A Pocket Full Of Feathers

They’ve been popping up everywhere.  Slightly curled and snow-white, some small and downy, others larger and a bit more robust.  I find them laying in our yards, and scattered all along the walking trail, like angelic bread crumbs.

White Heron feathers.

It’s my habit to put things in my pocket when I walk, and the feathers are no different.  A small handful in a dish sits in my living room where I can see it regularly.  These feathers are a reminder.  An affirmation.

Having walked this neighborhood for three years, finding an abundance of these particular feathers everywhere is unusual although seeing the birds themselves isn’t.  There are several waterways nearby and herons fly over head regularly.  I caught this big guy – a Blue Heron – hanging out with a couple of buddies a few months back.

Herons are rich in symbolism and no one does Animal Speak better than Avia over at What’s Your Sign.  If you have a moment, hitch a ride over to her place on this LINK and check out the full spectrum of Heron Symbolism.  You’ll understand why finding so many of these feathers is nothing less than supercalifragilistic during this season in my life.

Today I wrap up my first week at Habitat For Humanity, and – in a word –  it’s been AWESOME.  The work itself is rewarding and fun.  But more than that, it’s the people I’m working with that is so exciting.  I’m still getting to know everyone but I can already tell these are some great folks.  Most of them are volunteers, under 30, and really love what they are doing.  After a decade working in a toxic waste dump, this is like heaven!

I also attended the first of The Write Page writer’s group meetings.  Held 20160511_200607_resizedat the Katie Wheeler Library, an old Victorian built by an Irish immigrant who turned out to be the grand daddy of our county, it’s a combination of so many things I just love! About 30 of us ranging from 18 to 80….newbie college kids to old-time journalists and representing at least a half-dozen nationalities…all share the common bond of loving the written word.  I’m already learning so much and can’t wait for the next meeting!

My tribe – my NEW tribe – is coming together.  My new life is coming together, too.  The feeling is indescrible after such a long, solitary and difficult season.  Sure, there are still bits to add to the picture – a great paying part-time job, for one – but I know it’s coming.  I know.  Grace is surrounding me.

My peeps and a pocket full of feathers.  What a great day to be alive.  Think I’ll go for a walk before work.

Who knows what I might find.

Magic Made Easy

20150619_144216_resizedA long time ago, there was a young girl – aged 10 or so – who spent hour upon hour alone in her room . This wasn’t a bad thing, really.  Alone was a comfortable way for her to be, even though she sometimes wondered what the other little girls in the neighborhood were doing.

Were they playing “house” or dolls or swimming at the beach?  Were their heads bent close together, conspirators sharing secrets about boys and their changing bodies and their common dislike of the new girl?

Sometimes, thinking about the other girls made her sad.  But mostly, she didn’t mind being alone in her room at all, for it was there that something quite magical happened

She became Someone Else

The Magic started the minute she carefully gathered all of her dolls and stuffed animals, and put them in a circle.  Once they were seated just so, she gave each of them a name.  There was Sally and Mark, Kathy and Susan, Brian and Diane.  Each had their own name, with their own “desk”, and their own writing paper with their names written on it in big, bold crayon letters.

The girl spoke their names often to the dolls and animals.  She wanted them to know that they were important to her, and acknowledge that she saw them.  Being “seen” is a very special gift to receive.  Maybe the best ever   When someone sees you, you know that you exist.  You know that people want you around and that they like you.  It makes you feel special, and maybe even a little bit taller.

Oh, and having someone call you by your name was extra special – especially when it was pronounced right! She knew this because, more often than not, people called her by the wrong name – sometimes over and over and over again, no matter how long she had been in their class or heard it pronounced correctly.

And whenever she was called by something other than her own name, her heart dropped.  She imagined it happened because she wasn’t important enough for the person to remember to spell it right and to say it right.

This it made her feel very small, like there was something wrong with her.  Something Weird.  And being Weird was awful.  Weird kids didn’t have many friends, and were picked last for the handball teams.

So when she was alone in her room, she would give herself a new name.  One that was easily pronounced, commonly spelled, and more like those of other girls.  It was a name that would get her invited to slumber parties, or asked to play.  It was a powerful name because it

Made

Her

Fit

In

She called herself  “Jane”.

Miss Jane was the best teacher in the whole world!  Not only did she remember the names of each of her students correctly, she carefully prepared papers with dashed lines and math problems so they could practice drawing their letters and adding numbers.

Sure, she might scold one for talking too much in class, but she hugged the children a lot and carefully glued innumerable stars – red and green and gold – on their school work so they knew how special they were.  Stars told them what a good job they were doing.

