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

My Life Practice Program group

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

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

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

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

Much needed reminders...

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

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

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

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

Drawing how I feel lifts my spirits

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

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

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

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

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

The blossoming of joy

Big and Small Steps:

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

Noticings:

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

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

A bit of a blur...

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

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

Faster...faster...

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

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

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

It's time to stop and enjoy the flowers

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

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

Noticings:

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

Day 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 91 – Sun, Mar. 11th (91/275): Friends, Heroes and Unexpected Blessings

This past week I finally had a lovely, long phone conversation with a dear friend of mine. We live too far apart to get to visit in person for now, so we rely on the blessings of modern technology: texting, phone calls, emails and, when we’re both connected, online chatting. One of these days I may even get Skype on my computer, so we’ll be able to see each other while we talk.

A time to embrace...It's been too long!

We’ve been through a lot of rough patches together, when one or the other of us were going through the wringer. We’ve seen each other at our low times, when everything was falling apart, and we’ve celebrated each other’s victories. This time, we were celebrating her acquisition of her own home after years of renting. What a joy!  When she told me about having met “someone,” I told her I wasn’t surprised. She asked me why. I told her that I wasn’t surprised because the doors that opened the way to a new home are the same doors that open her life up to all the other good things. In the past five to ten years, I have seen her spread her wings, little by little, and become so much more that I suspect she would have imagined she could be.

I remember how scary some of those steps she took in her life were. When we were no longer living in the same area, we stayed in touch – sometimes daily, keeping up with each other’s lives. It has encouraged and inspired me to watch her grow, to become a woman with increasing confidence and inner strength. It helps me know that I may get there yet.

Near the end of the conversation, I said to her, “You inspire me.”

Friends don't have to be here to bring me joy - but it's nice when they are!

Some of my heroes are people I don’t even know or people I barely know. I don’t think of them as people I “worship.” I have long since outgrown that kind of hero-worship. (At least I hope so.) Heroes, to me, are people who have done something with their lives that inspires me, something I want to emulate or hope to do myself. It doesn’t have to be something big. It doesn’t have to be something public. It doesn’t even have to be something other people would notice.

I’ve mentioned before that my gay/lesbian/trans friends are among my heroes. They’ve had to swim against the current of public opinion most of their lives. Yesterday, I read a eulogy delivered at my aunt’s memorial service. I realized why I felt such a closeness to her, a desire to have her in my life. She was an amazingly strong woman who came across as gentle and quiet. Her strength came from within. Another hero.My friend has also moved into the hero group. (There are many there, with room for more.) She reminds me that we don’t have to be perfect or do things right the first time. The path to greater confidence and courage happens one small step at a time, sometimes while our knees are still shaking and our hearts pounding, sometimes with our knees skinned and bleeding from the times we’ve stumbled along the way.

 As we talked about the things we were doing to take better care of our bodies, I again appreciated how small steps make a difference over time. I’m sure her progress has come in small steps; I know mine has.

In the past week, I’ve been blessed by conversations with dear friends, blessed by three full days of additional work, and blessed by discovering an effective way to get some much-needed exercise. Plus I have a couple more “heroes” to bless me as I consider how their examples inspire and encourage me to be more and more the person I know I can be.

Noticings:

  • How good it feels to be taking even small steps toward getting more exercise.
  • How grateful I am to have been on an early wake-up schedule for a few weeks before the time change. This morning was a challenge and tomorrow my body will wonder if I’ve forgotten to finish my night’s sleep!
  • How little attention I’ve been paying to the categories I thought would drive my posts. Hmmm…
  • How my journey seems to be going into deeper issues than sorting through the scary paper piles and submitting job applications, although I still want to progress in those arenas as well.

Action step(s):

  • The addition of short, effective stair “workouts” into my days.

Day 89 – Fri, Mar. 9th (89/277): Oh, what a relief it is!

This post really will be short. I’m back at my regular job (whoo hoo!) after three rather fun, but incredibly mind-and-body-numbing days of intense data entry. I say “intense” because it was entirely repetitive. I archived some 1500 files and my neck, shoulders and wrist are barely speaking to me at the moment. Actually, perhaps they’re speaking a lot: they’re saying, Don’t even think about it!

The funny thing is that yesterday, because of the monotony of the task, what I did a lot of (besides hundreds of mouse clicks) was noticing. So that’s what this post is about.

