All My Days

Last week, I turned down a job as an office manager/bookkeeper for a lovely nonprofit. I agonized about the decision for at least a week. Almost everything about the position checked all the boxes: great, positive people; beautiful work environment; a position where I would be supported and could learn new things; flexibility of time after several months in the role; amazing, mission-driven environmental organization. ALL the boxes except one – financially feasible. Ugh.

Yes, it’s true that working for a nonprofit generally equates with earning a lower wage rate. And, this place was paying the going rate for the position. I may have more to say on that in another post. But, what made it infeasible was its distance – 36 miles away. That means a 45 minute to one hour drive each way, in traffic, each day not to mention the cost of gas and wear and tear on my car! Because lunch was unpaid and a 40 hour work week required, the time invested would have been from 8 am to nearly 7 pm, 5 days a week. That doesn’t even factor the time you spend getting ready for work and prepping meals.

Yeah, yeah … I know. “Whine whine whine,” you’re saying. Most people live this, do this; some with longer commutes. And many, I would guess, do this with lower paying jobs. I honestly can’t wrap my head around this. How? And … why?

What, I wondered, is my time worth? At what point does paying the bills (and this pay rate wouldn’t have allowed me to break even) offset what you sacrifice in life balance? Ok. Let’s even throw “balance” out the window. What about quality of life?

But, I’ll be honest. I would have temporarily sacrificed balance, quality, time, all that, if the numbers worked out and I knew that I would eventually stop having to draw from savings to make ends meet. I wanted to work there. Everything about the place was and is amazing. But the fact of the matter is that wage rates in this country have not risen to account for cost of living in even the most basic sense. The baseline is too low to make what would’ve been an unending sacrifice. That whole can of worms is a discussion for another time. Sadly, the years it would’ve taken to reach that break-even point may have put me into my retirement years.

Many a road, you know
I’ve been walking on
All of my days
And I’ve been trying to find
What’s been in my mind
As the days keep turning into night

Making the decision to say “no, thank you” lifted a burden off my shoulders. The entire process of crunching the numbers, considering the costs versus the benefits (I was a business student,           ya know!), and struggling with the frustration brought on a large amount of anxiety. That anxiousness was on top of the everyday concern that I really do need to get a job, or make enough somehow, to stop drawing from my dwindling savings. Yet, I know I’m blessed. I have financial means to fall back on. My worry is not that great.

What about the hundreds of San Diegans I see with two-hour work commutes, each way, every day? How are they not just sitting in a cesspool of anxiety as they sit in unending traffic, knowing that their incomes just barely support their lifestyles? What about the time, an irretrievable commodity, they sacrifice away from family, friends, healthy activities, and anything else that fills their hearts? It is no wonder that people suffer from anxiety disorders now more than ever. You want numbers? “About one in five Americans cited unemployment and low wages (22 percent), and climate change and environmental issues (21 percent) as issues causing them stress. (APA, Nov. 2017)” Money and work are among the top three most common sources of stress, in fact. (I’ll add the infographic link at the bottom.)

Many a road, you know
I’ve been walking on
All of my days
And I’ve been trying to find
What’s been in my mind
As the days keep turning into night

Why do I bring this up? Because this freaks me the fuck out! I worry about the future of our nation (which, btw, is the number one most common source of stress) and the people in it. And, it’s obvious I’m not alone. This … THIS is a huge reason I’m building an organization that addresses anxiety disorders. We want to teach people how to be less anxious using nature therapy as the main modality. Nature is free and readily available. Interacting with nature chills us out and leads to creating deep connections. Those connections we have with nature and each other make us more compassionate, loving beings. I would guess compassionate bosses are more likely to pay an actual living wage (a bit of sarcasm here), therefore, less stress/anxiety, better life balance, etc. You see? There are so many ways this can go that are cyclical and beneficial.

Time really is an irretrievable commodity. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. And, I made the decision last week to spend the time I would’ve been sitting in traffic to building something that will benefit everyone. It’s called Earth Connect. I hope you’ll check it out.

www.earth-connect.org

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/11/lowest-point.aspx

 

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Do be do be do … – Frank Sinatra

Action is creation made manifest — Frances Marie Reilly. As images of God, we are creators. It is within our purpose to create, and that requires action.

I’ve been struggling a lot, lately, with living and doing. I’ve got the being part down pat. You know, the thing that spiritual leaders tell you is the main part of being a spiritual being (see? There’s a lot of “being” in those two sentences!). But, as I tell those who come to me for advice, we live in this 3D reality, which means that we have to do and act and live. And, as I repeatedly tell them — Action is creation made manifest.

The result of action is a product, in the form of a service or a thing. I often wonder – is it “creation” if there is nothing to show but an idea in your head? And, I keep coming back to the same answer. No. Creation necessitates completion, starting with the energy of an idea and culminating in the product, the something tangible (even if it’s just in the un-seeable form of service rendered).

