52 Days – Am I Afraid to Be Happy? (Sat – Jan 19)

Last night my fears were trying to get the better of me, so I cast about for what to read. I had a Guideposts, a Forum, a DA book – A Currency of Hope, and Ponder’s Open Your Mind to Receive. I was floundering, wondering what would be most helpful to me to read, feeling anxious and worried even about such a small thing.

I briefly considered the Ponder book, but thought I needed something other than “merely” opening my mind to receive. I was unsettled, unable to think clearly. I opened the DA book and found a story that I had already bookmarked to read: “Busting Out of Debtor’s Prison.” I started reading it. I connected with things the author was relating about his experience. He spoke of feeling angry when his Pressure Relief Group told him he needed to earn more money.

I felt angry at the idea of being told that too. Earning more money would just raise my monthly payments on my student loans! Of course, that wouldn’t be until next year when I “re-qualify.” And I keep forgetting that I would still have the other 85-90% of that extra income to use for other things.

I want to surrender my fears to my Higher Power

I want to surrender my fears to my Higher Power

I’d truly like to learn how to stop my mind from racing to that place of fear! It’s especially ridiculous (although it feels fearful, rather than “ridiculous”) because I rarely even have clear thoughts about what that unseen, expected disaster might be! Mostly it’s a vague sense of pending disaster that has no basis in reality. And mostly, when I stop to think about it, when I can calm myself down and think more clearly, I discover that my worst imaginings are, themselves, ridiculous.

I am so grateful for the things I read last night. I am grateful to have read the story from my DA book. And I’m even more grateful for having returned to the Ponder book and to be reminded by the words from the Book of James, that I do not have because I do not ask (James 4:2).

In the passage from James 4, I was struck by the words in verse 4:1 that talk about our cravings or our desires being at war within us. That rings so true for me. I notice that I long both for a place of my own and for a place where I have a roommate with whom I enjoy sharing the space, that I might have the social connection of another person in the home. I long for an independent income that frees me from the need to work at a “regular” job, yet I love being able to be around others and share the experiences that bring laughter and friendship through the workplace. I long for a love in my life, yet I’m afraid to be open to the possibility of this happening with someone I’ve not yet met. I’m afraid of the unknown, for I have no control over it.

I want to rush toward changing my words and changing my experience, yet the idea of being abundantly blessed scares me! Which seems completely crazy, ridiculous! But it does…and I don’t really understand why. Is it really just the unknown that scares me? Is it some unarticulated sense of responsibility that a part of me knows will come with it? Is it the fact that I would have to change how I see myself or how I do things if I suddenly were financially blessed and found myself in a loving committed relationship where my life would no longer be just “my” life but would be a part of “our” life?

Am I truly afraid to be happy and blessed? And if I am, why?

I want the courage to jump into the "hoop."

I want the courage to jump into the “hoop.”

Advertisements

Pretending is hard (Wed – Dec 19)

HPIM1975I’m sitting here with a patch over one eye, trying to calm down the irritation that has persisted for about a week now. I see the eye doctor on Friday. They’re giving me a discounted rate and treating me as a returning patient rather than a new patient. I have no insurance, and we’re keeping what they do to a minimum. I just want to make sure my eyes aren’t in danger of any permanent damage and to make sure I’m taking care of them properly.

A caring friend asked me why I was wearing the eye patch. I began by saying that I thought it was “dress like a pirate day,” but I knew her question was sincere. So I told her. I’ve had pain in my right eye for too many days in a row and there’s something I can see that was never there before. Sunday I about freaked when I saw this anomaly. The next day, my Higher Power sent me a(nother) “do not be afraid” message and reminded me that all will be well.

