Day 128 (Tue/Apr 17): Visiting places on the emotional map

So much yet to come together...

Now I remember why it was almost an entire week between my last two postings. This temp job is exhausting! When I see how stressed my supervisor is, I find myself especially grateful for my recovery journey. Of course, it’s easier to notice things when you’re not the one in the middle of them. I’ve been wondering what I might do to help her let go the fear that everything won’t get done. There’s this huge summit we’re preparing for and, since it’s the first one like this they’ve done, she’s a little freaked out about it. There are about fifty million little pieces needed to pull it all together and time is fast approaching. So I’m doing what I can to help – which is, of course, why I’m working there in the first place.

I must say, it’s interesting to be able to observe the way other people are handling the stress of this situation while also observing my own responses and reactions. Yesterday, for instance, I had a healthcare appointment. It was at a clinic I’ve never been to, to see someone I’ve never met. I tend to be skittish around medical doctors to begin with (I much prefer the chiropractic/naturopathic routes for my healthcare) and throwing in the whole “everything new” piece had me on edge.

Anytime I meet a new doctor, we have to do a kind of dance that reveals, for me, whether or not this person actually respects the fact that I know something about my own body. Too often I have met doctors full of their own arrogance, who are convinced I couldn’t possibly know anything. So, knowing this about myself and my history, I prayed and did my best to let go of all my fears before going there and while I was there.

I put it all in my inner "God box"

I was hoping for an on-the-spot blood draw to check my thyroid, but such was not the case. They don’t have that facility and the doctor wanted to check my cholesterol as well. With this, my anxiety rose. While I would actually appreciate knowing where my levels are these days, I dislike having to do the fasting bit. It isn’t required for thyroid testing, but it is for the other. The doctor also wanted to have me do another kind of test and I felt things spinning out of control. I didn’t want all that! I just wanted to know what my current TSH level is so I know if I need to adjust my thyroid meds!

Then grace stepped in. The doctor renewed my prescription on the spot, for the same dose I’m on now (which is easy to tweak as needed). It turns out the lab is not only open at 7:00 (earlier than some of the labs I’ve gone to), it is a short distance down the street from my “regular” job. In other words, God is making it very easy for me to have the lab work done as conveniently as possible. Once done, I can go to the office, feed myself, and spend a few hours in an environment that is fully supportive.

The thing is, I didn’t know all this about the lab till later. When I got done at the clinic and learned they do not validate parking, I tried to have my ticket validated at the offices they’re connected to. Unfortunately the person who had told me she would validate my ticket was not in. The rate is $1.25 for every 15 minutes – something I had not bargained for. I’ve been so broke for so long that even this small expenditure felt like too much and I burst into tears once I got in my car. I knew it was irrational and that I was overreacting. I also knew I was reacting more to the anxiety of seeing a new doctor and feeling out-of-control about how everything went.

It seems so odd and so silly to fly all over the emotional map from day to day. It feels so incongruous to go from bursting into tears to feeling deep gratitude for the little graces, all within a matter of hours. I suppose the moments of tears or anxiety won’t go away; they will just become easier to handle and last for briefer periods. I’ve noticed this already and appreciated it many, many times.

On the way home today, after a frantically busy day, after assuring my supervisor that it would, indeed, all come together, while inching along in the rush hour traffic, I was blessed by the most wonderful song on a CD I had not yet played. I don’t remember all the lyrics, but they said something about the river of peace holding my hand. It was a wonderful song to hear after a busy and hectic day…

Grace...

Noticings:

  • How blank my mind is right now…and how okay I am with that! 😉

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 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 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 98 (Sun/Mar 18): Fourteen days – Grace and space, a journey within the journey

Have you ever had those moments when there’s a collision of graceful happenings in your life? They come out of the blue, completely unexpected, and are made all the more beautiful because of their happenstance. Yesterday I had such a day.

After carefully updating my checkbook, I did some errands. A new toner cartridge. A new thumb drive. (My recent photo-taking indulgence needs more space!) Gas for the car. A few essentials at the grocery store. Then to the library to hang out for a while before the meeting. Libraries are one of my favorite places to be. My watch battery died a couple of weeks ago, so I set a quiet alarm on my cell phone to notify me when I needed to leave for my Al Anon meeting.

