Day 70 – Sunday, Feb. 19th (70/296): Unexpected grace

I’m noticing how quickly I start to feel depressed at any given moment these past couple of days. It’s a subtle depression; not the clinical kind. Still… Sometimes it manifests simply as a desire to be quiet. Sometimes it manifests as a lack of interest in doing anything in particular. Yet even when it’s the latter, it seems to have a purpose. Perhaps I’m meant to use this time to listen to my body and see what it has to tell me about this journey…

InterPlay Graduation

Timidly approaching the "hooplah" at an InterPlay graduation - green feathers everywhere!

  

After publishing my blog post Friday, about my aunt’s passing, and adding the picture of the two of us, I felt uplifted. It shifted the experience from sorrow to an appreciation of the time and relationship we had over the decades. I have had two photos of her as part of my changing desktop backgrounds. I have enjoyed seeing her face on a daily basis for the past few years. In a way, since I’ve known she was gradually making her way toward her Maker, I’ve been saying good-bye to her for some time. Soon I will celebrate my aunt and our relationship with my InterPlay friends. Wonderful things, fun things, any-things can happen at InterPlay!

Today I hurried to church to be on time for the next installment of the Islam class. I had finally sent an email to both the presenter and the pastor, expressing my concern about the tone being set. (My post last Sunday – Day 63 – expresses how disturbed I was over some of what was said. The reply, which I opened today, disturbs me even more…) As it happened, the presenter was ill and we had no adult ed class this Sunday. So, I found myself with an unexpected hour before the service.

Serendipitously, I had not brought anything to read or do. (I suffer from a touch of boredomphobia, so usually have something to read/do with me at all times.) I had fleetingly considered bringing my Courage to Change with me, in case I had some time between the adult class and the service. Instead I had “fearlessly” decided to go to church with only a notebook for taking notes during the class. (Technically, I did have a sudoku book in my bag, but it doesn’t count because it lives there all the time.)

Faced with “too much time and too little to do,” I actually connected with a few people who were enjoying the extended fellowship time. I’m typically shy about engaging in conversation with people I don’t know and hesitant to join a group already engaged in conversation. It felt good to have taken even these small “social steps” this morning. It was an unexpected blessing.

Sadly, I learned that a much-loved, elderly member had taken a fall Thursday, slipped into a coma and died the next day. Between that sad news on top of my aunt’s passing and wonderful music that often moves me anyway, I was grateful to have my handkerchief and a few tissues with me. Hanky for the eyes; tissues for the nose. By the end of the service, the hanky was damp and the tissues soggy. It felt good to let out more tears. I knew I had been holding them back, even if I couldn’t feel them being held back. My aunt was too special to me not to have had more tears than I had shed on Friday.

This morning’s tears were likely also the result of a clash of several emotional situations. Sadness at the death of my aunt. Sadness at the loss of my fellow parishioner. And the stress of my financial situation. In a kind of “double-whammy” Friday, shortly after I posted on my blog, I decided to print out my recent checking account activity, just to be sure how much I had to work with for the week. I was stunned to discover that most of my meager savings account balance had transferred into my checking account to cover my gas and grocery purchases this past week! I truly thought I had been paying better attention to my spending. Quite obviously not! Sigh… Sometimes the learning curve feels awfully steep…

Then, in a moment of grace – or rather, an hour of grace – I ended up in a fascinating conversation with a gentleman who was visiting our congregation. We talked at length about things related to interfaith dialogue and how to create greater harmony among people of different traditions and experiences, among other things. He belongs to the same faith tradition as one of my cousins and asked what her name was, in case they’ve met. I asked if he knew a good friend, who’s active in the United Religions Initiative (http://www.uri.org/about_uri/), which promotes interfaith dialogue. I’ll be curious to see if my friend and my cousin ever become a mutual connection for us.

I suspect we could have talked much longer, but my body was talking to me, suggesting such things as lunch and a chair. (We were standing out in the parking lot.) We exchanged email addresses and will likely stay in touch. While it didn’t occur to me to mention my interest in administrative office work, this felt like a networking connection that might bless me in my ministry pursuits as they begin to develop. It was a delightful and wholly unexpected gift, one that left me smiling and feeling quite blessed by the entirety of my church experience today.

