Tuesday, Jan. 17th (37/329): Job Talk…Just for today

Monday morning began with reflections on the previous day. It felt like the light had started to shine in the darkness of my recent experiences of feeling so overwhelmed. A little later in the morning, it felt good to go to the women’s InterPlay class and have the opportunity to dance, connect, babble and tell stories. I talked about this blog, about a new blog/website I’m beginning to create, even a little about my dreams. It felt good to finally register the new blog/website and make a start. Good – and a little bit scary.

The shift felt positive, transforming even. Later, I organized my handouts from the various job-search workshops I’ve attended. The rest of the day I relaxed and started thinking about what concrete steps I might take toward seeking employment.

This morning, I awoke and checked to see if there was anything in particular I needed to do to prepare for a meeting with my employment specialist today. Guilt and anxiety started creeping rapidly into my day. The coming meeting reminded me of the work I need to be doing, not just learning about doing. I had precious little to report.

I chose one of my favorite verses to use for my first reflection: Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) I needed a sense of courage; anxiety was gaining ground.

I noticed something as I wrote the verse in my journal. It says that God will strengthen my heart – not me. It’s not something I do myself; it’s something only a Power greater than myself can do for me. I took some comfort in that. Which is good, because I felt thoroughly deflated later in the day after my meeting with the employment specialist.

It seemed like I had done virtually nothing since I had last met with her. I hadn’t submitted any resumés or job applications or done any informational interviews. I hadn’t even called the people I know I want to talk to about their experiences in chaplaincy, to see what possibilities it might hold for me.

On the other hand, as I reported what I could, I realized I did do a few things. I did scout out job possibilities on Craigslist a time or two. I did get on the university job listing site and see if there was anything there for me. I did talk briefly to two people about wanting to meet with them to talk about chaplaincy work. I did check out a lead one of them gave me (though it didn’t get me anywhere – yet). And I did receive a call from a staffing agency about a position (I unfortunately wasn’t qualified to fill), which enabled me to let them know I am available for work.

Yet I completely discounted, even dismissed the tiny steps I have taken. The times I looked for employment possibilities were dismissed because I didn’t find anything that led me to submit an application. At the university, there were no positions for which I was qualified that fit. I haven’t followed up with either person to whom I mentioned chaplaincy. And I still need to call the staffing agency regularly or I will fall off their radar again.

In short, I may not have done as much as I’d like, but I’ve done more than I thought.

Earlier this evening, I discovered I have not talked about the one thing I was determined to talk about every week – job hunting. It’s time to begin both talking about it and directing more of my energy into it. I’ve nudged my thyroid medication back up toward what was normal before the stressful move the end of November and that may help with the physical energy. As for the emotional energy…

I rediscovered my “Just For Today” Al-Anon bookmark. I’ve been carrying it around all day, reading and rereading the first statement: Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once.* It’s helping me remember that I cannot do everything all at once.

Action step(s):

  • Met with employment specialist
  • Registered a new blog/website to begin developing the consulting work I want to do
  • Did some careful meal planning to stretch the tiny amount of money I have left for the month
  • Mostly, I’ve trusted God a little more by letting go more often in the past two days

*This bookmark and other Al Anon literature are available at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org and at Al Anon meetings in your area.

Sunday, Jan. 15th (35/331): Private journeys

I attended a memorial service today for a dear friend’ husband, who passed away New Year’s morning while she was at church. He died peacefully in his sleep, just hours after they had shared an enjoyable evening, planning more of their future together after more than fifty-five years of marriage.

As I listened to the stories about this unobtrusive, remarkable man (whom I had never met), and especially as my friend shared briefly about what a wonderful support he had been for her, I was struck, by way of contrast, at what a private, sometimes lonely journey recovery can be. A few tears slipped down my cheeks as I felt my friend’s loss and also my own yearning for such a relationship. I wondered if I will ever know the kind of love and connection they had.

Barely three hours later, after listening to shares of a different nature at an ACA meeting, it occurred to me that the difficulty I’ve experienced in these past six or so months might well be a gift. Like it or not, I have been forced to take a hard look at the patterns of thinking and behaving in my life, and the patterns that don’t work have become abundantly clear, as has the amount of fear that drives many of those patterns.