In the meeting, I recounted the insanity of my having rehashed the communication mishaps of the previous week – the crazy stuff that led me to this journey within the journey. I forgot to mention that I’d been called to return to the same temp job. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the meeting, everyone helped return the chairs and I organized the materials. People were enjoying chatting after the meeting. I didn’t even notice what time I left with a friend of mine. She doesn’t have a car, so we sometimes enjoy the opportunity to catch up while I drive her home. We often go by the store as well.

Yesterday, this angel told me she wanted to pay for my groceries as an expression of appreciation for the many times I’ve given her rides. I was stunned! I had been wondering if I had enough money from my recent check to spend on groceries, what with a couple of bills yet to pay and the (expensive) toner cartridge to buy. Yet God provides.

While we were at the store, I couldn’t reach the rice-milk carton I needed. It was on a top shelf and there had obviously been lots of people buying some that evening. The remaining cartons were out of reach for all but the tall. An attractive man noticed my struggle and handed me one. When I remarked that they needed to rearrange their shelves, he began doing just that. Later, he was just ahead of me when my friend and I came up to the checkout counter. It occurred to me just how easily it can happen, when people meet and connect.

When my friend and I pulled onto the freeway, listening to a beautiful song from Like Breathing, I was amazed at how few cars there were. It was like landing in an expanded gap between groupings. I thought we might catch up to a congested spot, but it never happened. God had my attention. So much serenity on a “busy” freeway on a Saturday evening.

After dropping off my friend, I experienced the same thing getting back onto the freeway. Yet I could see a lot of headlights a fair distance behind me. I was playing that song again and the tears started flowing. Between the generosity of my friend and this incredible experience of virtually no traffic at a time when lots of cars were actually on the freeway, the notion of a chance encounter with someone…it all came together in a powerful affirmation of God’s grace in my life.

As I continued to reflect on the experience this morning, I noticed even more things. More moments of grace that had happened throughout a day when I’d chosen to let go worry or concern about such mundane things as time or hurrying.

  • I took the time for lunch and left a little later than planned, but decided not to worry. Traffic was light.
  • At a traffic light, when I asserted my (debatable) right of way, I realized I didn’t want to be or feel pushy. From that point on, there was increasing ease.
  • At the library, the lot was full, but the street next to the library was free, with several spaces. They quickly filled within a few minutes while I ate a snack in my car before going in.
  • There were lots of people in the library waiting for their turn to check out materials. I found a short line and enjoyed a tiny tot “helping” her mother scan the items.
  • I found parking spaces with ease at the places I shopped.
  • I went through checkout lines with little or no waiting.
  • My friend blessed me with a large sack full of food.
  • Then God cleared a wide swath for me all the way home!

When the tears came, my question for myself became: Am I afraid of receiving bigger blessings?

I’m still working on the answer…

From a beautiful card my son sent me...words I need to read - often.

 

Big and Small Steps:

  • Attended an ACA Al-Anon meeting this evening. It was nice to just sit and listen.

Noticings:

  • How nourishing libraries can be for me when I simply want a place to be. I love the quiet, the sounds, the excitement of little kids insisting on scanning their own books at the checkout station, the patience of parents who are teaching their children the value of this place.
  • How I still tend to overeat when I’m feeling some anxiety – perhaps especially when I’m not acknowledging the anxiety in order to deal with it in healthier ways.
  • How I still crave something sweet after dinner, even though I haven’t indulged in sugary desserts in a number of years. Interesting how eating patterns linger…
  • How serenity can linger and stay with me for some time after it arrives.

Day 97 (Sat/Mar 17): Fifteen days – Healing cannot be rushed, a journey within the journey

This morning, I worked on my blog first thing – before breakfast, before bathing, before making my bed. I don’t normally do that. Yet every now and then, it feels good to enjoy the freedom to start my morning differently.

Perhaps it was because I began my day with my blog that my first reading and reflection in my journal led me to the inspiration for a new blog. There are times when I want to talk about God and faith and the many things that cross my mind in this realm that aren’t particularly a part of this conversation here. Now I have the beginnings for a new site. I look forward to starting it.