Action step(s):

  • Sent an email to the presenter of the class that disturbed me so much last Sunday.
  • Checked my bank balance (which turned out to be a darn good thing!).
  • Gave myself a quiet, self-care day on Saturday.
  • Let go the temptation to pull from the small balance left in my “retirement” account. I’d still rather learn how to do more with what I do have than wipe out everything I have.
  • Did some judicious grocery shopping with the $21 I had in my purse, grateful to have had some cash to tide me over till my temp-work paycheck lands in my account sometime this week.
  • Had more worthy social interactions at church – stretching me just a bit more out of my safety/comfort zone. 🙂

Day 68 – Friday, Feb. 17th (68/298): Time passes and so do loved ones

My spirits are low this afternoon. A much-loved aunt passed away last night. I learned about it went I went to check my email this morning. She represents – or perhaps I now need to say “represented” – a lot of joyous times from my childhood. She was my mother’s sister. (My mother’s been gone several years.)

Me and my wonderful aunt, Thanksgiving 2006 (I think)

My cousins are people of strong faith and their emails went in the direction of “She’s now with Jesus! Hallelujah!” I find I can’t really get excited about this, even though I know she’s with her Creator. I miss her. And I’m sad that I will never be able to see her again in this earthly life. But she was ready to go; she had lived a good and full life (she turned 99 just last month); she still had her wits about her; yet her body was done with its work.

May we all be blessed with such a long and well-lived life and such a peaceful passing!

This post is short, as I don’t have the energy to throw myself into the world of introspection and noticing to see what I have or haven’t done this day towards my goals.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn and a time to dance… (Eccl. 3:1, 2, 4 NKJV)

The dancing will come later, when I will celebrate her life with movement and joy…

Action step(s):

  • Honoring my need for quiet in this time of sorrow, I left work a bit earlier than I might have and skipped the errands I didn’t feel like running this afternoon anyway.

Day 59 – Wednesday, Feb. 8th (59/307): Blessings and Self-care

I’m late in getting this posted. In fact, I’m late in getting it written. It’s amazing how much time can pass in such a short period.

Tuesday turned into a surprisingly good day. Not that I expected a “bad” day, but sometimes things happen in ways that bless and nourish unexpectedly. That’s what happened.

I came in early to work and submitted a job application. It’s for a full-time, temporary position. We’ll see if anything comes of it. Part of my ongoing challenge is being willing to let go this part-time job I love to make space for the support I need. I know that if I am blessed to find fuller-time employment, it will be a blessing for all, including my present employers. Whether or not I receive even a response to this job application (aside from the auto-reply “we got your application” email), it felt good to submit it.

Later in the morning, when I was the only one in the office (which seldom happens), a friend called. Since it was quiet and I had the time, our conversation ranged to the personal. We ended up scheduling a time for the following morning for her to do some energy work with me. Wednesdays have often been my day off from the office, so the timing was perfect.

Tuesday afternoon, I went to a check-in at JVS. When asked how I was doing with my job search, I could feel my body tense up. I had expected a check-in around using the computer lab, not an all around check-in. As the conversation continued, with only three of us in the group, I found myself struggling with fear and resistance, feeling of inadequate for not doing more.

When I asked what the instructor included under the umbrella of “networking,” she said she considered any contact with other people, especially in person or at least by phone, to be “networking.” The way she described it started shifting my perception of networking. Suddenly I saw networking as being available to me anytime I’m talking to someone else and am willing to mention that I’m looking for work. It was rather like what my pastor calls a “BFO” – a Blind Flash of the Obvious. Yet it hadn’t been obvious to me before. As I continued to think about the conversation, I realized that finding opportunities through people I know has actually been true for several of my employment situations over the years. I just hadn’t noticed it till now.

Thus, Tuesday became a day of unexpected gifts – little things that added up to a pretty nice day.

As for Wednesday’s activities… What can I say? After the lovely time connecting with my friend in the morning to receive a most welcome Reconnective Therapy (“RCT”) treatment (see http://www.reconnectivetherapy.com/start.htm for more information), I gave myself an entire day of relaxation. I know little, as yet, about RCT, except that I trust this friend and have had wonderful healing experiences through many forms of energy and healing work. Not surprisingly, the topic of fear came up. Also not surprisingly, the area of my body where she was led to begin treatment was the very place where the fear and trauma of a particular experience when I was a young child had been held in my body’s memory. I had uncovered the trauma some years back; now my friend was bringing healing to this area. What a gift!

I was having a touch of digestive unsettledness already, so when she talked about how I would be integrating this experience and would need to hydrate a lot over the next few days, something told me to listen to my body’s need to simply hold still. I’m not sure I remember when I’ve ever let go of “responsibilities” for a whole day before, but I did this day. I spent virtually the entire day enjoying Columbo movies on DVD and enjoying a beautiful jigsaw puzzle I recently received as a birthday gift. It was lovely.

