Day 126 (Sun/Apr 15): Breathing space and grace amidst the rushing

I hardly knew where to begin

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I last posted. Then again, I’m not surprised.

Have you ever seen the movie Murphy’s Romance with James Garner and Sally Field? It’s from the mid-80s, so maybe you haven’t. There’s this scene in it where Emma (Field), Murphy (Garner) and Emma’s ex are all at a dance. Emma starts out dancing with Murphy, then the ex cuts in. Then Murphy snags her when the ex twirls her out. Then the ex grabs her back. Pretty soon, Emma is bouncing up and down to the music, ricocheting back and forth between them, and has no idea whom she’s dancing with or what she’s supposed to be doing. That’s kind of how I felt this past week.

Despite the delightful freedom of having the house to myself, having the room to spread out actually through me off balance.  For example, taking and leaving my breakfast fixings and snacks in the kitchen vs. schlepping them back and forth between my room and the kitchen was nice, but it was temporary. I couldn’t really settle in and enjoy it. Plus I wasn’t sure which day my aunt and uncle were returning, so I was in a perpetual state of wondering, at least from Tuesday on, just how soon I’d need to clear my stuff off the kitchen counter.

Too much space?

And yet, there was a certain amount of grace that came alongside the fatigue I was experiencing. Something at the temp position led me to wonder if I was actually going to be done at the end of April instead of May 11th. (It’s happened before, where I hear one thing from the staffing agency and end up being surprised at getting done much sooner.) So I asked my supervisor if I’d be done at the end of the month. She assured me I would be working a couple of weeks into May. It felt good to know something concrete. (Aside from the whole life-is-a-mystery piece.)

Friday, when I met with my supervisor at my “regular” job, I was surprised with the ease in which we’re transitioning to my not being there Monday through Friday for the next two weeks. It isn’t just about them being okay with it. It’s about finances being more stable there, so deposits don’t have to happen as quickly as monies come in. (It’s a non-profit organization and we’ve had some ups and downs the past couple of years, like everyone else.) It’s about the surprising degree to which I’m simply caught up on the usual work, so my not being there several days a week doesn’t create an inconvenience.

Time to "hit the books" again

Realizing that I am simply caught up feels so odd to me. I suspect it’s related to my journey of recovery. So much of my life has been about making sure I’m busy all the time, even creating work when there isn’t any. Then it occurred to me that it is also the result of several things, including the timing of things at work and the fact that much of my work has become a rhythm that takes less time now than it used to. In fact, it occurred to me that it is entirely normal to be caught up with work – and that’s what’s unfamiliar to me. It is diametrically opposed to the status of my paper-related tasks at home.

I am still adjusting to the notion of being caught up at work and there being no urgency about my not being there. It happened with such ease and grace that it can only be the work of my Higher Power. And this, again, returns my attention to my recovery journey. In another moment of grace, my sponsor and I had changed our meeting date before I started working at the temp position to what turned out to be an ideal day that was not the least disruptive to my schedule.

When I met with her, I brought up my step work. Since having to move in with my aunt and uncle, my life seems to have been all about finances and the fears around getting my act together. (My act still isn’t together, but I’m learning a few parts here and there.) Now that I have a little breathing room financially, I’ve been reflecting on my step journey and how that has enabled me to respond to what is still a fairly stressful situation with increasing ease and a surprising amount of serenity. Even the “ohmygod!-ohmygod!-ohmygod!” moments pass relatively quickly. I’m now looking forward to the next two weeks, with no need to ricochet between jobs during the week. I’m not sure the temp location is where I’m meant to be for the long haul, but I’m grateful for all the gifts it offers me for now.

They're waiting for me...