On the way to work yesterday, I decided to sing. Not sure why, but listening to music or anything else didn’t appeal to me. So I made up songs about what I was doing and how I was feeling. Somewhere into the ‘how I was feeling’ part, the deep pain of missing my son surfaced and I began to weep. It’s been three and a half years since I’ve seen him. Neither one of us has the income to travel the distance between us. The one time recently when we thought there might be a possibility of getting together, it turned out it wasn’t going to work. And in my present living situation, presuming my landlady didn’t openly object, he’d only be able to sleep on the floor and hope that I didn’t step on him in the night.

HPIM1972Life is hard right now and I’m not feeling very courageous. I try to tell myself that it takes courage to face each day, to keep hanging in there when it feels so hard. That doesn’t always help much. I’m feeling alone. I’m facing a transition in my student loan repayments status that terrifies me. My living situation is still depressingly stressful while I have little energy for looking for a new place. And my body is experiencing more than the usual aches and pains as a result of it all.

Last Thursday at lunch, one of my colleagues asked me what I was doing for Christmas. It was one of those rare occasions when the lunchroom was practically empty. It was just the two of us. I shared with her about how long it’s been since I’ve seen my son. I told her a little about my less-than-happy living situation. When I mentioned that I might go to an Al Anon meeting on Christmas Day, she said she’d been in Al Anon as a teenager. Interesting how that explained why I felt a kind of connection with her.

It was an odd conversation in a way. She was getting ready to fly to Paris to join her family. I was talking about spending Christmas alone in my room. She flies to Paris often (having been born there and having dual citizenship). I can’t imagine the freedom to fly to see my son a few states away.

HPIM1976Still, it was nice to not have to pretend my holidays will be a fun-filled family event. I’ve gotten to where I dread people asking me what I’m doing for the holidays or even how I am. I’ve been having these moments of feeling like I’m at the end of my rope. Not in a suicidal kind of way, but rather in an “I’m going to throw things through the window and run screaming from the building” kind of way. Last week, in a particularly dark moment, I remembered a flower essence remedy that helps when you’re at your limit. I found some in my “medicine bag.”

The remedy is called Sweet Chestnut and it’s connected with the principle of release. I’ve been thinking a lot about release lately as I’ve tried to get along as best I can. As I read the description in Mechthild Scheffer’s book Bach Flower Therapy: Theory and Practice (Thorsons Publishing Group, 1986 – the best book on the flower remedies, in my opinion), she was describing exactly what I was feeling – what I am still feeling to some extent. Sweet Chestnut, she writes, is for those who are experiencing “that terrible, that appalling mental despair when it seems the very soul itself is suffering destruction. It is the hopeless despair of those who feel they have reached the limit of their endurance” (p. 161).

As alarming as that sounds, it is also the point when one is about to move into a “crucial inner change” – a time of releasing old destructive patterns and initiating new stages of spiritual growth and development. “One realizes that everything is taken from one because one needs to go forward empty handed if one is to be able to take hold of the new life that is coming towards one; that one has to give oneself up completely to be totally reborn” (p 162).

A positive response can happen during this challenging time, a time author and minister Catherine Ponder would likely call “chemicalization.” For this is the time when the old is being stripped away to make way for the new. The result, if one is willing, is a deeper trust in God in a time where transformation has made room for prayers to be heard and miracles to happen.

I know I’m here. I know I’m on the brink. But answering the questions of “how are you doing?” or “what are you doing for Christmas?” are no less easy because I’m on the edge of transformation. So I pretend to be fine most of the time because few people ask those questions truly wanting an honest answer. And I’m not always sure what that honest answer would be.

I pray that your own holidays are abundantly blessed with friends, family, and joyful memories. 🙂HPIM1983

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreams are for dreaming

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

Day 107 (Tue/Mar 27): Five days – God is up to something, a journey within the journey

Sometimes the gate to new places isn't easy to see

The past twelve hours have been rather interesting. I interviewed for a job helping “seniors” – being a companion, helping around the house, possibly running the occasional errand. I don’t know how suited I am for this kind of work. It’s hard to tell. But basically, I’ve landed work at another “temp agency.” Hmmm.