Naturally, all of her students loved her, and knew her name, too.  Miss Jane was their favorite person in the whole world!  It wasn’t until after those magical hours came to an end, when she left the safety of her bedroom to go to school, that the little girl was reminded – over and over again – how different she was. How weird.  How she didn’t fit in.

She was reminded by the snickers when the teacher would stumble over her name for the millionth time.  She was reminded when all the other little girls, save for her and “retarded Kim”, were invited to an after-school party just down the street.

She was reminded when her mother and father asked her to be quiet, to go play in the other room, and to leave them alone talk and to drink.  Or when she had a bad dream, and no one came to comfort her.

When she grew older, the woman used a made up name – one easily pronounced, commonly spelled, and more like those of other women – when she met new men in bars.  At least the ones she knew she wouldn’t spend more than just the night with.

When she grew older still, and married a man with a weird, unusual last name, she had children.  The woman gave those children names that were easily pronounced, commonly spelled, and more like those of other kids.  There wasn’t much she could do about the last name, although she hoped her daughter could eventually change hers through marriage.

When she grew old,  the woman grew to appreciate her name and to cherish it’s uniqueness – correcting or ignoring the mispronouncing of it, depending on her mood.  And even though she’d spent innumerable hours alone in her room reading and writing, learning and  healing her broken bits (you know the ones…the ones that make you feel unwanted and unimportant), she still found herself making that certain magic at times.

It happened every time the barista asked for a name to write on the paper cup, or when the saleswoman asked her name so she could write it on the dressing room door – to make her shopping experience more personal…to make her feel special.

It happened every time she placed a fast food order, created a user name, or was in some situation where it was just easier to be someone else.  To be more common.  To be more like others.

She told them, “Jane”.

What Shows Up

Cell Phone Photos - ALL 169The “job search” continues.  About 40 resumes have been emailed since my lay off last month.  On most days, I cruise CareerBuilder and Monster, possibly Craigslist, looking for a couple of new opportunities.  I’ve submitted a bunch of applications directly online at company websites.  I updated my LinkedIn profile . I registered at CalJobs.  So I’m legit.

(Side note: I made an interesting discovery:  I’m now considered “disabled” in the job market, because of having a past diagnosis of cancer. Me?  Really?)

Anyway, I’m doing all the right things – mechanically….

But my heart isn’t in it.  Far from it.  The thought of returning to the 8 to 5 grind, sitting at a desk in an office all day, just doesn’t excite me in the least – no matter how “awesome” the work itself was. Even thinking about it, I start feeling stressed out.

Since this whole crazy trip began a year ago, I felt Something New calling to me at the end of my breast cancer journey.  Something so totally different, I wouldn’t recognize my life at first.  I believed this message with my whole heart….as in a “God Told Me So” way.  It helped me get through 4 months of chemotherapy.  It kept me going through 35 days of radiation.  It was my LIGHT at the end of long, black tunnel.  Daily I would affirm I could “do it” knowing “that” is waiting for me!

So applying for the same type of a job I’ve done for 4 decades feels grossly at cross purposes.  However, much like voting in the Presidential elections in November, it’s a necessary evil.  Especially when my heart is saying, “Oh hell NO!  Not this shit again!”

But I do it, to do the right thing with Unemployment.  I do it out of habit, a bit, too.  But more importantly,  I do it because I trust that the Universe is directing my steps. Each and every one of them.  I believe there are doors with my name on them, and they will open at just the right time, in just the right place, for my next career move.   That is….IF they open.

What if they don’t?  I haven’t received a single call from any of the places I’ve applied. A ton of calls from recruiters, staffing agencies and insurances agencies to be sure (is Insurance the new MLM scam?  What is up with them calling??)  But not a peep from the people I’ve sent my info to.  And that reminds me…

Closed Doors are answers, too, aren’t they?

That new life?  The one I was promised?  Maybe it doesn’t include a job like that at all!  Maybe that was the end of an era, as much as the end of a job.

Could it be I’ve actually (finally) arrived at those blessed years called “retirement”, quite by accident and certainly not in a way I was prepared for?  Could this be it?

Closed doors are answers, too.    What shows up IS the ‘answer’!

The other day I had an “aHa!” moment.  Take the whole B.C. issue away.  Just looking at my life, I realize I now have so many things I prayed for, for years and years.  All through the baby years.  All through the junior high and high school years.  All through marriages, divorces, births, deaths.  Now I have them, and all because I now have time.

