Sunday, May 22, 2011

Destination Trust

Is it really possible to go through life without worrying? I'm not sure that it is. Worrying is one of the things we do best as humans. Conceptually, I'm aware that it does more harm than good and often has no merit. Still, those of us who had any sense of security ripped out from under us at an early age tend to be experts at it.

Some of us, like me, tend to blow up a little easier than others. Like Friday when I went to deposit my stock options check, I discovered that my wonderful bank had inadvertently changed my debit card's pin number without telling me. They reissued the card this year, but somehow forgot to send the new pin number in the mail. It figures.

I'm just now finding out because I've been using my other debit card that's linked to my writing income for months now. The banker was very helpful, but now I'm pissed that I have to walk across the street and have the branch verify my identity so they can reset it. This of course has to be done before I leave town in June. Oh, and since they've decided to tighten their security measures, I'll have to inform them I'm traveling so they don't shut off my card like they did last time. There's nothing like trying to confirm a bunch of transactions at Ralph's, gas stations, and the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to a personal banker at 3 in the morning.

I was also pissed because I couldn't deposit my check using the ATM machine. I was forced to go back home, dig up a checking deposit slip and go through the "old fashioned" drive-thru. You know the lanes where you get to speak to an actual person through an intercom, are forced to be courteous, and watch your money shoot up through a tube. Seriously, I don't think I've used those since the 90s.

Now of course this reaction was a little unwarranted. But that's what we perfectionists do when a little bump ruins our picturesque plan. It's also what we do when we feel like we've lost control.

Control is what we think we lose when we have to place trust in something that isn't predictable or tangible. Kind of what I've done to myself at the moment. Some days it drives me nuts that I'm working at home and that it's not a "real job." I've always earned money through a "job." It doesn't matter that I'm still earning fairly decent money and am able to have a little more control over how much I make. Somehow it doesn't matter that I can start as early or as late as I want to or watch General Hospital at 2pm if I so choose.

Sure my higher self has tried to help me realize that I need to change my way of thinking. There's nothing like a series of dreams about airplanes that won't take off or are delayed by storms to make you wonder. And when that dream has you checking into a hotel room to talk to one of your best friends from high school you haven't seen in years about following through on this writing thing, it's an even stronger message.

Lately, I've been told that I'm going to have to trust this decision and life direction. Trust - what is that really? Some sort of blind feeling that seems to say "I don't have any proof, but I'm confident it's ok?" Or is it more of an acceptance that feels truth without the need to verify the facts?

Another pesky part of being me is that once I reach a destination, I can't wait to get somewhere else. It's all about "now what?" and "what can I achieve next?" instead of savoring what's happening before whatever that "next thing" is arrives.

A very wise author whose book I've recently re-read for a pick-me-up says that sometimes you have to change the outside before the inside catches up. Small actions that direct you towards the change you want are what get you there; a simple enough concept.

So if I'm going to change my thinking and finally learn to trust something, I have to start doing the opposite of what I'm tempted to do. Committing actions that turn your back on the destination that you wish for doesn't change the fact that you'll still want it. I've always believed that most people are inherently good, no matter what their prior or current circumstances might be. But believing that about myself, that's been a life long struggle.

This destination - it isn't about trusting something I can't see or verify. It's about trusting me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Notes that Wind Chimes Play

My brother has always been in love with wind chimes. He's managed to start quite the collection over the years. My mom's main backyard patio is covered with them - from the left to the right corner there's not a hook that isn't occupied. It's because he's in love with the music that plays when the wind makes them dance.

There's a theory that individuals with autism have a sort of sensitivity to music and are able to learn better through its "communication." I like to think that just because the notes do not speak in words doesn't mean that they aren't saying something. Perhaps those of us with fully developed left brains have forgotten how to "listen."

One of my neighbors has a few wind chimes hanging out in her courtyard. I can't always see those wind chimes over the white picket fence that gives each of us privacy, but when the wind blows I can always hear them. The other night a storm pushed its way through and those chimes could be heard all the way in my back bedroom.

It was one of those windy nights that almost reminded me of living in Florida. The last few days were filled with 80 degree temperatures. The front moving in was cold and rainy. It made no secret that its intent was to push its way in, however violently it needed to. Winds, especially those that are turbulent sounding, often signal the struggle of change.

Wind is the result of taking an invisible state of reality and transforming it into something new. The old way of thinking fights to hang on while the "something different" struggles to establish a stronghold and a solid presence. Despite the feelings of fear that arise from those violent sounds of a force that has the power to destroy, the music of wind chimes still manages to play.

It's a calm voice; a beautiful voice; a voice of distraction that subtly entices you to "listen." The mysterious random notes of that music almost make you forget that there's danger in the air at all. It's a source of comfort that the chaos going on outside isn't really anything to worry about. A wind chime's notes are the only gentle, constant whispers during a storm and they only play when there's change.

