Is it really a dance?

It’s been over a year since I wrote a post and over five years since my idealistic launch into creating this blog. I had visions of clearing the clutter out of my room and my life, hopefully within a year. I just had no idea how much of the clutter was in my own mind and thoughts.

This evening, after the most recent kerfluffle with an unhappy housemate, I thought of the often quoted image of taking two steps forward and one step back. I noticed that this is the natural rhythm one finds in a dance and wondered, does my recovery and growth need to follow a similar rhythm? Do I always needs to take one or more steps “back” after a number of steps “forward”? Is it a requirement of growth and becoming the person God invites me to be to stumble along the way when striving to become a more gracious person?

Sometimes it feels that way.

I have often experienced a sort of upheaval after making a lot of progress in my journey and wondered if it is a necessary part of the recovery process. A necessary part of growing into the person I want to become. Tonight this image of dancing suddenly seems like a very helpful and appropriate one for this journey. I have experienced what feels like more than one step back after making great strides toward better attitudes, more loving perceptions of those around me and other shifts in my thinking. What is clearer to me, in this moment, is that those seemingly backward steps are actually opportunities to recognize my progress and to see where I no longer wish to be.

In what was a surprising discovery to me recently, I realized that something that has bothered me – a lot – in the two and a half years I’ve lived in this house, with these housemates, may actually be a great gift. Namely, their seemingly complete inability to properly clean up after themselves in the kitchen. (By properly, I mean actually cleaning up, as opposed to ignoring the mess or simply smearing around the spills and leaving dishes and pans with bits of dried food and grease on them. I know. I know. I’m asking a lot…) So this has been an issue for me for some time – and still bothers me – but now I see in it the gift it holds, if I’m willing to receive it.

When I was married to my son’s father, he wouldn’t roll out of bed until mid to late morning, when I was onto other tasks. What could have been a beautiful bed in our room looked perpetually messy, thus making the entire bedroom look messy. (Especially since the bed practically filled the small room.) Ever since we parted ways, I have truly enjoyed being able to make my bed first thing, every morning, and delighted in the way the whole room looks instantly neater, no matter now not-so-neat it is. I’ve finally come to realize that whenever I may be fortunate enough to move into my own place, or even simply to a place with more conscientious housemates, I will likely take joy in being able to have a clean kitchen on a daily basis and become much better at cleaning up after myself because of the ongoing challenges in my present situation.

My intention for this year has been to become more loving, and I have made progress. Now, when I stumble and find myself inwardly raging at my housemates, I hope I can remind myself that it’s merely a step back, as in a dance, that each time I change direction, I’m also given the opportunity to see things from a new perspective. That new perspective, as was the case this evening, can help me to again move forward on the dance floor appreciating that “backward” step, buoyed by the knowledge that it’s part of the dance, part of the process, part of the ever-expanding journey of recovery.

I hope you’re learning to dance as well.

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There is no magic wand

There are times like this, in the middle of the night, when I wake up for a pitstop and worry sneaks in before I can get back to sleep. Not helpful. I fruitlessly wish for a magic wand to erase the fearful thoughts from my mind to allow me once again to get the rest every body needs.

I’ve been on my recovery journey for almost ten years now. When I began, I had no idea it was an endless journey. Not that I presumed I’d immediately “get” all the things I needed to “get” to be recovered. It’s more that I had no idea of the many layers of recovery that were both needed – and possible. I am humbled, I am grateful, I am relieved that this is a journey that continues for as long as I am alive and have the capacity to live and grow and understand and change.

The past couple of weeks, my recovery focus has been on Steps 8 and 9: made a list of all persons we had harmed and became ready to make amends to them all; made direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure myself or others. When my sponsor and I met last, I pulled out the amends list I had started…in 2012. It had overwhelmed me then; my body tells me it terrifies me now. And that feels unreasonable to me.

This journey is not simple. It’s not easy. At times, it isn’t even fun. (Imagine that.) Yet it is so very worthwhile! I don’t think it’s worthwhile; I know it’s worthwhile. I have been graced with more blessings than I ever thought possible, in terms of how I think, how I’m experiencing my life. There are times when I look back over the last few months and I am in awe of how much I’ve changed – at how much my Higher Power, whom I call God, has transformed me and my thinking.

