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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Choosing a New Path

I love my therapist.

No -- I didn't say I'm *in* love with my therapist.  I'm in love with Christopher William Land.  It's just that I have a therapist who is not willing to molly-coddle me and has a cognitive Irish right-hook.

Lesson from the first visit (paraphrased):  "People think that if they do good in this world -- good will be their reward.  That is not the purpose of karma.  Karma is doing good because that is what you choose to do -- not looking for results.  Periodically life hands us shit sandwiches -- and that's life."

Lesson from the second visit (also paraphrased):  "I did not get the impression from the first 41 pages of The Truth About Whales that you were trying to educate people about recovery.  I got a message of very distinct self-loathing -- and that is an addiction of sorts in itself.  It is -- sadly -- self-indulgent and needs to stop immediately."

It was a banner day yesterday.

You know -- he was right on both counts.  I came away from the session feeling disoriented and oddly excited.  Mostly because I was ready for the message offered.  I believe in therapy, whole-heartedly, because it gives us time to actually hear what we are saying to ourselves.  The voice inside my head for most of my living has been rather unkind and the biggest realization in the book writing was that I looked at my biggest abuser squarely in the mirror as I brushed my teeth.  In this world of routine, of bills and responsibility -- things need to be shaken up once in a while.  What am I doing here?  What is my purpose?  Who will I vote for in November?

~~ grinning ~~

So this morning, I took my walk along Lake Ramsey and instead of coming back my usual route, I turned right onto Paris Street instead.  It's time to write a happy book.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Manifesting Destiny

I like this blog because even when I try to run from what's happening in my life, I find that I can chronicle events here.  Months or even years later, if they make no sense at the time of the writing, time continues to tick away and the words become either crystal clear or mildly embarrassing.  It's a virtual show and tell of living.  I don't write these pieces in Word format and then reproduce them here.  I write them here.  This is perhaps not a wise choice for edits; and perhaps haphazard in design or intent (and content).  It is, however, direct from my brain and heart to yours.

This morning I finished my reading assignment and I'm going to ask the Universe to send me another.  What's next?  I picked up the "Williams James: Selected Writings" I've had getting dusty on my bookshelf this morning and thought, "Wow, that's long."  It was like my feeble attempts at reading Paul Tillich.  I find that I must be a pop-theology student.  Tillich left me dry and Oswald Chambers made me want to run for cover.  Perhaps I need to try again.

I walked into the library on July 17th, seven days after I left my last job. I  seek coincidence.  If coincidence were a religious practice I would embrace it and practice it like communion.  Or, perhaps I would be a coincidence agnostic; because I believe there is a supreme Reason and not any real coincidences at all.  When I walked into the library on July 17th I made a b-line for the bookshelf directly in front of the door.  There was a large group of children seated at the feet of a wizard who was talking in a very bad falsetto.  The library was not quiet.  When I hit the depression, I avoid people like the plague.  So, I settled on the first book I reached for and went to the back of the non-fiction section to check out the placement of "The Truth About Whales."  This is kind of like Googling myself, I know.  It's an obsession.  I have those, too.

The book I came away with was, "Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine" by Eric Weiner. I mentioned one of the passages in my last entry.  I walked away mumbling that I went to the library for escape reading, not insightful reading.  Damned squawking Merlin person.  The next morning I got up, took Sarah to the bus and went to a local Timmie's to read.  The book was better than Tillich or Chambers ever have been for me.

When people talk about the "calling" to ministry, I wanted to be a minister when I was in my early teens.  There was a youth pastor named Ed Potts and his sermon that caught me was on Cat's in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.  I wanted to be him.  Ed Potts, not Harry Chapin.  I wanted to stand in front of a congregation and reduce them to tears.  To make people feel something...to have them search inside themselves, to have them be honest with one another.  I spent the next ten years trying to show God how bad a choice I would be for that particular position.  So, my first response to the calling was probably pretty typical -- "I'm not good enough to be that."

