growth · love · work

Good Enough.

10-20-18.jpgI cried at work the other day.

I was in my weekly one-on-one meeting with my boss.  We were outside, as we’ve taken to meeting outdoors when it makes sense since we rarely see the sky on busy school days.

We were talking about a hard parent meeting that had happened this week, and I was also expressing my concern about not getting materials to a co-worker at the moment they’d wanted it.  Places, basically, where I felt afraid that I wasn’t doing enough, or that I wasn’t good enough.

And she said to me:  “I see what you’re doing.”

I see how hard you’re working; I, and we all, see you as confident and competent.  I see what you’ve taken on; I see great things for you, a bright future here.  I see you as the superstar you are.

And, at some point during this monologue of positivity, I started leaking from my eyeballs.

“What’s going on right now?” she asked as she noticed I was crying.

“It’s just been really hard,” I said, “it’s been stressful, this time.”  And she began again to say those positive, glowing things: We don’t want you to leave (not that I’d expressed to her that I was considering it), I see such great things, you’re doing awesome.

I had to put my hand on hers, as my tears were coming harder now, and say, laughingly, soddenly, “You have to stop”!

It was so hard to hear, to listen, as she was telling me these things.  What was it that made the waterworks turn on?  What was it that made it so vulnerable to hear words of praise and affirmation?  What was so hard about being truly seen for the work I was doing… for work of mine to be acknowledged that, perhaps, I didn’t see as clearly as others apparently were?

What is it about praise for my work that was so painful, and so ecstatic, to hear?

I have been sitting with this question for the last two days, and haven’t yet had the time to dig deeply into it, but I do know that praise for my effort was not a tape I heard often growing up — or if I did, I’m sure I didn’t have the capacity or receptors to hear it.

My own myopia on performance and achievement precludes my awareness from the whole of my being.

Will this awareness broaden for me?  Will I begin to consider that what I’m doing is not only “enough,” but more than f*cking enough?

I don’t know yet.  It circles back upon the “Judgment Loosening” I’m attempting lately, because as harshly as we judge others, we do ourselves tenfold.

I am grateful for the openness of my boss to reflect these affirmations to me; it’s not every boss who would see or say such things.  I’m grateful that she simply held the space as I processed trying to hear her praise, instead of shutting down or dismissing it (her or me).

And, I’m grateful for the chance to discover another ripe and rich place for me to grow.

 

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accomplishment · self-love · work

“You’re Fired.”

6.24.18At one of the groups I frequent, we state affirmations for the week (you do know I live in California, right?).  Among the list of suggested affirmations are: “There is enough time,” “I trust that I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” and “G-d is my employer.”

It’s this last one that’s been echoing for me this week.  Because if G-d is my employer, and my life is my job, I am totally fired.

When I began to frame my life as my job, I began to notice the following trends:

  • I don’t show up on time, take breaks whenever I damn well please, and text-bail at the last minute.
  • I promise things I don’t deliver, get lost on the internet, and hang out in the break room eating free cake.
  • I commit to tasks I don’t complete, or procrastinate, or simply drop and justify why I don’t really need to do them anyway.
  • I submit said work eventually and still want full benefits from having completed the shambling work.
  • I want the raise, the rewards, the ladder climbing, and I want it all despite the fact that I don’t listen to my boss, do things my own way, and don’t integrate the feedback that is clearly being given me.

So, yeah, I’m hella fired.

Or I would be, if I took my life as seriously as I take my job.

I don’t enjoy the above characteristics of mine.  I recently found a 2017 goals list that included “Learn Christmas songs on the piano by Christmas” … it’s also on my goals list for THIS year!  (Though I modified it to ONE song.)  And as I reflect that it’s nearly July — when do I think I’m gonna learn this stuff?  The year is half-way done, and I haven’t even brought out the sheet music.

“Go easy on yourself, yadda yadda…”  Yes, I know.  Easy does it… BUT DO IT!

It IS easy to accomplish something if you do a little bit at a time.  It IS easy to learn a song in one year, or even 6 months, but how terrible will it feel to come to December and still have this song filed as “Incomplete”?

I’ll tell you: As badly as it feels this year.

I’m a crappy employee of my life.  It’s avoidance, it’s fear, it’s self-abandonment.  AND, yes, I’m working on it.  But sometimes, the truth is you just have to show the F up, put in the work, and then you don’t even have to worry about it!

I have a hard time just showing up.  For myself.

So, I wonder/hope/intone if thinking about showing up “for G-d,” for my “job,” I can begin to shift my mentality?

Because the truth is, I will not be fired.  The consequences of my actions only impact me, my life, and my work.  I don’t want to be Lousiest Employee of the Month.

