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 96 (Fri/Mar 16): Sixteen days – Getting out of God’s way, a journey within the journey

I was stunned at the turn of events this morning – especially when I considered the last few days.

I found myself still wrestling with being powerless to effect any change in my job status. Still enjoying my part-time job; still hoping for more work. It was a joy to receive my paycheck yesterday; a challenge to realize how little it will take before it will be gone, since my printer’s almost out of toner.

A conversation with a friend yesterday reminded me of how much harder I make it for myself. I hold onto something, trying to change it, powerless to do so. I give it to God. Then I take it back. I realize what I’ve done and give it back to God. I forget and start chewing on it again. Back and forth. Back and forth. She reminded me that God loves me enough to give me the freedom to hold on, even while hoping I’ll let it go. It was fun to be able to laugh about how foolish we can be.

This morning I received a call from the staffing agency: “We’re sorry for the short notice, but would you be able to come into work today?”

Would I! Within an hour, I was back at the place I worked last week, slightly nervous, yet eager to work, grateful to be called back and grateful to be earning more money for this week.

 What’s truly amazing, though, is the context surrounding this blessing.

Since today, Friday, was going to be a day off, I hadn’t set my alarm. I relaxed last night and slept well. I woke up before 5:00, right about my usual time. I awakened slowly, enjoying the time to stretch, talk to God, and consider my plans for the day. Mostly I had no idea what I’d end up doing. I got up and began my normal morning routine of showering, fixing breakfast, then doing my reflection journal time. When I was done, I was considering writing the thank-you note I kept not quite getting to all week long. It was to have been to the people at the place I worked last week. No need for it now! (Or yet.)

At my ‘desk’ I noticed I barely missed a call from one of my credit card companies (the phone was still off). Then I noticed the battery could use a bit of freshening. I had just plugged it into the charger when I saw the call from the staffing agency coming in. The ringer was still off and I was fixing to text a message to a friend. Wow! Talk about timing!

In short, everything around my being able to work today (and at least Monday next week) was God’s timing:

  • Friday was a day off, though I often work on Fridays – I was available.
  • I was up early and had already showered and eaten breakfast when the call came – I was virtually ready. (Just had to change clothes and pack a lunch.)
  • I caught the call while the ringer was still off because I was holding it in my hands. A miracle!
  • I had postponed calling to set up the interview for another job – an interview I would probably have had to cancel to be available to work.
  • I kept postponing writing the thank-you note – and now it’s not needed.
  • I needed a little extra money to take care of printer toner and a couple of other things – and God has provided.
  • I had just yesterday succeeded in letting go any expectations around if and when I might get “recalled” by this company – and… Well, you know the rest!

Right now, I am feeling so grateful for the amazing gift of God’s timing when I get out of the way!

Big and Small Steps:

  • Took a few minutes to do some much-needed stretches this morning. My body sure appreciates it!
  • Let go of the desire to polish this post as much as usual, since I’m starting to fade and I haven’t even got this online yet.

Noticings:

  • How easily things happen when I let go and remember to leave God in charge.
  • How nervous and excited I was this morning, even though I was returning to somewhat familiar territory.
  • How much I enjoy the InterPlay CD I’ve been listening to this past week. I realized I can “play” along with the artists on the CD!
  • How often I forget to do some planned tasks, only to discover they weren’t meant to happen.
  • How eager I am to get to sleep!

Note: If you want an audio InterPlay experience, I highly recommend the CD Like Breathing (available with the book What the Body Wants or separately). It is filled with beautiful, delightful and even wildly fun tracks!

Day 91 – Sun (PM), Mar. 11th (91/275): Holding onto hope

It’s interesting to notice how quickly moods shift and elation can become deflation. It’s not so much that I was specifically “elated” earlier, but one phone call from a creditor was all it took to open the door to feeling depressed again.

I’ve been observing these transitions, noticing more specifically the train of thoughts. Much like my experience a week or two ago, there seems to be a pattern to it that is rather similar. I’d like to examine it here and see what comes up. Perhaps you’ll have a perspective to share to help me see this in a different light.

Need I say more?