The gift, for me, has been manifesting in the form of healing in my thinking around relationships. I used to think I could not walk this journey alone and I really didn’t want to try. But in the past six months, I have not only discovered I can walk alone (in human terms, for I know I am never alone in the sense that God is always with me), I have come to appreciate the value in finding my own way. I have discovered that I do not need a partner or spouse to encourage me, share the burden with me, or support me. Perhaps this is obvious to you; for me it is a revelation. No, a miracle. Even as I felt the longing for someone to share my life, as I listened to the story of one man’s love for his wife, family and friends, the “need” for such support was gone.

I suspect the main reason I am receiving healing in this area of my life is because I let it go and got out of the way of my own recovery. Interesting how that works. Without conscious effort, I implemented Step 3 in the 12-Step program: I turned my life and my will in this arena over to the care of God. Clearly, God has been working on me!

I’m not sure it’s quite the same thing, but an image that comes to mind is this: one way to get over a headache is to drop a hammer on your toe! It’s called “diversion” and it seems to be working. I think I’m a bit ADD that way – the best way for me to let go of something is to direct my attention elsewhere.

Now, if I can figure out how to apply this in some way to my job hunting goals, maybe I can really make progress!

Action step(s):

  • Putting God first several times today when I could have insisted on my own way
  • Setting out some clear goals and prayer requests
  • Being attentive to the money I was spending, with an awareness of what I actually have available to spend, and making choices accordingly

Saturday, Jan. 14th (34/332): A reflection

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving… Ephesians 4:32 (NRSV)

I’m wrestling with something again and I’m not quite sure yet what it is. Once again, tears flow easily and often, at the least provocation. What that means for me is that devotions raise tears for all sorts of reasons, as do TV shows and movies. Sometimes when that happens, I just wonder what’s up. Or rather, what’s really up?

It may be fatigue from an inadequate level of thyroid hormone (I’m having to listen to my body to adjust my dose, since I have neither insurance nor the funds to seek medical assistance right now). It could be fatigue from financial worries or anxiety around the need to more diligently (i.e., actively) seek other employment. It could be fatigue from the deep inner work that continues to happen simply because I am doing this work. It could be none of the above. Or all of the above. Or any number of other things I might not have noticed.

This verse did not raise the tears this morning, but my reflection with it from a year ago did, as I was reminded to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving of myself and the journey so closely mirrored what I seem to be experiencing now.

Too often I become frustrated when my mental and physical energy lag far behind what’s needed to make significant headway on my many to-do lists. When that happens and I then notice it’s happening, I often discover my whole body is tensed, poised to charge ahead even when I’m not up to charging, physically or emotionally. As many times as I have discovered that I get more done with greater ease when I let go and treat myself gently, it’s apparently a lesson I am still learning. (I made this observation last year and it is again true.)

This morning I gave myself permission not to rush. I got up late (7:15 – late for me) and I enjoyed the freedom to take my time with my reflection writing. I have a daily practice of writing reflections in response to one or more verses from the Bible. It is my time to listen, to reflect, to pay attention to what’s going on inside me, both emotionally and spiritually. I know it is time well spent, as it is this practice that has kept me going through the various ups and downs of the past ten or so years.

Maybe, I wrote in December 2010, just for today, I can stop trying to push myself and, instead, let the Holy Spirit guide my feet, one step at a time. These were words I needed to hear.

Yesterday I felt like I hit a wall, an invisible barrier to moving forward with the mental to-do list forming in my head. I was thinking of making a specific, job-search-related list of things to do. They were to be goals that included some of the tasks encouraged by the instructors at JVS. As I noticed the “wall,” I began to ask myself the reason for that wall. Was it Spirit telling me, “Not this way” or “Not yet”? Or was it fear getting in the way? I didn’t come up with a clear answer.

