful support he had been for her, I was struck, by way of contrast, at what a private, sometimes lonely journey recovery can be. A few tears slipped down my cheeks as I felt my friend’s loss and also my own yearning for such a relationship. I wondered if I will ever know the kind of love and connection they had.

Barely three hours later, after listening to shares of a different nature at an ACA meeting, it occurred to me that the difficulty I’ve experienced in these past six or so months might well be a gift. Like it or not, I have been forced to take a hard look at the patterns of thinking and behaving in my life, and the patterns that don’t work have become abundantly clear, as has the amount of fear that drives many of those patterns.

The gift, for me, has been manifesting in the form of healing in my thinking around relationships. I used to think I could not walk this journey alone and I really didn’t want to try. But in the past six months, I have not only discovered I can walk alone (in human terms, for I know I am never alone in the sense that God is always with me), I have come to appreciate the value in finding my own way. I have discovered that I do not need a partner or spouse to encourage me, share the burden with me, or support me. Perhaps this is obvious to you; for me it is a revelation. No, a miracle. Even as I felt the longing for someone to share my life, as I listened to the story of one man’s love for his wife, family and friends, the “need” for such support was gone.

I suspect the main reason I am receiving healing in this area of my life is because I let it go and got out of the way of my own recovery. Interesting how that works. Without conscious effort, I implemented Step 3 in the 12-Step program: I turned my life and my will in this arena over to the care of God. Clearly, God has been working on me!

I’m not sure it’s quite the same thing, but an image that comes to mind is this: one way to get over a headache is to drop a hammer on your toe! It’s called “diversion” and it seems to be working. I think I’m a bit ADD that way – the best way for me to let go of something is to direct my attention elsewhere.

Now, if I can figure out how to apply this in some way to my job hunting goals, maybe I can really make progress!

Action step(s):

  • Putting God first several times today when I could have insisted on my own way
  • Setting out some clear goals and prayer requests
  • Being attentive to the money I was spending, with an awareness of what I actually have available to spend, and making choices accordingly

Saturday, Jan. 14th (34/332): A reflection

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving… Ephesians 4:32 (NRSV)

I’m wrestling with something again and I’m not quite sure yet what it is. Once again, tears flow easily and often, at the least provocation. What that means for me is that devotions raise tears for all sorts of reasons, as do TV shows and movies. Sometimes when that happens, I just wonder what’s up. Or rather, what’s really up?

It may be fatigue from an inadequate level of thyroid hormone (I’m having to listen to my body to adjust my dose, since I have neither insurance nor the funds to seek medical assistance right now). It could be fatigue from financial worries or anxiety around the need to more diligently (i.e., actively) seek other employment. It could be fatigue from the deep inner work that continues to happen simply because I am doing this work. It could be none of the above. Or all of the above. Or any number of other things I might not have noticed.

This verse did not raise the tears this morning, but my reflection with it from a year ago did, as I was reminded to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving of myself and the journey so closely mirrored what I seem to be experiencing now.

Too often I become frustrated when my mental and physical energy lag far behind what’s needed to make significant headway on my many to-do lists. When that happens and I then notice it’s happening, I often discover my whole body is tensed, poised to charge ahead even when I’m not up to charging, physically or emotionally. As many times as I have discovered that I get more done with greater ease when I let go and treat myself gently, it’s apparently a lesson I am still learning. (I made this observation last year and it is again true.)

This morning I gave myself permission not to rush. I got up late (7:15 – late for me) and I enjoyed the freedom to take my time with my reflection writing. I have a daily practice of writing reflections in response to one or more verses from the Bible. It is my time to listen, to reflect, to pay attention to what’s going on inside me, both emotionally and spiritually. I know it is time well spent, as it is this practice that has kept me going through the various ups and downs of the past ten or so years.

Maybe, I wrote in December 2010, just for today, I can stop trying to push myself and, instead, let the Holy Spirit guide my feet, one step at a time. These were words I needed to hear.

Yesterday I felt like I hit a wall, an invisible barrier to moving forward with the mental to-do list forming in my head. I was thinking of making a specific, job-search-related list of things to do. They were to be goals that included some of the tasks encouraged by the instructors at JVS. As I noticed the “wall,” I began to ask myself the reason for that wall. Was it Spirit telling me, “Not this way” or “Not yet”? Or was it fear getting in the way? I didn’t come up with a clear answer.