For the moment – and I’m grateful for my confidence that this is for the moment and not for the long-haul – I feel depressed. Before the phone call even ended, I was feeling defeated, shot down in my buoying hopefulness around expanding work possibilities (i.e., expanding income). The representative called to inform me of the status of my card – as if I didn’t know this already. Really, they are calling to inform me of their status in relation to my debt: how much longer they can work with me, how close they are to “charging off” the debt (i.e., sending it to a collection agency), and don’t I want to speak to their in-house credit counselors? (I would gladly speak to their in-house counselors if they would be willing to accept the tiny payments I can manage now until those payments grow larger.)

Today’s call revealed that the debt is still big and growing (not news) and that the charge-off date for one card is the end of this month and the charge off date for the other card is the end of next month. They don’t need a lot of money; about $238 per month would pay off both these cards within their allotted time (at zero percent interest). It’s just that I have not yet had that much extra money per month and, quite frankly, would rather have it help me get into my own place that turn it over to them. Actually, I’d rather be able to do both. I truly would like to catch up on my credit cards. It’s just that, for the moment, mundane things like food and gas and other randomly necessary expenses are a higher priority for me.

So, back to the present challenge: the depression that threatens to swamp me if I hold these feelings in…

My colorful pens, my trusty journal

What I noticed, as I got off the phone feeling increasingly depressed, is that I am feeling angry. I’m angry at them for not being willing to let me do what I can until I can do more, regardless of how long it takes. I’m angry at them for calling and shooting down my excitement over being able to make at least one, if not more, “extra” payments this month. Mostly though, I’m angry at myself for feeling powerless to change this as quickly as both of us want.

I feel like I’m lying when I tell them I have no other resources from which to draw. I have one tiny IRA. If I cashed it out, I could partially catch up one payment. I’m not willing to do that. (Duh!) I might have an income tax refund coming. I’ll know more in a week or so. But I’m not willing to hand that over either. However big or small it is, I have here-and-now needs that take precedence over past due credit card bills.

I feel angry at myself that I’m still, obviously, paralyzed enough by my fears to not have more actively done something to generate more income. It would be one thing if I was submitting applications right and left. At least I could say that I’m trying. But doing all this inner work, no matter how important, still leaves me feeling like a liar and a failure when I tell my credit card company I’m trying to expand my income. The truth is I dowant to expand my income; I even want to expand my work hours. I just feel inept and overwhelmed, still, about how to go about it more effectively.

Gathering words of encouragement

It’s all well and good to talk about small steps and the progress I’m making. I doappreciate that. Truly. It’s quite another thing to have a creditor breathing down my neck and not be able to say, “Hey, I’m going to be able to catch up my payment in x weeks (or months). Can you hang in there just a little bit longer??”

Just for tonight, or perhaps this moment, I’m feeling angry, frustrated and powerless. I feel deflated and defeated. This is why my morning reflection journaling time is so important to me, as is reading books like Al Anon’s Courage to Change and Catherine Ponder’s Open Your Mind to Receive.  It’s much like pouring clear water into a class of long-dried mud. It takes time – and lots of water – to loosen the old patterns of thinking and clear the way for the new. It’s amazing just how many repetitions of certain words and concepts it takes for the encouragement to build and build until the depression or defeat doesn’t stand a chance of survival. Fortunately, I have a lot of reps of that variety ‘under my belt,’ so I know I will feel better when I start my day tomorrow.

Two wonderful verses come to mind right now. I think I’ll hold onto them this evening and use them for my reflection in the morning.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps 30:5 NKJV)

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.(Ps 143:8 NKJV)

A favorite book, my journal, a reminder

Day 85 – Mon, Mar. 5th (85/281): Standing on the precipice

How can it be that I visit so many places on the emotional map in such a short period of time? In the past 48 hours, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in serenity, taken a few brief stints through anxiety, started to visit confidence but only stayed a short while, spent about half an hour in tense apprehension, then found myself in mortal fear when I realized I was on the precipice of accepting God’s abundant grace. 

All it took this morning was remembering the words I had glimpsed in my reflection journal the day before: Ask and it will be given you… The tears and the fear came in an instant as I asked, Is that all I really need to do? Ask?

