The last several months of my life have brought about a wagon load of change. I was laid off from a job I held and loved for seven years. The loss of the work I did and the ending of an income were both very painful. The way the whole thing played out online (I was the Administrator for a popular website on eating disorders) made it that much more surreal.
I could conclude with how it was the impetus to start my own website, something I had long toyed with the idea of doing, and how I’m now following my dream, but that would mean leaving out a whole lot of stressed out days, sleepless nights, anxiety, sorrow, and fear. It would omit the times I would be seized with the idea that I need to pick out an outfit to wear when I become penniless and pushing a shopping cart down the street.
All of those emotions and thoughts have happened. Sometimes all in one day. And they are all valid and expected. Had the job not meant anything to me, I would not have cared so much. Had I been in a position to rely on a husband’s income while I sorted things out, or had the option/desire to stop working, I would not have gone through the fear of the future that I’ve been through. Had I not decided to pull the trigger on building a new website from scratch, I would not have played the game of thinking of all the ways this plan will not work out.
This isn’t to say I have not had wonderful, positive times, too. There are many, many times when I sit here building up Grace on the Moon and just know that this is the right path for me. I also now finally have health insurance again, thanks to the Affordable Health Care Act, and I have leads on freelance writing jobs.
I am also fortunate enough to have people in my life who love me and cheer me on, reminding me I’m where I’m supposed to be, and insisting that trying to build a successful, genuine website is an attainable goal. My mantra is that if the site does not succeed in the way I envision it, it won’t be because I didn’t try.
Still, the dark times have been there. The moment when my eyes fly open in bed and a little voice wonders what I’ve done to deserve this. The times when a nagging thought pops into my head as I’m watching tv, wondering if I will never again have the things I so treasured about my career and income, and will always look back at them as “the good old days”. The time spent hunched over my green spiral notebook with a calculator, trying to be as judicious as I can with my dwindling savings and bare minimum bills.
When you factor in other things that have made the past several months often difficult, including the declining health of a parent that is breaking my heart, I do feel I’m being tested.
I don’t mean in some ‘God is speaking to me from a burning bush’ way. I believe we are often tested simply by things that happen, and – no matter how much we want to stomp our feet and call into question the fairness of it – it’s always an opportunity to learn a life lesson. After all those years of watching Oprah and Dr. Phil, and reading books and having conversations that address this concept, I am very much convinced that these lessons appear throughout our lifetimes, and if we do not learn them, they will be repeated over and over again.
I’ve been thinking about some of the lessons that may be in my latest curriculum, and found the following quotes rang a bell the size of the famous Liberty one in Philadelphia.
“Saying no: It can mean ‘I’m done’ or ‘I’m ready.’ No can be an act of fear or an act of love.” — Erin Blakemore (author of “The Heroine’s Bookshelf”)
This most recent blog post by Ms. Blakemore jumped off the virtual page at me. She’s discussing learning to say “no”, and what it means to her. Seeing it in the terms she described has helped me think of my own times of saying “no”. I’ve said it many times over the past several months, and I’m looking at which times were “I’m done” and which were “I’m ready”. When was it an act of fear and when was it an act of love.
I want to make sure I am saying no when it’s the right thing to do, and is a form of self-care or will move me closer to my goals. I don’t want to be afraid of the consequences of saying no that may come from others or from my own fears and self-judgment.
“Comfort can kill an impulse.” — Jack White (musician extraordinaire)
Mr. White is one of the most accomplished, prolific song writers and musicians out there (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather, solo career), and I wrote down the above quote a long time ago. He said it in regard to being creative, and how easily people can get comfortable in a routine, or even tell themselves they don’t need to take that step to create something artistic because they are so comfortable right now. They are lying to themselves, and their so-called comfort is really just trying to avoid the fear of the discomfort of creating.
This rings true to me as I continue to want to write more creatively and to make plans to do it, but yet I keep staying rooted in that ‘comfort’. I finally wrote a short story this year, which helped me so much in remembering the joy of writing for pleasure. That then catapulted me into rethinking a rock musical I want to write, and I finally have the clearer vision of it I need to get started.
Those impulses I was killing are starting to get fewer and farther between. It’s all a reminder that sometimes comfort is an illusion, and the discomfort we fear may actually end up being something that feels quite comfortable.
“The thing that I was so desperately looking for out there; I’m already that. We’re already that which we are seeking.” — Kyan Douglas (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”)
Mr. Douglas had this revelation after spending a great deal of time traveling the world, studying yoga and spirituality, and trying to find himself. After enough time doing that, he realized that instead of booking the next flight or signing up for the next class, he was already where and who he needed to be.
This made me think about how much of what I’m looking for is already in place. How often do we struggle with the idea of trying to become something or achieve something, yet it’s already within us? We just haven’t acknowledged it or accessed it yet. It’s about building our confidence levels and trusting ourselves to handle the difficult times; both lessons I spent much time on over the past decade plus, but have needed a refresher course in.
My hope is that opening up about the difficulties of the changes I’ve been through in the past many months, and the value I’ve gotten from these quotes, will be inspiring to anyone else going through things that are testing them, too.
Visit Grace on the Moon, a website for eating disorders information and recovery: http://www.graceonthemoon.com