Action step(s):

  • Submitted a job application!
  • Followed-up on monthly billings at work and cleared out the erroneous papers that I’d been afraid to toss too soon (i.e., cleared out the chaos and created order!).
  • Attended a follow-up workshop at JVS.
  • Connected with a friend and availed myself of a wonderful healing session.
  • Gave myself an entire day of self-care.

Day 50 – Monday, Jan. 30th (50/316): Grace comes when I let go and stop rushing

Yesterday’s post helped me to see things differently. There’s something in the process of journaling and reflecting on what I’ve experienced that shifts my thinking, which is exactly why I’ve chosen to blog about this journey.

Usually it takes me a very long time from the moment I wake-up in the morning until I’m out the door. I’ve been looking for ways to streamline my mornings without making them an exercise in frantic rushing. It’s not that I stumble around in a fog or anything. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I have a lot to do between waking and leaving, besides which early mornings are also one of my best idea-hatching times. It can get distracting if I’m not careful.

After yesterday’s post, I’ve thought a lot about rushing. What makes me feel rushed. Why I tend to rush. Whether or not I even need to rush. What I discovered is that I tend to rush out of habit, out of a misperception of what’s important and necessary for my mornings, sometimes trying to do too much.

This morning, I decided to pay attention and make conscious choices all morning long. From the moment I awoke at 4:44 (much more fun to see on the clock than 4:45 or 4:50), I made a point of not letting my mind wander. I normally appreciate the creative ideas that come to me while I’m doing all my usual morning, getting-ready stuff, but I also realize that it can eat up a chunk of time I don’t have to spare.

After an impressively efficient morning of simply getting things done (helped by preparation of lunch the day before and having clothes laid out the night before), I was leaving the driveway at 6:53! Whoo hoo! The best part was that I did not feel rushed! And not only did I find parking near work, I was blessed with the “sweet spot”: the one parking space directly in front of the door that is not metered – close, free parking all day long!

At work, things were a little wacky. My computer refused to speak to the server to enable me to print. (Not helpful.) Yet, surprisingly, I was able to set things up using my colleague’s computer before she got there so that I had plenty of no-printer-needed, “manual labor” tasks to do. This turned out to be especially helpful since the computer repair person was already scheduled to come in and we ended up totally updating my system software. I did little, if any, computer work from noon on.

I also wonder if the way I began my day at work may have contributed to what became an unexpectedly productive day given the circumstances. I arrived at work at 7:05, but took the first 55 minutes I was there to attend to personal stuff. I addressed some online “paperwork” for my student loans. I wrote my tithe check and put a check for one of my storage units in the mail. (Payday is actually not till tomorrow, but I want my storage check to arrive on time.) I even started this post (though barely) before “clocking in” at 8:00.

In other words, I took time for myself, attending to some necessary personal business, at the beginning of my day, rather than expecting to have the time (and energy) at the end of the day. It felt good. Once (officially) at work, I found myself getting an unexpected task done. I went through a stack of miscellaneous notes – from September! – that had simply been ignored for more pressing tasks. It was mostly silly stuff, like updating addresses in the database. Yet it had been forgotten in the rush of other work during the ensuing months. It felt really good to clear out that tiny spot on my desk!

There is something worth noticing about rushing and choosing not to rush. I discovered I can be efficient and get things done in a timely manner without feeling like I have to hurry. In doing so, I make room for grace, even in the simple things like clearing out a small stack of neglected notes.

Action step(s):

  • Stayed focused and made efficient use of my time this morning.
  • Attended to student loan paperwork, wrote my tithe check, and mailed a payment.
  • Cleared out some neglected papers on my desk at work.

Day 42 – Sunday, Jan. 22nd (42/324): Doggone Fearmobile…

Well, I was doing pretty well most of the day. I had planned to organize my papers for tomorrow’s visit to seek assistance and I had picked up some file folders from my storage unit to help organize the box of paper-chaos I have in my room. I grabbed empty folders, near-empty ones and ones that looked easy to purge. Earlier today, I found and printed various documents I figure I’ll need for tomorrow. Then I spent time this evening purging old papers from the folders I brought out of storage while I watched Murder She Wrote episodes on my computer. It was pleasantly diverting and rather satisfying to toss, tear up and carefully “shred” old medical bills and other miscellaneous things from five or six years ago. I even ran across an email from a friend that’s worth keeping.