I am astonished that such a simple thing as accepting the fact that I am worthy, I am lovable and God does want to bless me abundantly is such a frightening and difficult concept to grasp. I’m struggling here… The words aren’t flowing. They feel awkward, too thought out. They lack the emotion, the deeply intense emotion I was feeling just a couple of hours ago. And that’s what happens: I come to the precipice, the diving board, ready to jump off, start thinking about what it means to be able to jump off – as in trusting that I am loved that much, that I will be supported, even abundantly blessed – and I back off, turn around and run the other way, not daring to believe I could possibly be worth the dreams that I hold.

 That’s when the deep emotions, the fear and the tears it brings, subside and my logical brain shifts into gear, trying to reason out the whys and wherefores of what’s going on. I’m not the least bit convinced it’s entirely helpful that this happens. However, I did notice that one of the fears that holds me back from really being able to see myself as being financially comfortable (not “wealthy” necessarily, but reasonably comfortable) is that my image of people who can easily handle their usual expenses and have the means to enjoy some of the “luxuries” (like health care, vacations, the occasional new computer, etc.) seem to always live in these beautiful, if simple, immaculate homes where everything in place and clutter doesn’t exist.

I remember visiting some in-laws a number of years back. They were a young couple, with two or three young children. I don’t remember where he worked, but she was busy with the kids and with doing a side-business they had. I wasn’t in their home more than a handful of times, but every time I was there I noticed that it was beautiful and immaculate. There wasn’t a speck of dust or a bit of clutter in sight. Granted, I didn’t go poking into the bedrooms and closets, but still… This moderately nice, non-luxurious home was absolutely beautiful and typifies my image of what it means to be financially stable, even comfortable: everything is supposed to look nice all the time because that’s what people who can manage their finances do.

When I lay this out here, it sounds ridiculous to think that financial comfort and stability somehow equals lovely, well-kept, neat-and-clean-at-all-times homes. But that’s the imprint on my brain right now. I won’t even talk about the one visit I paid to a truly wealthy home, owned quite literally by a billionaire. It was simple, beautiful and, of course, you guessed it, without a speck of dust or clutter in sight. And I’m pretty sure they do it all themselves. (They don’t live like one might expect billionaires to live.)

So, what’s the point? I’m not sure I know. I’m a big fan of metaphors and God often uses them to speak to us, certainly to me. This morning I was coming to grips – or wanting to come to grips – with the fact that receiving blessings and abundance can be as simple as asking God for what I want in life. Yet the idea of asking for all the things I want, trulyasking, not just hemming and hawing about it, but sincerely coming to God and making my requests known, scared the pee-waddlin’ out of me! Then, when I got to the office, I thought the “sweet spot” parking space was already taken. So I parked and walked to the office door. There, directly in front of it, was the space – empty and waiting for my car. I moved my car and thought about how sometimes the gift is right there, waiting for us and we just can’t see it.

One small step at a time

I’m standing on the edge of that precipice of abundant grace. I can feel it. I can sense God’s desire to bless me in wholly unexpected and amazing ways. Maybe, just for today, I will simply remember this and trust that I am walking through that wall of fear one step at a time.

Noticings:

  • How different it feels in my body when I’m experiencing the intense emotion of getting ready to take a big, scary step and how quickly the feeling in my body shifts when my logical, figure-things-out brain takes over.
  • How much I enjoyed watching a documentary on Muslims – it was wholly relaxing, in contrast to the “half an hour in tense apprehension” I experienced Sunday with the discouragingly biased agenda of the presenter in our adult ed class.

Action step(s):

  • Watched an excellent documentary on Muslims to help give me more balanced information and considered how I might expand the conversation at church to include a truer, more informed picture of this faith tradition.

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 45 – Wednesday, Jan. 25th (45/321): Reflecting on the journey

Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant and patient God is with you?  (Romans 2:4 NLT)

The crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places made smooth.  (Isaiah 40:4 NKJV)

To everything there is a season…  (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV)

I continue to journey through my reflection journals from a year ago, amazed at how often those events speak to my present experience.

A year ago, I was still recovering from my thyroid surgery. It affected my voice and the recovery from that seemed especially slow. To my own ears, my voice sounded deep, unnatural, odd – I had no volume. To others, it sounded “normal,” if more quiet than usual. I couldn’t sing, which was especially hard through the holidays. It was painful to have others cheerily tell me how much better I looked and sounded; they didn’t understand my suffering.

