Changes

My latest daily habit. Art journaling a little bit each evening.

My latest daily habit. Art journaling a little bit each evening.

I have some stories to tell you today. There has been so much on my heart lately. It's time to let you in on some of it.

Two weeks ago, I started working 30 hours/week as the receptionist at my daughter's school. It's a good job for me. I like receiving people. I am already collecting stories. It's a community and I am learning to be their hostess. It's a great entry-level opportunity for someone like me who's been out of the official workforce for twenty years. 

There are several outlines of purpose for me being there that shimmer in my peripheral vision. It's not always easy. I confronted a group of teenage guys one day and that didn't go well. I felt threatened, intimidated, and righteous anger. But it could have gotten me into some trouble, and I know I am naive in ways. And yet, my naiveté also finds me with an open heart, ready to encourage and care as opportunities arise. From Kindergarteners who easily take my hand to outcast 5th graders who only have the lunch aide (me) to sit with and share their troubles, I am there for those sacred moments. 

The school has a diverse population. As a charter school, we offer options from full-time independent study to a part-time classroom experiences for K-12. There are all sorts of people who come through. And yet, in our small town, connections are easily made and I feel more a part of it now, the community at large. I'm not just doing my own thing, but bringing who I am into a 3D world 4 days/week. It feels really good and right.

Providence knew that I would need this change from the focus of last school year. As many of you know, I became a Story Coach through the Story Unfolding in 2014 and worked hard with others even across the Atlantic to build something together. Personally, I imagined a collaborative experience of intersecting faith and art with each Story Coach bringing to the community their uniqueness. We led write-ins, helped host an in-person retreat,  and planned e-courses, virtual retreats, and collectives. I am so thankful for the diverse group of women I have been privileged to spend time with over the last 15 months. I wish I could list everyone who made such a profound impact on me. And my own art, the art of people, became a thing. I learned what I long for and how I can express it, further exploring my deepest passion meeting one of the world's greatest needs more than I ever have before. 

However, the week I started my new job, the coaches' agreement with the business owner dissolved without notice at the business owner's choice. That was her prerogative and it did not surprise me. But it profoundly affected my friends and the community as a whole. It shook our foundations. Over the last 10 days, many have chosen to move on, including me. I'm saddened by this, because I wish the story had been written differently. I believe it could have been with much less casualty. And I also believe messes don't tell the whole story. I've made too many of them myself. If there isn't hope in the mess, if the only hope is in everyone doing things perfectly, there would be no chance for me. But the community is going to look different, I am no longer needed as a leader there, and so I am quietly moving on.

shit shirt.JPG

My focus continues to be on rebuilding and renewing some of the tearing down that happened over the last five years. It will take some time. I feel vulnerable coming into the holiday season again. I have 30 pounds to lose, debt to pay off, and parenting that continues. Relationships need healing in ways I don't know how to do. And my heart continues to find itself intersecting with young adults carrying heavy burdens most often placed there by the religion I know so well. It is not an accident to me that many of the ones I long to care for will come through my new office. 

There is still plenty of work to do and love to grow.

If you are here from Story Sessions and want to stay in touch, we are probably friends on Facebook. Do follow me here, on Twitter, or Instagram, too. It's been a great ride. I love you.

 

 

An Extroverted Feeler's Cry

Find Others Who Get It

Tears tonight.

I want tears, just not what comes with them.

Feeling the fear.

The loneliness.

The fear of loneliness.

The longings.

I want touch and connection and to feel passion and to know through tangible attention that I am loved.

It's not enough to tell my mind that I'm gonna be okay.

It's not enough to tell my mind I'm one of the lucky ones.

My heart is still hungry.

Craving, actually.

I'm an adult. I get it. I study it. We're wired different. I believe it. We're each uniquely and wonderfully made. 

We're each fighting our own battle. And my battle is not yours. But yours is not mine. And I need to talk about mine.

I need to talk about what it's like to be an extroverted feeler that has turned off so many people and felt rejected because I've been like this all my life.