Once I was done clearing out the papers and realized it was time to get things picked up and ready for bed, though, I started feeling nervous – a lot nervous. I keep wondering if some of that could be residual effects from the caffeine I had this morning. It was only about half a cup of not-too-strong, green chai spice tea (Stash – my favorite when I want a wee bit of caffeine). But it was probably a mistake because within a couple of hours I was very nervous. (I’m a fly weight when it comes to caffeine.) I think some of the anxiety is simply around getting ready to bare finances and having them placed under scrutiny by an agency that could help me, but might decide I just need to wipe out my tiny IRA balance…

I know this is all quite irrational and I hope I’ll be able to calm down and sleep well. I’m also hoping it’s not too rainy in the morning because I want no excuses to chicken out. I need the help right now and I need to step up and ask for it. (Dang! Where’s that fairy godmother when I need her!) So, I’m using this as an opportunity to verbalize that THIS KIND OF THING SCARES THE PEEWADDLIN’ OUT OF ME! Okay, I’ve shouted it loudly without freaking out my aunt and uncle. Now I can go into my room and add the gestures and body movement to go with the shouting.

Still, I feel pretty good about my attitude around all this and about the small bit of paper clearing I got done today. As I prepared for tomorrow, I continued to let go of expectations around outcome. I also appreciated how I’ve resisted the urge to grab more files from storage to purge because that could become a safe and easy distraction from the scarier work of looking for work and seeking help where I need it. Maybe the paper purging, too, can happen in tiny steps like this unplanned mini-purge today. It was kind of fun to tear things up and use my scissors as a “paper shredder.” 🙂

Time to head for bed, breathe deeply for a while, and see if sleep might bring the rest I need. The truth is, I know where my help comes from – and it’s not the office I’ll be visiting tomorrow.

 Thanks for listening.

Action step(s):

  • Did some journaling about my progress (And you thought I wrote it all here, didn’t you? 😉
  • Prepared for tomorrow’s application for assistance
  • Purged a few files of old papers (Yay!)

Day 40 – Friday Jan. 20th (40/326): Foiling the Fearmobile

Yesterday, a friend helped me see that my expectations for myself are, in fact, unreasonable. She wisely pointed out that having instability in housing or finances is stressful; having both at the same time, especially for an extended period, as I have, is more stress than most of us can handle and remain sane. Sane? Am I supposed to be sane? Her point was well taken – and much appreciated.

She asked me if I’d considered government assistance. Right now, I’m not sure how I’ll make it through the rest of the month. Seeking assistance has been on my mind off and on for more than a week. Today, I took a few minutes to find out where the office is, download an application form, and fill it out. (Yay, fill-outable pdf forms!) Then I stuck it in my bag to consider when I might actually go there.

There is something about baring your financial soul to a government agency that makes me more than a little nervous. If I zeroed out my checking and savings accounts, I might squeeze by this month. I worry that the agency would expect me to do just that. I wish I had a “prudent reserve” but my savings accounts have been nothing more than temporary holding cells for my checking account. I’d like to change that. Truly I would. I just haven’t learned how – yet. Adequate income would help.

When I left work this afternoon, I drove by the agency, to see where it is. I discovered there’s nearby two-hour parking, but nothing else free and long enough for the often lengthy process. It was raining. I didn’t feel like getting wet, so I drove home. But I kept thinking about the form in my bag and the fact that the office would be open for another hour and a half.

I paced a bit in my room and debated whether to drive back over there. I decided to do it. On the way, I realized something important: the only reason for me to avoid going there was fear.

Oy! Got me! The very reason I started this blog – to practice breaking through the fear.

I let go any expectations about the outcome of going there late on a Friday afternoon. I knew that (a) I might discover they only let people out, not in, by that time of day; (b) I might not get anywhere even if I got in; or (c) I might be able to get started. In only a few minutes, I learned that it was to be “b” – late in the day, too many people already there. I was encouraged to come by Monday morning, the earlier the better.

I resist doing this sort of thing because it scares me. I’m paranoid that I’ll leave out some detail or do something wrong (like earning a few extra bucks cleaning) and lose my eligibility for assistance. It’s crazy, I know, but my reaction is visceral. I can’t help it. I’m still feeling a bit shaky and I haven’t even begun the process. This weekend, I’ll see if I can lay my hands on the information I will need to be armed and ready come Monday morning. I may not need it yet, but it will help me to answer their questions.

Now it’s time to breathe, shake out the nervousness, and relax for a bit. Maybe I can even take a moment to appreciate my willingness to face this particular fear.

p.s. Is it weird that it even feels scary to post this?