When I got home, I fixed something to eat and ended up spending the evening relaxing. My aunt and uncle went to her son’s for dinner, so I had the freedom to use my uncle’s computer (i.e., internet access!). Instead of blogging, as I had thought I might do, I “played.” Was I relaxing? Or was I avoiding the question about the “wall”? It’s hard to tell. In any case, I let go my initial intentions around blogging an introspection and simply enjoyed the fun of solving an annoyingly difficult crossword puzzle with the help of online resources.

I thought about my to-do list as I was going to bed and awoke with the same thoughts. I felt determined to be “productive.” Now I’m not so sure that’s what God was asking of me this day. It occurred to me yet again how seldom I pause to ask for Guidance about what to do. My days and plans are driven by financial need and fear, worry about things I can’t control, and uncertainty about how to best spend my days. I still feel like an uneducated youth who hasn’t learned the basic skills of life.

The irony is that the tasks in and of themselves are simply: updating my checkbook, opening the mail, checking email, connecting with friends, etc. Yet, if they’re so simple, why does it often feel so hard to do them, let alone keep up with them? Has our culture truly created a lifestyle with too much to do? These are not hard things to do, yet they back up on me on a regular basis. And herein lies the challenge: I feel able to do all these things and consequently find it hard, at times, to let go and to be gentle, kind, forgiving with myself.

I know I want to change and to be changed by God’s love for me. So today, I tried to let go and let things happen. Was it “enough”? Maybe not. Was it enough? Yes, it was.

Action step(s):

  • Updated my checkbook
  • Wrote out my tithe check and a check for my PO box
  • Sorted through a few papers and organized a small piece of the “file box” I have with me
  • Called a friend
  • Let go the rest

Sunday, Jan. 8th (28/338): Silliness really

It’s silly really. Writing yesterday’s post helped me discover that fear was the only thing holding me back from updating my address with the DMV. So I did it today! And I prepared and printed a voter registration form. (Apparently, since I changed counties, I can’t do it online. Bummer. It makes sense, but still.)

What’s scary about either of these things, you may ask? Probably nothing really. But these are governmental agencies and there’s a part of me that distresses at the idea of giving them my change of address since it probably isn’t really a “legal” address in the sense that I’m “staying” here, not “living” here. So if it isn’t my “legal” address, but I’m not actually living on the streets, do I check the “I have no home” box on the form?

I gave the DMV both my physical and mailing addresses when I moved into an apartment a couple of years ago. But this summer, they sent my parking ticket reminder to my physical address – which was actually no longer my address. Had it come to my PO Box – i.e., the mailing address – I would have received it right away. Fortunately, I had already paid it. How dumb is that?

Jury duty actually pops up from either the DMV records or the voter registration records. I guess they figure they increase the odds of finding you. The last time I got a jury duty summons was a date when I had a commitment I could not change. Fortunately, I was able to change it, but I have worried that I might soon get another summons at my old address, not know it, then have a warrant sworn out for my arrest for ignoring it!

The truly silly part for me today was after I pulled my car registration and insurance cards out of my glove compartment. I supposedly needed my car registration to complete my DMV form online. I grabbed the four slips of paper I saw from my glove box to make sure I had what I needed. (I rarely clean these out of my car. In fact, I think there’s a collection of old registrations in the box by my feet. It’s waiting for me to go through it and sort/purge/file.)

I looked at the old registration and insurance forms and pondered for a few minutes. Do I need them for anything? My address on one of them was an old physical address. Hmm. Might I need either of them for anything? Finally, I boldly turned on the shredder and stuffed them in it, while part of my mind shrieked and worried, “But what if I need them?!”

This is a perfect example of the absolute insanity of my thoughts at times – which is why I have about a million and a half pieces of paper I do not need cluttering my room and filling up my storage units. (Yes, “units,” plural.)

However, the good things is that I noticed today how much easier it was to change my address and register to vote than ever before and how little anxiety I actually felt when I shredded those old forms.

I hesitate to get too excited about how significant these small steps are. Yet I believe something is changing in me, that these small, even baby-sized steps are actually adding up and making a difference in my life. I know that God is also working on me (probably doing most of the work), since my steps are truly small, indeed. Still, it feels good to have taken these steps with such ease!