Big and Small Steps:

  • Scheduled an appointment to have my car serviced. (The “Maintenance required” light has been on for months.)
  • Tried again to reach the person who’s calling to “collect a debt.” (It seems we’re playing phone-tag. Not sure who’s “it” right now. I think it’s me again.)
  • Let go the temptation to squeeze in an hour of work before my healthcare appointment in the morning.
  • Gave myself today – one whole day where I didn’t have to get up and rush anywhere, not even to church. It feels good. 🙂

Noticings:

  • That my stress at the temp position comes from having to always wait on someone else to get back to me or tell me what to do. It was nice to have my familiar part-time job to end the week, where I know what I’m doing and can simply do it.
  • How differently I view the world and business, as became clear in a brief conversation with someone visiting the office where I’m temping. I asked about a product being offered and realized the difference in our thinking is the difference between money as the goal and money as the appropriate by-product (and blessing) of offering a service. (No wonder I appreciate my non-profit job so much!)
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Day 108 (Wed/Mar 28): Four days – Light is dawning, a journey within the journey

When it rains...things get wet!

This is getting more and more interesting… I kid you not, this is what I wrote in my reflection journal this morning:

“I feel as if I’m in that moment right before taking in and releasing a deep breath. My life feels as if it’s about waiting, when it seems like it should be about “action.” I may know why this odd “waiting for something to happen” feeling lingers. I have made some plans for my time the rest of this week. Not a lot of plans and some are quite open to change. Yet it seems as if anytime I’ve thought I’ve known what I’m doing, something has come along to change things…I find myself again waiting for the call that suddenly changes my plans.” (SJ 45, p30) (Yes, I number my pages and my journals.)

I had barely been to work an hour when I got a phone call from the temp agency.

“Are you available to work today?”

“I’m already working.”

Then, a few hours later, I get another call from the same agency. Am I interested in returning to the place I’ve been temping these past couple of weeks? It’s doing different work with (presumably) different people, for a longer term – five or so weeks, full-time, at $5-7 an hour more, to start Monday.

Crash! Bang! Boing!

 

Wait a sec?!

Okay. So here’s the deal. I work for a small non-profit organization, filling an important niche, working with people I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate. The only reason I don’t work more (paid) hours is that we don’t have the luxury of the kind of income larger for-profit organizations have. This isn’t like a part-time job at some fast-food place where anyone can jump in and learn all they need to know in a couple of hours. It’s not that I’m irreplaceable. Certainly I am. But there’s a big difference between having time to make arrangements and suddenly saying, “See in five weeks!” (Not even counting the withdrawal pains I would experience…)

Fortunately, this last position is still in the “maybe” pile, both in terms of whether the company wants me and whether I would accept the position. I debriefed it with my supervisor, mostly because I was still reeling from the “if this happened it would be a HUGE change in my work (and non-work) schedule and would dramatically impact my ability to do my work at this organization” standpoint. It helped to be able to talk about it to someone right away.

As I’ve continued to process this in the hours since, I have noticed and even learned some things about myself.

Opportunities bloom and go...

1. I need time to process changes, especially big changes. One way or the other, I at least need time to get used to the idea. I don’t shift gears that quickly. I’m not sure I ever have.

2. All of this is up in the air. I mean, ALL of it. I haven’t been offered any positions anywhere as yet and I may not be offered either of the temp positions that have just come up. My reactions are based on possible changes, not actual changes in my life.

3. It is clear to me that I want to act with integrity and make choices that honor me, my part-time job employers and the needs of any position I might accept – in that order. As I have considered this, I recognized something I hadn’t fully “gotten” before…

Slippery when wet...or when approached in fear

4. My initial reaction to this possibility (and the other recent ones, for that matter) – in other words the “Crash! Bang! Boing!” –  is based solely on a wild leap in my imagination as to what the changes might mean. In other words, I’m leaping to conclusions about the way things might change. And most of those conclusions are fear-based. (See? I knew I needed to do this blog…) For instance: fear that working 40 hours a week would be completely exhausting; fear that I might miss a “real” (i.e., “permanent”) job that would come along; fear that I might not like the work or the people in this new department; fear that I would have to give up a job I love for a temporary influx of income; worry about the other potential employers I’ve recently connected with; and so on.

5. The most important thing I realized, however, is this. Whether or not I’m offered this 5-week position, which could bring me more income than I’ve earned in the past several months combined, I don’t want financial fear to be the reason for my choice. In fact, I don’t want any kind of fear to be the reason for any of my choices around work.

I'm listening...Help me to hear

This past week, I have discovered that my confidence in myself and my sense of self-worth have grown a lot. With the positive feedback I’ve received through these recent temp experiences (as in, “We’ll ask for you next time we need help!”), I have begun seeing myself as competent, capable, and worth so much more than I did a few months, possibly even a few weeks ago.