I really do deserve better.  I want to earn the coveted parking spot close to the entrance.  I want to feel effective and useful and developing.  I want G-d to come by my desk, look over my shoulder, and nod with that half-satisfied, half-impressed up-turn of his mouth, and say:

Keep Up the Good Work.

 

attachment · detachment · spirituality · work

“I am your Density…”

lotus-on-fire-3-lyle-barker 8 12 17

I’m sitting in a booth across from my friend before we head to a 40-minute silent meditation followed by a “dharma talk.”  We’ve done this for the last few Friday nights in a row, and we’re arguing (“discussing”) the concept of releasing attachment.  Our difference lies in the fact that I like attachment.

“So, am I not supposed to love my little brother,” I ask combatively.  Am I not supposed to want things, to want to feel connection or connected?

My friend is clear that this is not what non-attachment means, … but she’s also clear that it sort of does.

This morning, a decade later, I’m listening to the latest of the 21-day meditation challenges put out by Oprah and Deepak Chopra called “Desire and Destiny.”  One point Deepak shared today illuminated this irritation for me:

Desire is often interpreted in spiritual philosophies as a selfish distraction which, when indulged, pulls us away from our connection to Spirit.  I believe that desires are seeds planted within to do just the opposite.

I appreciated hearing this from a “spiritual teacher,” as it’s a departure I’ve long held between myself and (what I interpret to be!) the teachings of Buddhism or practices like it.  I do want to be attached — I want to suffer from grasping at my desires and my relationships.  I want to stoke and spark and rail against and fall apart into the yarn-pulls of my heart and discover what it is they mean for me.

If I don’t attach to them, how can I learn from them?

The subtle-til-they-become-violent nudges of my desires recently led me out of a career that was killing me.  A friend suggested during that time that I stand at the copy machine and repeat to myself, “I am grateful to be standing at the copy machine.”

. . . I was not.

And later rather than sooner I made my way into a new career that fuels, inspires, and scares the hell out of me.  This shift has brought me into a deeper relationship with and authenticity around how I earn a living that I don’t believe “Detach and Accept” would have taught me.

My attachment to worldly things often wreaks miserable havoc on my serenity, but there has never been a time when it hasn’t also led me toward a richer understanding of myself, and my destiny.

progress · self-doubt · vision · work

Living Out Cliches

Last Friday morning, I received a phone call from the temp agency I’d been working with, telling me, in excited “what a great gig is this” tones, about a possible receptionist job.

On Saturday morning, as is not unusual for Bay Area Rapid Transit, I got onto a train car with a homeless man sprawled out in a blanket by the doorway, and turned right to walk through to the next car.  There, I was pleasantly surprised to see a former co-worker (the only one I really befriended) from my retail job this past winter and I sat down next to her.

I got to tell the temp agency and my former coworker the same thing: “I just accepted a teaching job for the upcoming school year.”

It felt as though The Spirit of Jobs Past had come to call on me, showing me how my life could have been.  I get a call for a crummy temp job–that only days before I would have actually had to consider–just 24 hours after accepting a position teaching 3rd grade at a local Jewish private school.  And only a day after that, I run into someone who holds up a vision into what my winter was and what my present still could be:  long, hard, meaningless, monetarily and spiritually rewardless hours.

This morning I pulled out my “morning pages” notebook thinking to write about what’s happening now, and I flipped it open.  It fell open to a page from February, when I was still at that retail job, and I had just decided I was going to be a school teacher.  I have all these “law of attraction”-style invocations written down over that month:

  • I’ve made a decision.  I am going to teach physics.  And math.  In high schools. & later college(?)
  • I’ve decided: I’ll get a private school job & they’ll sponsor my credential program.
  • The future. My legacy.  Middle schoolers, I love them! Real holidays.  Real breaks. Stable. Stability First.
  • I want a job like Jess’s or Chris’s – a cush public or a great private.
  • I need a regular job. I need a regular, benefitted, well-paying job.
  • I wanna fly a plane for tourists.
There were all the questions, too:

  • This will take a lot of work & more schooling.  How is this gonna work?
  • Will I be able to do a normal job AND the acting thing? Dreams change, right?
  • How the heck to I teach this stuff?
  • How is this gonna work at all??
  • Where do you (inner core) need me? What needs to happen to get there?