One more thing… My aunt and uncle received their gas/electric bill this weekend. It is $390! For one month! That is literally almost half my monthly pay right now. That’s why it surprises me that this actually became a helpful reality check for me. My life has been so topsy-turvy in terms of living spaces for the past 3 1/2 years that I have no idea how much a typical utility bill might be. Theirs may be higher than average because they are older and need to keep their home warmer than some people. Plus they have everything imaginable on automatic timers that must use some kind of juice to run. Still, it helped me realize that just as I need to “grow” my income, I need to get a more realistic picture of the cost of living.

I suspect there was something about that eye-opening moment that helped make the whole DMV/Voter Registration piece easier.

Action step(s):

  • Changed my address with the DMV
  • Re-registered to vote (since I changed counties)
  • Shredded a couple of old forms despite the fear!
  • Went through the stack of literature I brought home from yesterday’s meeting and was able to throw out a whole bunch of those. (Why not tidy up those files as well!)

Saturday, Jan. 7th (27/339): Reviewing the week

Saturdays may be good days to reflect back on the week – especially to think about answering questions I posed in my new framework. It may be deflating to discover how little I’ve done in this arena. Then again, I may find I’ve done more than I realized, even if it wasn’t in quite the form(s) I anticipated.

Question #1: Where did I demonstrate courage?

This one takes some thought, since I tend to think demonstrating “courage” has to involve something big and bold, something that makes me quake in my shoes. But maybe demonstrating courage is about taking small steps or noticing things that happened more easily than before. This afternoon actually provides an example of the latter.

I used to avoid going to almost all parties, especially large parties. I was nervous around strangers, I felt out of place if there was alcohol (I’m not a drinker), and loud music has put me on edge. These are, of course, cliché images of parties. However, today I went to a friend’s celebration of her 50th birthday. The big advantage for me was, admittedly, that it took place at the InterPlay studio. I knew there would be people I didn’t know, but also people I did know. It was in a comfortable setting and for a friend I’m especially fond of. Afterwards, I began noticing the differences in how I responded in circumstances I would formerly have avoided or left as soon as possible.

While I used to shy away from people I didn’t know, today I comfortably introduced myself to at least one person before things got going. While I used to prefer fading into the background, today I boldly put myself out there to join performance, play and dancing. While I used to experience anxiety around taking initiative in any part of the event, today I simply asked one person if there was a clean-up plan and, finding that there wasn’t, got things started. While I used to flee as soon as the music got too loud (which it did after the main event), today I stayed until the time felt right to leave for other reasons. It seems a very small thing, but I’m appreciating the recovery that must have been happening for me to feel as comfortable as I was today. And you know what else? Doing this was remarkably easy! I might even be able to do this in another, less familiar setting!

Today I also began serving as “secretary” for my Al Anon meeting. I knew I would be nervous, so I made sure my notes were readable and got there extra early. And you know what? I experienced very little nervousness at all! I suspect the real courage came in making the decision to serve in the first place.

Question #2: Where did I let my fear hold me back?

This one’s harder to tell. I’m reminded that I did make a call that has tended to make me nervous in the past: calling my auto insurance company to give them my new address. And this reminds me of one task I have been anxious about addressing: changing my address with the DMV. I don’t know why this always feels scary to me, but it does. There’s something about contacting an official government body to change my address when my address is once again temporary that intimidates me. I’m in a different county, so that changes the locations for potential jury duty summons and I’m never quite certain whether the voter registration piece is picked up with it. Plus I really don’t like having to look for the new polling place. Sigh… I guess I have been letting fear get in the way of performing this seemingly simple task. Rats!

Action step(s):

  • Taking the time to make the notes for my meeting readable.
  • Making a new sign for the meeting and a “patch” for another sign.
  • Deciding on a “secret mission” that I’ll have to tell you about a month from now.

Friday, Jan. 6th (26/320): A word about fear

I notice that the more I fight fear and try not to be afraid when I really am, the more tension I create in my body and the more discomfort I experience as a result. I start wearing my shoulders around my ears and muscles tighten both up and down my body. Not helpful!

When I acknowledge the fear, as I was able to do yesterday, when I admit that things are hard and that I am scared, I find relief from the fear. It’s not that it completely disappears; it’s more that it fades into the background and I am freed to focus my attention where it’s needed. I’ve often heard, “what you resist persists.” I realize this is true for my feelings of fear, as well. I hadn’t recognized how true until the dam burst and the tears – and fears – came pouring out.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that most of my fears fall into two categories: fear of change or fear of the unknown. When I look at the things that provoke anxiety in me, I almost inevitably find one or both of these. For instance:

  • Looking for work – both;
  • Changing careers – the unknown;
  • Finding a place to live – both;
  • Money challenges – the unknown;
  • Relationships (in general, but especially romantic ones) – both.