That’s why it puzzles me and frustrates me when I get stuck in fear, in feelings of being overwhelmed, in the anger and resentment and general grumpiness that have been accompanying me these past couple of weeks. My sponsor and I laughed when she shared about the “earthquake” in her own thinking with a book we have both been recently reading. Now I’m having my own “earthquake,” as the gnarly, ugly bits of resentment still present in me are getting stirred up.

The crazy part is, I still want to take these Steps toward greater recovery, albeit in that “I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna! I’m freaking scared and already feel terrible enough about myself that I’m not sure I wanna do this at all” kind of way. You know, that digging-my-heels-in way of insisting that I be dragged into this, even as I know I cannot be dragged into this. I can choose to stand still or to walk forward. I suppose walking backward is an option, but that is unthinkable. It already feels like I’m walking backward just to have the negative feelings stirred up and brought to the surface, as if one can ever stay clean and tidy mucking out the stables that have held those hurts and resentments.

A few days ago, I read in The Forgiveness Handbook that “our biggest demons are those we do not have the courage to face” (p 42, Diana L. Guerrero). I think she’s right. And I think I’ve found one of my biggest demons. At least it feels that way in this moment. I’ve also often heard that I need to trust the process – trust that working the Steps, doing the best I can to do my part, and letting go of the results will bring me to the recovery I desire. I know it’s true. Both intellectually and on deep body levels, I know it’s true, because I’ve experienced the truth of it over and over again.

When fear and worry creep back in, I futilely long for that magic wand to make the fear, the pain, the feelings of being overwhelmed vanish, to return me to the serenity that’s hiding in the closet once again, the serenity that was with me so deeply only a few days ago. Yet, ironically, I also know that it is precisely my willingness to walk through the fear and the pain, even kicking and screaming all the way, that enables me to return to that serenity and experience the deep inner healing that comes with it.

Rest for the Weary?

Virtually every morning I write in my reflection journal, usually in response to a devotional reading or some snippet I’ve read from my Bible. I say “virtually” because, as rich and nourishing as this practice has become, I have learned to hold even this with an open hand. My early schedule has challenged me to rethink what I have time for each morning. I used to take half an hour or so to read and reflect, often gaining insights along the way. Anymore, I’m often sleepy and simply don’t have the energy or inclination to spend my mornings rushing about to get everything – including some reflection writing – done before leaving for work.HPIM1992 T back

When I read the passage that starts, “Come to me, all you who are weary…and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28), I thought of how often I feel the need for more sleep these days. Then I read the verses that followed and began to think beyond my yearning for restful sleep. I still need the rest that sleep brings – don’t get me wrong. But I’m noticing other things, other ways these words speak to me.

“Rest” can be the recovery I experience as I continue to work my program, as in rest from the insanity of compulsive behaviors like overeating. “Rest” could even be letting go and taking a break from staying so focused on my recovery work that I miss the rest of what life has to offer. Sometimes I feel as if all my attention is focused on my recovery work, especially, specifically actually, around wanting to begin making progress in my newly restarted OA journey. I’m in this ‘learning about the nature of this illness’ and ‘how to work the program’ state where reading and thinking – and sometimes writing – about it are helping me understand myself and giving me a glimpse into what recovery might look like for me.

It’s different than my Al Anon challenges, in that it involves reactions to foods, as well as triggers and compulsive behaviors that I don’t fully understand and am powerless to control without the help of a program and my Higher Power.  Yet it is also like my Al Anon/ACA challenges for these very reasons. The primary difference is that my OA issues directly impact my physical well-being, as well as my emotional and spiritual well-being.

I’ve long been aware that I have what I would call an ‘addictive-type’ personality. Even in high school, I knew that if I took up smoking or drinking, I would probably become a chain smoker and an alcoholic. (Fortunately I never liked either.) But the notion of compulsively eating is a new concept to me and I’m still – and gratefully – taking in what I’m learning about it in the OA literature.

The need for humility...