The second reflection I read this morning helped me remember why I’m here, doing this blog – especially with regard to my illusions around what it means to break through my fears. Among my (many) favorite verses in the Bible are these words accompanying my second reading: One thing I do, forgetting these things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal… (Phil. 3:13-14 NRSV)

A year ago January, I experienced in these words the subtle difference between reaching forward from where I am now and trying to leap over the present challenge to something down the road. I’m still learning how to reach forward from where I am in this moment. Yet I’m getting much more patient with myself and appreciating the fact that leaping over obstacles isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes it is. Other times we miss huge and wonderful opportunities to be transformed when we try to avoid the hard stuff. I’ve spent too much of my life already doing that. In recent years (decades actually) I have discovered that unexpected blessings often come only through the struggles.

In discovering that, I have learned that some experiences will not, cannot, be rushed.

I am in just such an experience right now. It seems like every time I try to hurry some part of it along, I end up in a heap on the ground, having tripped over the very thing that actually needed my attention. So I’m reminding myself – often – that I need to move slowly enough to pay attention to my steps and to notice when I need to change direction.

Looking back to where I’ve been, through reading my journals from a year ago, I continue to learn from past experiences. This morning I appreciated traveling through one particular journey of healing. It gives me a perfect example of how journeys of healing cannot be rushed.

The morning after my thyroidectomy (as a result of Grave’s disease, a hyperthyroid condition), I was able to speak (a very good sign), but sounded to my own ears like a bullfrog. In the days that followed, I continued to feel like I was croaking when I spoke. Yet others told me my voice was soft, but otherwise normal sounding. (It was devastating to feel so alone in my experience with my voice!)

When I first attempted to sing, I couldn’t sustain any note for more than a second or two, and there were scarcely any notes I could access at all. Six weeks after the surgery, I was beginning to ‘stretch’ my voice. I could sustain a note for a bit and my range was expanding. My volume, according to others, was getting stronger as well. I discovered I could sing (a bit) in falsetto what my voice could not quite do in full.

 I’m not sure when my voice began to sound “normal” to me again. Perhaps I simply got used to the new way my voice sounded, with less “software” in my neck. In the weeks and months that followed, I gradually regained my voice. I practiced singing to some of my favorite CDs while driving. I remember the day I could actually sing a particular song at a worship service. (I cried in gratitude!) I had to take care of my voice through this journey, moving slowly, expanding gradually, since my throat quickly grew hoarse if I pushed it. Yet little by little, I found my way back to being able to sing (and speak) as vigorously as ever.

The defining moment for me on this journey with my voice was when I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do to rush the healing process. It was going to take as long as it took and I was powerless to change that. Once I grasped that, I was able to relax and let myself move slowly, gently, giving my body and my voice the time they needed to heal.

This journey of finding the courage to change is so much like my experience with my voice. Once in a while I forget that this is a journey not only of recovery, but of healing.

 

Big and Small Steps:

  • Leaving my phone turned off at times to give me the space to think, to create, to nourish my body-spirit. It also gives me the space to choose when I want to talk to creditors who hope for more than I can give at this moment.
  • Changing the title of this section. “Action step(s)” never felt quite right, since some of these things aren’t all that “actiony.” 😉
  • Taking the time to recognize that I needed to write and post this now unless I wanted to be up late this evening.
  • Looking for some books at the library about women and courage. (Delighted with the first part of one book and finding another interesting. One more on request.)
  • Realizing that plans for how I approach this blog are flexible and it’s okay to experiment and try new things.

Noticings:

  • How much I’m continuing to enjoy taking digital photos. My library is growing and I’m seeing so many little things I might otherwise have missed.
  • How shifting the language from “Action step(s)” to “Big and Small Steps” changes the language I’m inclined to use from past tense to ongoing. Interesting…
  • How helpful tears of release can be. (It’s not too late to invest in Kleenex stock – I’m sure I’m raising the value! ;-))
  • How glad I am that I’m out of grade school where some children insist on pinching each other if they aren’t wearing green on St. Patty’s Day! (I don’t wear green. Perhaps I could try some leaves in my hair??)
  • How good it feels to be able to tithe more than once a month, even when the checks are small. 🙂
  • How glad I am to be here, with you now.

 

Day 96 (Fri/Mar 16): Sixteen days – Getting out of God’s way, a journey within the journey

I was stunned at the turn of events this morning – especially when I considered the last few days.

I found myself still wrestling with being powerless to effect any change in my job status. Still enjoying my part-time job; still hoping for more work. It was a joy to receive my paycheck yesterday; a challenge to realize how little it will take before it will be gone, since my printer’s almost out of toner.