I noticed how it felt oddly, vaguely demeaning when a male employee went by and greeted us cheerily, “Morning, guys!” The fact that we were all females and he was male left me pondering why it’s okay for me to say, “Morning, guys” to my female companions, but his doing so felt like invading my turf. It’s rather like, I can call my brother a jerk but you can’t. (I don’t consider my brother a jerk, btw.) I wondered if I would have had the same reaction to another woman calling us “guys.” (Btw, in case you haven’t checked your dictionary lately, “guys” can refer either to a group of males or a mixed-gender group – the classic linguistic tradition that defaults to male references as “neutral,” while female references can only refer to exclusively females.)

I noticed that sitting up straight and holding my posture gently, to relieve the stress of constantly gazing down at a laptop, was more helpful than trying to force a more rigid and deliberately anti-slouching posture.

I noticed the new-job, settling-in patterns of the small group with whom I was working. Even though it was only our third day there (and the last for most of us, as it turns out), there was a growing comfort in our surroundings and a growing confidence in our freedom to go down to the café to get a snack or to partake of the cupcakes and goodies by the kitchen area. I didn’t partake of the goodies, but only because they were foods my body no longer enjoys. (Thanks be!)

I noticed that, in response to a particular sound, someone asked of another co-worker, “Is that a cough or a sneeze?” When the co-worker said it was a cough, the first person did not offer the usual “Bless you” she had been saying in response to (perceived) sneezes. (She’d said that to me a few times when I coughed, apparently thinking I was sneezing.) The history of saying “bless you” has to do with the perception of keeping evil away in order to stay healthy. Why do you suppose it is that we do not say “bless you” when someone coughs?

I noticed that it’s easier to remember to move and shift around more when my body complains of discomfort or pain. This, of course, is just plain silly, since moving and shifting around more in the first place would likely avoid the pain.

Finally, I notice that I’d like to be “on the clock” at work in just a few minutes. So I’m going to post this, sans pics this time, and get to work doing lots of wonderfully non-repetitive tasks that require thinking and evaluating and making choices. Whoo hoo!!!

Day 82 – Fri, Mar. 2nd (82/284): It’s official – depression is depressing and sneaky

My goal at the beginning of the year (i.e., January 1st, rather than the beginning of “my” year, which began December 4th) was to write at least four posts a week. Up till this week, I had maintained that goal. Of the eight (Sun-Sat) weeks so far this year, not counting this one, I posted 4 times four weeks, 5 times three weeks and 6 times one week. This is only my second post this week and tomorrow is the end of the week.

Feeling the strength of a strong support...thinking of God

Yep, depression is sneaky. I started posts on Tuesday and Thursday, but couldn’t summon the energy to finish either one. Tuesday’s effort was so short, I’ll post it here:

“When I left work (i.e., my ‘regular’ job) today, I was not feeling very adventurous. I was feeling nervous, stressed and uncertain. I had received a call and accepted a temp job. It’s nine days (or a bit less if I’m fast enough, perhaps) and I can truly use the income. So, what gives?”

It began in my head on the way home from work, I “captured” my thoughts on the computer with plans to write more later, and it never happened. In fact, within a couple of hours, my thoughts had already moved on to other things and my energy was low. Tomorrow, I thought, I’ll finish up. Except I don’t seem to have so much as started a post on Wednesday.

Thursday, I got a little farther on a fresh post. I got 330 words written. It began like this:

“Ooh. Bumpy waters again. And the waters are coming in the form of unexpected tears of unknown origins. It’s one thing when I know what’s bringing up tears. It’s disconcerting and sometimes frustrating – as in I feel powerless to change it – when they seem to come out of nowhere…”

It “ended” like this: “Depression sneaking in again…”

Someone had said something this week to which I was inwardly overreacting. It seemed to consume much of my day and I was soon feeling depressed. I didn’t know how or where to release the feelings bottled up inside, so I held them in.

The cycle begins...

Depression is, for me, often subtle in the way it can creep up gradually before I even realize I’ve opened the door. I’ve heard that the repression of emotions, keeping our feelings bottled up inside, can lead to depression. Well, it was working. I was holding in my feelings of hurt and rejection and was soon feeling depressed both physically and emotionally. I was grateful to have a get together with a friend that evening.Before we met, I decided to do some “drawing” in my doodle-journal. I wanted to track the sequence of my thoughts and feelings during the day using pictures and words. (Are unsmiling smiley faces “drawings”?)

...and the cycle continues...

It was helpful to notice the  route my mind had taken: uncertainty –> fear –> more uncertainty and more fear –> attempts to control –> seeking affirmation (i.e., Tell me it’s going to be okay!) + a not-right-now-I’m-busy response –> feeling rejected –> two reactions: (1) feeling hurt –> holding it in / (2) feeling guilty –> feeling angry at myself –> feeling angry toward others –> holding it in ==> back to more uncertainty and more fear.