Other things generate more complex feelings of fear:

  • Going through accumulated piles of papers feels overwhelming. My clutter provides a kind of protective shield. Since I tend to feel socially inept and am afraid of making social blunders, it becomes a convenient excuse for not having guests come to visit. Clearing out the clutter feels very scary indeed.
  • Letting go of furniture and other household items is scary. I’m afraid I won’t be able to replace these things if I let them go. Of course, having lots of stuff makes it harder (and more expensive) to move, which I’ve done often in the past few years. In fact, this exemplifies precisely the kind of deprivation thinking I’m striving to change as part of this journey.

Change can be scary and the unknown can be even scarier. But life is and always will be full of change and I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I would like to be more open and willing to change and I’d like to start seeing the unknown as an adventure. In what may be a tiny step in this direction…

I have often been attached to wanting things the way I want them. For example, I’ve (inwardly) thrown fits when a product I like disappears from the shelves. I finally got tired of expending so much energy trying to change things beyond my control that I started consciously working to let these things go. Today, when I couldn’t find the cereal I wanted, I ended up buying a totally different kind. Instead of leaving the store upset or annoyed because they didn’t have what I wanted, I realized I was making a small change that I might even like. I was able to enjoy the adventure of trying something new.

It symbolized a willingness on my part to accept change with a little more grace – and that felt pretty darn good! Especially because I’ve discovered that transformation in one area of my life often results in transformation in other areas, which is a wonderful thing on a path of recovery! 🙂

(Btw, did I mention that the staffing agency called me yesterday afternoon? I guess that answered my question from yesterday morning!)

My action step(s):

  • Turned off my alarm and allowed my body the extra rest it needed after an interrupted night’s sleep.
  • Went to an InterPlay class today. My body so-o-o appreciated moving and stretching and loosening up some of those tight muscles.

Thursday, Jan. 5th (25/361): Hard but good…

Today was hard. Early this morning, my fearful thoughts ran something like this:

  • What if I called the staffing agency?
  • They might demand time I’m not (yet) willing to give and try to make me do something unwanted or want me to put everything else on hold…
  • Augh! I don’t want to call! I’m afraid it might start a chain reaction!
  • New possibility–>I could get clear on what I’m willing to do.
  • Here’s where I get stumped…
  • I could call and be willing to set clear boundaries around my availability.
  • What about being open to either direction? [i.e., admin assist work and ministry]
  • Eek! What I really want to do is some kind of ministry; if I jump into office work, I might get stuck there.
  • How do I let go of this fear???
  • What are all those presumptions I’m making about these…

A little later, as I did my morning reflection time, the verse that spoke to me was: “Do not judge according to appearance…” (John 7:24) I thought about my present circumstances. I’m staying at my aunt & uncle’s because I don’t have the money to actually pay rent, no matter how low. My monthly paycheck from my part-time job lets me pay some of my bills and buy some food and gas. I sort of get by. If it weren’t for the occasional financial gift from friends and the like, I don’t know how I’d make it at all. All this is to say that this is a very rough patch for me at the moment.

The challenge with looking for work is that because of my financial need, I don’t feel free to pursue the work I’m passionate about because it doesn’t come in a neat package with a regular paycheck. I’m also on this intentional journey to break through my fears, and finding employment is one of the scariest things for me. Right now, things appear really bleak and, from the outside,it might look like I’m doing almost nothing to change my situation. But the truth is, I know I’m doing some of the hardest work there is.

Still, the financial piece has made it hard for me to relax and simply get on with the stuff (I don’t know how to do very well yet) that could lead to improving my financial situation. I attended an interview workshop today. It was very helpful, even though it triggered my fears as well.

Later, shortly before I met with my sponsor, I was reading the preface and intro in Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, an Al-Anon publication. It was timely to read about grief when I’ve had these bubbles of grief trying to rise to the surface. I especially liked what it said on page 7 – that I don’t have to confront everything all at once and I can be patient and gentle with myself, trusting that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. That’s worth rereading for me.

