Day 120 (Mon/Apr 9): Kipping

Some things take time to bear fruit

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

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

Patience has its rewards

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

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

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

This morning I discovered that nothing “happened.”

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

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

So I continue to remind myself...

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

Day 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 108 (Wed/Mar 28): Four days – Light is dawning, a journey within the journey

When it rains...things get wet!

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

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

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

“Are you available to work today?”

“I’m already working.”

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

Crash! Bang! Boing!

 

Wait a sec?!

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

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

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

Opportunities bloom and go...

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

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

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

Slippery when wet...or when approached in fear

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

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

I'm listening...Help me to hear

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

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

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

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

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

Noticings:

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

Day 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 105 (Sun/Mar 25): Seven days – One day at a time, a journey within the journey

Some decisions are easier than others

This week has been challenging, with seemingly short nights and long days. Today I worked at few hours and enjoyed the quiet of being there on a Sunday afternoon. I’d rather not have this as a regular schedule, but it was nice for today.

I’m in the midst of considering difficult decisions around my finances. As unhappy possibilities came to mind, I started to feel distressed. Then I moved toward depression. Somewhere along the way, I finally recognized that it isn’t time to make any decisions, one way or the other. It helped to remember an experience from a little over a year ago.

Several years ago, I learned I had a condition known as Grave’s disease. It’s a hyperthyroid condition and it wasn’t particularly fun to have my metabolism so out-of-control. The first doctor that diagnosed it wanted to inject me with radioactive iodine, designed to kill off part of the gland and hopefully restore more normal levels. Of course, the entire gland eventually dies and one has to carry documentation around, like, forever, to explain why the dirty bombs are going nuts when you pass through the detectors. But other than that, it sounded just ducky. (Not!!!)

It takes time for the pieces to come together

I worked with a naturopath, then later an endocrinologist and other doctors, until I found a doctor who suggested “turning off” the gland with one (non-radioactive) medication and replacing it with another. My insurance changed midstream, so I switched doctors. My new doctor was willing to go along with this approach. My system settled down a reasonable amount, but when we rechecked the gland again after having it under control for a year, and it was obvious the gland was not improving, the decision to remove it was easy. I knew it was the right thing to do and I experienced no anxiety around the decision. (And it has very much proved to be the wise choice.)

It has occurred to me in the last couple of days that I will know when the time is right to make a decision about my financial situation. Until then, I can keep letting it go whenever the anxiety surfaces. I’m sure it will now and then just because it is stressful to have far more need than resources. I won’t pretend otherwise. It’s hard, and sometimes it’s very hard. (Remember to invest in that Kleenex stock! I’m convinced I’m single-handedly raising the stock value!)

All things take time to become ready

Today I find myself appreciating the reading in Courage to Change that talks about confusion being an indication that either the timing is not right or I am not ready. I think a little bit of both may be the case for me regarding my finances. For now, I am grateful to be learning to be more attentive to my bank balances. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do at least a little more temp work this week. And I’m grateful for the unknown possibilities that lie ahead.

The other thing I’m appreciating this evening is the simple fact that I’m here at my aunt and uncle’s. My uncle was helping my aunt try to make a bed with sheets that are poorly made and too small for the bed (no matter what the label on the package said) earlier this evening. The sheet tore, he tumbled backward, and he hit his head on the edge of the closet door. He didn’t think too much about it until my aunt noticed he had blood on the back of his head. I arrived home post-freak-out time (on my aunt’s part), to find my uncle calmly playing his card game on the computer. (He’s a bit of an addict with Freecell.)

I can only see a little bit of the path at a time...

My son gave me plenty of “nursing” practice while growing up (as many children do for their moms), so I played nurse and tended to the small, but definite gash on the back of my uncle’s head. I warned him to keep it clean and to (gently) shampoo in the morning and reapply the ointment. I think my aunt was much relieved to have me home and doing the nursing. I’m having to practice letting go the temptation to worry about how well he’ll take care of his head.