In sharing this with my friend, I don’t know that I exactly found the way to break the cycle but it definitely helped to not be holding all this in by myself.So much has been happening that I could write a few posts. I won’t hold my breath on completing two more before Sunday, but it feels good to at least get this one done.

I need a little help keeping my balance right now...

Noticings:

  • Holding my emotions in is not helpful – it takes me too quickly into feelings of depression.
  • Moving and talking help my body, mind and spirit to let go and release the energy that’s bogging me down.

Action step(s):

  • Paid several bills and already have them entered in my checkbook and my checkbook total updated. (As compared to having a few weeks worth to enter just a week ago…)
  • Invited a friend to join me in developing another blog/website. Doing so felt good and re-energized me!
  • Took about 200 pictures to start a library of pics I may use on my blog. (Aren’t digital cameras fabulous?)
  • Honored my need to slow down today and let go the feeling (translate: illusion) that I had to rush to and at work.
  • Worked more on my other website! (Now that felt good! I’d love to have many more hours of time and internet access to do this and look forward to when that happens.)
  • Received a call for a job interview (from an application last September!), told them I was, indeed, still looking for work, yet also honored my commitment to work Monday at my “regular” job and my commitment to a temp job from the 6th through the 16th. They said to call them when I’m done with the temp job. Not sure if this is the “right” opportunity, but it occurs to me that I can get some interviewing practice at the very least! Whoo hoo!

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.

Day 75 – Friday, Feb. 24th (75/291): Transformation happens even amidst the struggle…or because of it.

I was feeling better again yesterday, as though the depression had subsided, if not quite lifted. Then it sneak-attacked me again this morning. Like right now, when I don’t feel much like writing a blog post. Still, I know that maintaining regular posts (at least four per week) helps me to do the inner work I need to do.

On the way to work, my thoughts snowballed into tears that were connected to my aunt’s passing, family and the losses that come with growing old enough that my siblings and cousins and I are not far from being the elder generation. The precise reason for the tears was a little hazy, but it had to do with longing for connection and in knowing that my two siblings and my cousins will all be together at my aunt’s memorial service. I’ll be at home.

The odd part of it is that I’m okay with this. Several days ago I had been at peace with the realization that I didn’t have the money or the confidence in my vehicle to travel down to the memorial service. Then yesterday evening, after my sister called earlier that day to say that she and my brother would be going to the service, I put myself through a whirlwind of trying to find a way to get there.

I could afford to take the train down to my sister’s, but not the trip back. I could get a ride part way back with one of my cousins, but that wouldn’t have connected me to the train or any other public transportation to return me to wherever I would leave my car. Finally I realized that even if I could get help with train fare, my cousins would have to leave soon after the service (one has a plane to catch), so I wouldn’t really get to spend any time with them after all. And being with them, even more so than my siblings, was what I wanted. It was the way to be with my aunt.

Sometimes we find family simply by being with those who love and play with us. (Another InterPlay graduation moment.)

So I let it go. I returned to my earlier plan to stay home and began to experience serenity.

At bedtime, since I had finished a fiction book I was reading, I considered what to read before going to sleep. I chose to begin (again) Catherine Ponder’s book Open Your Mind to Receive. (She’s one of my favorite authors.) As I read those first pages again, slowly, already getting sleepy, I was struck by the possibility that my life could truly become quite different. In the introduction, Ponder asks why a “loving Creator” who wants to heal our physical bodies wouldn’t also want to heal our “sick pocketbooks.”

Suddenly, I had the clear thought, the spark of belief, that my financial situation could be radically different in only one year from what it is right now. The belief stemmed not from “magic thinking” as a friend of mine calls it, where our problems are suddenly swept away by a major windfall or the like, but rather from the simple fact that I am changing and being changed. Little by little my relationship with myself is being transformed and I am learning how to respond differently to my circumstances. I’m learning how to make wiser choices around financial matters and so many other things.

As I learn to love and appreciate myself, those fearful reactions to my financial circumstances at any given moment are shifting toward healthier choices, wiser choices. I may still bumble along in any given situation, but I am learning. Every now and then I am shown this by the deep responses that go past my thoughts and into my whole being to tell me that I “got” something that seemed elusive before. It may be only a seed, or it may be the first sprouts from that seed. Whichever it is, it is a sign of growth within and for that I am truly grateful.