I also wrote about the other things that I was struggling with:

  • I broke down yesterday – I shared & cried & said how it really is for me right now. I feel ancient, I feel tired, and – not lost actually – just temporarily very, very stuck.
  • I am a mess, and I need help to clean and slow things down.  I can’t do it all at once and I’m trying to.
And finally:

  • 2015, the year I taught at a private school, was in a musical & play, learned calculus and physics.  Right? Oh, and got counseling for cancer. Oh right, that.  I need help on that.  This isn’t okay.  I wanna hear from cancer survivors.

It was the entry after the day I “broke down” to my friends and let them know how much that winter was weighing on me…  How broken and tired and hopeless and directionless I felt…  The day after I admitted that what it looks like on the outside can kill you if you don’t admit what it feels like on the inside…

It was after that entry, the very next one, that I received the call that I’d gotten the temp job as an executive assistant and would be leaving my retail floor behind me.

It was at that temp job that I made a friend who ended up gifting me funds so that I could afford to accept the part-time summer school job at the cushy private school (and take a physics class at night).

It was the experience and resume-fodder of that private school job that enabled me to speak with recent enthusiasm to the cushy private school interviewers where I got hired last week.

And, true to the last bullet point above, I have, in 2015, taught at a private school, been in a musical, learned physics, and gotten counseling for cancer & discovered a community of young adult cancer survivors whom I cherish.

Oh, and I flew in a plane with a friend and was able to take the wheel for a while.

So, what?  What is the take-away from all of this “what it was like & what’s it’s like now” reflection?

Firstly, and I believe most importantly, I admitted the truth to my friends about how broken I was feeling – and I will not be exaggerating here when I say things were as black as they can get for a person like me, a person who will actively hide behind her shiny exterior while gently suggesting suicide to myself like a lover whispering nothings in my ear.

This was not okay. And I didn’t know how to change or fix it.  I put on the armor of the Look-Good every day.  Until finally, one very lucky day for me indeed, I told the truth to people who could hear it, and, importantly, help me change it.

It was because of this admission of my truth that I got help: I began to work in earnest on my recovery.  I “happened to” read the back panel of the Cancer Support Community newsletter, where they offered free one-on-one counseling for cancer patients and survivors. I was accepted into a climbing trip with survivors like me where I was able to tell them the truth about how much I missed them in my life without knowing what it was that I’d been missing — like breathing fresh oxygen when you’ve lived in LA your whole life with a 100lb pack on your back.

So, I suppose the take away is mainly for me to say that.  To say that this was a hard fucking year.  It was a hard fucking winter and it nearly killed me “for realz.” And so, all these cash and prizes now, all the fulfillment of these “manifestations,” all the rewards that seem to be piling in on me now and making me spin with their accuracy of help… they have not been granted by a fairy godmother, magically and suddenly.  They have been fought for with the truth, with action, and yes, with the childish hope that what dreams I put out into the world might actually come true.

My coworker asked me on the train car last Saturday, “When did you quit?”  “February.”  She thought for a moment, and replied, “So six months.  You’ve done what you said you were going to do in six months.”

Indeed.

And wow.

And thanks.
commitment · faith · fear · scarcity · stagnating · work

oh, that again.

So, I’ve restarted my work on relationships with a new mentor, someone who shares the lineage of the woman I’d been working with, which means that this morning, I got to read aloud my entire sad history of relationships and sex. Again.
Good. Times. 
Interestingly enough, though, I was struck this morning about how my avoidance of or aversion to commitment in relationships parallels my aversion to commitment in my career and work-life. 
I’ve said and heard it a thousand times: Romance and Finance are two sides of the same coin. And I knew that working on one would bring about change or awareness in the other. 
But, somehow rereading my pattern — of splitting when things get weird, or choosing partners I don’t want, or not being open to those men who are into me — highlighted what is happening for me in career-land. 
A friend said to me last week that it sounds like it’s time for me to choose a career path. Not a job. But something I can follow through on. 
Eek. I hate that. I’ve always hated the idea of having to choose one thing. But I recounted this all to my mom and told her that it’s similar to how I had to choose theater over music. I miss music. And it’s not like I’ll never play again, but I had to choose to put my creative efforts into theater if I wanted to get anywhere with it. 
I hated that. I hate that I can do and be so many things, and I have “so much potential,” and so many varied interests, that choosing one is incredibly frightening for me. Like I’ll choose poorly, to quote Indiana Jones. What if by choosing theater, I’m turning my back on a fate in music or painting? What about all the other roads my life could take?
And yet. By not choosing one, I take no roads, or follow a little of each, and I feel stymied and frozen. 
Commitment leads to freedom in that way. 
And when it’s going to come to career, I’m going to have to choose. Sure, I could easily and very successfully be: A teacher, a writer, a psychologist, a mediator, a community engagement executive. 
I could be any of these things. Hell, I could even be a doctor or a lawyer or a spaceman if I wanted. 
Well, maybe not a spaceman
But I haven’t wanted to choose. Because what.if.I’m.wrong
What if I choose something and it doesn’t turn out well? What if I fail at finding “my calling” this lifetime? What if NONE of those things listed above actually make me want to get up and go to work?