As I discover this about myself, I realize I have choices I didn’t used to think I have. I can negotiate with potential employers to see if we might strike a balance. I could set more specific boundaries with the temp agency. I could even ask the recruiters to lobby for my needs (as in, “She’s really worth it. Can you be flexible?”).

It’s rather amazing to me to discover that I have choices and that I’m worth it. The light is dawning, helping me to see that I am worth having as an employee and the right employer, whether offering me temp work or a long-term position, will want me to act with integrity with my present employer and will respect my decision to do so.

Stretching, reaching, still staying connected to my Higher Power - God

(This is so much longer than I anticipated. There’s just so much on my mind right now…)

Noticings:

  • That I’m hungry again – which is probably why I can’t think more succinctly! Must be time for a snack before bedtime… 😉
  • That after a bazillion years of eating canned fruit, it just dawned on me a few minutes ago that eating four halves of canned pears is like eating two whole pears. Talk about a sugar bomb! (Whoops! Too late…) Doh!
  • How much fuel my body requires when my mind is racing about.

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.

Day 5 – Friday: Is it just me?

Today, I let myself sleep in and decided not push myself. I needed to do laundry and I wanted to go through something – some box or bag – to get rid of some things. In and of itself, going through stuff doesn’t necessarily feel scary. But that’s the tricky part – I don’t always know what will trigger fear or simply lead to my feeling overwhelmed by life again. Sometimes the clearing out of some box becomes exhilarating. It’s a toss up and I’m never certain which side of the coin will be face up once I throw it in the air.

This evening, I found myself wrestling with fear again (and not necessarily winning). I did a bit of throwing things out earlier in the day, once again enjoying tossing some things I used to think I needed to hold onto. Once I was done with the one small plastic tub, though, I didn’t quite know what to do. I’ve been thinking more about the need to again start looking for employment opportunities, but couldn’t quite seem to get there. My uncle’s frequent presence in his office (did I mention he’s 91?) inhibits the freedom I have in hopping online to see what’s out there. It can be a convenient excuse. I vaguely thought of rewriting my recent cover letter – the one that didn’t get me an interview – to see how I might improve it, as practice for future letters. I just couldn’t seem to get there.

When I was later enjoying a long phone conversation with one of my best friends, something about looking for work came up. I was soon in tears, feeling completely overwhelmed by the whole process. Was it really so simple to look for work back in 1998 when I landed my last full-time job? Is it actually harder now? Or is it just me?

I keep hearing that things truly are different, that with the economy the way it is there are simply more people looking for work and employers are overloaded by the sheer volume of applications. If your application isn’t dazzling, it quickly gets tossed in the reject pile. Yet even in hard economic times there are people finding work and people making money.  There are opportunities out there.

So, how do I stay afloat, buoying up my courage and confidence (make that developing the confidence) to learn the things I need to learn to find the work I need to find to be able to provide myself with such mundane things as a roof over my head?

My friend tells me I’m doing a lot of hard work right now. She means the deep inner work I’m doing. Sometimes it feels like I am; sometimes it feels like I’m just avoiding doing what seems like the “hard” stuff – like looking for work. I’m not a “pavement pounder” and the thought of “knocking on doors” to see if people are hiring scares the peewaddlin’ out of me. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, if ever. But I can put one foot in front of the other. I can take tiny, baby steps in that direction. The tiny steps feel manageable, especially when I don’t think too far ahead.

Maybe the real work is to resist the temptation to turn tail and run when I feel scared and overwhelmed and completely intimidated by the daunting task of stepping into unfamiliar territory, learning to “network” and “present” myself well in an interview (should I be fortunate enough to reach this stage of the hiring process). It’s much easier to go through a box and dwindle its contents down to the things I truly want to keep than to think about looking for work. Of course, I’ll have to remind myself of that the next time going through the “stuff” feels overwhelming. Then again, it usually feels overwhelming because it’s all connected – the too-much stuff, the skinny finances, the stepping out into the “job search” arena, and so on. I’m not sure, but I think it’s called “life.”

So when and why did life become so dang scary?

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