I have struggled with this for years. On and off, I believed that my inability to act is due to laziness or lack of discipline. But, deep down I know that is just my Shadow talking. I mean, geez, all those years I woke up early to get my kid ready for school, make him lunch, and get him to places he needed to be were years of doing stuff that is not in my nature. Now that he’s grown, I’ve spent entire weekends in my pajamas just because I can and I want to. But, is that “living” just sitting for hours on end, in comfy clothes, with nary a thought of getting anything done?  I know for sure it’s existing. Sitting there deep in thought or meditation, it could be labeled being because that sounds so much more “spiritual.” Some might call it depression, but I really do enjoy doing nothing, and my happiness exists within me.

Lately, people keep telling me that we are “spiritual beings in a human body” as if I’ve never heard that before and they were the first to think of it. The proper quote was from Pierre Tielhard de Chardin:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Ah … but see?! The people quoting Tielhard de Chardin to me have been misquoting him! Or, giving those folks the benefit of the doubt, I have been mis-hearing them!

In the actual quote, we are having an “experience.” What is that?
Because I’m a word nerd, I looked it up on Merriam-Webster online. It’s first definition is:
a : direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge
b : the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation

So, if I’m interpreting the definition correctly, I can easily have an experience just by watching, observing. It’s sort of a voyeuristic way to live; kind of like the way we live vicariously through others, e.g., actors in productions, sports figures playing their games, or even friend dramas when we gossip about their lives.

I have a tendency to take this a step farther, as I think many people do. I will often come up with an idea, work it out in my head with all the details to make the idea happen. Then, I will let it go. In my mind, literally, the product, service, event, or whatever has a beginning and an end. It never sees the light outside the darkness of my own mind. I’ve always thought I was okay with that.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

But, I’ve recently realized that the idea may come back to niggle at the back of my mind. It may be a feeling of incompleteness or, very rarely, what some may consider as regret. It’s the same thing as when you see something or hear of someone do something innovative and think, “hey! I thought of that!” And maybe think that you should have. For me, I’ve never considered any undone thing to be a regrettable inaction. I’m more inclined to think “hey! That’s cool that someone had the same idea I had and did it! That’s wild that we could have the same thought!”

Thinking back, I could probably trace this to when I was, like, 5 or 6 years old. My family was driving from Chicago to Virginia to visit my family. And, my dad was always the one driving. I thought how great it would be if my mother’s side also had a steering wheel so she could take over driving whenever Dad was tired. Many months later, I saw a TV ad for a driving school where their selling point was that the instructor had his own steering wheel to “take over” driving for safety’s sake (or something like that). I thought, “Hey! That was my idea!” But, I realized I was child and couldn’t do anything about it even if it was my good idea. (Yes, I was a very self-aware child.)

Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arrive.

I’m not a child anymore. And, in the mental back and forth of what it truly means to be alive, I consider whether mental exercises of creation are sufficient. In fact, are you actually creating if there is nothing to show for it? If there is no manifestation of the thought?

And, in all my philosophizing, I consider what it is to be human. What is our purpose in this human experience? Why am I not simply a spiritual being that is . . . spirit? Why was I born into this world?

In the Bible I was raised on, I learned that Man is made in the image of God. What does that mean? That God looks like us? Even before I left my church, I knew and believed that God/dess exists within all living beings. That all my eyes look upon are, in some way, images of God. That is my spiritual belief. But, I know there is truth in religious teachings. We just have to dig deep to understand and find that truth. What is the truth of that statement – man is made in the image of God? And, of course, I acknowledge that there are multiple understandings and multiple truths to any statement because, as with all things, it is a matter of perspective.

One of those truths is that God is a Creator. And, if we are made in His/Her image, we are creators, too. And . . . creation exists outside of a thought. If it didn’t, you and I wouldn’t exist. We would still just be God’s thought.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life,
You were only waiting for this moment to be fre
e

Yes, as all life coaches and esoteric and rah-rah folks will tell you, manifestation begins with deep imagination, dreaming in detail, of what you want to create and/or accomplish. In our mainstream world, we see corporations and business folks use this as their first step in strategic planning when they write their vision and mission statements. But, it is the action — the planning, the steps taken, and the actual production of the service or physical object  — that completes and makes manifest the creation.

I think it is that feeling of “incompletion” that hurts our soul. Yes, there are things we can let go or leave undone. But, those wonderful things we have imagined, those ideas that begin to spread their wings in the comfort of our minds, need to break free to truly be able to become.

I mis-heard those human guides correctly because we are not only spiritual beings having a human experience, we are also spiritual beings in a human body. We are physical beings, a manifestation of God/dess’ imagined conception; a true complete creation. If part of my purpose is to be an image of God/dess, then it is my purpose to create and manifest. For that, I must act; I must do.

I guess there is much wisdom in Mr. Sinatra’s words. As an image of God/dess, my purpose is to do be do be do. (yeah, I crack myself up!) And, of course, a nice reminder from the Beatles:

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise


P.S., I just watched another YouTube video explaining the background of this song written by Paul McCartney. Supposedly, it was inspired by the Civil Rights movement and the blackbird represents a woman living in oppression. In the context of this essay, I wonder if the worst type of oppression is self-oppression. We limit ourselves and our capabilities by keeping our talents and wisdom hidden and our Selves caged. Hmmm.. what do you think?