Extroverted feelers get this. And that's the killer. Because we're sometimes the creatives, the artists, and been called the unstable. "Write drunk, edit sober," that famous writer said. You know that one that had four wives, but won the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize for literature? Yeah, him. The younger ones might have it easier. They understand blurry lines, the need for art. They're still young enough for emotions to be okay. 

I hope. 

I, however, am scared of living alone all. the. time.

I am scared I don't have what it takes in our culture and society that does not honor lament.

I am scared of not doing it right all the time. Because I have known so much rule-following. 

It was the way I was raised. It's about the time of history when I was born. It's the way my religion has done things my whole life. It's the way the new paradigm is constantly being judged by those I want to trust. 

I believe in the power of art to heal. I believe in the power of those who need to wear our hearts on our sleeves. But for whatever reason...in my story...the most important people in my life on a day-to-day basis are not wired this way. And I ache for more.

I am hungry all the time. It shows in the extra 30 pounds my personality put on at mid-life.

I am not there yet. I want to say it doesn't matter. How I look doesn't matter. What I make doesn't matter. What I'm recognized for doesn't matter. That I need to cry often and not alone doesn't matter. Oh, but it does. It does so much. 

Tears tonight. 

A new job tomorrow.

Another introverted thinker to try and connect with.

Here I go.

You? I get it. You are welcome here.

Listening to My Gut and Getting a Job

Hi.

For many months I have not liked it when people tell me something to the effect that my gut will know. 

Because once we came home, I scrambled. It was a YEAR for our family. First graduation, college apps, girlfriend, and leaving the nest. Second son driving. Third child turning 13. iPads and Pods and Laptops were prolific in our cerebral life. "Celebrating" death do us part 20 years in. (People lived much shorter lives when the church introduced that phrase to the traditional wedding vows. Not that I want to live day-to-day with anyone else. I'm just sayin', it can get tricky.). In other words, our family passed many milestones last school year. 

I feel like I treaded water personally while making all the things happen.

You might not have known that from my online presence. 

See, I've been working really hard to build something from scratch. I applied for a job at my place of worship last year at this time. I came in second. It felt like a dodged bullet. It wasn't meant to be. I am not one to run things as they are. I want to create, innovate, move mountains. That isn't what they needed.

So I spent last school year #workingthedream. What does that mean? It means I spent a year thinking about what I really want to do. Networking with others asking the same questions. I am in AWE of women who are trying to carve out non-traditional work as entrepreneurs. I spent daily time with them. I built a new website. I found my niche. I want to make a difference. I always have.

"I provide insightful programs of self-discovery for young adults and women from religious backgrounds."

Yet, today I accepted a job. An entry-level job. A job that will pay what my teens earn. It feels so strange to think that after 15 years, I will have a schedule that someone else besides myself dictates. 

But it feels so right. So right, I'm surprised. 

Did I want to build a business? Yes, because I want to matter. I want to count. I want to make a difference. But I can do that without building a business, too. Just by regularly showing up and (!) getting a paycheck.

The grind is something so many of us want to be free from. But I think for me, it will be freedom. To network with others in 3D in my hometown. To serve. To work among flesh and blood again. 

And you know what? I miss blogging from my gut, too. I like blogging. It's so fun for me. But blogging to build a business, not so much.

It is really exciting for me that all my years of homeschooling have opened doors for me to provide administrative support in alternative education environments.

Celebrate with me?

 

September: A Dry Harvest (?) of Hope

“The true harvest of my life is intangible—a little stardust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.
— Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday, I attended a formal worship service for the first time in August. It was the 12th Sunday after Pentecost on the church calendar. We call this season, "Ordinary Time". It stretches from the festival of Pentecost, the point in time where we recognize Jesus ascended into heaven to the beginning of Advent, when we begin to anticipate his birth.

In my mind, I'm thinking this. THE LAST TEEN FINALLY BEGINS CLASSES TOMORROW! I wish TWELVE WEEKS of Ordinary Time had not already passed! Routine, FINALLY! (Excuse the shouting.)