A conversation with a friend yesterday reminded me of how much harder I make it for myself. I hold onto something, trying to change it, powerless to do so. I give it to God. Then I take it back. I realize what I’ve done and give it back to God. I forget and start chewing on it again. Back and forth. Back and forth. She reminded me that God loves me enough to give me the freedom to hold on, even while hoping I’ll let it go. It was fun to be able to laugh about how foolish we can be.

This morning I received a call from the staffing agency: “We’re sorry for the short notice, but would you be able to come into work today?”

Would I! Within an hour, I was back at the place I worked last week, slightly nervous, yet eager to work, grateful to be called back and grateful to be earning more money for this week.

 What’s truly amazing, though, is the context surrounding this blessing.

Since today, Friday, was going to be a day off, I hadn’t set my alarm. I relaxed last night and slept well. I woke up before 5:00, right about my usual time. I awakened slowly, enjoying the time to stretch, talk to God, and consider my plans for the day. Mostly I had no idea what I’d end up doing. I got up and began my normal morning routine of showering, fixing breakfast, then doing my reflection journal time. When I was done, I was considering writing the thank-you note I kept not quite getting to all week long. It was to have been to the people at the place I worked last week. No need for it now! (Or yet.)

At my ‘desk’ I noticed I barely missed a call from one of my credit card companies (the phone was still off). Then I noticed the battery could use a bit of freshening. I had just plugged it into the charger when I saw the call from the staffing agency coming in. The ringer was still off and I was fixing to text a message to a friend. Wow! Talk about timing!

In short, everything around my being able to work today (and at least Monday next week) was God’s timing:

  • Friday was a day off, though I often work on Fridays – I was available.
  • I was up early and had already showered and eaten breakfast when the call came – I was virtually ready. (Just had to change clothes and pack a lunch.)
  • I caught the call while the ringer was still off because I was holding it in my hands. A miracle!
  • I had postponed calling to set up the interview for another job – an interview I would probably have had to cancel to be available to work.
  • I kept postponing writing the thank-you note – and now it’s not needed.
  • I needed a little extra money to take care of printer toner and a couple of other things – and God has provided.
  • I had just yesterday succeeded in letting go any expectations around if and when I might get “recalled” by this company – and… Well, you know the rest!

Right now, I am feeling so grateful for the amazing gift of God’s timing when I get out of the way!

Big and Small Steps:

  • Took a few minutes to do some much-needed stretches this morning. My body sure appreciates it!
  • Let go of the desire to polish this post as much as usual, since I’m starting to fade and I haven’t even got this online yet.

Noticings:

  • How easily things happen when I let go and remember to leave God in charge.
  • How nervous and excited I was this morning, even though I was returning to somewhat familiar territory.
  • How much I enjoy the InterPlay CD I’ve been listening to this past week. I realized I can “play” along with the artists on the CD!
  • How often I forget to do some planned tasks, only to discover they weren’t meant to happen.
  • How eager I am to get to sleep!

Note: If you want an audio InterPlay experience, I highly recommend the CD Like Breathing (available with the book What the Body Wants or separately). It is filled with beautiful, delightful and even wildly fun tracks!

Day 85 – Mon, Mar. 5th (85/281): Standing on the precipice

How can it be that I visit so many places on the emotional map in such a short period of time? In the past 48 hours, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in serenity, taken a few brief stints through anxiety, started to visit confidence but only stayed a short while, spent about half an hour in tense apprehension, then found myself in mortal fear when I realized I was on the precipice of accepting God’s abundant grace. 

All it took this morning was remembering the words I had glimpsed in my reflection journal the day before: Ask and it will be given you… The tears and the fear came in an instant as I asked, Is that all I really need to do? Ask?

I am astonished that such a simple thing as accepting the fact that I am worthy, I am lovable and God does want to bless me abundantly is such a frightening and difficult concept to grasp. I’m struggling here… The words aren’t flowing. They feel awkward, too thought out. They lack the emotion, the deeply intense emotion I was feeling just a couple of hours ago. And that’s what happens: I come to the precipice, the diving board, ready to jump off, start thinking about what it means to be able to jump off – as in trusting that I am loved that much, that I will be supported, even abundantly blessed – and I back off, turn around and run the other way, not daring to believe I could possibly be worth the dreams that I hold.