We fight change and we struggle internally with it. It takes some force and some time to push out what we know and let the unfamiliar in. "Destruction creates and creation destroys," as one of my favorite high school teachers, "Mr. L" reiterated in a poem he wrote before he got sick. He used to tell me that I "had talent" and had a strong distaste for Ivy League schools, as well as other prominent societal displays of value. He enjoyed life for each moment that it was and could always be seen walking around with a smile. His smile seemed to say "I'm alive and that's all that matters." I should have listened to him a little better.

Change may be turbulent and we may fight it. But it doesn't carry the violent sounds that we think it does. Its intent isn't to bring harm; its intent is to wipe harm away. The real sound of change just might be spoken through the music of a wind chime. A little sprinkle of magic, a little sprinkle of miracles, and a strong push into a transformed reality that we didn't realize we needed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ok So Far

I would be lying if I said that this first month as a self-employed writer was easy. The first two weeks were more about getting a routine down and having my body readjust to less physical exhaustion, stress, junk food, and irregular sleeping patterns. I've freaked out about my identity, my school loans, not being an "employee," health insurance, and whether I should be making all these changes at once.

I've debated whether I should collect another degree, sell or rent my house, stay home and find another sales/service job, etc., etc. I've spent too many hours doing a lot of worrying and watching a bunch of old demons come back to life. I've woken up in the middle of the night to a random religious sermon on television about how your value is not what you have but who you are. This somewhat feisty female minister was preaching to her audience about America's identity crisis epidemic and how we should learn to value our spirits rather than appearances, degrees, titles, and the work we do. The gist of the message is that our identity is separate from what we are attached to or what we were once associated with. We are still valuable and worthwhile.

It was 4 in the morning. I was suddenly awake and willing to listen to the words of a Christian minister. I found myself comforted and smiling back in agreement. It was certainly not a coincidence.

Some of the things that I wanted to get accomplished in the past month haven't been done. I haven't gotten around to getting my dishwasher replaced, my stock options cashed out, my garage cleaned out, my outside bulbs changed out, sorting through my entire house, making it to the gym five times a week, or getting serious about searching for a job. It's mostly because I've been busy writing to keep the same amount of money coming in.

Old demons. Old habits. Old thought patterns that aren't helpful.

Last night I started to laugh because after I convert my 401(k) to yet another Roth IRA account, I'll have enough to live off of for two years. Not that this is a license to get lazy, but I realized that I should stop putting so much pressure on myself. Maybe it's not a coincidence that the money is there. Just perhaps I really am supposed to focus on writing for the next two years.

I've applied for a few jobs in the past few weeks, but not many. The few that I have applied to I'm overqualified for. Positions that require a bachelor's degree are paying $12 or $13 dollars an hour. It doesn't help that I have an MBA, five years of sales experience, seventeen years of customer service experience, and so on. Eventually I'll find a match, but right now I'm not driving to Denver for $12 an hour when I can write at home and earn anywhere from $20 to $30.

This morning I drove across town to drop off a job application and resume to an organization that makes a difference. My brother actually takes some of his life skills classes there. The position doesn't pay more than $13 an hour, they prefer someone who can speak Spanish, and it is only 36 hours a week. Still, I figured I'd give it a shot because being involved with an organization that makes a difference is something I'm drawn to.

Of course it wasn't any coincidence either that I saw a car parked in the parking lot with a certain license plate attached to it; right next to another one with a set of numbers that seemed to whisper "don't give up."

I think that's one of the dark sides of humanity. We try to sabotage our own happiness sometimes. We can't quite accept who we are outside of a certain fish bowl or two.

So I drove out of that parking lot, Kesha cd blaring through my side door speakers. And I started to laugh again. Obviously the universe thinks I still need to be reminded of what I should be focused on.

Yes, the plane tickets are still reserved with a certain destination. This new life-I haven't had it long. But it gives me what I need and I'm happy. It's only been a month. Why not give it a chance?

The other night I dreamt I was in an airport. It wasn't just any airport. It had movie theaters and banquet halls full of the most incredible gourmet breakfast dishes. Blueberry pancakes, oranges, strawberries, coffee, good china, and fancy servers. But I wouldn't eat. I just wanted to get on a plane that I couldn't find. No matter which line or gate I went to, I still couldn't reach the one that would take me to the destination printed on my ticket. None of the lines really led anywhere. You just had to keep going. Even though you couldn't see the end, you had to trust that you would eventually get there. You had to believe.

I woke up before I could see the end or find my plane. Sometimes even when you have a ticket, you never reach your intended destination. So what if I never reach my plane? So what if this ticket turns out to be useless or a waste of time or a false illusion? I'll still end up somewhere.

And like the tag said on that blue van that passed me on the bypass this morning, I'm "ok so far."