When I got home, I fixed something to eat and ended up spending the evening relaxing. My aunt and uncle went to her son’s for dinner, so I had the freedom to use my uncle’s computer (i.e., internet access!). Instead of blogging, as I had thought I might do, I “played.” Was I relaxing? Or was I avoiding the question about the “wall”? It’s hard to tell. In any case, I let go my initial intentions around blogging an introspection and simply enjoyed the fun of solving an annoyingly difficult crossword puzzle with the help of online resources.

I thought about my to-do list as I was going to bed and awoke with the same thoughts. I felt determined to be “productive.” Now I’m not so sure that’s what God was asking of me this day. It occurred to me yet again how seldom I pause to ask for Guidance about what to do. My days and plans are driven by financial need and fear, worry about things I can’t control, and uncertainty about how to best spend my days. I still feel like an uneducated youth who hasn’t learned the basic skills of life.

The irony is that the tasks in and of themselves are simply: updating my checkbook, opening the mail, checking email, connecting with friends, etc. Yet, if they’re so simple, why does it often feel so hard to do them, let alone keep up with them? Has our culture truly created a lifestyle with too much to do? These are not hard things to do, yet they back up on me on a regular basis. And herein lies the challenge: I feel able to do all these things and consequently find it hard, at times, to let go and to be gentle, kind, forgiving with myself.

I know I want to change and to be changed by God’s love for me. So today, I tried to let go and let things happen. Was it “enough”? Maybe not. Was it enough? Yes, it was.

Action step(s):

  • Updated my checkbook
  • Wrote out my tithe check and a check for my PO box
  • Sorted through a few papers and organized a small piece of the “file box” I have with me
  • Called a friend
  • Let go the rest

Sunday, Jan. 8th (28/338): Silliness really

It’s silly really. Writing yesterday’s post helped me discover that fear was the only thing holding me back from updating my address with the DMV. So I did it today! And I prepared and printed a voter registration form. (Apparently, since I changed counties, I can’t do it online. Bummer. It makes sense, but still.)

What’s scary about either of these things, you may ask? Probably nothing really. But these are governmental agencies and there’s a part of me that distresses at the idea of giving them my change of address since it probably isn’t really a “legal” address in the sense that I’m “staying” here, not “living” here. So if it isn’t my “legal” address, but I’m not actually living on the streets, do I check the “I have no home” box on the form?

I gave the DMV both my physical and mailing addresses when I moved into an apartment a couple of years ago. But this summer, they sent my parking ticket reminder to my physical address – which was actually no longer my address. Had it come to my PO Box – i.e., the mailing address – I would have received it right away. Fortunately, I had already paid it. How dumb is that?

Jury duty actually pops up from either the DMV records or the voter registration records. I guess they figure they increase the odds of finding you. The last time I got a jury duty summons was a date when I had a commitment I could not change. Fortunately, I was able to change it, but I have worried that I might soon get another summons at my old address, not know it, then have a warrant sworn out for my arrest for ignoring it!

The truly silly part for me today was after I pulled my car registration and insurance cards out of my glove compartment. I supposedly needed my car registration to complete my DMV form online. I grabbed the four slips of paper I saw from my glove box to make sure I had what I needed. (I rarely clean these out of my car. In fact, I think there’s a collection of old registrations in the box by my feet. It’s waiting for me to go through it and sort/purge/file.)

I looked at the old registration and insurance forms and pondered for a few minutes. Do I need them for anything? My address on one of them was an old physical address. Hmm. Might I need either of them for anything? Finally, I boldly turned on the shredder and stuffed them in it, while part of my mind shrieked and worried, “But what if I need them?!”

This is a perfect example of the absolute insanity of my thoughts at times – which is why I have about a million and a half pieces of paper I do not need cluttering my room and filling up my storage units. (Yes, “units,” plural.)

However, the good things is that I noticed today how much easier it was to change my address and register to vote than ever before and how little anxiety I actually felt when I shredded those old forms.

I hesitate to get too excited about how significant these small steps are. Yet I believe something is changing in me, that these small, even baby-sized steps are actually adding up and making a difference in my life. I know that God is also working on me (probably doing most of the work), since my steps are truly small, indeed. Still, it feels good to have taken these steps with such ease!