I continue to wonder what lies ahead for me in the coming weeks and months. My “short” stay here has extended beyond my expectations. Yet it feels as if I’m right where I need to be for the moment. I continue to do my inner work and to learn from my aunt and uncle – and to stay out of their way, like when he was making an apple-cherry pie earlier this afternoon, doing everything from cutting up and cooking the fruit to preparing the pie dough.

There’s a lot of wisdom in the saying “One Day at a Time.” For me, it’s the reminder that no matter where I am or where I’m heading, I can only get there one moment, one step, one day at a time.

Big and Small Steps:

  • Checked my bank balance and found I was okay, with a small but nonetheless positive balance.
  • Checked out some job listings on a non-profit website a friend shared with me.

Noticings:

  • How readily I pick up on other people’s intense emotions.
  • That I’m looking forward to going back to four or five posts a week after this “journey within the journey.” (I keep staying up too late writing posts!)
  • How thin the skin is on the back of the head and how soft my uncle’s hair is.

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 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!

Day 100 (Tue/Mar 20): Twelve days – Take time to breathe, a journey within the journey

A bit of a blur...

Twelve days left (in Lent) and I’m noticing a tendency to ramp up my activity level as though I were suddenly super-person. It feels like a whirlwind dance when I received a call to come into work the next morning with no time to consult with my supervisor before saying yes or no. It’s hard to know quite where the lines are for healthy boundary-setting. It feels like I need the income almost desperately and I worry that saying I can’t come in that day will blow my chances for extra work this week. And it would have. Another person wasn’t available Friday, so they called someone else. Still…

I brought up my need to attend to some work at my regular job and we settled on my working at the temp position in the morning and my other job for the afternoon tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the afternoon and feeling very grateful that I caught up quite a bit in my work last week. That rarely happens – that I get to the mostly-ignored-due-to-lack-of-time tasks.

Faster...faster...

This afternoon I basically sprinted from the temp job to my regular workplace, thinking I’d get a bit of work done. But on the way, I realized the very most I could do would be an hour before the 6:00 class I’m attending. So I opted for writing this instead. I have been so eager to post daily for this 18-day period that I’ve been ignoring the fact that being online after 8:30 in the evening means I can’t get to sleep till late. (Anything past 9:00 or 9:30 is late when you get up before 4:45 a.m.)

This week I’m appreciating discovering how to juggle my work schedule. There really isn’t enough time in the day for me to work 8 hours, then work some more. I need time to breathe. One of my priorities for this next couple of weeks is to truly attend to my self-care. Taking time to stretch a lot last night and taking some ibuprofen before bed resulted in my feeling more comfortable today than I have in days. The quick fixes don’t work, so more stretching is in order. Too many work hours doesn’t work either, so pacing is in order. The slowing down and noticing the pace kind (although the walking kind would probably make my body happy).

At this moment, it feels like I’ve been in a rush all day. That’s not what I want. I’m looking forward to doing some InterPlay this evening, where my body can move and my voice can enjoy itself. (We don’t talk much at the temp job – it’s lots of computer work.) I don’t know what’s in store, but whatever it is, I’m glad for the opportunity to play.

It's time to stop and enjoy the flowers

Afterwards, I’ll finally eat some dinner (getting hungry now – may need a snack), relax in front of a DVD TV episode (I’m on a Murder, She Wrote kick), then probably fall asleep early.

So, with class already starting, I’d better get this posted and take time to breathe… If you’ve never been to an InterPlay event, one of our favorite things to do is to take a deep breath and let it out with an audible sigh. It feels so nice. Try it.

Noticings:

  • How sleepy and tired I am after such a short night’s sleep. Zzzzzzz…
  • How rushed I feel as I hurry to post this before going to class. 😦

Day 99 (Mon/Mar 19): Thirteen days – Confessions…, a journey within the journey

Sometimes what looks like a wall is actually a gateway to someplace new

Earlier today I wrote: I’m actually feeling really grateful for my part-time job. On Friday, I received a late-notice, can-you-work-today call from the temp agency. She asked if I was available to work Friday, Monday and Tuesday. I was thrilled! On the other hand, I knew whatever we were doing might not require three whole days, as the last 9-day job turned out to be a 3-day job. As it happens, between Friday and today, I only worked a total of 10.75 hours. I’m grateful for the extra money, truly I am. I’m more grateful still for the distraction of my part-time “permanent” job and the fact that it distracts me from the deflation of such a short temp assignment.