Then, a couple of hours later, while I was at work (at my regular job), I got a call from the (other) temp agency. They wanted to know if I would be interested in a job working 8:00-1:00, Monday through Friday. Then the eager recruiter presented the “exciting” news as to the name of the organization. When I said, “Who?” her amusement was obvious. It’s a (major?) sports team that pays its players big bucks. I asked her if I needed to like the particular sport… I did say she could submit my resumé. As I continued to think about it, I decided it would be more about whether or not I enjoyed working there (i.e., the people, the office, the atmosphere).

Look carefully and you might see the seeds for new possibilities

Still a few hours later, I ended up talking to one of my cousins. My aunt had told her earlier that day about my morning interview. So my cousin, who is doing the books for another care-providing company, put in a good word for me. They were interested to know if I might be available Saturday. (I’m actually not, this particular Saturday.) I told my cousin I wasn’t even certain this type of care-giving is my kind of work.

Then I asked how her situation was going. (She recently nearly lost a client while her husband had surgery and she couldn’t be in two places at once.) When I mentioned that I had wondered if there wasn’t something I could do to help out, we got to talking about my work experience. We’re going to get together and see if I know the program they use well enough to possibly work for them part-time.

Just last night I was reading more about the principle of release in Catherine Ponder’s book Open Your Mind to Receive. She made a statement that caught my attention: Elimination of something from your life is always an indication that something better is on the way (p. 26). In my conversation with my friend last night, I had discussed releasing some of my debts. It isn’t what I hoped to be doing, but it may be the necessary reality if I’m going to be able to move forward. As I read Ponder’s words, I noticed a shift already taking place in my thinking at the possibility of making these different choices around my finances. (Btw, do you have to actually have money to speak of “finances” and “financial affairs”? ;-))

Trust requires a willingness to try the unexplored

This morning, as I was writing my journal reflection, my financial situation was wandering around in the background of my mind. I was asking myself if the choices I’m considering are choices I can make with integrity. What came to mind was another time when I had a difficult decision to make and did not want to make a rash decision. It was a relationship and my choices around it would affect at least three people. I had acted hastily in a previous relationship and regretted it afterwards. I did not want to make the same mistake again. So I did my best and hung in there for some time. When it finally became clear that the relationship was not going to work, I knew my decision to leave would be the right one – and it was. It has been better for all concerned.

My overreaction to (another) call from one of my creditors last night helped me to see that things are not going to work out between us. I can’t give them what I don’t have and they no longer seem willing to accept what I can give them. This morning I recognized the same feelings I had years ago around that relationship: I have done the best I can, but if they are no longer willing to work with me, I may need to take a different course of action. I had been paying my credit card bills first and living on the “leftovers” for months before I couldn’t keep up the payments. Now it’s time to let go and let God guide me as to what to do.

I find it most intriguing that less than twenty-four hours after deciding to let go my well-intended (no-longer-acceptable) efforts, I have three (even four) possible job offers.

Yep, God is definitely up to something.

Maybe it's time to discover what's at the top of the stairs...

Big and Small Step(s):

  • Taking an interview, even though I’m not certain how good the fit. It reflects my desire to explore the possibilities God places before me. (Did I mention that this company had called me in response to an application I submitted in September?) (!)
  • Saying yes to the possibility of another temp opportunity (one that might last three months), recognizing that we can approach this on a trial basis and realizing I can ask for my “usual” pay rate.

Noticings:

  • How different – in a good way, a strong way – I feel, even as I’m considering a difficult financial choice. I have the confidence now that I lacked years ago to realize that I do have choices.
  • How much more confidence I had in myself at this interview…
  • How much underlying serenity I have, despite the uncertainty and changing landscape of my work life right now. Interesting… Nice. 🙂

Day 104 (Sat/Mar 24): Eight days – The good grief of letting go, a journey within the journey

Ruh roh...It's been rough...

