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!)

Day 119 (Sun/Apr 8): Ups and downs, and wondering where the Easter eggs are hidden

I noticed the tension (and pain) in the tops of my shoulders yesterday, anxiety that sprang up when a phone call answered yielded nothing but silence, even though I was at work and such “non-calls” have occurred almost regularly in recent weeks. The neurotic part of me shifted from wondering if it was someone trying to scope out when people are in the office to wondering if it was a creditor trying to find me to serve some papers – even though that sort of thing wouldn’t happen until “normal” channels were already exhausted. It’s the kind of paranoia that tempts me to stop automatically identifying myself when I answer the phone at work, and I didn’t like feeling that way.

Maybe if I keep talking about it here, it’ll help me sort things out. Maybe you’ll have bits of wisdom to offer when you read this.

It dawned on me yesterday, that it’s okay if I make an occasional mistake. I caught myself worrying about whether a particular task had been done “correctly” (i.e., perfectly, all the pieces, no mistakes). Then I saw the ridiculousness of worrying about it, since anything that might have been missed could easily be corrected. I’m not sure I’ve realized just how often I do this – worry that I haven’t done a “perfect” job. I think it’s time to start letting go and recognize that I don’t have to be perfect or do things perfectly to be good at my job.

Odd that I never noticed just how much of a “thing” this has been for me. Because it wasn’t to the level of “obsessive” or “compulsive,” I didn’t realize there was this underlying anxiety around doing everything right. (How appropriate that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice suddenly came on the radio as I was experiencing these feelings! It’s how I feel when I’m busily trying to catch up on work and wondering if I’m doing it well.)

The past several days have been a strange mix of the space and freedom to be myself in the house, with my aunt and uncle gone, and anxiety as I face my financial challenges and have no one to divert my attention when I come home from work. Their absence is a mixed blessing.

This morning, I awoke later than usual, grateful for the ease of my Sunday schedule. I was just about finished with my journal reflection, when I realized I had time to make the 9:30 service, rather than the 10:45. (Yay for Easter Sundays, with extra services!) It was a delightful mix of “traditional” and “contemporary” music, with the bell choir opening (love it!) and the traditional (but robeless!) choir singing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ (awesome!) during the first part of the service. The remainder had the contemporary group that I enjoy so much. It was nice to have both a wonderful and earlier beginning to my Sunday – especially because it’s “catch-up” day for me with regard to household tasks. (I’ve been pretty lazy about some things with nobody else around.)

This time alone also leaves me a lot of “think time.” As a result, I’m puzzling over something. I’ve worked 40 hours a week most of my adult life until six and a half years ago when I came to grad school. Now, for this past week and this coming week, I’m working 46 hours each week, Monday thru Saturday, and I have felt tired much of the time, with little energy for anything beyond work. The two weeks after this, I may work even longer hours, though I haven’t quite figured out how (or if) that will work. My question is, why is this so exhausting?

I spent my first four years in grad school preparing for a job that requires 50, 60 or even more hours per week and I was looking forward to it. Then I switched tracks and prepared for a vocation without a clear structure to it. I presumed I might have a “regular” job and pursue my vocational interests during evenings and weekends. When I talked about those interests with my sponsor the other day, she remarked how “alive” I was when I was talking about them. They are my passion! Which makes me wonder…

Will I have more energy to do the things I’m passionate about, regardless of my schedule? Is the exhaustion I feel now really all (or at least mostly) about the ongoing financial stress with no clear solution yet within sight? Am I deluding myself in believing I will have more energy when I am doing more of what excites and, well, energizes me? Or will even that be exhausting?

As I listen to the sounds and laughter of the Easter egg-hunt party next door, I wonder, where are my Easter eggs and what colors will they be?

Big and Small Steps:

  • Checked out some books at the library to help me figure out some of my financial options.
  • Let my choice of service times this morning be determined by how my morning went.
  • Caught up on lots of laundry (including my sheets and the new things I got the other day).

Noticings:

  • How readily body memories can be triggered around certain experiences, even if the mind is okay with things.
  • What a blessing gentle music can be when I’ve been feeling anxious.
  • How scattered my thoughts can be when I’m distressed and not having time, in that moment, to address my concerns.
  • What a delight energetic music can be when my energy is sagging! (Like Superman or Star Wars themes. :-))
  • How much food ends up in my mouth when I’m stressed…

Day 116 (Thu/Apr 5): There’s dreaming, and then there are dreams

A week ago, I awoke with an interesting dream, followed by two more interesting dreams the following two nights – or mornings actually. (Have you ever noticed how natural it is to talk about dreaming during the “night,” when the reality is that it is often happening in the hour or two just before waking up in the morning? But talking about something happening “this morning” sounds like something happening while you’re awake. English is such a peculiar language…) Anyhow, the short versions…