It’s interesting to notice that I continue to think about a “lost” 6-week temp job that sounded great in many ways,

Just taking a step back can reveal new possibilities

including logistically. It occurs to me that the only reason I keep thinking of that job or other “missed” opportunities is because I am presuming that I’ve lost something that was mine to lose, which isn’t the case. I’m also presuming they would have changed my financial situation – which means I’m not remembering to trust God to take care of the details.

On the other hand, it’s fair to honor the reality that it’s deflating to have opportunities shrink after my anticipation rises. I’m just astonished to see how quickly my “fat” check disappeared and…

Ruh roh! I was just starting to beat myself up – and for things over which I’m powerless. See how easy it is to slip into that mode! I gotta remember to not let the deflation determine how I see things. It’s a darn good thing you’re here to remind me that I said I was only going to affirm the good in each day! 🙂

Later today…

God is always there, active, behind every act of releasing and letting go

Last night I was reading some more in Catherine Ponder’s book. She was talking about the power of releasing and letting go. I’ve mentioned before that I’m inching my way through this book, even though I’ve read it at least a couple of times, some chapters more than that. I feel the need to slow down and take in on deeper levels each concept she’s describing.

My car sounded a little odd coming home last night, so I decided to take the train to work after worrying about it. I felt more serene making that decision. The funny thing was, it became an ongoing exercise in releasing and letting go. I didn’t leave the house quite as early as I’d hoped. It would have been early enough if I was driving, but getting to the station, parking and catching the train added extra time. Then the train I needed was having computer trouble, which delayed it arriving and delayed us en route.

I continued to let it go, recognizing that I was powerless to change any of this. It was too late to change my mind and there was absolutely nothing I could do. Whenever anxiety about being late started to arise, I reminded myself that I had no control over this, including the reaction of my supervisor. I kept releasing it into God’s hands. I left messages in a couple of places, although I didn’t have the number for my supervisor. When I got there, she was totally fine and obviously pleased I had left a message with a her colleague.

This evening, I was refiguring my finances and thinking how I would use the small check I’ll receive this week and the even smaller one next week. I kept releasing it all, trusting that God is sorting out details I can’t (and may never) see. I felt serene despite some discomfort in my body. (Too much sitting; too little walking.) So I began releasing even that, electing to do what I can (stretching) and let go the rest.

It’s amazing how quickly things can change when we let go. Around 6:00 I got a call from the temp agency. (Weren’t they closed??) Could I return in the morning and work there the rest of the week?

I’m not holding on too tightly to the expectation of being there all week. We’ll see how things unfold. I am going to talk to them tomorrow about my part-time job and see if we can strike a balance that allows me to fulfill my responsibilities at both jobs. Whatever happens, I’m going to keep practicing letting go. 

Oh, the confession? My body tells me I’m still holding a lot of fear. My mid-back, low-back and hip are not happy campers. I also get a little overly excited when things start changing quickly, careening between nervousness, pleased-excitement and uncertainty about what will happen next. When I say I feel serene, I mean it. I’m just not convinced all of me has caught up with how wonderful it is to need to practice release!

Big and small steps:

  • Still enjoying the step workouts and did a bit of stretching this morning and a fair amount more this evening.
  • Asked the temp agency about shifting my schedule – which opened the door to them suggesting I work it out with the supervisor at the temp job.
  • Found some coupons for having my car serviced.

Noticings:

  • How tempting it is to try to “force” my body to loosen up and relax. (Uh, it doesn’t work.)
  • How grateful I am to have more work this week.
  • How grateful I am for my present employers (at my ‘regular’ job) – especially for their flexibility when I’m getting short notice about working elsewhere.