The need for humility…

Today, I’m grateful to have read beyond verse 28 in the passage from Matthew, for I noticed something. Jesus says that he is “gentle” and “humble in heart.” As I wrote out the verses, it occurred to me that Jesus is not only “gentle” with us, he is also gentle with himself when he needs to be – as when he goes off by himself to pray and perhaps rest from the burdens he carries. And he’s humble – a characteristic needed in 12-Step work. The need for humility is also something I noticed as lying behind several of my character weaknesses.

I had to review the Steps because I was sure one of the first three steps used this word. It turns out it’s Step Seven: “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” Yet even beginning this program requires learning to be humble. It takes humility to recognize, acknowledge and accept that we are powerless over alcohol or compulsive eating or debting or whatever it is that leads us into these rooms.

Humility speaks to me of the willingness to admit our powerlessness. And that, for me, means I also have to be gentle with myself as I find the humility to fully accept my own powerlessness and as I learn to turn to God for help every step of the way.

Rest? I suspect it comes when we give up the struggle and find the humility and the willingness to let go and let God do that which we cannot do for ourselves. Maybe that’s when sleep truly becomes “rest.” It’s 8:43 p.m. now. It’s so-o-o past my bedtime. Zzzzzzzzzzz…

Day 155 (Mon/May 14): On releasing guilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 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 109 (Thu/Mar 29): Three days – Reflections, clarity, trust, a journey within the journey

Sometimes it's time to sit, watch and listen

I’m so grateful for the space to “sleep on it,” with regard to how I feel and what I might be willing to accept or not accept with regard to the possible temp position that came up. It is now clear to me that I am not willing to betray the trust my employers have placed in me and run after a paycheck. As much as I may need the financial support, I have to think about where my trust lies. Certainly, it does not lie in my bank account.

This realization started unfolding last night and became clear this morning as I read a few verses in my Bible and wrote two surprisingly short reflections in my journal. Such phrases as “blot out my transgressions” and “you desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom” from Psalm 51 jumped out at me. My present challenges with financial debt and my desire to discern God’s will for me in what I am and am not willing to do to expand my income came to mind.

I let things flow this morning, writing a short reflection, then a prayer in response to the verses that caught my attention. Then I opened up last year’s journal. The verse was one of my favorites: “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily…” (Is. 58:8 NKJV) I have been in need of so much physical and emotional healing in recent years that these words never fail to lift my spirits and remind me that my road to healing is also a road of recovery.

This morning, I pulled out my NKJV Bible and read the rest of the verse. O-M-G! “And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” Heard by me as, “God will prepare the way for you and keep you safe; God will provide for you.”

Okay, so maybe you don’t happen to be into the Bible/God thing, but God is my Higher Power and somewhere along the line, my life became all about my relationship with God. Not in the sense of not being about relationships with other people, but definitely in the sense of wanting to develop and deepen the trust and the relationship I have with Hir. (Btw, for me, God is beyond gender and it’s our language that limits how we talk about Hir.)

So this morning, I find myself with a lot of serenity, several things on my calendar, and a number of “crackpot” theories. On my calendar for today: running some errands and meeting with my sponsor. On my calendar for Friday: morning appointment with my cousins to see if we might work well together (i.e., do I know Quickbooks well enough that I might work for them part-time), followed by getting together with a dear friend who lives an hour or so away. On my calendar for Saturday: a day-long InterPlay retreat, followed by my Al Anon meeting, followed by dinner with family. On my calendar for Sunday: church followed, I hope, by some actual R&R for the afternoon. (It could happen. Really it could!) On my calendar for next week: God only knows and hasn’t yet sent me the memo!

I am holding all of these plans loosely, knowing a few might change. But some will not. Some things require my commitment and I do not give them up lightly. That includes my part-time job. As this has become clear to me, an interesting thing happened. [So much for the short post. Sigh…]

Release and let go

I mentioned having “crackpot” theories. Well, there’s really only one that comes to mind at the moment: release is a powerful magnet to our good. Catherine Ponder advocates this and I am fast becoming a believer. In the few, short days since I began letting go again (and again and again) when things threatened to derail me from my serenity, I have been blessed with new possibilities.