TIME: Oh, blessed time.   It makes me giddy thinking about all the free time I have!  These days when I’m enjoying my quiet time or putzing in the morning, I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to get ready for work!  Sure, there’s the odd appointment now and then.  But by in large, I determine the times for those, for when they suit me.  I’m FREE! No one to answer to.  No one expecting me to be at their beck and call.  No resentment, frustration, stress.  I have all the time I need take walks, to cook, to read, to spend time with girlfriends, to take classes.  To NAP!

I have TIME to live and it’s fucking incredible!

No longer chained to a desk for 40 hours a week, my body is THRIVING on the movement it gets every day.  (who knew I naturally have a waistline and a little junk in my trunk!)

No longer having to report for duty at 8 a.m., whether or not I slept the night before, the dark circles under my eyes are gone and I look younger.

I don’t have to worry about missing work to take care of my grandson.  I can visit my elderly mom during the week.  I can cook up something for dinner earlier in the day, to have it all ready before I run out of steam.  I can have lunch with a friend at the spur of the moment, or attend a morning pottery class, or read a great novel.  My garden looks well tended.  My home is maintained.  I can rest when I’m tired, and eat when I’m hungry.

TIME – Rather than trying to squeeze my “real life” into stolen moments allowed around working My Job, my real life IS my life.  And I gotta tell ya. It’s taking some getting used to…this feeling of relaxation about my days, this easy flow, but I am.  I’m finally catching on  I’ve had a paradigm shift like having a kid is a paradigm shift.  Everything changes.

I am becoming that butterfly.  FINALLY! The free one.  The one with the beautiful wings.  The one that moves with ease and grace through her days. I’m just getting my coordinates, and I hardly recognize myself. But it’s time.

This is it.

I Chose Me

il_570xN.557874558_aln1When I walked into The Boss’ office yesterday morning to pick up my pay, I could see he was down. I had called him Tuesday morning, after much angst, deliberation and a quick phone call to the Husband, and told him I wouldn’t be back.

So much for The New Job.

Turns out, after everything I’ve been through – after all of those months of seeking Divine Guidance and Strength –  I really just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that this New Job was where I was supposed to be.  The Old Woman had convinced me – by her very presence, if not by her words – that there was something more….something better….waiting for me.

Had I forgotten everything I went through last year?  Everything I learned? One of the main issues in my life – the one that manifested itself as a breast cancer last year – was my life long tendency to sacrifice myself to make others more comfortable, to make others feel good.  To make things easier for them.

I’ll never forget one morning shortly after the diagnosis.  I was sitting in bed reading “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” by Dr. Christiane Northrup when I read that as far back as the 1800s, the medical literature has noted associations between breast cancer and women with an “overdeveloped nurturance gland”.  (check!)  They have a tendency toward self sacrifice (check!), and are more apt to have a coping strategy characterized by engaging with the problem, confronting it, focusing on it, working on a plan, and lobbying for emotional support in the process. (check! check! CHECK!)

In other words…ME!

It was a huge ass Aha! Moment, and I broke down wept.  Like the woman in the book, I realized that I didn’t have to “get sick or to die in order to rest”.  Right then and there, I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that again.  I would live in balance.  I would take care of me…REALLY care for me.  And I would stop trying to Save The World.

And yet, here I was!  Faced with a job that was FAR from something  soul satisfying and fulfilling, it did meet my financial needs but that was it.  Sure, I could go in and  Save The Day.  I could see that I could have a huge impact for the better, and alleviate a lot of The Boss’ problems (if the Old Woman “let” me.)  But at what cost to me?

So HAD I really gotten it? Or this was a test to see if I had actually made the internal shift needed to so I could go to the next level of my destiny?

Isn’t that what I had been promised over and over again this past year?

I just couldn’t do it.  My head, my heart and my gut wouldn’t let me. So I picked up the phone and called my husband, telling him what was on my heart.  If it were just about money – I would go.  But not for long and not because I wanted to.  That seemed unfair to The Boss, as well, paying me to be a short timer.

He totally got it.  So I hung up, made one more call and chose ME.

When I went to see The Boss yesterday to pick up my pay, The Old Woman wasn’t there and we had a chance to talk.  It sounds like my decision was a disappointment to her as well, and maybe – just maybe – she’s feeling guilty about things.  The Boss admitted he didn’t tell his mom all the reasons why I wasn’t coming back, so I encouraged him to do so – in a nice way, at the right time.  She needs to know that her actions and her words were not only why I didn’t want to come back, but  were jeopardizing her son’s business as well.

Speaking our truth, in a loving manner, may hurt someone’s feelings but we can’t let that stop us.  Not when we know deep in our heart that a change for the good must be made.  I feel for him.  She’s his Mom.  But she is also an employee – one that really isn’t doing her job the way it needs to be done, and it’s taking him down. She’s 80.  It should be okay for him to ‘retire’ her.