Action step(s):

  • Took a first step toward getting much needed help despite the fear!

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

Tuesday, Jan. 10th (30/336): Breaks – a bit of body wisdom (I hope)

Yesterday, I tried something different at work. Most days, I’m scheduled to work four to five hours, so I don’t plan a lunch break. Then I end up working six or seven hours and I’m wiped out by the end of the day. It’s not that I don’t eat, because I do. I just eat at my desk and keep working, thinking I won’t be there much longer. Yesterday, I planned to work a longer day, so I made a point of taking a half-hour lunch break. I relaxed and read a (fiction) book while I ate and discovered it was quite nice, even though I was only about fifteen feet from my desk.

For some reason, I find it hard to take breaks. Some of this is logistics. I don’t have the money to go to a restaurant where I might enjoy time away from the office. The neighborhood where I work is not conducive to taking walks. That leaves staying at the office. However, my co-workers are actually quite respectful of my break time on those rare occasions when I’ve actually taken a break. Thus, it can only be self-imposed nonsense that leads me to feel like I “can’t” take a break. This is especially dopey since we are encouraged to take care of ourselves in body, mind and spirit.

However, it occurs to me that this isn’t the first place where I’ve struggled with this particular boundary. I’m not quite sure what the deal is. At my last job, which was full-time, I eventually started using the conference room when it was empty and once in a while the cafeteria, but I still ended up eating at my desk at times.

One of the things that makes me nervous about the possibility of seeking full-time work right now is the fact that I’m often wiped out after only a five- or six-hour workday. So how well would I do if I was suddenly working eight hours a day?

I tend to pour myself into my work, going at full speed, and that requires adequate sustenance, rest (i.e., at night) and taking breaks. The labor laws recognize the need for breaks and build in requirements for this. So why, then, is it uncomfortable, even disconcerting for me to decide to take a break?

A job I had some years back comes to mind. There literally was nowhere to go outside the small building to take a break, so I tended to just work straight through. My boss, who was a large, intimidating man, got used to me being available the entire time I was there. When I finally started taking breaks, he had a hard time getting used to the idea that I wasn’t available when I was on break or at lunch. I was, after all, only thirty or so feet away from my desk. I was anxious, but I stood my ground and he learned to respect it. Sort of.

My suspicion as to the real reason I feel guilty taking breaks is that I still see myself as being somehow inadequate. That perfectionist mindset hovers near my shoulder and tells me, “You’re not good enough! You should have all of it done by now!” Never mind that I’m trying to do 20-30 hours worth of work in 14 hours. Never mind that my supervisor and bosses are pleased with my work and have never said anything to indicate they expect more. Never mind that any job tends to have an endless flow of work that renews itself every month, every week or even every day.

Maybe it’s time to experiment with taking breaks at work. And maybe, just maybe, I might discover that I actually work more effectively for the time I’m there.

Action step(s):

  • Took a lunch break at work Monday!
  • Went to bed very early last night.
  • Respected the reality that I can’t get it all done and simply did what I could today.
  • Let go and deleted tons of emails from my office email (mostly from 2010). Wheee!
  • Did some cleaning for a friend and earned some extra money!
  • Gave myself permission to post this online Wednesday morning so I could get to sleep at a more reasonable hour Tuesday evening!

Thursday, Jan. 5th (25/361): Hard but good…

Today was hard. Early this morning, my fearful thoughts ran something like this:

  • What if I called the staffing agency?
  • They might demand time I’m not (yet) willing to give and try to make me do something unwanted or want me to put everything else on hold…
  • Augh! I don’t want to call! I’m afraid it might start a chain reaction!
  • New possibility–>I could get clear on what I’m willing to do.
  • Here’s where I get stumped…
  • I could call and be willing to set clear boundaries around my availability.
  • What about being open to either direction? [i.e., admin assist work and ministry]
  • Eek! What I really want to do is some kind of ministry; if I jump into office work, I might get stuck there.
  • How do I let go of this fear???
  • What are all those presumptions I’m making about these…

A little later, as I did my morning reflection time, the verse that spoke to me was: “Do not judge according to appearance…” (John 7:24) I thought about my present circumstances. I’m staying at my aunt & uncle’s because I don’t have the money to actually pay rent, no matter how low. My monthly paycheck from my part-time job lets me pay some of my bills and buy some food and gas. I sort of get by. If it weren’t for the occasional financial gift from friends and the like, I don’t know how I’d make it at all. All this is to say that this is a very rough patch for me at the moment.