A couple of days ago I was pretty stressed about my debt situation. Then, in these past 24 hours, as I have gained clarity about how to respond with integrity to possible job opportunities, it has become equally clear to me how to respond with integrity to my financial situation. I had been distressed, I realize now, because I had been letting my credit card company force me to an unwanted choice, when the truth is, I can continue to do what I can, when I can, and they can choose how to respond to my efforts. I do not need to make any hard and fast choices in this moment. I can continue as I had intended and allow things to unfold.

Isn’t that kind of the way life goes most of the time anyway? 😉

Things *do* come together when I let go and let God do the putting together

Big and Small Steps:

  • Made payments this morning on my three credit cards. (Yay for Thursday paychecks from the temp agency!)
  • Decided not to try to “get” my creditors to do anything. I’ll just keep doing my best and it will either work or it won’t.
  • Let go my fears about the possible 5-week position and, along with it, my fears about my finances.

Noticings:

  • How good it feels to gain clarity around a particular situation.
  • How much I miss my son. (We missed each other on the phone the other night.)
  • How much I’m learning about myself in this 18-day “journey within a journey.”
  • How happy I am to be at the office this morning, having time to write this! (And how nice it is to be able to ignore the phone until I’m “at work.”)

Discovery:

  • We now have irrefutable proof that my (92 1/2-year-old) uncle is hard-headed. When he took a tumble backwards on Sunday and hit his head on the closet door, his skull “fractured” the door rather than the other way around! (What a fun story this will make at family gatherings!) 😉

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 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 87 – Wed, Mar. 7th (87/279): Oy! Did I ever work this much before?!

I’m torn between wanting to write this and wanting to give my eyes a rest after being on the computer for eight solid hours at a temp job I started yesterday. I am so grateful for the coming income and simply the opportunity to have another, different work experience. Yet the work is mind-numbingly monotonous. It takes just enough thought that you have to pay a bit of attention, but it’s unbelievably repetitive.

Select cell. Copy. Alt-Tab. Enter number. Click search. Click refresh. Click on document. Click, click, click. Paste cell contents. Move to next cell. Repeat. 

They're all the same...yet not...

Oy! Make that “Ooooooooooooooyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

It’s ironic how incredibly distressed I was Monday late afternoon when I finally learned the whereabouts for this job. It wasn’t the where that got me; it was the expectation of “business professional” attire.

I don’t own “business professional” attire. At least not if you’re speaking of the very professional attire, such as pumps, slacks, blazers and button-down blouses. Nope, nope, nope. The only thing on that list that I own are slacks – and probably only one of my three non-denim pants truly fit into the “slacks” category. (The pair I like the least, of course, because apparently “slacks” are not make of anything but human-made materials like polyester and rayon. BLECK!!!!)

However, on the UP side of all this… It turns out that the drive could be during somewhat heavy traffic, but the worse traffic is actually going the other direction. Whew! Plus, I discovered that I can not only leave early to avoid the busier traffic, I can start work earlier and leave earlier accordingly. Yay! 

Remember to play!

I also want to mention that the anxiety I felt about the dress code actually mellowed out within a couple of hours. It felt longer because I was truly freaking out before I calmed myself down and started thinking sanely again. Classic Al-Anon overreaction. I thought I was getting better. Actually I know I’m getting better. I just didn’t realize I wasn’t immune from those overreactions. Sigh… Step by step…

Back to my earlier point, I really would like to keep this short. My eyes and my right hand/wrist have been working hard all day long for the past two days. I was so wiped out yesterday, I was asleep by 8:30. Tonight I might do the same, but I’m glad to not be quite such a mush-brain.

The goofy thing is that most of my life I’ve worked 8:00-5:00, Monday through Friday. Although it’s been several years, you wouldn’t think it would be that hard to get back in the groove. And maybe it isn’t. Today was a tad easier than yesterday – although that was in part because we had some anomalies to help capture our attention. (When you’re doing literally hundreds of repetitive entries, anomalies border on excitement!) I’m curious to see what it might feel like to be working 8-hour days again. It’s been a long time. Although I am clear about one thing: I do not want to be a full-time data-entry person!