We agreed that we would keep the communication lines open,  and who knows? There might be something there for me down the road AFTER The Old Woman has her moment of enlightenment. And maybe – just maybe – The Boss will chose himself and the welfare of his business over protecting his mother’s feelings.

I’ve felt good – GREAT – ever since.  I feel energized again.  Full of hope and anticipation.  I let go of What Was – and an entire old way of being in the world –  so that Something New has space in my life.  And it’s possible that by deciding not to sacrifice myself and my dreams, by putting my well-being at the front of the line, I actually did fulfill my purpose there.

I chose me.

Now, maybe the nice Boss Man will to do the same.

Losing Control

hangmanI noticed several things immediately yesterday, on my First Day On The Job:

One – The Old Woman was compelled  to tell me all about of her accomplishments, all about of her credentials, right out of the box. (and they were impressive!)

I wondered if she forgot the only reason I spoke of my accomplishments and credentials when last we met was because I was on a “job interview.”

It seemed that she was telling me all this stuff about her wonderfulness because she wanted to raise my opinion of her.  She needed to tell me that she was Somebody.  She had Import.  She was Special.   This was all tied into how important the job was to her – to keep her active and “with it”.

At this point, I literally told her:  “I didn’t come here to take your job.”

Two, The Old Woman also went out of her way to emphasize various reasons as to why I wouldn’t like the job.  “It won’t be exciting enough for you.” “There’s nothing creative about this job.” “I told The Boss (her son) that you would be bored here.” (That one was said multiple times.)

*ahem*  OK.  Thanks for that.

And Three, as she was showing me the ropes, it was obvious that she is a Control Freak.  A nice one, to be sure, but a CF just the same.  I lost count of how many times she said, “I do it this way…..” – even down to how to separate the pages of triplicate style form:  “The Whites HERE, the Pinks HERE, and the Yellows THERE.”

Are you fucking KIDDING ME right now?

After a while, I just stopped doing things the way that I would naturally, and followed her instruction EXACTLY.  NOT because I thought it was the best way….but because I was so tired of hearing about HER way.

Maybe she realized what she was saying because a number of times, she back pedalled: “But when you do this, you can do it your way.”  Really?  You’re giving me permission to separate a form “MY” way?

Wow.  Thanks for that.

I also  noticed the office spaces – and there are a bunch of them – need to be cleaned up…organized…updated.  The Old Woman has been using the same plastic baggy to hold stamps in for 15 years.  It’s torn and old.  The desk drawers are full of crap. There are funky Christmas decorations lined against the wall among some other unidentifiable paraphernalia, and it looks like someone dropped them “temporarily” only to have them stay there for years.  Decades old papers and catalogs sit on the shelves, and so much wasted space! All of this spoke to me of something hugely important:

CHANGE doesn’t happen here.

It wasn’t a horrible day.  5 hours went relatively quickly even though – by and large – it wasn’t very productive.  The Old Woman moves and speaks slowly, and goes off on little tangents.  Me?  I am a DOER, and like to GSD (get shit done).

So why would I go back after all of that?

This the question I ask myself this morning…..

Should I just do it for a few weeks for the extra cash?  It was an easy $150, that’s for sure.

Do I want to stay for the practice of getting back into the working world?

Do I stay long enough for my hair to grow back a bit more, so I feel more “Presentation Worthy” in this world where employers will make up their mind about you in the first 30 seconds of a job interview?

Do I stick around to “See What Happens?”  I know that The Boss needs me, and I can already tell he would like me to do things The Old Woman and The Collage Girl (his daughter) either cannot or will not do.  I could really assist him.

And I would love (as in L-O-V-E) to get in there and organize things.  Disorder and junk make me uptight.  I am a  Put Things Right kinda girl.  An “everything in it’s place” sister. I mean, how about we recycle the big old copy machine that doesn’t work and is being used as a table for potted plants?

No question, I could give the whole office space the total Feng Shui-ing it desperately needs.

But would The Old Woman “allow” it?

Would The Boss override her objections so that I could?

…….

I’m going in for another 5 hours today.  It will give me a better sense of What’s What.  This is definitely a case of Progressive Revelation, on all counts. The True for me today is, I have the time to be there right now. I am making some money. And there’s really nothing else I really need to do today, no other job offers coming through (yet), and I am kind curious because I don’t believe in accidents or coincidences.

Who knows? Maybe….just maybe…..

I Am The Change they’ve been needing to see in their world….