The challenge with looking for work is that because of my financial need, I don’t feel free to pursue the work I’m passionate about because it doesn’t come in a neat package with a regular paycheck. I’m also on this intentional journey to break through my fears, and finding employment is one of the scariest things for me. Right now, things appear really bleak and, from the outside,it might look like I’m doing almost nothing to change my situation. But the truth is, I know I’m doing some of the hardest work there is.

Still, the financial piece has made it hard for me to relax and simply get on with the stuff (I don’t know how to do very well yet) that could lead to improving my financial situation. I attended an interview workshop today. It was very helpful, even though it triggered my fears as well.

Later, shortly before I met with my sponsor, I was reading the preface and intro in Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, an Al-Anon publication. It was timely to read about grief when I’ve had these bubbles of grief trying to rise to the surface. I especially liked what it said on page 7 – that I don’t have to confront everything all at once and I can be patient and gentle with myself, trusting that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. That’s worth rereading for me.

My sponsor unwittingly helped me get the tears rolling. (Thanks be!) She named and affirmed that things are hard for me right now and that it’s okay to say that it’s hard. I don’t have to pretend that it’s not. I so needed to cry…

I appreciated coming across something I wrote a year ago that’s helpful for me now: The process of healing is not likely to be a straight line. It was a relief to recognize this. When I feel afraid, I feel like I’ve lost faith, like I don’t trust God to take care of me. My sponsor reminded me that God knows how hard this is for me and my feelings of fear are a normal, human response to the very real challenges I’m facing. I’m so grateful that it’s okay to be human and that healing is happening even when I don’t yet see the results.

My action step(s):

  • Attending an interview workshop.
  • Doing some research on chaplaincy positions/requirements.
  • Testing and improving my skills on MS Word and Excel 2007.
  • Meeting with my sponsor.
  • Letting go my self-imposed need to work tomorrow (when I’ve already fulfilled my hours for the week).

Tuesday, Jan. 3rd (23/343): Finding the energy I need

I notice that physical energy, as well as emotional energy, often shapes my days. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether I’m experiencing physical-fatigue or the emotional fatigue that comes from feeling overwhelmed by my circumstances.

Last night I went to an ACA meeting that was near by, then didn’t get to sleep until late. As a result, I feel fuzzy-headed this evening because I could have used another hour of sleep this morning. I’ve been eating off and on the past few hours trying to wake up – as if more food would actually do that. (Now, there’s a classic demonstration of insanity, being that overeating almost always makes one sleepy!) I suppose caffeine or a sugar-blast might do something, but I rarely consume either. Sadly, that means I tend to go for carby foods, like tortilla chips, that make me sleepier, rather than wider awake. Dumb, really dumb. I’m probably a good candidate for OA, but I know it would become a distraction from the work I’m already doing.

As it is, I’ve already noticed that even thinking in terms of blog categories like health, paper sorting, step work and so on is already redirecting my focus from my original aim. I know I imagined myself daily, valiantly tackling of stacks of papers and boxes of this and that, to sort, distill and organize for this twelve month journey. Superwoman on the go! But doing that kind of work – with or without having to also look for employment – presumes two very particular things: lots of emotional energy and plenty of physical energy to go with it. Neither of which I seem to have in abundance these days. At least not yet.

So, my question is: How do I work on improving (i.e., increasing) my physical and emotional energy levels so I will not only want to do more but will feel like doing more?

As with most things, I’m taking a small step approach. For example, I often make faces to stretch and scrunch my facial muscles during the day. Doing that reveals how tight those muscles are, especially my jaw muscles from grinding my teeth. (A sure sign of stress.) Last week, I found some extremely sore muscles along the sides of my neck. It took me a few days of “monster face making” to get that soreness worked out. I suspect it’s related to the tightness in my shoulders. Tight muscles tell me I’m tense and being tense is not helpful when networking, interviewing or even writing cover letters. One of the things I hear often at JVS, is that it’s important not to let the fatigue of the job search show during an interview.

Since two primary goals for me are expanding my employment/income level and clearing out the excessive clutter in my life, both of which have intimidated and/or overwhelmed me often, I want to remember that taking care of my physical and emotional health is an important part of this process.

Action step(s):

  • Continuing my short, core exercise routine each morning, including discovering (just this morning) a simple way to get a deeper workout.
  • Paid the two bills from yesterday’s to-do list.
  • Set a time to do some more “house” cleaning (closets, actually) for a friend for some extra cash.

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