Last Thursday, I awoke with a dream about a little girl who was just a baby, being held by a woman who was a kind of nanny or nurse or something. We were singing the familiar song about having ten fingers and ten toes. It’s a counting song for little kids. [At least it was in my dream.] Then I noticed that the little girl actually had eleven toes on one foot and twelve on the other. I started saying things like, “How cool is that!” and “How special you are!” in an effort to make sure she knew it was okay to be “different.” Moments later, another woman, the matron, came in with a doctor, both obviously concerned and distressed about this “condition.” I was afraid they would undo my efforts to affirm this little girl. When I awoke, I remember how important it had been for me to make this little girl feel accepted and lovable just the way she was – the way I would have liked to have felt more often in my life, especially as a child.

Last Friday, I awoke with a dream about my son and I traveling somewhere in a kind of wilderness, like in the mountains or something, up near Alaska. [Where I’ve never been.] I was trying to determine if we had what we would need, in terms of clothes and gear and such. I was trying to decide what to take and what would be safe to leave in the car. When I awoke, it wasn’t hard to make the connection between my assignment that began this week and how little I knew about what I would be doing or what would be expected of me. What I “needed” (to wear) was even unclear to me at that point and I was worried that my wardrobe would be inadequate. (It isn’t the least bit inadequate.)

Saturday, I awoke with a dream where I was on a freeway in the area here. I couldn’t really see other cars, but there were somehow there or nearby. I was in the far right lane at a diverging point, when I needed to be way over in the next-to-the-left lane. I felt like I had been and was being swept up in the flow of this invisible traffic. I remember being partly awake and actually feeling in my physical body the force/influence of others trying to move me along. It was like being caught in a current, with no time to think or to pause to choose/discern if I was heading the right way. When I awoke, my thoughts went in two directions. One was noticing how quickly I was spending the money I had and wanting to slow down, to pause and plan. The other was noticing how quickly other people were ready to see me as a permanent employee of the company where I was assigned this temp work.

Wednesday morning, I awoke with a dream of getting ready to go on a (very strange) honeymoon and not feeling at all certain it was what I wanted. That day was my first day of working first at one job, then finishing my day at the other. I wasn’t at all certain this was what I wanted and that uncertainty was noticeable in my dream.

I don’t always have such clear and significant dreams, so it has made for an interesting week. I am thankful for my conversations with God, through prayers and journaling. It has helped me to remember that I don’t have to make any decisions about any of this at this point. I haven’t been offered a job and am not yet sure if I want to apply if there are openings. Just for today, I am appreciating the income I’m earning, the new people I’m meeting, and the expanding of my work experience into slightly different things than I’ve done before.

Dreams are for dreaming

Big and Small Steps:

  • Let go the temptation to see if the credit card company has made any changes to my account online – as in, can I still make payments…
  • Continued to think a lot on forgiveness and release and letting go. I keep thinking about these as a theme I want to follow in my posts for a time. (Another recent dream brought up a situation with someone where forgiveness is needed.)

Noticings:

  • How supportive and affirming the people are at my temp assignment.
  • How good it feels to have one’s work noticed and to be appreciated.
  • How grateful I am to have dreams that teach me what I need to know or lead me to what I need to be considering for now.

Day 115 (Wed/Apr 4): Taking time to breathe…

I didn’t realize how tired I am and how rushed I’ve felt till I had the opportunity to slow down a bit in the last 24 hours. Last night, I didn’t get home until after 7:00, after working all day, then running errands. I wasn’t about to begin a blog post as late as, well, actually as late as I am now. But I don’t want to keep not posting, so I’ll just keep this short.

I’ve been at my new temp position three days now. Today, I worked half a day at my “regular” job in the morning, then the temp assignment in the afternoon. I have to say, my whole body-spirit felt like dancing as I was driving to my regular job. It was delightful to be back in the familiar comfort of working with people I know and appreciate and enjoy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the people at my temp assignment – I just don’t know them very well as yet.

I’ve noticed this week just how much I feel rushed. I catch myself with my shoulders hunched and I don’t even know how long they’ve been that way. Then I realize I’m feeling tense, like I have to hurry, hurry, hurry. I’ve been reading more in On Becoming Fearless (by Arianna Huffington), in the chapter on work. (I’m a book “nibbler,” btw. I’m a slow reader to begin with and some things I like to read slowly to take them in.)

Each moment *is* a gift!

Huffington talks about workaholics often being afraid that they need to prove themselves. They keep pushing themselves out of a (misguided) need to constantly prove themselves. This thought has been coming to mind when I notice myself tensed and pushing. There’s the usual new-at-a-job, hope-they-like-me kind of nervousness that certainly drives my efforts. But I think it’s more than that. I sometimes have that same feeling at my regular job, although that, admittedly, is often driven by the frequent circumstance of too little time to do all that needs doing.