My sponsor unwittingly helped me get the tears rolling. (Thanks be!) She named and affirmed that things are hard for me right now and that it’s okay to say that it’s hard. I don’t have to pretend that it’s not. I so needed to cry…

I appreciated coming across something I wrote a year ago that’s helpful for me now: The process of healing is not likely to be a straight line. It was a relief to recognize this. When I feel afraid, I feel like I’ve lost faith, like I don’t trust God to take care of me. My sponsor reminded me that God knows how hard this is for me and my feelings of fear are a normal, human response to the very real challenges I’m facing. I’m so grateful that it’s okay to be human and that healing is happening even when I don’t yet see the results.

My action step(s):

  • Attending an interview workshop.
  • Doing some research on chaplaincy positions/requirements.
  • Testing and improving my skills on MS Word and Excel 2007.
  • Meeting with my sponsor.
  • Letting go my self-imposed need to work tomorrow (when I’ve already fulfilled my hours for the week).

Monday, Jan. 2nd (22/344): A productive trip on the Paper Walk path

I spend a lot of time in my room at my aunt and uncle’s since that’s where my computer and other things are. When I emerged to see what my aunt and uncle were up to earlier, I didn’t see them anywhere. I knew I didn’t need to look far for either one of them. My uncle was probably in his shop, since he wasn’t in his office. My aunt didn’t appear to be in the house, which means she was ‘playing’ outside. She loves to rake and trim and otherwise tend their yard and the numerous trees, plants and shrubs around it. In other words, they were both busy doing things, productive things. I found myself wanting to be similarly engaged.

When I first got up this morning, I spent a few minutes journaling. A number of things were on my mind as I thought about ways to handle differently those times when I feel overwhelmed. Just thinking about all the stuff I can/should/need/want to do can get my mind spinning to where I don’t even know where to start. I decided to jot down some of the things I thought I wanted to do today. The interesting part was that I jotted down a quick list of six things and suddenly nothing further came to mind. I realized it felt doable, or at least approachable. So, I transferred the list onto a tablet and decided to see how the day would go.

I basically let things flow and ended up getting three of the six things on the list done – and it feels good. In fact, it feels really good because one of the things was to sort through the papers on my desk. The pile was still manageable-sized compared to how big other piles have gotten, but it was also continuing to grow.

Of course, I still have to figure out where to actually put the papers. Unfortunately, I only have a box at the moment. But it still feels really good to get the sorting done. In fact, I found a couple of things that were MIA. I even gathered the notes I’d written on all sorts of scraps of papers and backs of business cards and transferred them to places where I can actually find and potentially use them, mostly on the computer.

It occurs to me that this particular foray into the sometimes scary paper piles wasn’t scary at all. It did help that I don’t really have anywhere to file anything, so I was spared having to figure out where to file certain papers. I am also pleased to say that lots of things and virtually all the random papers with miscellaneous types of notes on them are now in the recycle wastebasket. Whoo hoo!

The things that don’t yet have a check mark by them on my list: reading my WordPress book to learn how to do some of the things on this site; paying a couple of bills (these will now be on my list for tomorrow); and clarifying some job search goals. However, in transferring the miscellaneous notes onto my computer, I did gather several things that will assist me in clarifying some of those goals. So, in a way, I even made a start on that task! 🙂

Action step(s):

  • Updated and balanced checkbook
  • Folded my laundry (I washed it Friday…)
  • Sorted through all of paper pile on desk and threw out quite a bit of papers 🙂
  • Transferred the random notes onto my computer and got lots of helpful notes gathered to use for my blog and other work
  • Finished writing this blog in time to go check out an ACA meeting that’s nearby

Sunday, January 1st (21/345): Rebuilding the framework

First, a word about the “countdown,” now displayed after the date. The “21” refers to day-number and the “345” refers to days-remaining for this year-long journey. I’m backing up seven days simply to make the tracking process easy for me. My planner has this kind of countdown displayed throughout. Today reads 1/365, for example. I decided that twenty will be much easier to add/subtract and that twenty-seven would just be annoying. Besides, I may ‘need’ those extra seven days! 😉

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, the purpose behind it, and how to have some sort of framework to help me be more intentional about my efforts. I find myself a bit lost amongst all the things I’d like to do on this journey and I flounder with how to stay on track. In reflecting on this, I arrived at this framework to help me get on-track:

