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

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

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

This is kinda how it’s feeling…

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

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

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

This is how I *want* to feel!

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

Positive step(s):

  • Gathering my spending numbers to get a handle on just how much I *do* need each month
  • Gathering my income numbers to find out how much I have actually been earning the past few months
  • Called a friend, then talked with my sponsor when I was tempted to make a hasty decision and rush out of an uncomfortable situation when the timing would not have been in my best interest
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Day 155 (Mon/May 14): On releasing guilt

I’m fast concluding that releasing guilt, like so many other aspects of life, is a process, a journey that has ebbs and flows, times of ease, times of struggle. (Who knew?)

This morning, I turned to page 217 in my Bible simply because that number was what popped into my mind when I considered what to read for my reflection. I started reading about people dying and being afflicted with tumors and thought, “Bleck! This is not what I want to use for my reflection!” But I persisted, especially as I had begun in the middle of a chapter. It didn’t necessarily get “better,” but I found myself intrigued by a couple of lines in the chapter that started on that page. The people were told to return the ark to God with a “guilt offering” and they would be healed (1 Sam 6:1-3).

It took a few minutes for it to register that guilt is one of the character weaknesses I identified for myself in Step 6. I decided to see what I might find in Courage to Change on guilt. But before I looked in the book, I decided to prepare my own “guilt offering” to be placed in my “God box” – a written prayer asking God to take my feelings of guilt and remove them from me.

Guilt is a wholly appropriate topic for me today. I awoke with dreams of worrying about my credit card debt and what I should do about it. In an effort to take better care of myself and to maintain a sense of serenity, I have chosen to ignore most of the incoming calls from the credit card agents. I have even left the messages on my voicemail to pick up when I’m ready to deal with them (or not). It dawned on me recently that they are the ones who feel the need to keep pushing for different answers from me when I have none to offer. Repeating the same, unhappy responses to their questions – affirming repeatedly that I do not, at this time, have the income to send them as much money as they want – upsets me and renews the guilt and the worry. Since they have not been willing to honor my request for less frequent calls (one company calls me five days after we last talked – every time!), I have chosen not to take the calls just now.

As I was writing my reflection this morning, I felt guilty that I have not picked up my voice messages. Now I’m at work (on my lunch break) and it’s not the time. There are five messages – all, I suspect, from these collection agents. I have more practicing to do in order to let go my guilty feelings. I have more things to figure out with regard to how and when to respond to the messages.

I read two of the pages on guilt listed in the index in Courage to Change. They reminded me that I am imperfect because I am human (can’t escape it…), that I can “be free to look at my mistakes without blowing them out of proportion” (CtC, p 120), that I can learn to stop repeating the mistakes I’ve made and learn to make wiser choices. I already am making wiser choices and the tendency to fall back into old patterns is lessening every day.

I especially appreciate the “Today’s Reminder” with the April 29th reading:

I will not chain myself to the past with self-defeating guilt, or by inflating the importance of my errors. Instead, I want to face my past and heal old wounds so that I may move forward into a richer, fuller, and more joyous life today (Courage to Change, p 120).

The reading on page 144 in CtC also reminds me that it is easier to love myself when I accept myself as I am, imperfect choices and all. I notice I need to be reminded of this often – the idea of loving myself, that is. Sometimes I get caught up in the doing of xyz and forget that the reason I am doing recovery and other work is to be able to see and love myself more the way I know God does. Once in a while it occurs to me to ask God to give me eyes that see others and myself through the eyes of love. I even get there and stay there for a while now and then. Then I slip and fall back into old patterns of thinking and behavior. I am so grateful for 12-Step programs, wonderful little books like Courage to Change and a God whose love is big enough to overcome those times when I forget to love myself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 120 (Mon/Apr 9): Kipping

Some things take time to bear fruit

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

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

Patience has its rewards

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

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

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

This morning I discovered that nothing “happened.”

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

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

So I continue to remind myself...

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

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

Frond Sunday perhaps?

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

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

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

Ten or so days ago

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

Yesterday...Ruh roh...wrong direction

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

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

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

So much yet to happen

Noticings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes even that which nourishes us can overwhelm us at first

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

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

One step at a time...