Day 91 – Sun (PM), Mar. 11th (91/275): Holding onto hope

It’s interesting to notice how quickly moods shift and elation can become deflation. It’s not so much that I was specifically “elated” earlier, but one phone call from a creditor was all it took to open the door to feeling depressed again.

I’ve been observing these transitions, noticing more specifically the train of thoughts. Much like my experience a week or two ago, there seems to be a pattern to it that is rather similar. I’d like to examine it here and see what comes up. Perhaps you’ll have a perspective to share to help me see this in a different light.

Need I say more?

For the moment – and I’m grateful for my confidence that this is for the moment and not for the long-haul – I feel depressed. Before the phone call even ended, I was feeling defeated, shot down in my buoying hopefulness around expanding work possibilities (i.e., expanding income). The representative called to inform me of the status of my card – as if I didn’t know this already. Really, they are calling to inform me of their status in relation to my debt: how much longer they can work with me, how close they are to “charging off” the debt (i.e., sending it to a collection agency), and don’t I want to speak to their in-house credit counselors? (I would gladly speak to their in-house counselors if they would be willing to accept the tiny payments I can manage now until those payments grow larger.)

Today’s call revealed that the debt is still big and growing (not news) and that the charge-off date for one card is the end of this month and the charge off date for the other card is the end of next month. They don’t need a lot of money; about $238 per month would pay off both these cards within their allotted time (at zero percent interest). It’s just that I have not yet had that much extra money per month and, quite frankly, would rather have it help me get into my own place that turn it over to them. Actually, I’d rather be able to do both. I truly would like to catch up on my credit cards. It’s just that, for the moment, mundane things like food and gas and other randomly necessary expenses are a higher priority for me.

So, back to the present challenge: the depression that threatens to swamp me if I hold these feelings in…

My colorful pens, my trusty journal

What I noticed, as I got off the phone feeling increasingly depressed, is that I am feeling angry. I’m angry at them for not being willing to let me do what I can until I can do more, regardless of how long it takes. I’m angry at them for calling and shooting down my excitement over being able to make at least one, if not more, “extra” payments this month. Mostly though, I’m angry at myself for feeling powerless to change this as quickly as both of us want.

I feel like I’m lying when I tell them I have no other resources from which to draw. I have one tiny IRA. If I cashed it out, I could partially catch up one payment. I’m not willing to do that. (Duh!) I might have an income tax refund coming. I’ll know more in a week or so. But I’m not willing to hand that over either. However big or small it is, I have here-and-now needs that take precedence over past due credit card bills.

I feel angry at myself that I’m still, obviously, paralyzed enough by my fears to not have more actively done something to generate more income. It would be one thing if I was submitting applications right and left. At least I could say that I’m trying. But doing all this inner work, no matter how important, still leaves me feeling like a liar and a failure when I tell my credit card company I’m trying to expand my income. The truth is I dowant to expand my income; I even want to expand my work hours. I just feel inept and overwhelmed, still, about how to go about it more effectively.

Gathering words of encouragement

It’s all well and good to talk about small steps and the progress I’m making. I doappreciate that. Truly. It’s quite another thing to have a creditor breathing down my neck and not be able to say, “Hey, I’m going to be able to catch up my payment in x weeks (or months). Can you hang in there just a little bit longer??”

Just for tonight, or perhaps this moment, I’m feeling angry, frustrated and powerless. I feel deflated and defeated. This is why my morning reflection journaling time is so important to me, as is reading books like Al Anon’s Courage to Change and Catherine Ponder’s Open Your Mind to Receive.  It’s much like pouring clear water into a class of long-dried mud. It takes time – and lots of water – to loosen the old patterns of thinking and clear the way for the new. It’s amazing just how many repetitions of certain words and concepts it takes for the encouragement to build and build until the depression or defeat doesn’t stand a chance of survival. Fortunately, I have a lot of reps of that variety ‘under my belt,’ so I know I will feel better when I start my day tomorrow.

Two wonderful verses come to mind right now. I think I’ll hold onto them this evening and use them for my reflection in the morning.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps 30:5 NKJV)

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.(Ps 143:8 NKJV)

A favorite book, my journal, a reminder

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