One more thing… My aunt and uncle received their gas/electric bill this weekend. It is $390! For one month! That is literally almost half my monthly pay right now. That’s why it surprises me that this actually became a helpful reality check for me. My life has been so topsy-turvy in terms of living spaces for the past 3 1/2 years that I have no idea how much a typical utility bill might be. Theirs may be higher than average because they are older and need to keep their home warmer than some people. Plus they have everything imaginable on automatic timers that must use some kind of juice to run. Still, it helped me realize that just as I need to “grow” my income, I need to get a more realistic picture of the cost of living.

I suspect there was something about that eye-opening moment that helped make the whole DMV/Voter Registration piece easier.

Action step(s):

  • Changed my address with the DMV
  • Re-registered to vote (since I changed counties)
  • Shredded a couple of old forms despite the fear!
  • Went through the stack of literature I brought home from yesterday’s meeting and was able to throw out a whole bunch of those. (Why not tidy up those files as well!)

Friday, Jan. 6th (26/320): A word about fear

I notice that the more I fight fear and try not to be afraid when I really am, the more tension I create in my body and the more discomfort I experience as a result. I start wearing my shoulders around my ears and muscles tighten both up and down my body. Not helpful!

When I acknowledge the fear, as I was able to do yesterday, when I admit that things are hard and that I am scared, I find relief from the fear. It’s not that it completely disappears; it’s more that it fades into the background and I am freed to focus my attention where it’s needed. I’ve often heard, “what you resist persists.” I realize this is true for my feelings of fear, as well. I hadn’t recognized how true until the dam burst and the tears – and fears – came pouring out.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that most of my fears fall into two categories: fear of change or fear of the unknown. When I look at the things that provoke anxiety in me, I almost inevitably find one or both of these. For instance:

  • Looking for work – both;
  • Changing careers – the unknown;
  • Finding a place to live – both;
  • Money challenges – the unknown;
  • Relationships (in general, but especially romantic ones) – both.

Other things generate more complex feelings of fear:

  • Going through accumulated piles of papers feels overwhelming. My clutter provides a kind of protective shield. Since I tend to feel socially inept and am afraid of making social blunders, it becomes a convenient excuse for not having guests come to visit. Clearing out the clutter feels very scary indeed.
  • Letting go of furniture and other household items is scary. I’m afraid I won’t be able to replace these things if I let them go. Of course, having lots of stuff makes it harder (and more expensive) to move, which I’ve done often in the past few years. In fact, this exemplifies precisely the kind of deprivation thinking I’m striving to change as part of this journey.

Change can be scary and the unknown can be even scarier. But life is and always will be full of change and I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I would like to be more open and willing to change and I’d like to start seeing the unknown as an adventure. In what may be a tiny step in this direction…

I have often been attached to wanting things the way I want them. For example, I’ve (inwardly) thrown fits when a product I like disappears from the shelves. I finally got tired of expending so much energy trying to change things beyond my control that I started consciously working to let these things go. Today, when I couldn’t find the cereal I wanted, I ended up buying a totally different kind. Instead of leaving the store upset or annoyed because they didn’t have what I wanted, I realized I was making a small change that I might even like. I was able to enjoy the adventure of trying something new.

It symbolized a willingness on my part to accept change with a little more grace – and that felt pretty darn good! Especially because I’ve discovered that transformation in one area of my life often results in transformation in other areas, which is a wonderful thing on a path of recovery! 🙂

(Btw, did I mention that the staffing agency called me yesterday afternoon? I guess that answered my question from yesterday morning!)

My action step(s):

  • Turned off my alarm and allowed my body the extra rest it needed after an interrupted night’s sleep.
  • Went to an InterPlay class today. My body so-o-o appreciated moving and stretching and loosening up some of those tight muscles.

Day 21 – Sunday, December 25: Trusting the process

My sponsor often says, “Trust the process.” It reminds me to remember that taking all the small steps, working the program, and simply continuing on the path will bring changes and transformations along the way. I may not be able to see the changes right away. Usually it happens when I do something so differently from my pre-recovery behavior that it catches my attention.