 I’m striving to let go my nervous apprehension. I’m not sure I tracked my spending accurately with this last small paycheck. If my checking account is overdrawn by more than a few dollars… Let me go check it now…

Actually, let me wait a bit. It occurs to me that letting this go is what’s called for, since I’m powerless to change choices I’ve already made. Earlier today, I was talking with a friend of mine. We were talking about releasing. She has realized she needs to release some of the stuff she has in her place. She gave away some of her kitchen things, finally letting go of the need to make sure they went to just the right people. I could relate to that feeling, of wanting to give things away but wanting to make sure they went to people who would appreciate them. As she was talking about this, it dawned on me that giving them to a thrift store, especially all those wonderful ones that are run by charities, would put them out into the world where “just the right” person might more easily find them. It was helpful for me to have her talking about this process.

When she talked about going through some papers, especially old letters, that’s when it was obvious the work she was doing was hard. It’s the emotional attachment that keeps me hanging on to some things. If not that, then it’s the fear of needing or wanting them again. With all the fear and uncertainty I’ve experienced in the last…well, perhaps most of my life, as someone raised in a home impacted by the family disease of alcoholism, it’s no wonder I’ve accumulated so much stuff. Life has always been too uncertain to take the chance of letting something go that I might need.

This past week, with my days busy working, then coming home and relaxing in front of a DVD while I ate dinner, before writing my blog posts, I kept thinking about what life might look like if things suddenly became “normal” and I could actually afford to find and pay for a place to live and begin supporting myself again.

Sometimes it's not the right time to move

You know, it’s literally been decades since I’ve been a single person, all by herself, taking care of herself through her own efforts. It’s no wonder it feels so scary! For so many years I have either not been alone (with either husband and/or son to share my days) or I have been supported through other means (like student loans all through grad school).

I keep forgetting that there are many ways in which my life is a whole new experience.

I’m not yet sure where the balance is for me. As I move through these sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle shifts in my schedule and my days, I notice the little things that make a difference. Sometimes, it’s the letting go of the routine that has kept me steady (or so I thought). Other times, it’s developing a new routine. Still other times, it’s none of the above and all of the above all at the same time.

The paper-collecting box

Letting go of things can be hard, for we get attached to things that seem important, even are important for a time. But when exactly they cease to be important can pass by unnoticed until we suddenly discover they are a burden we no longer want.

 I do not know what lies ahead for me or how I will make it through the days and weeks ahead. I keep letting go when things start to feel overwhelming or scary. I know that I trust God and I want to trust Hir more. The process of experiencing this continues to involve the letting go of deeply held convictions around my own self worth, which leads to a lot of tears, even a sense of loss as I let go old perceptions about myself.

This morning I wanted to read something about grief because I have been feeling a lot of sadness and loss lately of things that aren’t always easy to identify. Sometimes I think it’s simply grieving the loss of the familiar. I know it’s letting go of long-held beliefs.

Where might this go?

There’s a passage in Nehemiah (8:7-12) when the people are weeping after learning about “the Law.” The priests who are teaching them tell them not to grieve, that their strength is in the “joy of the Lord.” Then it says, they went “to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.” (NRSV) It struck me that what they understood was the depth of God’s love for them.

I feel so close to “getting” that, too, at ever deeper levels – levels that will enable me to truly believe I deserve to receive God’s abundant blessings. We all do.

Big and Small Steps:

  • Called a friend and offered her a ride to a place we both wanted to go.
  • Let go worry about the time and discovered I got all my errands done in plenty of time this afternoon.
  • Decided to work at my regular job tomorrow after learning I don’t need to go in to the temp job, since I was already mentally geared to work a few hours. (Yay for more time at my regular job!)

Noticings:

  • How nice it was to let go the seeming urgency to check my bank balance. I think I’ll wait till after I post this…
  • How scary it feels to be on the edge of poverty week in and week out…
  • How peace-bringing it is to let go and trust.

