Sometimes I feel scared about the direction the world seems to be going in. Some days, I see the goodness clearly. I work to support people working for positive change. I try to be the change, to let go of what I can’t change and change the things I can. I tell myself, I’m doing my part. Other days, I want to pull the covers over my head in the morning and watch Star Trek bloopers on YouTube in the afternoon.
When it’s hard to let go because worrying is so familiar, when we don’t know what else to do, we can look to the truth that has always been there for us. We can hold on to what is good and let the worries trickle away through our fingers. What is good remains.
A Pueblo Indian Prayer
Hold on to what is good,
even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
even if someday I’ll be gone
away from you.
“Hold on,” gave me strength in the darkest times of my past. But when I didn’t feel like I could hold on anymore, a power greater than myself carried me, or dragged me, or just held me, until I was ready to continue on the journey that has turned out to be worth all the heartache. Experience leads me to believe we will be okay. Maybe even better than okay.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu
For the past six months, I’ve been working just one day a week at the old job, the counseling job I’ve done for thirty years. Some would say I’m moving gradually into retirement. I believe I’m moving into my second career, a career my heart longs for.
Moving to one day a week and letting go of my insurance and vacation benefits was a big leap of faith. But on Tuesday, I made an even bigger leap. I gave notice that I’ll be terminating employment in January.
As far as the hours go, it won’t be such a big change, but it’s cutting the cord to the job that paid my bills for most of my adult life. The job that taught me so much about giving and boundaries and life, the job that provided security, the job for which I am thankful.
As I’ve moved into a more creative life, working on my book and painting angels, I’ve kept one foot in the old job while stretching into my new life. But you have to let go of the shore if you want to sail the ocean.
It’s hard to say goodbye, especially to my clients. But it’s time to move fully into the next phase of my life and to trust that I’ll be taken care of. Words cannot express how thankful I am for the opportunity to come home to my creative soul.
In a few days, I’ll be 61 years old. Yep. I’d say, it’s about time.
Many years ago, in my 20s, I had this dream that I was driving down a narrow road through the woods. I knew water ran beside me -maybe a river – beyond the trees. The road curved to the right as it led out of the woods and disappeared into a large body of water, as if there had been a flood. I found that I was on a tiny peninsula. I stopped the car and got out. Fog enveloped me so that I could only see a few feet in any direction. The water appeared calm and milky. I didn’t want to go back, but I felt unsure, because I couldn’t see the path. I didn’t know how narrow the path was, or how deep the water was on each side of the path. Even if I could have seen the path, I didn’t know where it would take me.
Something must have told me to step forward, out into the water. As I lifted my right foot and moved it forward over the water, a flat, circular stone rose up out of the water directly under my foot. I stepped onto the stone, first with one foot, then the other. Then, I tried it again. As I moved my left foot forward, another grey stepping stone rose out of the pale water, and I stepped on it.
I don’t know what happened after that. Perhaps the lesson was done. As I remember that long ago dream, I remember the lesson that has been presented to me over and over in various ways – that sometimes we have to take steps in faith. Over the years, my steps, divinely guided when I paid attention, have readied me for a gift of love I could not have imagined. Now it is time to trust that love and that the stepping stones will rise to support me as I prepare to move into a new direction.
In three months, I will make a major change in my life. It’s a little scary, but exciting. It is a change that I believe will improve my mental, emotional and physical health. It will allow more time for creative work, more freedom, and more authenticity for my soul.
The road ahead is becoming clear. I can see it, now. And I know the stepping stones will be there if I need them.
It’s interesting that my daughter is also preparing for a major change in her life that will take her body about three hundred miles away from me. I know it’s not that far, but it’s hard to fully realize that at 22 years of age, my once upon a time baby girl is now a grown woman. It’s a little scary-for me.
I will have faith that the stepping stones will be there for her, too.
The highs this week, in my neck of the woods, will be in the upper 90’s. Today, it might even reach 100 degrees. This is not unheard of here in the Carolinas, but we typically stay in the 80s for most of the summer.
When I was a kid, in the 1960’s, my family didn’t have AC. We did have window fans though. And Popsicles. And a freezer I’d stick my head in and inhale deeply. I have no idea whether this is hazardous though, so I’m not recommending it. We rolled down the car windows to get air, except when my parents bought that portable air conditioner unit that fit into the passenger window of the ’68 Chevy for the drive from the East Coast to Camp Pendleton, California. Somewhere in the desert, the chord wouldn’t pull. Dad reached over and gave it a yank, and the machine spit ice water all over Mom making her shriek. We went back to rolling down the windows after that.
For most of human existence, there was no electricity, no AC, not even electric fans.
How did people get by with no electricity, no window fans, no Popsicles, even?
Now, as I start to think outside my own little world, how do so many people living in hotter climates today still get by without air conditioning? Am I spoiled or fortunate?
I don’t have central air, but I do have ceiling fans and two window units in my modest abode which I resist turning on until it’s in the 90s.
But sometimes, like this week, even our abundant shade trees can’t keep it cool enough to prevent the heat and humidity from growing mold on my old shoes in the closet. The window units are running a lot more this week, not really for the shoes, but for the dogs.
When I think about the Serenity Prayer, which I wrote about last week, I usually include “The Weather” on my list of things I cannot change. But what if we did this? What if this is global warming? Can we change it?
(I look forward to hearing what Pope Francis has to say about this later in the week.)
Most big changes take a long time. There are those things that maybe we can change, over time, with organization, like laws and injustice. We have to decide where to put our energy.
People changed the status of slavery so that it’s no longer legal in the US. Once upon a time, women, and African Americans did not have the right to vote in my country. But brave women and men worked hard to change that one step at a time.
Can we change the weather?
I don’t know. But we can do our part to change our habits, and maybe that will, at least, slow down the destruction of our planet. At best, we can, help our lovely planet heal, one step at a time.
How are those New Year’s resolutions going? What steps have you taken?
In recent years, there’s been a lot written about manifesting you dreams. But, asking, believing and receiving has been around for a long time. The sequence is recommended in Mathew 21:22. And sometimes, asking and believing can bring our dreams into reality, if we are open to the possibilities. It happened to me, when the time was right. But first I had to do the footwork. My first love, David, and I had to work on ourselves as individuals and learn lots of lessons before we were ready to be together 39 years later.
Perfect Timing for JoAnne and David Silvia, 40 years later
In my 26 years or so as a substance abuse counselor, I’ve met plenty of people who wanted to stop using drugs or stop drinking to avoid losing their homes or their kids or so they could regain their sanity. The ones who were successful recognized how much work it takes to change a powerful habit. It takes more than to want to change. It takes action, like going to meetings. It takes movement, like walking down another street. Sometimes it takes changing your phone number.
If you want to lose weight, you might start by buying a new pair of sneakers, or some exercise music. You can also write down you food plan for tomorrow and pray about it. Pray before you go into the grocery store. Pray before you open the refrigerator.
If I want to decrease clutter, I’m going to have to start with one pile or one corner, make the time and get started.
(I just stopped writing this post and spent 5 minutes working on that corner in the kitchen. I found the Christmas napkins I was looking for 4 weeks ago.)
Ask, believe, and then take the steps. One step at a time. You’ll get further than you would just talking about it.