What if I put my trust and faith in the wrong career, or — to parallel — in the wrong man?
Well, sorry, lady, you gotta eat. 
And you gotta choose. 
Sure, people change careers throughout their lives, but I’ve changed mine so many times before age 30 that I think I’ve played that card out. 
Therefore. One of these things is going to have to be it. Whether it makes my heart sing or not. No, I didn’t want to “give up” music. But I did, and the theater thing I love, even if it’s slowed down for now. 
None of the above professions makes my heart sing, per se. There’s no glow surrounding any of them saying, Pick me Pick me. But each inspires me to help bring others together, to inspire others to heal, to bring unity into the world. 
So, no. I don’t know, still, what I want to be when I grow up. But I am warming up to the idea of choosing one path. And actually moving forward on it. 
career · clarity · exhaustion · fear · health · work

Numbers, Indignation, Holding Patterns: i.e. the Usual.

I have the delightful learned ability to read a health insurance coverage summary with a hawk’s eye. 
Post-cancer, I have become acutely aware of watch-words like “after deductible,” “co-insurance,” and particularly, “lab fees.”
Last week, I met with two of the 3 HR ladies I have worked with at the retail company I now work for. The first, Heidi, I met on the day I waltzed into the HR department with no plan and asked if they were hiring. I then had a wonderful impromptu interview and was subsequently hired. She’s great, personable, real. And someone with whom I can be honest. 
To finish up the health insurance thought, I met with another of the HR ladies last week to sign the “permanent hire” paperwork, and to get the particular HR documents I’ll need, and information on eventual benefits. 
I’d assumed, working for a large conglomerate corporation, that my health benefit coverage would be fantastic. More people = less $ from me, right? Wrong. 
This morning, I logged in to see what my options are, as I have to stay with the Kaiser health insurance, since that’s where all my cancer records and doctors are, plus it’s in walking distance of my house. 
I looked at the plan they offered. I saw many watch-words, including all those above. And then I brought out the plan that I’m currently under via COBRA through my old synagogue employer. 
My lord. What a better plan. 
As someone who needs to get lab tests done fairly regularly, I know that I now pay $10 for them to look and see if my blood is still blood, or if some of it has reverted to cancer. 
With the new plan I saw this morning, I’d have to meet a $4,000 deductible… and then I’ll still pay a 20% copay. Besides the hundred or so they’ll take out of my paycheck each month, just to have the plan. 
Now, this may all be boring to you. But, number-cruncher that I now am, COBRA costs me $400 a month = $4800 a year. 
So they’re kinda similar, now, ain’t they? 
How much is a lab test before deductible? I don’t know. A hundred, maybe? How ‘bout the other things I get checked through-out the year that the new plan says, “After deductible” next to. 
Knowing that the plan I currently have is a phenomenal one (having done the health exchange comparison, too), I asked the HR woman last week if they could do something about my pay if I keep my own health insurance. 
She’d never heard of such a thing. ??! 
It is common that if someone is covered by outside insurance, if the company is not paying for it, the employee can get a boost in salary, since the company would be paying insurance, but now can pay the employee instead. 
Again, she’d never heard of such a thing. And said, no, that would not be the case here. 
Enter the second HR conversation I had last week. It was post-holidays, post-working on New Year’s Day, and I was exhausted, upset, not happy. 
This retail, commission, fighting for customers with the other girls on the sales floor thing is not for me. 
I walked upstairs to see Heidi. I told her as much, in quite cushioned, complimentary, grateful words. 
And she said: I figured that wouldn’t be for you. 
But, we love you, you’re one of 2 of 70 employees kept on past the seasonal period. “Give me a week,” she said. 
Give me a week to think of another role for you here. We want to keep you, and let me think about where we can utilize you. I have some ideas already, but I have to check them out.
She knows me, sort of. She got one of those hand-made collage holiday cards. I’d gone in to talk to her previously about expectations for the sales positions, and how much hustle one has to do in that role in order to make a living. A living which would equal the paycheck I left at my non-profit desk job. 
She said last week that she could see I was someone who thought about the good of the whole, that one’s success is all’s success, and that cut-throat retail floors don’t allow for that. 
I later said to a friend, it’s like she called me a communist! But, funnily and astute observed, she’s right. For the good of all! And other Marxist ideologies!
It’s coming to the end of the week she’d asked me for. She was nearly plaintive in her asking me to give her the time to think of something.  — They really like me. 
In addition, I wrote her an email early this week saying that she needed to have all the information: I do theater. And that means nights and weekends. And if we can keep that in mind as we seek out a new role for me there, that’d be great
We’ll see what she comes up with. If anything. 
If I land back in front of a desk so I can get to theater rehearsals, so be it. As long as I’m earning more than I was at the non-profit. 
I mean, come on people. You’re an international corporation. I’m not 23 anymore. I have skills. 
Again, we’ll see. Before I go charging off to look for alternative companies, I’ve invested a lot in them already, as they’ve invested in me. 
But, should it look like I’ll be a salaried lady again — I’m asking for the health insurance off-set increase. 
Because screw that noise. 
auditioning · career · family · procrastination · progress · theater · trying · work · worry

