What A Gift…

“The ways by which you may get money almost without exception lead downward. To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse. If the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself.” – Henry David Thoreau

The more I think about it, the more I realize how beautiful this gift of sudden unemployment is. In some way, I have been hoping for this for years. But for it to have come earlier would not have been ideal. The reason it is so wonderful is the timing. I needed this precisely at this time. It is this kind of realization that makes me feel that God truly is, quietly, subtly, in my corner.

In about a month, I will have my license to practice massage therapy in Ohio. Watch out world! But what is amazing is the perfect two months preceding that time, during which I can attend to the printing of business cards, or the scoping of the job scene, and truly taking the time to understand where I want to go with this, what is right for me. To do this while fully employed would have been impossible. My schedule is wide open for interviews and applying. And this time at home has given me the ability to really think about what it means to go to work each day. I must be able to make others happy and be treated with dignity; modern practices of clocking in and out, logging my every move, and being under constant supervision are behind me now. I refuse to accept such circumstances in my future. Perhaps those from another generation or way of life would say I am being picky, prideful, or unwise in limiting my prospects so. But I say I am a beautiful creation of God, perfectly imperfect, not here to be watched and subjected to the will of others if I desire not to be. Perhaps it is in the spirit of May Day, yesterday, that I feel this revelation in a different kind of workers’ rights, a more subtle and profound kind. Who knows, maybe I’ll set up shop for myself! I’ve got the time…

Perspective, Balance, Meditation

Seven years ago, my husband was stationed in Hawaii. He was in the military though he wouldn’t hurt a fly, and I was fighting against my pacifist background to tolerate military life. As newlyweds, we enjoyed the freedom we had to make a new life for ourselves, to have our weekends free, to be far away from social pressures we experienced at home. Two years in, he was done with the military and we were shipped back home to Ohio. Jobless, homeless, living with a family member temporarily, I felt rootless, like a maple tree helicopter twirling and twirling down toward the earth, prey to the slightest breeze. Up until that time, I had never experienced a financial crisis, and the sensation took me completely by storm. While Robert felt now was the time for a little relaxation before we started “real life” again, I fretted over being uninsured, having to depend upon another for shelter, and the perceived shame of having failed at life. During this time, I had to take meds just to be in control of my anxiety. I found a job and was able to get off the meds quickly.

Years later, because of said job, I was back on them along with a sleep aid. While I didn’t have adverse reactions to either, I felt a certain shame at not being able to handle life’s troubles. I wanted to move on, but I didn’t feel I had the skills to handle my stresses alone. As I waned myself off of these meds, I found replacements for each. Melatonin for sleep, St. John’s Wort for a reassuring feeling. These gave me the feeling of outside support, and probably acted as placebos more than anything else.

Off meds and in control, I knew I needed to tackle the root of the problem: caring too much about what others think, and worrying too much about life’s what-ifs. I began to read self-help books and found almost every one I read extremely helpful. I think the most important element to my success what that I was open to improvement, I felt desperate for guidance and therefore did not judge or doubt the advice I received. Through this, I discovered meditation.

Most people I know who don’t already meditate tend to shut down when I mention the word. Surprisingly, it is occasionally still thought of as hocus pocus, pagan practice, the work of the devil. These people must picture me contorted and speaking in a strange language, practicing evil magic.

I’ve also noticed that it is best mentioned when someone is actually coming to you for advice; unwanted advice is rarely put into use.

But meditation is simply the intention to focus your attention, quieting the mind. From observing your breath to chanting “ohm,” there are good reasons and good benefits to each type of meditation. It has helped me tremendously. In some way, guided meditation is comforting to me just because I am able to listen to a calming voice, and I put some amount of trust in that voice.

The other day, a friend was struggling with a romantic relationship, wondering how best to handle her situation. An hour later, she was ruminating over the same several factors that we had discussed. Her mind could not break free from this cyclical thinking, and she would likely be up all night in the same manner. I suggested she Google guided meditation and make an effort to get some perspective on her situation. After all, she has a choice over how her life will progress, she is not being persecuted or abused, and her basic needs are being met.

Surprisingly, she was open to the idea. To me, this is how God sometimes affects positive change in our lives. A conflict is brought about which forces us to assess ourselves and seek outside help or make a concerted effort to improve. Whenever I have trouble sleeping, I step away from the situation and ask, what is out of balance? A day or two later, I discover something was out of balance – whether I was not being mindful enough of the blessings in my life, or wasn’t allowing enough time for decompression at the end of the day, I needed to make a change to find my inner quiet again.

New Territory

For over four years, I’ve felt my job doesn’t do any harm, but doesn’t do any good. I tend to feel more and more jobs are being created like that in this society of efficiency and isolation of tasks. And often during this time, I’ve wished I could just have more time to myself, to pursue my own interests, alternative ventures.

Two weeks ago, I was laid off. I got my wish! Though the first day was a shock, and it didn’t really sink in until the third day or so, I am grateful for this opportunity to seek other ventures.

As a dutiful child born in the 80s, I of course feel pangs of guilt at the idea of not contributing to my society or household for the past two weeks. I did not grow up in a one-income household, and can’t fathom the workings. Having meals ready and taking the dog for walks doesn’t feel like quite enough responsibility. But a wise friend told me the key to dealing with this is to wake up early every morning and do something productive, to work on the things I’ve always wanted to. She asked me what they were, and I replied, “writing, getting in shape, hula hooping, taking the dog to the park, getting rid of my yarn stash…”

My work is cut out for me. I have busted out about 5 tricks with the hoop, I can feel my body shrinking just a little, I have more energy and I don’t feel my life force being drained from me and injected into corporation. My dog is happier, and I’ve made a few washcloths with the mass of yarn I’ve bought and not used.

I began looking for jobs and got a nibble or two. But going back to that begins to stress me out almost more than being jobless. I am meant for something. And it is not a desk job. When I had a job I couldn’t see an end. My situation seemed more comfortable than alternatives – safer, more consistent, stable. Without those things, I feel happier. I feel I can breathe.

Here, I will begin to explore making do on less, being in harmony with my situation at any given point, and living richer and fuller than I ever have. I am in love with my husband of 6 years, our dog is healthy as are we, and we have family and friends all around us. I like myself and I am proud of the person I am. I needed to be shaken up to truly appreciate this. I am grateful for this opportunity.