  1. I’ll post at least four times a week, hopefully more often.
  2. Each week, I will post around these categories: Body Talk; Paper Walk; Step Talk; Faith Walk; Job Talk. (I intend to include the latter every week until it is no longer needed.)
  3. At least twice a month, I will have a Money Walk post. (I will expand on what these categories mean on the “Why This Blog” page.)
  4. I’d like to respond each week more specifically to these questions: Where did I demonstrate courage? Where did I let my fear hold me back? And how am I making room? (As in, how am I creating the space for better health, finances, and so on?)
  5. In terms of what I want to do around each of these categories and this process in general, my goal is to discover and implement healthy practices that are doable, repeatable, sustainable, enjoyable and rewarding. Whether it’s about health, financial affairs, the search for employment, or the development of other ideas, finding healthy new ways of responding to life will be what most assists me on my journey of recovery.
  6. I will continue to note the action step(s) at the end of each post. They may or may not be directly relevant to the theme of the post.

As I have time (and internet access), I will continue to expand this blog-site. I would like to have a page where I can share some of my favorite books, authors, websites and so on. I mention some in my posts, but it would be nice to be able to share in a more accessible way the resources that have helped me on my journey. There are also “technical” things I have yet to learn in order to more fully utilize this site. I hope to figure them out in the weeks and months ahead and look forward to improving my blogging skills. I would also like to start exploring your blog-sites.

One other noticing: It was interesting to discover a feeling of anxiety began to rise when I laid out these goals here – especially the one about having a “Job Talk” post every week. This is one of the prime motivators for this journey, since looking for employment has been an intimidating process which I have felt ill-equipped to do well. I’ve heard that a worthy goal should scare one. Perhaps I’ve found one!

Action step(s) taken:

  • Establishing a clearer framework for this journey and my posts about it.
  • Attending two Al Anon meetings this evening – a familiar one and a new one.

Day 27 – Saturday, December 31: Rethinking the year and other things

This year’s a little hard to rethink. Would I have moved out with my friend had I known I would be asked to leave barely six months later because I couldn’t make the rent? Maybe. My financial situation would not likely have been much better had I stayed where I was and I needed a place where I felt nourished, and with more light and space. For a while I did feel that way and maybe getting out of the other place was the point.

What might I have done differently had I realized how quickly I would slip into a financial quagmire? If I think about it, I was just as scared of launching into new areas of looking for work then as I am now, perhaps even more. I’m still better at studying the how-to-do-it than I am the actual doing it. Sometimes those baby steps feel like I’m just marching in place. Yet I’m not certain I was able to do much more than I did.

One of my former classmates has a motto I’ve thought about often in the years since I’ve met him: Do something that scares you every day. It’s always sounded like something I wish I could do with the ease he seems to have around it. As if doing something that scares you is an exciting adventure to be explored. Right now, I’m not certain I’m doing something that scares me even once a week. The thing is, I think I’m scared of feeling scared, if that makes any sense. It’s as if I’m afraid I’ll fall apart or something if I try to do something and can’t because of the fear.

I’ve heard that courage is not about being fearless, but continuing on despite the fear. Maybe that’s all I need to do – keep taking those steps, even when they feel tiny. The fact of the matter is, they will not always be tiny; every now and then I’ll be able to take a bigger step, even a leap. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to run a bit. It could happen!

If you have a copy of Courage to Change, check out the July 28th reading. It’s one of the ones indexed under “progress, not perfection.” The author tells about how a stonecutter may strike a stone again and again with no apparent effect. Then, all of a sudden, that 100th strike breaks the stone apart. But it wasn’t really the 100th strike that did it – it was the 99 that came before it that enabled that final blow to make the difference. I’m going to try to remember this in the coming weeks and months when I’m tempted to feel like I’m not making progress. The truth is, there’s a lot of inner work going on even when I think I’m not doing anything. Every now and then I respond to something differently and realize I am making progress. That’s often all the encouragement I need to forge ahead with new resolve.

May you be blessed with all the encouragement you need for whatever challenges you’re facing!

And here’s a question for you: I’m still learning how to “blog,” in the sense of generating some discussion. What encourages you to comment or exchange ideas on a blog like this?  I’d really like to know. (Your response to this can remain private, btw – just let me know and I won’t approve it for public posting.)

Today’s action step(s):

  • Meeting a fellow program member who needed instruction in getting into the building for some special meetings today.
  • Making the commitment to be the secretary at one of my regular Al-Anon meetings, even though I no longer live close by.
  • Demonstrating my faith in God by writing my first check for 2012 to my church. (What a great way to begin my year financially!)

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