Meet the New Year, (not quite the) Same as the Old Year.

there’s so much and little to tell you: 

i have to decide whether to ditch work and attend my annual women’s meditation retreat next weekend. how to tell my boss when I asked for that sunday off — originally for the retreat, but now for an audition — that I really do need that time. and I’m taking monday and tuesday off for my friend who’s visiting from canada. 
that the couple who were the subject of the “day before christmas” poem/blog came to visit me on tuesday, and took me out for sushi, and it feels like i have this sort of surrogate parental couple right now. even though they live in vancouver. we exchanged all our information, i got a happy new year email, and i’m going to talk to him about mediation. like, becoming a mediator, and what that would look like. another career goose chase maybe, but worth looking in to. 
that my mom is having trouble sleeping, and doesn’t want to change her work schedule even though she could. that she’s having health issues that she could address, but procrastinates on. 
that two years ago, right very now, I was waking up in lahaina, maui, hawaii. in the bed of a school boy whose parents graciously invited me to stay and kicked their son to the couch, so a bald and chemo-riddled me could have a vacation from a cancer. 
i have to call the student loan people so they don’t raise my payment from $67/month to over a thousand, but being my mother’s daughter, i haven’t yet. 
I am excitedly waiting for the indiegogo campaign to end and for the funds to be sent to me, so I can write this final check to my landlord for my back rent accrued while i was sick. and to watch that number in my budget line fall to zero. 
i am looking forward to my first real paycheck from the retail store, but as i’ve figured the numbers, amazingly, i’ll have earned the exact amount i would have if i were working at the desk job i quit in october. 
though i wouldn’t have that back-rent money, because that only came about as i was sitting in a cafe with a friend in november, looking for work, him too, and i mentioned the wanting to art again and the potential art studio upstairs, and the back rent. and he said, you should do a kickstarter. 
so, i wouldn’t have that, or at least not now, if not for being unemployed and sharing with a friend who was also spending a mid-day cafe work-search. 
i have a script to read and a song to rehearse for two auditions this month. 
the first is because a friend from mockingbird suggested i try out for this one company in town, and i said i wasn’t good enough, and he said i was and i should and made me promise. and so i did. you know, just a few weeks later!
it’s a classical play. i’m nervous, as i’ve never done one before. 
the second is another musical. and, i’m nervous! but. i’m excited for the role i’m auditioning for. it could be a lot of fun. 
they would run consecutive to each other, one closing, and a few weeks later, rehearsals for the other beginning. so it could work. but not with this sales job. i think. assume. project. worry about. 
but then, too, i have to remember the whole “from thanksgiving to thanksgiving” thing/blog: to not worry, to trust, to at least notice I’m worrying and begin to try to trust. 
i have all these collage cards i still want and need to make, holiday cards and thank you cards. but with the constraints of buses and bart and standing and … (*breathe*) from thanksgiving to thanksgiving. 
i flaked out on my NYE plans. i think i may have disappointed my friend by doing that. but it was a day off for me. i got loads of stuff done early, and by the late afternoon i was home and cozy, i didn’t want to leave. even though it’s a 9:00pm ball-drop! i had to work yesterday, and yadda yadda excuse excuse. i just didn’t feel like getting all dolled up. though i’m sure it would have been fun and my FOMO-meter ran high. 
instead i stayed home, and it was lovely. i know it won’t always be so quiet. but it was nice. 
i have a lot and same old happening right now. i don’t know if any of it is interesting to you, but today is more a state of the union address:
all is well, amorphous, covered and uncertain. 
i have friends and opportunities and procrastination habits and work issues. 
i have a warm home to leave and come back to. 

and two auditions to get ready for. 

Happy and Healthy New Year, Friends. You rule.