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?

Sunset Magic on a Monday-less Sunday

As we watched this phenomenal sunset, I said to my husband on this final Sunday evening of the year, “Doesn’t the sky look more beautiful when you realize you don’t have to go to work for a whole week?”12/28/08 sunset

I caught myself as soon as I said that and tried to take it back. I said something about working out a new year’s resolution that meant that Sunday evenings do not have to be panic laced affairs full of sorrow for another used up weekend and dread for the five day slog to the next reprieve. (The kaleidoscope above us had me feeling rather poetical, so I may have actually used that many words to say “we have to quit giving into the ‘Mondays suck’ mentality.”)

The struggle with my job has been a near constant companion for the last couple of years. It was inevitable, really, that a chronic overachiever who decided against getting her PhD should begin to chafe in the confines of a traditional work week, even if it is in a gorgeous college library. Lately, the madness has cooled and I have been able to extricate my ego from my professional life so that I can appreciate the salary and the perks (including this luxurious time off and that sack of books and DVDs that walked out the door with me for the near-two week break). I worry a bit less about whether I am fulfilling my life’s purpose as junior management in a windowless office.

Still, it seems that the drama lingers on and shows its ugly little face in trite “everybody hates work” kinds of comments. I don’t hate working – I do not necessarily enjoy frittering away my time and talents on less than inspirational tasks (who does?), but for now I think the peace I have made with my job is authentic. My life is so full in every other aspect, and I learn so much every day choose to walk through the office door with an aim to practice all that my soul has learned.

dsc01574At the same time, I have a quiet sort of confidence that things will shift when they need to. Life will make way for my healing work and my writing. Things will fall into place so I don’t lose my mind and all my creative expression when motherhood becomes my main focus. In a way that still allows us to pay the mortgage and eat organic food, the job I hold now will be able to fall away and make way for these bits of self that are now relegated to the edges of my day. I just know it.

Thing is, how much “quiet confidence” is enough? When does it become time to leap? How many sunsets need to paint FREEDOM, BEAUTY, RELEASE across the sky before I realize I need to get out of a position that offers me no portal to the outside world?

It’s that age old dance between “follow your dreams” and “you need a day job, kid.”

Like I said, it is less urgent for me at the moment, but it is just this sense of relaxation that allows me to pose the question: when am I allowed to embrace the life that I really want?

Let me rephrase that: when will I allow myself to embrace the life I really want?

The beginning of the answer: as soon as I allow myself to let the Universe know I really want it.

The time for leaping into a new book of days is here.

What do you want?

Have you begun choreographing the dance that will get you there?