Today, “Trust the process,” came to mind as I let go of my hopeful plans to work on my blog while my aunt and uncle were enjoying Christmas Day dinner elsewhere. They both awoke with sore throats and (wisely) decided to stay home and take it easy. For my uncle, this included spending time in his office. When they were having dinner and I peeked into his office to see if I might use his computer, I saw that he was in the middle of a sewing project and had stuff all over the desk. (The man amazes me. He endlessly repairs things, including his many denim shirts and pants. May I be so active and productive in the years to come!)

Since I had to abandon my anticipated blog-time, I decided to do something fun. I headed to the movie theater to catch what looks to be a delightful and enjoyable movie…only to discover it wasn’t even on the electronic ticket purchasing menu! I overheard someone say “sold out” to someone else and wondered if it might be this movie. In any case, I drove by a couple more theaters, then let it go and returned home.

Later, while watching some DVDs, I found myself antsy to do something toward my goals. Since finances are a primary concern and I have difficulty keeping a handle on what I actually have to work with, I recently purchased some “realistic” play money to see if working with that could help me get a better picture of my monthly resources.

I counted out one paycheck’s worth of play money. Then I set aside my usual set monthly expenditures: my tithe, storage, cell phone, car insurance, and so on. I then figured out what I typically spend on gas and what I need for a couple of other bills. The remaining amount was disconcertingly little for food, other groceries, and everything else from public transportation to vitamin supplements to unexpected necessities.

As my anxiety started to increase, I remembered something I recently read in a book by one of my favorite authors. The (true) story was of a man who was struggling in his business. Rather than stressing about it, he took the small amount of money he had, gave thanks for it, and paid what he could. Over time, as he continued this practice, his finances did indeed improve.

It was truly helpful to begin seeing what I have to work with on my present income, to remember to be thankful for what I have, and to know that I can always do something. As I let go the fear, I found myself able to see what I do have, rather than what I don’t – and that was a blessing!

Today’s action step(s):

  • Going through two plastic bins of nutritional supplements I’ve had for some time and releasing almost all of them. (I’m passing them onto a friend to see if they might be helpful to her, which admittedly made it much easier to release them.)
  • Using play money to help me get a better picture of my available finances.

Day 10 – Wednesday: A New Beginning

Dear friends,

Hopefully you find this (or receive) this post seamlessly. I have been thinking about changing my URL and took the plunge just minutes ago. Interesting to discover how scary such a simple (and inexpensive) process can be. Yet it was.

I’m asking myself, why does it feel so scary to do this? The simple answer, and possibly the most honest one, is that I have spent ridiculous amounts of money over the years starting new adventures, then failing to follow through. I know that’s what’s being triggered for me now. I have bought exercise equipment or paid for gym memberships, begun using them enthusiastically, then quickly petered out. I have bought dozens (hundreds?) of books or magazines, only to have them remain virtually untouched. I have also bought other random things to “improve” my situation or “help” me to xyz, only to realize later what a waste of money it was.

So, what’s different about this? The truth is, I don’t know – yet. Only time will tell. Why do it? Quite honestly, because my original domain name doesn’t really do much for me. It was simply part of an email address I’ve sometimes used when I want to be somewhat anonymous and it’s what I used when I first started nibbling at an earlier notion of this blog. However, “Lucia’s Journey” echoes how I feel about this blog, about this process and about my life in general. It feels like a blog title that can lead me anywhere I may choose to go.

Yesterday, I saw what may have (formerly) been a Porcupine on the side of the freeway. When I got home, I looked up Porcupine’s message (according to at least one author). Porcupine reminds me to trust, to have faith, to remember to play. Porcupine’s ‘contrary’ message reminds me that it is time to start anew by having faith in my ability to move through this challenging time with joy. This is what I want to remember for this day.

Blessings to you!

Today’s action step(s):

  • Registering/purchasing a new domain name.
  • (Not sure if it counts for me exactly, but) Helping my aunt and uncle load all their released clothing/shoes to take to a shelter. I’m not sure, but I’m wondering if my goal to clear stuff out might be contagious! 😉

Next Newer Entries

© 2013 LuciasJourney.com