 That’s when the deep emotions, the fear and the tears it brings, subside and my logical brain shifts into gear, trying to reason out the whys and wherefores of what’s going on. I’m not the least bit convinced it’s entirely helpful that this happens. However, I did notice that one of the fears that holds me back from really being able to see myself as being financially comfortable (not “wealthy” necessarily, but reasonably comfortable) is that my image of people who can easily handle their usual expenses and have the means to enjoy some of the “luxuries” (like health care, vacations, the occasional new computer, etc.) seem to always live in these beautiful, if simple, immaculate homes where everything in place and clutter doesn’t exist.

I remember visiting some in-laws a number of years back. They were a young couple, with two or three young children. I don’t remember where he worked, but she was busy with the kids and with doing a side-business they had. I wasn’t in their home more than a handful of times, but every time I was there I noticed that it was beautiful and immaculate. There wasn’t a speck of dust or a bit of clutter in sight. Granted, I didn’t go poking into the bedrooms and closets, but still… This moderately nice, non-luxurious home was absolutely beautiful and typifies my image of what it means to be financially stable, even comfortable: everything is supposed to look nice all the time because that’s what people who can manage their finances do.

When I lay this out here, it sounds ridiculous to think that financial comfort and stability somehow equals lovely, well-kept, neat-and-clean-at-all-times homes. But that’s the imprint on my brain right now. I won’t even talk about the one visit I paid to a truly wealthy home, owned quite literally by a billionaire. It was simple, beautiful and, of course, you guessed it, without a speck of dust or clutter in sight. And I’m pretty sure they do it all themselves. (They don’t live like one might expect billionaires to live.)

So, what’s the point? I’m not sure I know. I’m a big fan of metaphors and God often uses them to speak to us, certainly to me. This morning I was coming to grips – or wanting to come to grips – with the fact that receiving blessings and abundance can be as simple as asking God for what I want in life. Yet the idea of asking for all the things I want, trulyasking, not just hemming and hawing about it, but sincerely coming to God and making my requests known, scared the pee-waddlin’ out of me! Then, when I got to the office, I thought the “sweet spot” parking space was already taken. So I parked and walked to the office door. There, directly in front of it, was the space – empty and waiting for my car. I moved my car and thought about how sometimes the gift is right there, waiting for us and we just can’t see it.

One small step at a time

I’m standing on the edge of that precipice of abundant grace. I can feel it. I can sense God’s desire to bless me in wholly unexpected and amazing ways. Maybe, just for today, I will simply remember this and trust that I am walking through that wall of fear one step at a time.

Noticings:

  • How different it feels in my body when I’m experiencing the intense emotion of getting ready to take a big, scary step and how quickly the feeling in my body shifts when my logical, figure-things-out brain takes over.
  • How much I enjoyed watching a documentary on Muslims – it was wholly relaxing, in contrast to the “half an hour in tense apprehension” I experienced Sunday with the discouragingly biased agenda of the presenter in our adult ed class.

Action step(s):

  • Watched an excellent documentary on Muslims to help give me more balanced information and considered how I might expand the conversation at church to include a truer, more informed picture of this faith tradition.

Day 63 – Sunday, Feb. 12th (63/303): Pompous Piety Derailed Serenity

I’m struggling with something. My anger and passion have been piqued around something about which I feel strongly, but I’m not sure this is a great time to actually write about the situation. I have experienced a lot of serenity this past week and have reveled in the grace of such a gift. When things have been a little scary or challenging, I have managed to weather them surprisingly well. Until this morning.

So I’ll keep breathing and taking my time with this, in the hopes that I write with more grace and compassion than I witnessed today.

We’re having a four-week adult class on the topic of Islam at my (Christian) congregation this month. The class description sounded interesting, so I had been looking forward to it. I missed last week, but was glad to be there this week…until I noticed a pattern in the lecture that disturbed me – a lot.

Rather than providing us with an education about Islam as a respected, if different from our own, faith tradition, this person kept comparing – in a denigrating way (from my perspective) – various Muslim characteristics, practices or beliefs to “Christian” values – as though all who might identify as Christians are the same, with the same values, moral codes, and interpretations of the Christian Bible. He used words like “sanitized” to refer to what is commonly known about Muhammad and “in stark contrast to Christianity” to emphasize something he apparently sees as particularly contrary to Christian values. I was shocked at the picture he painted.