This morning, I realized I just didn’t want to keep rushing. I’m already getting up early and I wanted to get to work extra early this morning, with this first “split shift” work day. So I opted to not fix a full lunch and bought a burrito at a fast food place near work. Even that small choice created some ease to the beginning of the day. This evening, I’ve let go lots of things and might have foregone this, as I did last night, except that so much is happening and it helps me to be able to share it with you here.

With my aunt and uncle out of town for a few days (they left this morning), I’m enjoying the space and freedom to not wash my dishes right away, do my laundry (I’m waiting for the second load to finish drying), leave my lunch and breakfast “bags” (of things I use to make them) out in the kitchen, and generally enjoy the space to breathe a bit. For a few days, I won’t have to drag my bag of breakfast cereals and my bag with my lunch containers back and forth between my bedroom and the kitchen. I’ll have the freedom to cook my dinner whenever I’m ready, without coordinating with my aunt’s time in the kitchen. I’ll even have the freedom to get on my uncle’s computer anytime I need.

To sleep, perchance to dream...

There’s so much more I could say, but you know what? I’d like to wrap this up and start moving toward bed!

Noticings:

  • How good it felt to be able to work at my regular job for a few hours today.
  • How nice it is to be appreciated at my temp assignment.
  • How peaceful I find the sound of rain on the roof.
  • How perfect God’s timing was this past weekend, with an InterPlay retreat on Saturday and an enjoyable Palm Sunday before being thrust into a busy 46-hour work week schedule.
  • How the wind moves the curtains through even the closed louvered windows in my bedroom.
  • How much I look forward to the time when I will again enjoy a morning where I don’t have to get up and go somewhere…
  • How nice it’s going to be to not have to be quiet when I get up in the mornings for the next week or so!

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 102 (Thu/Mar 22): Ten days – The “Should” monster, a journey within the journey

I *do* feel a little lost hanging out in financial neverland...

This morning as I was driving to my temp job, I noticed the residual anxiety from the evening before. Speaking to a creditor who was trying to “problem solve” for me wasn’t particularly helpful. It seems so odd sometimes how cavalier they can be about how I should resolve my situation. Borrowing money from family or friends seems a favorite suggestion. This particular person even suggested borrowing from the bank. (Let’s see… Credit rapidly washing down the drain. Go to a bank and ask for money to pay off one debt that I can’t pay because I don’t have the income, so I can have a new debt with no money to pay it. Hmmm. Am I missing something here?!)

So, as I drove, I asked myself what was the exact cause of the anxiety I was feeling. I knew there was something else besides guilt and frustration at being in the situation in the first place. Suddenly it dawned on me:

I was feeling anxious because I think there’s something I’m supposed to be doing that I’m not doing.

Wow! There’s the dreaded “Should” monster, alive and well in my mind!

This is *not* the "Should" Monster. This is my fearless protector!

A devotion I read earlier in the morning had triggered some of the feelings I was experiencing. The author had said that when we “fall short” of the “high calling” of Christ, we “betray” him/God. I’m going to try not to get on a religious rant here…but that’s not the God of my understanding!! Yet here I was, feeling like I had fallen short, thinking there were a bunch of things I should be doing that I wasn’t. The truth is, even though I don’t believe for a moment that God feels “betrayed” whenever we fail to do our very best, just reading this triggered all the guilt I’ve felt for being in such a financial situation in the first place. The author nailed me on my feelings, even though my mind knows better. Sigh…

It was recognizing the “Should” monster that helped me let go and release the temptation to beat myself up. And it was having those feelings thrown in my face that helped me to realize they were there in the first place. (I really know how to have a good time in my morning conversations with God, don’tcha think? ;-))

This evening, I am thankful for having recognized what was going on and being able to let it go before I began my thrilling work day of reading and editing endless job descriptions. Tomorrow, I’ll see how far I can get in the 106 I have left to do. Oy…

Let me always see the beauty around me

 Big and Small Steps:

  • In the last 24 hours, I’ve spoken with both my credit card companies. It’s the best I can do for the moment.
  • Updated my checkbook again. (It’s interesting that I was surprised at my balance, even though I was aware of it last week. I guess I didn’t need to pay attention when I knew there wasn’t anything there, so I forgot about it!)