Before I started this, I received an email in response to a resumé I have posted on a job-hunting site. After doing considerable research, it turns out that the company contacting me is another staffing agency. (This was not the least bit obvious on their website.) I let them know some of my preferences, in terms of logistics and availability, and asked them to tell me about their application process. At the moment, I’m too tired to care (especially given the location and time-requirement of this particular, possibly-available position), but I realized I can always keep the options open.

I'm learning to bloom where I'm planted

  Now I’m going to enjoy having the house to myself and having a couple of hours before bedtime. Early to bed, early to rise may not make me healthy, wealthy, and wise, but it sure let’s me enjoy my favorite time of the day a little more easily. 🙂

Hmmm. So much for keeping it short…

 

 

Noticings:

  • How important it is to shift positions often while working in virtually the same position all day.
  • How lovely it is to have some stairs to walk up just to get the blood moving through my legs!

Action step(s):

  • Kept the option open to get setup with another staffing agency.

Day 76 – Saturday, Feb. 25th (76/290): Noticing the depression, the peace, the bursts of energy and more

Yesterday became a surprisingly peaceful day. After getting to the office and taking the time to write my last post, I soon found myself going through the tasks on my desk without any sense of urgency or need to hurry. I simply kept attending to one thing after the other, beginning with being able to post data on my colleague’s computer without having to rush, since she wouldn’t be in for a few hours.

The odd thing was that I ended up working much longer than I had planned, not out of any compulsion to stay or sense of obligation, but because I was simply enjoying the freedom to be here and to work as long as I wanted. I got caught up in catching up on a particular type of correspondence, which helped me to work my way through some incomplete tasks that were filling up my folders. It felt good to clear them out one by one.

Working in a part-time job with far too much to do in far too little time often presents the challenge of picking and choosing which tasks garner my attention at any given moment. Perhaps that’s why yesterday was so nice. There were several people in the office, which doesn’t happen all the time. The atmosphere was quietly productive in a serene, sometimes playful sort of way. And the truth is, I was enjoying being around people, even if we weren’t often in conversation.

These past eight days have been a strange mix of depression and loneliness, peace and connection, small bursts of energy and sudden “who turned off the lights?!” moments of fatigue. I appreciated reading that Lent is a time of slowing down. I can use some slowing down right now, even as I sometimes feel the need to shift gears into more action. It gives me permission to attend to the inner journey even more closely.

When that happens, I find I’m able to notice things I might otherwise rush past. For instance I noticed I was able to respond differently to a call from the staffing agency. When they called to see if might be interested in another temp position that is farther away than I would like and would require a commute through a particularly congested stretch of freeway, rather than hesitate and send out the signal that I wasn’t interested, I said, “Tell me more.” That simple act gave me a few moments to adjust to the idea that even though this is far from what I would consider an ideal location, I want to be open to what might be there and, certainly, to the much-needed income. I never know when I might encounter unexpected blessings, like those that came through my last temp job.

Perhaps it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, being able to say, “Tell me more.” Yet for me, it was a new and helpful way for me to respond when my kneejerk reaction was to inwardly groan at the prospect of that particular location. It’s moments like these, when I’m able to respond in a different, healthier way that I appreciate this journey of introspection and moving slowly.

Noticings:

  • How nice it was to choose to relax and stay at work yesterday until I felt ready to leave.
  • That it was a good decision to stay home this weekend, as much as I would have liked to have said good-bye to my aunt with my cousins and siblings.
  • How good it feels to be able to dance and move and “babble” today.
  • How much I’ve enjoyed having pictures in my post and wondering where to find more.

A word about “noticings”: Noticing is something we do a lot of in InterPlay. It’s not about making judgments or trying to make meaning or sense of whatever we’re noticing. It’s simply observing what it is and letting that inform our experience in whatever ways it does.

Action step(s):

  • Attending a Day of Deepening at InterPlay, giving my body and my spirit a space to play, to move and to be in community.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to the possible temp job despite the location and schedule because I want to be open to possibilities, rather than closing them off.

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