Day 103 (Fri/Mar 23): Nine days – The gifts of letting go, a journey within the journey

The clock had last chimed 5:30, not 4:30. Ruh roh!

 Just as I was thinking to myself, Yes, it is hard right now, the title of the Murder, She Wroteepisode I was preparing to watch displayed on my computer: “Trials and Tribulations.” What a hoot! It made me laugh. 🙂

This morning I awoke a full fifty minutes after my alarm should have gone off. It’s a quiet alarm – I’m sure it did go off. I just didn’t hear it. I believe I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever slept through my alarm clock going off – and I don’t need all five fingers.

The interesting part was that I wasn’t nearly as distressed about it as I would have been not that long ago. I simply considered how to streamline my morning and what might I do differently. Fortunately, as has been my pattern lately, my clothes were already laid out and waiting in the bathroom and my lunch was partly made because I hadn’t eaten what I had prepared the day before. Instead of doing my devotion time while I ate breakfast, I fixed my breakfast immediately and ate it while I was preparing my lunch.

I felt a wee bit uncertain about leaving without doing my usual devotion time, but it seemed okay for some reason. I soon discovered why…

Each page awaits completion...especially today's

Rather than get into my philosophical-thinking mode (which often happens) or getting into my ‘rather like blogging (only on paper)’ mode (which happens often as well), I used the drive to work as a time to talk to God. Actually, I’m not sure I made it down the driveway before I was mopping my eyes with a hanky. The letting go of my usual morning routine, begun as soon as I saw the time when I woke up, had done its job. With nothing else to distract my attention beyond attending to light traffic, I was soon in an unexpectedly profound “conversation” – which was mostly about speaking words of release and listening to that inner voice.

It was an amazing experience and helped me to know that letting go of even my carefully-guarded morning devotion time, or at least the structure of it, can be appropriate at times. (Although I may yet spend time in my journal this evening. I truly enjoy and appreciate the time spent with a listening heart and pen in hand.)

This week has been surprising. I ended up working 33 hours at the temp job and will work a bit this weekend. I worked almost half my usual part-time job hours and hope to get in the rest, or close to it, tomorrow. What a blessing!

I’ve been too busy to do something I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks. I’d like to set up ‘graphs’ to track two things I’m working on these days. One will be to track my step/stair exercise progress. My goal is to be able to do one hundred sets in a go with a certain amount of ease. I have no idea how long it will take. The idea came when I realized what a difference my random play with balancing (i.e., on one leg) made in my leg strength. I thought, if such a sporadic and inconsistent effort made that much difference, what might a more intentional effort do?

The other thing I want to track is the lows in my bank balances. That may sound like an odd thing to want to track, but when my checking account has only $3.71 in it for days before the next paycheck arrives, I’m thinking I would enjoy striving to raise that low balance each month. There’s something about being able to “see” progress – as in a chart or graph – that makes it more fun and easier to grab onto for me.

Yet I’m letting go even of these and the temptation to hurry up and figure out how to get something like that posted on my blog. I’ve got one chart started (the step workouts, which are easy to track). The other chart will require gathering of data and producing a chart. Then I’ll have to figure out how to put something like that on my blog. One of my fellow bloggers does a nifty job of this on her site and she inspired the idea. (You know who you are! ;-))

Notice the tiny puddle?

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to take things as slowly as needed, listen for cues to look this way or that, and let go all the things I haven’t got done, knowing they’ll get done when they need to be done.

Big and Small Steps:

  • Letting go my usually set (almost in stone) morning routine and shifting things to fit the time I had this morning.
  • Letting go a possible temp position next week because I knew I wouldn’t be able to function well at that hour and I wasn’t willing to give up a retreat next Saturday.