Noticings:

  • How much better it feels to have called my second creditor this evening and gotten that conversation out of the way (for now – they call periodically).
  • How surprised I was that the second creditor, who had been the less cooperative of the two, seems a bit more helpful at the moment. Well, perhaps “patient” is a better word.
  • How much I actually enjoy feeling more “professional” looking when I’m dressed for my temp job. (I’ve virtually lived in denim pants for the past twenty-five years or so.)
  • How much I’m looking forward to currants in my hot cereal in the morning! (I’ve been out for a couple of days and just got some more today. :-))

Day 101 (Wed/Mar 21): Eleven days – Adventure is a state of mind, a journey within the journey

My Life Practice Program group

I am so grateful that I went to InterPlay last night. Even though I was half an hour late to class, I connected seamlessly with the group and had a wonderful time. There was a remarkable young woman there with whom I connected. She and I had a lot of interests and experiences in common. It’s quite remarkable! And so typical of my InterPlay experiences – especially when I listen to those gentle nudges to be there for a particular class or event.

Today I found myself wrestling again with the uncertainty and challenge of my changing schedule. It finally dawned on me that I was starting to get frustrated with myself that I couldn’t figure out how to find more ease, more balance in juggling the temp job with my need and desire to be at my regular, part-time job. Today I worked half a day at each place. When I noticed myself struggling, I had to remind myself to let go even the struggle.

This morning, I had reflected on a verse that begins: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18 NIV) I thought of all those embodied memories that are not so easy to forget. I don’t know about you, but mine tend to spring up whenever something rekindles them, sometimes unexpectedly, often unannounced.

It helps – a lot – to know that our bodies have their own memories. When I start to feel panicky, I can pause to consider what previous experience might have been triggered. Like right now, for instance. My body is filled with nervous anxiety after taking a call from one of my credit card companies. I so much want to be able to catch up on my payments before they have to “charge off” my accounts (i.e., send them to a collection agency), but I cannot give them and will not promise them money I do not have or expect to have. And talking about the anxiety seems to be making it worse! Augh!!

Much needed reminders...

The embodied reaction I’m having stems from an experience of crashing and burning financially more than twenty years ago. But the experience was so intense it became ingrained in my body. Having similar conversations about bills I can’t pay brings back those body memories.

Gosh this is fun… Not! It is time to release this into God’s capable hands because there’s very little I can do about it at the moment. (I sure am getting lots of opportunities to practice release. Hmmm.)

Generally, when I uncover the reason I’m overreacting to a particular situation, such as realizing that it’s triggering the body memories of former experiences, it does much to relieve the anxiety or at least to help me understand it. At this particular moment, I’ve only gotten as far as understanding it. 😉

There’s something I’ve heard often at Al Anon meetings: HALT. It means what it looks like – to stop, to pause, to cease whatever we’re doing. But the word is used as an acronym to remind us that whenever we feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, it is notthe time to make decisions or sometimes even to open our mouths and say anything. I know I’m tired this evening and I’m angry at the moment – frustrated by my inability to catch up my credit card bills when I wanted so badly to meet my responsibilities. So, for the moment, I won’t make any decisions about what to do.

Drawing how I feel lifts my spirits

It occurs to me that this is also an opportunity to let go the escalating tendency to berate myself for past failures and recent poor choices in how I’ve managed my finances. I’m glad I’m on this journey within the journey. I may have to work at it, but my goal is to focus on what I am doing that’s positive and helpful and to let go the rest. That reminds me…

A year ago, I reflected on the word “adventure” and how some people are able to see all the challenges and new things in life as adventures. There are some things that feel and sound like adventures to me, but this isn’t quite what I had in mind. It’s one of the things that feels more scary than adventurous.

A year ago, I was still regaining energy after my thyroid surgery and “adventure” sounded like something that requires a great deal more energy than I had at that moment. As I reflected in my journal about things I was eager to do, I wrote: “I’m just not sure I want to use that precise word [i.e., “adventure”] just yet. But I’d like to want to use it.”

That’s how I feel now. I’d like to think of my experiences and challenges as adventures. I’d like to see my financial situation as a challenge I’m eager to overcome. I’d like to have the mental, emotional and physical energy to tackle the whole networking/job-search experience with gusto. I’d like to look forward to new experiences with eager anticipation. I’d like to feel excitement more often than anxiety, to laugh more often than cry.

Most of all, I’d like to take joy in the unexpected because I am utterly certain it is God’s work at hand and that the results will be wonderful.

The blossoming of joy

Big and Small Steps:

  • Giving myself permission to turn off my phone for the rest of the evening.
  • Continuing to let go when things take longer than I expect.

Noticings:

  • How much I enjoy the way I learned to appreciate subtle patterns and differences in all sorts of creatures as a result of my first husband’s interest in snakes. I noticed this while I was watching some not-so-ordinary, beautiful little birds outside our window and appreciating the delicate markings that make them unique.
  • How much of a physical sensation anxiety can be.
  • How truly grateful I am for my time at InterPlay last night. My entire body-spirit was profoundly happy to be there!

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