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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No wonder it's all about small steps

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

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

  • How my step workouts are actually a bit more difficult the way I’m doing them than the way I learned at the gym. (I tried the approach from the gym, which is more “balanced” in that it alternates feet throughout. Yet it’s more of a workout to do ten sets, for example, leading with one foot, then ten leading with the other.)
  • How freeing it feels to have given myself permission to affirm myself only in positive ways. I can let go the “shoulds” without guilt for the next seventeen days (or years?)! Whoo hoo!
  • How often I felt the tingle down my spine yesterday that tells me I’m following my heart.
  • How good it feels to actually know, to the penny, what’s in my checking account!
  • How totally fun it was to have taken the “No Dumping” picture this past weekend, with no idea how I’d use it, yet finding it perfect for yesterday’s post! 🙂
  • How jazzed I get working on my blog posts in the evenings, especially after such a breathtaking shift in direction yesterday. Gotta watch out if I want to get a full night’s sleep! (I didn’t. Oh well.)
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Thursday, Jan. 12th (32/334): Curses! Foiled again…

Today I was brought up short by just how intimidated I am by the notion of developing my pitch. A “pitch,” in this instance, is a brief ‘audio commercial’ I can offer when someone asks me what I do. Since I’ve done administrative office work most of my life and am now moving toward church work (e.g., education and consulting), I’ve been struggling with the tension between seeking work that can pay the bills now (which I presume would be office work) and wanting to pursue my passion (the work that may take time to become substantially income-producing). When someone asks me what I do or what I want to do, all my insecurities leap to the fore and what comes out of my mouth is anybody’s guess.

Today I attended a workshop on developing a pitch. I think I thought we’d do more talking about how to do it than actually preparing our pitches. I was wrong.

The odd part is that when we began, by introducing ourselves and giving a pitch, I wasn’t particularly intimidated. I just let the truth about where I was and what I want to do pop out of my mouth and it was actually fairly decent. In fact, one person spoke to me during the break and affirmed the importance of the work I want to do. But later, when we were asked to write out our pitch and given a suggested format, I froze! I couldn’t seem to get past the first sentence: “I am a ____ with experience in ____.” And I got equally bogged down in the rest of the suggested sentences. It was ridiculous…and frustrating…and distressing. My response had been better when it was unplanned and spontaneous!

I didn’t realize just how distressed I was till near the end. Shortly before we were to go around the room again, with our hopefully new and improved pitches, I looked at the instructor helplessly. She came over, made a command decision that I should focus on an administrative assistant pitch, asked me a few questions, and quickly sketched out a framework. It was actually quite helpful and I think I’ll now be able to develop one or more pitches I can use.

Still, I’m wondering why I feel so intimidated by those questions “What do you do?” and “What kind of work are you looking for?” I was practically quaking in my shoes today (even sitting down). I suspect it reflects the extent of my feelings of inadequacy. Even though I recognize (and have been affirmed in) my education, knowledge and gifts for doing this work, I have no track record as yet. So I will continue to examine what lies behind these fears and continue to work on my pitches.

I’m curious about something though… On my way home on the BART, I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. This is something I rarely do. It helped that she was friendly and equally willing to chat. Still, I wondered if it was the way my nervous energy from the workshop found its way out of my body – or at least some of it did. I still felt the anxiousness driving home and even now typing this.

That’s when I need to remember to take all this one step at a time…

Action step(s):

  • Attending two workshops – one on online applications; the other on developing my pitch
  • Learning more about Word and Excel 2007 (If I am going to look for office work, it might help to be up-to-speed on the newer versions of these programs.)
  • Learning more about WordPress (for both this blog and the one I want to set up for my ministry work)

Tuesday, Jan. 3rd (23/343): Finding the energy I need

I notice that physical energy, as well as emotional energy, often shapes my days. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether I’m experiencing physical-fatigue or the emotional fatigue that comes from feeling overwhelmed by my circumstances.

Last night I went to an ACA meeting that was near by, then didn’t get to sleep until late. As a result, I feel fuzzy-headed this evening because I could have used another hour of sleep this morning. I’ve been eating off and on the past few hours trying to wake up – as if more food would actually do that. (Now, there’s a classic demonstration of insanity, being that overeating almost always makes one sleepy!) I suppose caffeine or a sugar-blast might do something, but I rarely consume either. Sadly, that means I tend to go for carby foods, like tortilla chips, that make me sleepier, rather than wider awake. Dumb, really dumb. I’m probably a good candidate for OA, but I know it would become a distraction from the work I’m already doing.

As it is, I’ve already noticed that even thinking in terms of blog categories like health, paper sorting, step work and so on is already redirecting my focus from my original aim. I know I imagined myself daily, valiantly tackling of stacks of papers and boxes of this and that, to sort, distill and organize for this twelve month journey. Superwoman on the go! But doing that kind of work – with or without having to also look for employment – presumes two very particular things: lots of emotional energy and plenty of physical energy to go with it. Neither of which I seem to have in abundance these days. At least not yet.

So, my question is: How do I work on improving (i.e., increasing) my physical and emotional energy levels so I will not only want to do more but will feel like doing more?

As with most things, I’m taking a small step approach. For example, I often make faces to stretch and scrunch my facial muscles during the day. Doing that reveals how tight those muscles are, especially my jaw muscles from grinding my teeth. (A sure sign of stress.) Last week, I found some extremely sore muscles along the sides of my neck. It took me a few days of “monster face making” to get that soreness worked out. I suspect it’s related to the tightness in my shoulders. Tight muscles tell me I’m tense and being tense is not helpful when networking, interviewing or even writing cover letters. One of the things I hear often at JVS, is that it’s important not to let the fatigue of the job search show during an interview.

Since two primary goals for me are expanding my employment/income level and clearing out the excessive clutter in my life, both of which have intimidated and/or overwhelmed me often, I want to remember that taking care of my physical and emotional health is an important part of this process.

Action step(s):

  • Continuing my short, core exercise routine each morning, including discovering (just this morning) a simple way to get a deeper workout.
  • Paid the two bills from yesterday’s to-do list.
  • Set a time to do some more “house” cleaning (closets, actually) for a friend for some extra cash.

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.

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