Noticings:

  • How much I enjoy and appreciate using my foam roller to massage/adjust my back.
  • How often I think of my unshaven legs as looking like Tom Selleck’s – except his look better. (And how much fun I have with this image while it’s too cold for shorts. ;-))
  • How often I enjoy noticing young men who remind me of my son. It may be the haircut, the way they walk, or simply their general appearance. For example, the young man who plays the conga drum at church makes me think of my son.
  • How forgiving my body is when I eat too much.
  • How quickly the rapport between myself and my co-worker at the temp job shifted when I noticed how I was feeling (not good) and let it go. Our relationship went from distant to friendly without any effort on my part. Amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me always see the beauty around me

 Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

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

My Life Practice Program group

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

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

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

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

Much needed reminders...

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

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

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

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

Drawing how I feel lifts my spirits

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

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

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

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

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

The blossoming of joy

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

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.

Wednesday, Jan. 18th (38/328): Climbing trees at 92? (or, something’s changing in me)

Something is happening here. Somewhere along the way in the past day or two, pieces fell into place for me and I began to see things in a new way.

Words on a postcard, below an event announcement: “Fear not!” A timely, helpful reminder. Dolphin reminding me to breathe, to let my breath release deep emotions, even to move past them. The gradually unfolding realization that each piece of a job search can and probably should happen incrementally, step by step, without forcing, without a sense of urgency, without a misperceived need to hurry just because my ‘pocketbook’ is slim.

Today I set myself the task of checking out a website that gathers position announcements from other websites. Even as I planned to check it out, I kept letting go and reminding myself that I might find nothing. More importantly, that I did not need to search endlessly trying to find something at this moment. The job for me might not even be there yet. It might not be ready for me; I might not be ready for it. Maybe, for now, it’s about practicing the process of doing the work.

It was an important thing for me to realize that whatever I do, like searching for job postings or checking my Linked In account, I need to begin to do it regularly. Instead of trying to do the occasional, intense session, I will be better served to do my work briefly, more often, incrementally. It will also be more gentle that way, if the fear tries to surface.

How come I didn’t see this before? I think it’s because I was too focused on the fear and couldn’t see anything past it. Fear tends to work that way.

Later, when I was virtually falling asleep at barely 2:00 in the afternoon, I took something out to the kitchen to work on, just to get out of my overly warm room. From there I became sidetracked by watching my uncle pruning the fig tree. I was wrong about his age, by the way. He isn’t 91 at all. He’s 92 1/2! If I can figure out how to put up a photo of him climbing in the fig tree as he was finishing the pruning, I will. I know you won’t believe me otherwise. 🙂

When I loaded the photos I took onto my computer, I started noticing a whole lot of pics I don’t want or need. I started doing some “housecleaning.” I removed a lot of duplicate photos. I released a lot of photos that now seem odd to me to have taken in the first place. Many were of the piles of boxes in whichever apartment as I was moving in or moving out of. A number of photos were taken “in case” I needed proof of something (like the condition of an apartment). I deleted over 200 photos! It feels good to have done this small clean-up task.

When I grow up, I want to be productive like my aunt and uncle. (I captured her on digital “film” today as well, raking up oak leaves. She’s young – only 79.)   I want to practice moderation in many things, the way I see them do. And I want to live each day, if not to the fullest, at least in a way that leaves me feeling good about what I experienced and what I did – or didn’t – do.

Action step(s):

  • Opened the mail I picked up yesterday and the mail I picked up week before last; enjoyed the opportunity to throw things in the recycle container!
  • Searched the job-search website to see what I might find
  • Called the staffing agency to make sure I’m staying on their radar
  • Strived to keep an open mind when a new friend suggested a kind of work from which I tend to flee – I’ll at least learn more before deciding
  •  “Helped” my uncle by pulling the shorn fig branches out of the way so he wouldn’t need to climb up and down the ladder; helped my aunt gather oak leaves
  • Deleted over 200 unneeded pics from my computer
  • Tried my first photo inserts on this blog (although I have to learn how to control their placement a little better)

Previous Older Entries

© 2013 LuciasJourney.com