Noticings:

  • How I can feel it in my whole body, my entire being, when I “get” something on a deeper, more profound level.
  • How serenity so often follows when I let go of something that is not working.
  • How God provides when I really need it – a paycheck that came just in time to pay a bill and to get me through the rest of the month.

Action step(s):

  • Looking for other options for attending my aunt’s service – then letting it go when it wasn’t working.
  • Attending to the deep needs of my spirit, even as I said yes to another possible temp job.

Day 73 – Wednesday, Feb. 22nd (73/293): Depression is inconvenient, bothersome and, well, depressing!

There’s something about the immediacy of posting directly online that I have been missing. With no internet access on my own computer and limited windows of access on my uncle’s computer, it’s become easier to write my posts in a document, then use my flash drive to post them from another computer. I started this post Monday, but just couldn’t seem to get it done…

Depression…rats! It’s back and it’s persisting, although at any given moment it lifts and I find myself out from under the mire. My depression is, fortunately, the situational kind, rather than the clinical kind. For that I’m grateful. But it is nonetheless hard to get things done – make that hard to get inspired and energized to get things done – when it’s present.

For the past few days since I learned of my aunt’s passing, I’ve occupied myself primarily with jigsaw puzzles and DVDs. Yesterday, with my (other) aunt and uncle out of town, I ended up watching several hours of one of the crime dramas I enjoy (when I’m willing to endure the violence) while I did finished my third jigsaw puzzle in almost as many days. I had hoped to pounce on my uncle’s computer while they were gone for a couple of days, but I couldn’t seem to find the inclination and energy.

What helps me most on those occasions when a confluence of circumstances bring me to a place of depression (right now, it’s my aunt’s passing, my discovering I almost zeroed out my bank account when I thought I was paying attention to it, and my housing/financial situation in general) is being able to recognize that my low energy level is depression. Naming it helps me to know how to respond to it.

Naming it also frees me to not have to pretend I feel better than I do. I don’t want to stay in the depression, but my experience has been that the more I try to fight it, the worse it gets for me. Whereas, accepting that it’s there helps me to let go and just do what I can.

The other day, I employed the Serenity Prayer, asking God to grant me the serenity to accept the depression and to do what I can. It helped. I noticed that my increased energy (which manifests both in mental and physical energy – well, not quite as much physical energy as I’d like to have… ;-)) didn’t necessarily last, but even that is okay. I’m okay with windows of inclination and willingness to do xyz.

Sometimes the world looks like this when I'm depressed... (Another pic from my InterPlay graduation.)

What I’m learning about handling the depression (probably because of this blog journey/process) is that coming out of it can happen incrementally, with ups and downs, like pretty much everything else in life. Yesterday, I just about had my post written, but it felt too long. I printed it out and that’s as far as I got. I realized I wanted to separate out two very different themes that had come up in it – depression and a response to an earlier post (Day 63), but I simply didn’t have the energy.

Now, with the nudge of my aunt and uncle returning later this afternoon, I’m a little more energized to get things done. I also remembered, while writing this, another tool that helps me through and out of depression – Gorse flower remedy. I happened upon it years ago when a friend recognized I was depressed. I didn’t even know it. In our conversation that day, I made some joke about getting business cards that said “Living Corpse” on them. Later that day, I discovered that exact phrase in the description for Gorse in Bach Flower Therapy: Theory and Practice by Mechthild Scheffer. (This is a fantastic book if you really want to learn about flower remedies.)

I had been taking a few other flower remedies, but started on the Gorse after seeing those words in the description. Within days, the depression lifted! Writing this post reminded me that I hadn’t even tried that in the past few days. I guess you know what I’m going to go get as soon as I’m done.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep reminding myself of what it says on a little card I made up many months ago: Do what you can – and let go the rest. I started to check out blog-formatting things, like trying to find a footer where I could put something (couldn’t find anything I could edit) and decided to change the title of one of my categories (found several vulgar spam “comments” and wondered if the category title was inviting creepy types), but quickly started to feel overwhelmed.

A friend recently pointed out that when we feel confusion – to which I would add ‘feeling overwhelmed’ – it’s because we’re not ready to act. Many times I feel confused or overwhelmed by a sudden “need” to do xyz. Now I know – and will try to remember – that feeling confused or overwhelmed may simply be my mind and body’s way of telling me that now is not the time. That feeling of urgency, I’ve often heard said, is my will, not God’s. Today I’ll remember to be still and trust that the readiness will come when the time is right.

Have a blessed and wonderful day!

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