I feel alone on my journey now, wrapped up in the pain of my private fears that seem like fears no one else would understand (even though I know that’s not true). My fears don’t seem reasonable even to me.

Looking back, I realize it’s been close to two months since I’ve applied for a job. When I think in these terms, of what I haven’t done, I feel fearful, paralyzed, afraid to try because the need feels so urgent. Yet when I look at my journey of recovery from surgery a year ago, I am reminded that even though it felt like it took forever to recover my voice, my ability to speak, then sing normally actually returned in a remarkably short time.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how long I have – and haven’t – been on this ‘blog journey’ and the very reason I gave myself a year. The time window isn’t about a deadline for xyz to happen; it’s a reminder to me that change, especially major change, takes time.

A speaker I once heard remarked that change happens in an instant, and I think that’s true. But the effects of a given change, the integration of that change into new patterns of thinking or behavior, the transformation made possible by that change, all of these responses to change take time. New behaviors take practice to become habits. New ideas take time to develop. New ways of thinking need to break through the clog of old thought patterns before they can overcome them and become the norm.

I have learned that being gentle with myself yields far better results than trying to force myself to do almost anything I am not ready to do. Even the readiness comes more easily with gentleness. And gentleness requires patience with the seeming slowness of my process. I wrote some things in my journal a year ago that I want to reiterate here, as they are worth remembering, worth reclaiming.

I wrote that I was “coming to love” the practice of letting go. I notice that I must again be “loving” it because it has become one of the best and most helpful things I have learned to do. In fact, I believe it may be the key to success for me – in finding employment, in developing my consulting/ministry work, and in making the space to receive God’s abundant blessings for my life. Each time I remember to let go of the outcome of any given action, I feel a sense of release, even relief, and am freed to move forward with greater ease.

I am also learning to listen more attentively to that still small voice that would guide me whenever I am willing to listen. During my recovery from surgery, I had to do a lot of listening to know how to best care for myself through the changes that followed. It was a season of healing, of growth and of discovering new ways to listen to my body-spirit and to God. Last year, I wrote:

This “season” probably began as one of listening. It is becoming one of still listening, even as I begin the doing. Perhaps that’s the art of life: learning to listen, then do, always continuing to listen as we do.  (SJ #37, 1/21/2010, p 149)

This morning has become a “season” of reflecting. I find myself deep in thought, deep in the peace of recognizing and appreciating that I am making progress. I am continuing to listen, to learn, to let go and do the deep inner work that is required to be able to blossom and become my best self, the person God created me to be.

As I learn to be kind, tolerant and patient with myself, I discover that God is right beside me, smoothing out the rough places little by little as I gain more strength for the journey. What a blessing to know I am never alone!

Day 43 – Monday, Jan. 23rd (43/321): Gratitude

Today I had the opportunity to do something that scared me. I couldn’t believe how shaky I felt before heading over to the government assistance office. Is it possible that the wee bit of caffeine I had almost twenty-four hours previously could still be setting my nerves on edge? It seems so ridiculous, yet I felt powerless to change my body’s reaction. I tried to remind myself that they are there to help me. It helped. But I was still nervous.

I had no idea if I was eligible for assistance or how long it would take. The weather had been windy and rainy through the night and I hoped for at least a small break while I walked the few blocks from work to there. I let go again and again of any expectations around how things might happen or what I might receive. I’m so glad I did that work. It turns out I do qualify, but in my present situation with no rent or utility payments (too bad storage units don’t count), I’m only eligible to receive $17 per month! Needless to say, I cancelled the whole application process.

Amazingly, I wasn’t particularly disappointed. In fact, I ended up feeling more gratitude than anything else and one of my first thoughts was that this didn’t come through because God has something better in mind for me!

The remarkable thing was the number of blessings that seemed to surround this whole experience.  Here’s a gratitude quicklist:

  • I was very grateful there was little to no rain the times I needed to walk between my work office and the other office.
  • I felt truly blessed to be able to get a same-day appointment to find out about my eligibility.
  • When I discovered that I was so close to the edge of eligibility as to not be worth it, I felt even more grateful that I wasn’t kept hanging with an appointment several days away.
  • I felt relieved, even grateful to not have to be part of the whole assistance program system. Since income determines eligibility and an increase in income reduces benefits, I feel freer to receive more income when I can simply receive it and enjoy it!

