Tue 20 Jul 2010
The other day I was struck with the most incredible feelings of sadness. I just felt dead-eyed and uninterested in anything. There wasn’t any major crises going on. So I had to really dig in to think of what might be bugging me.
It finally came to me that I’ve been having nasty thoughts about taking the summer off. Taking the summer off has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. What a wacko hey? Welcome to my world. I always think that i can’t be *that* Type A because there are always people who push harder than i do. I can’t be a real Type A because i’m happy to take a vacation, I’m happy to kick back with a glass of wine. But i think I need to accept the fact that I, Corilee, am pretty darn Type A. And taking the summer off is hard.
When I dug into what was going through my head, it went like this. Every time i did something i enjoyed I’d think – yeah i won’t be able to do *that* when i’m working. And when something happening that I didn’t enjoy, I’d think, god how long will I be dealing with *that* instead of escaping to a glorious job? In other words, I may be out of work forever, blah blah blah, who’ll hire me, nasty negative thought, blah. I’d locked myself into a spot between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Whatever it was, good or bad, it totally sucked. No wonder I felt depressed.
The crazy thing is, I wasn’t fully aware of these thoughts but they were bumming me right out. Especially the oh-woe-is-me stuff about getting a job. Who was it that wrote about our Big Self and our Small Self? My Big Self is the one that is fully rested, grown up, trusts the Universe and absolutely believes that the right job will come around with my name on. And I believe it for everyone, not just me. If you seek, throwing your little resume out to the wind, you will darn well find the job with your name on it.
So where was this Small Self thinking coming from? The wheedling little smarmy fearful voice with the garbage mouth that makes me feel bad?
My Mom gave me a two year old Oprah magazine (gotta love Oprah Mag, they just don’t age like the others) and there’s an Eckhart Tolle interview in the back. He says that becoming aware of your negative obsessive thoughts is your first step to stop identifying with them.
And yes, as soon as I was fully aware of these nasty job hunting thoughts I went, ewwwwww, like I’d found a dead mouse in my bathtub. I don’t want that going through my head, I don’t want them anywhere near me!
I was blown away about how easy it was to unconsciously think my thoughts. How “natural” they felt just because I’m uncomfortable with the uncertainty around my employment future.
So now I’ve been lying in wait for these thoughts. When I wake up from the most awesome nap or have a good walk with my baby I used to think – this will be tough to do when I get a job. Now I think – I will find time for the important things when I’m working. Let’s just enjoy it, wow I have the summer off, how amazing is this? I’ll remember this fondly when it’s February and snowing and I’m at a desk grinding out some task.
Tolle says in the Oprah interview that you’re never more yourself than when you’re still. Who you really are is in that space between the thoughts. If you can find the stillness, find your breath, let the stream of obsessive thoughts go, then you’ll find that sweet spot. Relax into that space.
He says, that’s where the peace and joy is. Those qualities that are already inside us – not waiting for the perfect experience out there. They’re not waiting for us to accumulate that next cool thing. Or find the sexy job. It’s right here in the present, between the fearful thoughts about the future and the regretful thoughts about the past.
And I’m taking that a step further. Who I really am is also in the space between jobs. Often I’ve felt very defined by what I do, which I know is silly but there it is. This summer is an opportunity to look at who I am without my functions and skills being defined by someone else.
So, what are my creative urges like when there’s no creative job outlet? What are my needs around being with people when I don’t work intensely with folks day in and day out? What’s my energy like when I can completely define the activities of my day? Maybe this summer is a useful experiment.
Tolle says that you can use anything for a reminder to bring a conscious presence to your everyday life. It reminded me of something Frank Jude Boccio, Mindfulness Yoga guy, said. He moved to a place where he could hear the trains run regularly. Initially he thought it might be annoying. Then he decided to use it as his Mindfulness Bell like the Zen monks do. So whenever he heard the train, he would stop whatever he was doing and take 3 conscious breaths. Tolle suggests we use everyday stuff, washing our hands, having a glass of water to remind us to check in and get conscious again.
Tolle says that we’re always obsessing about our problems. He likes to ask – what problem do you have at this moment? And he’s right. If I considered my jobless state a problem (which i don’t like to do but let’s say for example sake) am I really experiencing this Problem while I make coffee? Read the paper? Feed Leo banana chunks and hear him go MAMAMAMA!! when he’s ready for more? (btw that’s baby for “Yo! Bitch! Need more banana chunks ovah heah!” Yes Leo is s stevedore from Joisey some days) .
No there’s no problem. Any problem is more about what my mind has concluded about the circumstances around me than anything about what I experience moment to moment. It’s about my thoughts. And I can be aware of them, and come up with better ones. You know, so they can stop bumming me out.
Money is a good example too. I know a few households these days that have money issues, like less coming in than they need, for whatever reason. Like us. But it’s really interesting to see how people deal with it. Some don’t even seem to see it as a Problem. It’s like, well yeah we’re depending on the line of credit these days. But whatever.
Whereas other folks don’t seem to be as relaxed about it. They buy something they consider a necessity but feel guilty about it. They feel stressed, they feel helpless. I’ve noticed it doesn’t seem to relate to the size of anyone’s debt, it’s all about how they think and feel about it.
So I”ll continue sorting out the “problem” of taking the summer off by seeing how many beaches and farmers markets I can visit over the summer. I think I’ll also make jam for the first time in a million years. Maybe ginger peach the minute I see local peaches in the store. Take my kids on a couple of day trips. Deal with this “problem” the best way a Type A person like me can.