Category: Self-Help

The Conundrum of Cancer: or, redefining self-care

Radical self-care doesn’t look like a spa day—it feels selfish and awkward, although I remain unapologetic in this practice.

It is sitting still on a boat for one, in an ocean of emotion and unknowing, with no land in sight. I peer into the water, scrying for glimpses of my future, and into the sky to find navigation. The fish, reflections, sun, and constellations remain silent. I do not know when I will reach shore or what I will find.

As I rock in my boat, I start to say yes to serving the world. I feel the gentle hand of My Muse on my shoulder, and in a quiet voice says, “No, not yet. You have to learn to serve yourself before you can return to serving others.” 

My Muse is a jealous muse, demanding that I honor her before all others. In the commandments she has placed into my hands, my writing comes first. I will not be dissuaded from this belief, no matter how hard the boat rocks.

An hourglass sits on the edge of the boat, but the sand doesn’t move. Loved ones on the shore leave footprints as they drift away, and I let them go. In solitude, I hear the story of my heart.

There is a wildness that hums and throbs where my womb used to be. I do not know its name or nature, but I must feed and protect it through gestation. When we reach solid ground, this wildness will birth, then we will burn together in the boat, meld into one and fly.

The Conundrum of Right Livelihood: Getting Out of the Rabbit Hole, Introduction

This series of posts stems from a chat I had with a friend about finding *right livelihood and the lack of self-help gurus who address the middle place, also known as limbo, or as I like to call it, the Professional Rabbit Hole. This is the place where I seem to have fallen, career-wise, and I’m not finding satisfactory help or reading  material on this issue. The goal of this series is to document my process from being employed in an unsatisfactory job (my current situation) to finding a job and employer I love and/or fruitful self-employment. My hopes: these writings will help me, and maybe others, who are feeling particularly stuck career-wise. Here is a little background on how I got here—maybe you can relate:

I have 30+ years of work and volunteer experience, a bachelor’s degree, a certificate from the Leadership for a Sustainable Future program, and have been self-employed. I’ve worked hard, long hours, skipped lunches, waived overtime, shown up sick, all of it. However, as an employee, I have found a lack of professional growth opportunities. I can’t get the experience I need to move beyond barely-above-entry-level, and management doesn’t support upward mobility. I also can’t get promoted. In my current job as a civil servant, I cannot work above my job class to get needed experience. However, I can be given plenty of assignments that are at least one or two steps below my classification, which keeps me stuck on the employment carousel. In the three years I’ve worked for local government, I’ve become jaded and frustrated with the entire system. Management is incompetent and nasty at times, and they make up the rules as they go. Meaningful leadership is generally lacking. The work itself is boring—as an administrative aide, I’m using skills I developed 20-30 years ago. The “foot in the door” is a myth—there is no where to go, and most departments either promote from within, have highly specific requirements for the job, and/or prefer to hire from the outside. Government, for me, has been a dead-end. The non-profit and academic sectors aren’t much better.

Given my work situation, I’m looking for other opportunities. However, searches at Idealist and Indeed lead me to dread and overwhelm. Jobs that look interesting are: 

  • Located in an expensive area to live without appropriate compensation;
  • Want three employees for the price of one; and/or
  • Are looking for experience that I don’t have because I can’t get it in my current position.

All other jobs pay $10+/hour less than what I’m making now, and are at an even lower level than I’m working currently. I also seem to either sort through hundreds of jobs, or have a list of three (is there any in between, anywhere?). Finding a job that’s a good fit looks grim. 

That’s my struggle of finding a job and employer I enjoy, while making enough money to survive. The other struggle is finding the right “help.” I’ve gone to JobLink, participated in workshops, talked with career counselors, taken the MBTI® and Strong Interest Inventory® tests. I took a couple of online classes in Project Management (but can’t get experience using what I’ve learned). Over the years, I’ve used a plethora of tools developed by a variety of self-help gurus. Many have helped me spiritually and creatively. A lot of them teach self-love as a way of moving forward and getting what you want out of life—but I already love myself. That’s not to say that they aren’t useful—they just don’t seem to address my particular situation. The help I find in this genre for careers is one of three categories:

  • Ground-zero for people who don’t know who they are or what they want;
  • Entrepreneurs who already have a business and want to grow it; or
  • Successful business owners who want to take their work international.

There doesn’t seem to be anything in between. I have yet to find the book, So, You’re Stuck in this Wonky Professional Place of Neither Here nor There, Are Educated and Skilled, Know Who You Are and What You Want, but Can’t Get From Point A to Point B to Point C—Here’s What to Do About It.

That’s where I am, in the middle—the rabbit hole—not so far down that I can’t see the light, but not out in the sun, either.

*I’m defining right livelihood as work I love that serves a higher good/bigger picture, effectively uses my skills and talents, provides a better-than-surviving wage, and where I am treated with respected. Right livelihood definitions may vary from person to person; and I reserve the right to tweak the definition for myself, as needed.

The Conundrum of a Life Falling Apart; or, how virtual love and support made my life better

This isn’t something I would normally publish openly, but I thought that for my own growth and to express my gratitude on a slightly larger scale, I’d turn a Facebook group thanks into a blog post. Here is what I wrote this morning:

On 11-11-2012 I paid attention to my thoughts and feelings and joined the Soul Path Tribe. It was one of the best decisions I made in 2012, and going into the new Wheel of the Year. Where I was at: I had just said good-bye to my academic-self so I could fully embrace my writer/artist-self. And on November 28, I said yes to the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy and chairing the Leadership in Sustainability awards; and no to a relationship that was no longer working.

In the past year I have gone from: Living off of only child support and food stamps to becoming employed. Being more or less evicted from my home of 7 years, then moving to a new place that’s more affordable and supportive of who I am becoming as a human being. Saying no to fundraising, and then successfully chairing an fundraising event–a first for me. Barely surviving to enjoying life and being able to have the wherewithal to enjoy life, give my commitments proper attention, and be part of the Leadership for a Sustainable Future program. Being at one of my all-time life lows to being at a state of security and confidence I haven’t seen in a long time. Puttering around with my spirituality to getting to fully embrace all of it, especially my witchy self. Sharing only parts of myself to showing all of who I am, especially my vulnerable side.

None of this would have been possible without this Tribe. I’m not sure I would have made it through the last year with my sense of self intact. The consistent love and support have definitely been some of the biggest blessings I have received in the last year, and possibly in my entire lifetime. Lyn, I am so grateful that you followed your guidance and were willing to stretch to start the Soul Path Tribe. And to all of you who were on last year’s journey with me, I can’t thank you enough. Thinking about how wonderful all of you are pretty much overwhelms me emotionally and brings me to tears. I love you all. Thank you so much for witnessing and being there for me. It’s been better than having the moon, the sun and the stars.
Follow the links for more information about Lyn Thurman and the Soul Path Tribe.