Yeah, Work Is Work, But What Else Might It Be?

img_0784I have written many times about the tension between having a day job and wanting to pursue my writing and healing live full time.

Green as a Granny Smith apple, I look to the bloggers and friends who can dedicate all of their time to their creative pursuits. I wish constantly for the financial freedom or the artistic warriors’ courage that allows them to refuse the constraints of the nine to five.

I shadowbox with guilt that my work ethic isn’t strong enough, that I should knuckle down and realize I wasn’t born independently wealthy and that I love this new house and have to earn the salary to pay for my piece of it.

At the same time I try to sort out the root my aversion to my job. Is going to a temple of knowledge every day and being paid for my pains actually painful or is it just an amplified version of the drama everyone experiences on Monday mornings? What if my soul is trying to tell me that I must do something else? What if I just don’t realize how good my job could actually be?

These are all still rhetorical questions, because I sure as heck don’t have any of the answers to them. Yet.

One thing I have sorted out, however, is helping me find new peace with my job as I continue to show up there each day. It sprang from a great deal of soul searching I did over my vacation when I started to realize how worried I was about returning to work.

I have been afraid to either like my job or give it my best effort because it might lead to contentment.

Huh?

You see, I worried that if I was content in my work, the Universe might start to think that all I could do was take care of the logistics of a college library and design a few publications and manage a few budgets. The Universe (or God or my boss or myself) might start getting the idea that this life was ok for me and I could quit striving for that elusive something better. Even worse, I feared that that “something better” might stop trying to find me.

And so, I offered about 42% of my energy and attention to 40+ hours of my week. Somehow, I still expected to come home and switch into being able to give 110% of myself to writing and healing and loving my husband.

img_0788But, there is this thing called inertia. It the law that says that an object (or a redhead woman) is most likely to persist in a given state once she is already hanging out there. I am not sure what sort of magic I thought might happen during the commute home, but I guess I was hoping All Things Considered offered the alchemical secret of turning disaffected, scattered working girl into inspired, focused epiphany girl in the span of a thirty minute drive.

And so, I still have absolutely no idea if I am supposed to work toward escaping the relatively safe and predictable world of a salaried, benefit laden job in higher education (not that anything is all that stable these days) or if I am supposed to take all those risks and step into a “career” of my own creation. But, at least I am coming to understand the law of physics in my professional and creative lives and have stopped believing that I can make gold from the ashes of an unlived day.

I am dedicating myself to my job anew, and daring myself to look at every task and every person with fresh eyes. I am willing to risk offering all of myself to my position for the hours that I am paid to do so. Heck, if I do that maybe I can stop blogging about work on my own time!

What are your strategies for getting through the workday? Do you have this sense of tension too?

Those of you freed souls that we office-dwellers envy – what is it like on the other side? Any secrets you’d like to share with the class?

New Projects: Energy and Inertia and Seeking Balance Once Again

Things are beginning to speed up.

ajmac, EveryStockPhoto.com
ajmac, EveryStockPhoto.com

After a long time spent nurturing seedlings of thought and possibility, I am watching some of my work begin to blossom into the world. I have had the luxury of sticking close to the shelter of the earth, playing with concepts and ideas without risking their exposure to the elements of risk. But now, I realize I am not sticking so close to the underbrush. It is time to move outward.

For one thing, this blog has called to more readers, and while we are still a small, intimate community, I feel the pull of those who enjoy my presence here each day (thanks to all of you for the encouragement and receptivity!).

My healing work is beginning to take a new, vital shape. I find that I want and need to take loving ownership of what I am learning. I want to find the courage and the confidence to share my growing skills with the world. I am getting involved with a related business, a product I really believe in, and am both excited and a little nervous to see where all this will take me.

The productive serenity of the last week at home, when desire was my only guide, really represents the quietness that has surrounded me for the last few years. Plenty has been shifting and quaking under the surface, but externally, things mostly moved along at manageable pace.

Now I find myself back at work, immersed in my public life even as these “extracurricular” elements are reaching new and demanding heights. Some places are not so private anymore as I become willing to take the leap and put myself out there in support of my passions and my vision.

John-p, EveryStockPhoto.com
John-p, EveryStockPhoto.com

And so I decided that inertia would be my friend. I would become the woman in motion most likely to stay in motion since I could not risk a pause, lest the series of new spinning stars should slip from their orbits. In the past, all of the inner work I did just begot more inner work. Now it seems to becoming time that the outer work should lead me further toward the sun.

“Inertia” was lingering near the front of my brain because Anodea Judith uses it when she talks about the third chakra, the yellow chakra of fire, in her book Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System. She talks about the way that a fire that begins to burn will most likely continue to grow. All I could think about as I began to feel so full of all these new projects was that I needed that fire to roar and sustain me through all of my various ventures. I wanted energy to flow through my fingertips and enliven every moment. I’d fit in exercise in the thirty minutes before bed if I needed to, and if I needed to sleep less, I would do that too.

dsc01509Then I sat down to write this tonight and I remember how much I love and crave the quiet, meandering process of collecting my thoughts in this space each day. Sitting at my beloved desk with a cat on my lap has little to do with a constantly increasing conflagration in my already busy mind. Something didn’t add up, so I went back to Judith’s book and read a little more closely.

The third chakra, in her view, is all about inertia, but it is also about the will. Inertia, even the kind that keeps you moving and productive, is not necessarily a good thing. Inertia is a kind of oblivious momentum that has little to do with consciousness and everything to do with feeling powerless. How many people suffer from being chronically driven overachievers not because they are enjoying being so good at everything, but because they are terrified to slow down and see what really may lurk within their usually frantic minds? It takes strength of the will to overcome these unconscious forces and summon energy when it is needed and call upon silence when it is time for stillness.

These are lessons I have learned and thought were deeply rooted in my core. This slowing down over the last couple of years was a hard won process that enabled me to listen and be after years of running around like a woman desperately afraid to fail. Suddenly, I wanted to throw all that work away for the sake of increased efficiency the moment a few projects seemed to be taking on new life.

In the face of all my excitement that was fueled by such confidence in my freshly forged sense of wholeness, I nearly lost sight of my integrity and my truth before I even began.

I said that I wanted to align my priorities in 2009. I decided “align” was preferable to “balance” because balance seems to be all about a crazy dance between opposites. And yet, I think I must realize that though I treasure alignment as an ideal, we have so little control over things in life, even the growth of our own dreams, and we must allow things to flow as they will.

Sometimes balancing the competing beasts of possibility is the best we can do. As I look upon all that I wish to accomplish, I think I can embrace balance as a fine strategy for the moment. It certainly beats losing myself to the fires of inertia and being burnt to a crisp!