I realize that adult children of alcoholics often function well in a crisis, so I wasn’t terribly surprised to find myself rather excited to be freed from the burden of someone watching my income, even though it means I have to figure out how to stretch the $3.97 in my purse and $45 in the bank until payday. Weird, huh? I’m certain it has to do with the fact that being broke and financially strapped is familiar to me. My body-spirit tends to go, “Oh! I’ve been here before. No problemo!”

So, even though I began the day with hopes of receiving some financial assistance, a surprisingly big part of me is grateful I make so-o-o much money (yeah, right) that I hardly qualify. There’s a part of me that likes to rise to a challenge… Which is odd in a way because I also tend to put off other scary things I need to do. I’ll keep working on that.

When I got home this evening, I actually practiced self-care and I didn’t really plan it – it just “happened.” I spent the entire evening (till now), hanging out in the kitchen visiting with my aunt while she puttered around and I worked on a crossword puzzle. Then she broke out a jigsaw puzzle and that entertained us both till she and my uncle sat down to watch tennis and begin hors d’oeuvres and dinner, at which point I had fun finishing up the edge before heading to my room to write this and head for bed.

I have to say that for a day that began with such anxiety, after a restless night because of today’s plans, this turned into a pretty remarkable day in many ways. I feel grateful and blessed in so many ways!

Action step(s):

  • Sought financial help
  • Intentionally relaxed this evening!

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!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Action step(s):

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

Day 27 – Saturday, December 31: Rethinking the year and other things

This year’s a little hard to rethink. Would I have moved out with my friend had I known I would be asked to leave barely six months later because I couldn’t make the rent? Maybe. My financial situation would not likely have been much better had I stayed where I was and I needed a place where I felt nourished, and with more light and space. For a while I did feel that way and maybe getting out of the other place was the point.

What might I have done differently had I realized how quickly I would slip into a financial quagmire? If I think about it, I was just as scared of launching into new areas of looking for work then as I am now, perhaps even more. I’m still better at studying the how-to-do-it than I am the actual doing it. Sometimes those baby steps feel like I’m just marching in place. Yet I’m not certain I was able to do much more than I did.

One of my former classmates has a motto I’ve thought about often in the years since I’ve met him: Do something that scares you every day. It’s always sounded like something I wish I could do with the ease he seems to have around it. As if doing something that scares you is an exciting adventure to be explored. Right now, I’m not certain I’m doing something that scares me even once a week. The thing is, I think I’m scared of feeling scared, if that makes any sense. It’s as if I’m afraid I’ll fall apart or something if I try to do something and can’t because of the fear.

I’ve heard that courage is not about being fearless, but continuing on despite the fear. Maybe that’s all I need to do – keep taking those steps, even when they feel tiny. The fact of the matter is, they will not always be tiny; every now and then I’ll be able to take a bigger step, even a leap. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to run a bit. It could happen!

If you have a copy of Courage to Change, check out the July 28th reading. It’s one of the ones indexed under “progress, not perfection.” The author tells about how a stonecutter may strike a stone again and again with no apparent effect. Then, all of a sudden, that 100th strike breaks the stone apart. But it wasn’t really the 100th strike that did it – it was the 99 that came before it that enabled that final blow to make the difference. I’m going to try to remember this in the coming weeks and months when I’m tempted to feel like I’m not making progress. The truth is, there’s a lot of inner work going on even when I think I’m not doing anything. Every now and then I respond to something differently and realize I am making progress. That’s often all the encouragement I need to forge ahead with new resolve.

May you be blessed with all the encouragement you need for whatever challenges you’re facing!

And here’s a question for you: I’m still learning how to “blog,” in the sense of generating some discussion. What encourages you to comment or exchange ideas on a blog like this?  I’d really like to know. (Your response to this can remain private, btw – just let me know and I won’t approve it for public posting.)

Today’s action step(s):

  • Meeting a fellow program member who needed instruction in getting into the building for some special meetings today.
  • Making the commitment to be the secretary at one of my regular Al-Anon meetings, even though I no longer live close by.
  • Demonstrating my faith in God by writing my first check for 2012 to my church. (What a great way to begin my year financially!)

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