Until Fall break. Or Thanksgiving, Senior Son's first trip home. Or Christmas where Mommy still makes the magic. (How, I miss Santa Claus.) And then there's the whole, "I might get my first regular job in 15+ years", thing. Oh, and wait. Can I invite a stranger to my family into intimate celebrations the first year one is away from home?

IS there such a thing as Ordinary Time?

My standards for Ordinary Time are quite high, actually. Build a business. Nurture. Work on health. Love always. Learn. Clean. Earn and spend money well.

You know the drill.

The true harvest of my life is intangible...

Today where I live, I celebrated the calendar turning. A fresh start in the budget is one reason. We celebrated like good Americans and went to Target to buy All. The. Snacks. for the teens to pack their lunches. I celebrated with two rolls of Washi tape.

Weather. Foothills of California: Sunny and high 80s. Water the chrysanthemums and wear a skirt. Clean the kitchen. Plan the meals. Wipe down refrigerator shelves. Shop for groceries. Fix a chair. Encourage the homework. Feed and walk the dogs. Stay out of the wine. Love and listen. To their heartaches and mine.

The true harvest of my life is intangible...

Plant the seeds. Only God can cause the growth, they say. Some say that California in a perpetual drought is what science can't help but predict. Even men and women of faith I know say this. I, instead, try to Keep Calm and Pray for Rain. Because I don't want all this planting to be in vain.

I long for color. Even in the dry days of a long California summer. Let it rain. 

What do you want to harvest this September?

 

A Little Honesty Today

What's the date? Do I have to eat? I really need to vacuum up those nail clippings. But I hurt from head to toe. Dragging the vacuum upstairs is something I can do, but do I deal with the broken dishwasher or walk the dogs? Maybe I need to just get dressed.

Today. Call a friend. Go to a job interview. (DO I want to live more traditionally? CAN I live more traditionally?) Chauffeur my teens. That's all I can do. I guess doing my laundry will need to wait another day. Will the dogs wait another day?

This is where I spiral. This is where living a creative life and helping others feels as far away as the stars I forget to see. I know what I need to do. Practice consistent and gentle exercise to help with the pain. Avoid wheat and dairy. Ask for more help. Rest when I can. Say no to guilt, obligation and duty. (g.o.d.) over and over again, even at the expense of my perceived reputation.

If I write of the real feelings, what will happen? And yet, if I don't, they stay locked up in my joints and muscles, crying for release. What if I'm the kind of person that needs to cry it out everyday? What if a part of my call on this earth is to cry from the broken-heart? And I wonder how. Who with? I have lost friendships and family over this tendency. I may still. What if I never "make it" in a traditional way? Can I live with that? Can you?

I've eaten. Now it's time to take a shower. Maybe I'll get around to calling the plumber, the doctor, and scheduling the long overdue haircuts. Maybe I won't. What I do know is I don't know how to create unless I cry first. But I'm not very good at doing it alone. That is my real question today. I am so thankful for the small handful of friends that let me cry. But I am asking, as I have before. Where in our culture can we cry?

I wish my religion believed in systematic confession.

I wish when our culture asked, "How are you?" it was only when they had time to listen.

I wish we weren't so scared of the quiet, the humble, the non-veneered life. I think if we weren't, we'd all cry more.

I am a mother and wife. But this morning, it's only the yellow lab at my feet and the finches outside my window. I know they would listen to me cry. 

Why are you sad, Jenny? How are you? 

I'm sad because I hurt and struggle to take care of my beautiful home. I'm sad because I am struggling to create. I'm sad because I've gained so much weight over the last five years. I'm sad because I long for deep connection, but gained weight to numb that desire instead. I'm sad that I still don't know my niche, where I belong, what I'm supposed to do. I'm sad for estrangement. I'm really, really sad about the California drought as I look out my window at my gasping plants. I am sad because I'm scared I just don't have what it takes.

Writing that eked out a few tears. Thanks for listening Yellow Lab, Finches, and Reader.

This is my attempt today to live #conformityfree. To take a little time to be honest. For my sake and need.

Time to shower.