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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separation anxiety

Yesterday I was full of resolve. I awoke with a burden lifted, feeling calm and free. Today, I am destroyed… crying for three straight hours, just beside myself with I-don’t-know-what; perhaps sadness, maybe fright, definitely doubt.

I started the day off crying and didn’t stop for three straight hours. A good friend talked me through one of those hours. I love my friends.

Funny thing is, before I told them what had happened and opened myself up to their help, the BF and I mused that I had no good friends. He has several good friends he can talk to, and did before I “found out,” yet my “oldest and dearest” friend pretty much snubbed me when I told her what I was going through and asked for her help. Needless to say, I no longer count her as a dear, close friend.

Well, he and I were both wrong. This morning, I heard from all the wonderful women I told, through IM, email, text and phone calls. They all said, “I am here and I am available if you need me.” I’m tearing up just typing this.

Anyway, I guess it hit me this morning because He was supposed to come in to collect a few things. The anxiety from the thought of seeing him, and what had I done? to change our lives and break up our little family? what have I done? It was too much, overwhelming.

He’s now come and gone. We texted the whole time. He left me a note saying it felt strange but good to be here and that just being here made him less anxious.

I wonder if, some time in the future, he’ll realize that this is his home. That his choices (though he doesn’t know it yet) have lost him his home, and his family. He texted “Your house is cozy.” I wonder if he’ll come to realize that it’s cozy here because his stuff his here, we are here, he has had good memories here and love and laughter here and….
and, when, if he leaves (I still hope), I wonder if he’ll also feel what I feel — separation anxiety.

slightly panicked

I’m slightly panicked.. very anxious.. I’ve had to make some tough decisions in the past day and a half, and well… any decision is a gamble, right? It could be right, or wrong. 50 -50 and, frankly, I’m not a gambling gal.

So, I wrote this the other day, on the 10th… not exactly a poem, just thoughts:

<u>heartbeats</u>

my heart is beating really fast.
I’m waiting
just waiting
for him to call
to text
to …
drop another shoe.

Each new piece of information
feeding my obsession
does little to comfort me.

I feel my heart
stuck in my throat
pounding in my chest
sinking in my stomach.
It’s beating so fast
and I’m waiting
just waiting
for it to stop
to end
to …
turn to dust.

So now, the other shoe dropped. Yesterday he told me he met the gal in NYC. He doesn’t wanna “boink” her even though she’s cute, etc., but they are now better friends than ever.

So, I made a decision.
I decided I respect and love myself too much to allow myself to be with a man who must have his “friends” because, honestly, this is an emotional affair, whatever he wants to call it. If he’s gonna spend his energy getting to know some other woman better, even though he’d never met her before (and so what if she’s a “fan”) rather than try to work things out with me….
and if he’s gonna go ahead and develop that friendship despite the fact I told him how I felt about it, that it was giving me an anxiety attack to think about it and how I don’t like it…
then, he made his choice, and it wasn’t me.

So, now I’ve made the decision I think he was hoping I’d make, because he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

And now I’ve gotta run to take my son to the doctor. Life goes on.

poem 3

I mentioned before that I had the BF write me poems, and for each one, I had a response. Well, here’s one that was my “response poem” to his “poem 3.” He only sent me three total.

Anyway, I’m posting this poem tonight because, earlier today, I had a mild anxiety attack. His affair had many repercussions; among them, my self-image is totally wrecked.

I think my self-esteem wasn’t great to begin with, but I never had a problem with how I look. Anyway, so I was trying on clothes today. And, nothing looked good, nothing fit, and I didn’t look good, and …
well, all sorts of thoughts were going through my head.
And, I realized I was having an anxiety attack. I was able to see it and stop myself, but… it’s just sucky that now I have to deal weird anxiety on top of everything else. So, here it is.

poem 3

i’ve wandered the forest
mostly alone
but catching glimpses
of you
between the trees

the knowledge of a fellow traveler
comforts me
your unseen presence
protects me
from the shadows

i see we walk
on separate paths
divergent now
but with the hope
they meet up ahead

sunlight breaks through
the forest trees
some times warming me
some times warming you

i become afraid
as i hear the wolves stalk me
i think i see
the convergence ahead

and with joy i run
to meet you
for we can fight
this battle together

and with horror i come
to the fork in the road
to see your path
has been deserted

no sunshine i find
only shadows creep closer
the forest is still
i’m alone
and i scream