The thing is, this man has done a lot of research over a long period of time. I don’t doubt that he offered a lot of factual data. But it was the tone and innuendo of his remarks that got my blood to boiling. As it is again now, just writing about it.

Breathe…breathe…breathe…

When he would make an “in contrast to Christianity” remark, I found myself wanting to ask, Which Christians? Grown Where? In What Century? There are so many ways that Christians disagree with each other that it is difficult to ascertain what exactly constitutes being “Christian.” Each denomination has its own understanding, its own interpretation of the texts that unite us.

It was not many decades ago, for example, that many Christians saw Judaism as a wrong path to God (as in, you won’t get there). (Many still do). Now there are many wonderful interfaith dialogues happening among Christians and Jews. Perhaps the growing acknowledgment and appreciation of the fact that Jesus was a Jew helped bring the Jewish and Christian communities into a greater appreciation for each other, but how many centuries was it before this happened? (The answer is, of course, “too many.”)

And how is the arrogant notion for many Christians that “we’re” (I must say “we” because I am Christian) the only ones who have it “right” different from the Muslim’s perception that Islam is the final, true understanding of God’s will?

Breathe…breathe…breathe…

What keeps coming to mind for me is something my World Religions professor said to us on the first day of class. He told us to approach our reading on each faith tradition as if it was the tradition we wanted for ourselves. In other words, he asked us to keep an open mind to the gifts and beauty and truths offered by each of the many traditions we studied. As a result, I saw in each of these faiths the same desire, the same yearning for the divine that I know in my own life and see in the people around me. I saw kindred spirits all over the world who simply approach the God of my understanding differently than I might or than my particular (Anglo, American, Protestant, 20th-now-21st  century, etc.) community/culture might. I felt blessed and uplifted simply learning about each of these traditions, including Islam.

What, you might ask, does this have to do with the overarching topic of this blog? I would answer, Everything and nothing.

The most disturbing aspect of my experience this morning was when one of the people from the class communicated to me afterwards her fear. Instead of providing an edifying introduction to a worthy and significantly global faith tradition, this man was unwittingly (I’d like to think) instilling greater fear of those who are different from us. One of the points he raised around sharia law (aka Islamic law), for example, is that it’s okay for Muslims to lie to non-Muslims in order to protect themselves. There was little context around this statement (or most of the others for that matter) to conclude anything except that Christians can’t believe what a Muslim might tell them.

Breathe…breathe…breathe…

I’ve been thinking on the Holocaust again this past week. I was thinking about how the Nazi slaughter of ten to twenty million Jews, Gypsies, “homosexuals,” people with disabilities, and several other groups of people impacted far more than the millions who died in those horrifying years. I was thinking about the impact it had on the survivors, the families and friends of survivors, the communities where the violence was perpetrated, and the countless other places in the world where such horrific events came to be known.

What was spread through that atrocity – and has continued to be spread through other forms of genocide and mass violence before and since – is fear. How can such events not shape our response to whatever is different in our world? It is too close to home. It is profoundly disturbing. And it seems to come out of nowhere simply because the leap from prejudice to violence can happen with such unexpected swiftness.

I was disturbed this morning because I went to church anticipating a similar education to the one I had received around Islam years ago – one that might lead to an appreciation of all that is good in it. Instead, I found a pompous kind of piety that gives excuse to denigrating a group of people who are no more homogenous than any other group.

It is interesting and perhaps ironic that the current (Feb.13) edition of Newsweek has a cover article titled “The Rise of Christophobia.” I picked it up at the store today after church and look forward to reading it. It is written by a Muslim woman who looks at the persecution and murder of Christians in the Muslim world. I pray that my fellow parishioners do not use it as fuel to contribute further to the denigration of Islam in the remaining classes this month.

This was a bit of a rant and longer than I anticipated. This morning’s experience disturbed me because I believe in a loving God who comes to us in many, many forms – perhaps as many forms as there are people willing to receive that love. This week, I will think a lot about the Serenity Prayer and ask God to give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change in this class at church, courage to speak up and say the things that need saying, and wisdom to know the difference.

Right now, I’m going to turn my DVD of Quincy back on and see if I can regain the serenity that was present when I began my day.

Your comments are welcome. Two resources came to mind as I was finishing this.

 

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

© 2013 LuciasJourney.com