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

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

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

So many possibilities on the other side of the gate

 

Big and Small Steps:

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

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

Noticings:

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

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

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

Day 107 (Tue/Mar 27): Five days – God is up to something, a journey within the journey

Sometimes the gate to new places isn't easy to see

The past twelve hours have been rather interesting. I interviewed for a job helping “seniors” – being a companion, helping around the house, possibly running the occasional errand. I don’t know how suited I am for this kind of work. It’s hard to tell. But basically, I’ve landed work at another “temp agency.” Hmmm.

Then, a couple of hours later, while I was at work (at my regular job), I got a call from the (other) temp agency. They wanted to know if I would be interested in a job working 8:00-1:00, Monday through Friday. Then the eager recruiter presented the “exciting” news as to the name of the organization. When I said, “Who?” her amusement was obvious. It’s a (major?) sports team that pays its players big bucks. I asked her if I needed to like the particular sport… I did say she could submit my resumé. As I continued to think about it, I decided it would be more about whether or not I enjoyed working there (i.e., the people, the office, the atmosphere).

Look carefully and you might see the seeds for new possibilities

Still a few hours later, I ended up talking to one of my cousins. My aunt had told her earlier that day about my morning interview. So my cousin, who is doing the books for another care-providing company, put in a good word for me. They were interested to know if I might be available Saturday. (I’m actually not, this particular Saturday.) I told my cousin I wasn’t even certain this type of care-giving is my kind of work.

Then I asked how her situation was going. (She recently nearly lost a client while her husband had surgery and she couldn’t be in two places at once.) When I mentioned that I had wondered if there wasn’t something I could do to help out, we got to talking about my work experience. We’re going to get together and see if I know the program they use well enough to possibly work for them part-time.

Just last night I was reading more about the principle of release in Catherine Ponder’s book Open Your Mind to Receive. She made a statement that caught my attention: Elimination of something from your life is always an indication that something better is on the way (p. 26). In my conversation with my friend last night, I had discussed releasing some of my debts. It isn’t what I hoped to be doing, but it may be the necessary reality if I’m going to be able to move forward. As I read Ponder’s words, I noticed a shift already taking place in my thinking at the possibility of making these different choices around my finances. (Btw, do you have to actually have money to speak of “finances” and “financial affairs”? ;-))

Trust requires a willingness to try the unexplored

This morning, as I was writing my journal reflection, my financial situation was wandering around in the background of my mind. I was asking myself if the choices I’m considering are choices I can make with integrity. What came to mind was another time when I had a difficult decision to make and did not want to make a rash decision. It was a relationship and my choices around it would affect at least three people. I had acted hastily in a previous relationship and regretted it afterwards. I did not want to make the same mistake again. So I did my best and hung in there for some time. When it finally became clear that the relationship was not going to work, I knew my decision to leave would be the right one – and it was. It has been better for all concerned.

My overreaction to (another) call from one of my creditors last night helped me to see that things are not going to work out between us. I can’t give them what I don’t have and they no longer seem willing to accept what I can give them. This morning I recognized the same feelings I had years ago around that relationship: I have done the best I can, but if they are no longer willing to work with me, I may need to take a different course of action. I had been paying my credit card bills first and living on the “leftovers” for months before I couldn’t keep up the payments. Now it’s time to let go and let God guide me as to what to do.

I find it most intriguing that less than twenty-four hours after deciding to let go my well-intended (no-longer-acceptable) efforts, I have three (even four) possible job offers.

Yep, God is definitely up to something.

Maybe it's time to discover what's at the top of the stairs...

Big and Small Step(s):

  • Taking an interview, even though I’m not certain how good the fit. It reflects my desire to explore the possibilities God places before me. (Did I mention that this company had called me in response to an application I submitted in September?) (!)
  • Saying yes to the possibility of another temp opportunity (one that might last three months), recognizing that we can approach this on a trial basis and realizing I can ask for my “usual” pay rate.

Noticings:

  • How different – in a good way, a strong way – I feel, even as I’m considering a difficult financial choice. I have the confidence now that I lacked years ago to realize that I do have choices.
  • How much more confidence I had in myself at this interview…
  • How much underlying serenity I have, despite the uncertainty and changing landscape of my work life right now. Interesting… Nice. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes it's not the right time to move

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

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

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

The paper-collecting box

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

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

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

Where might this go?

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

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

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Each page awaits completion...especially today's

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notice the tiny puddle?

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

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

Day 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.

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