My second response to the calling has been life long.  I don't have a religion that fits.  With the exception of Unitarian Universalism -- I have yet to find a church that believes in what I believe.  This is why Weiner's book spoke to me.  He finds himself in the hospital and a nurse (placed coincidentally, I'm sure) asks him, "Have you found your God yet?"  Sitting in Bell Park with the book on my lap I knew exactly Who sent me to the library that day.

My mother-in-law, Barb, challenged me this past Friday to write down exactly what it is that I want to be when I grow up.  She said that I needed to manifest my desire in writing (keeping out negative statements like "but" or "I can't"), and that trying it writing with the hand that I don't normally use might help.  Well, my handwriting is unintelligible with the hand my brain chooses to use, so I imagine that the result of my right hand would not even be readable.  I'm lazy, I'll type it.

1.  I want to help people; specifically, heal them in some way.
2.  I relate very well to women; or at least they are the ones who actually respond to my writing.
3.  I want to be an instrument of God's peace.
4.  I want to work either in a prison or a hospital setting.
5.  I will do paperwork because I'm good at it, at the organization of it. 
6.  I'll be happy to write/type or create reports.
7.  I love to do research.
8.  I have experienced the feeling of making a difference in someone's life and I want to experience that again, in a positive way.
9.  I want to be remembered.
10.  I want my husband and my daughters to know that their investment in my education and professional career was a good choice.

Okay, so I'm going to wrap this up with Eric Weiner's words because he and Barb conspired to form this blog entry:

"God is not a set of missing car keys or an exit on the New Jersey Turnpike.  He is not a destination.  He's as close as our jugular, as the Muslims say.  In that sense, all spiritual searches are round-trip journeys.  We travel in order to discover that there is nowhere to go.  We turn, like a dervish, returning to the same spot where we started.  The spot is the same but we are not."

Amen.




Monday, July 23, 2012

Whirling Dervish

What do you mean I have to sit still for 6 weeks?  I had three children and went back to visit the fine folks at work when they were 2-3 weeks old.  How does one sit still?

I looked across at my counsellor and she smiled at me.  Her arms were folded across her lap and rested on top of her knee.  Her eyebrows raised and she smiled.  "Yes.  You have to learn how to take care of yourself.  We will not begin the process for second career until you have completed your time off."

A stray thought passed my waking memory right at that moment.  It echoed, "Be careful what you pray for... you might just get it."  Except I didn't pray for this.  I kept sending out resumes to every email box, fax number and walk-in address I could find on the Job Bank, and the various sites that clutter up my favorites bar under "Jobs in Sudbury."  I actually managed to land two jobs and couldn't keep either one of them.  I kept doing the same thing again and again, expecting different results.

So, the first day off I went to my friend Sam's house and kept my promise about us getting together that I've been stealthily avoiding for months.  I stay in denial of my inner recluse; but I assure you she spends lots of time finding ways to cancel appearances of any kind.  Busy, busy, busy... Alice's white rabbit poofs down the hole and disappears. 

Sam is a librarian for all things spiritual.  I walked into the inner sanctum of her house and her house actually has an inner sanctum!  The incense was burning and I could feel the breeze lifting off of the stone floor waiting for bare feet to be cooled to the touch, calmed.  We sat and talked about "what's next."  I babbled on and she listened, she babbled on and I listened... and at one point we drew out the Marianne Williamson cards and shuffled.  Sam pulled one from the deck that said, "It's okay to cry."  I put that puppy back in the deck and shuffled, hand over hand.  I all but did a Vegas shuffle trying to bury that card.  Not crying, today, thank you.  Have been crying since January.  No More Tears shampoo, please.  Shuffling, I knocked on the deck to remove the negative energy I was feeling and chose my card.

"It's okay to cry."

Very funny, God.

~~~

I travelled with my daughter to a new friend's house to go to a birthday get together; both for the day she was born and the day she chose sobriety as a way of living.  Of course, I always follow directions well and made sure to feed both the kid and I at the Scottish restaurant that features Big Macs.  I thought the birthday meant cake so I didn't want to show up hungry.  I had forgotten that it was a birthday dinner.  When I got there, I looked at my steak and all of the salads she had prepared and decided I was going to put that on top of my 30 minutes ago meal.  The women around the table were diverse and we were briefly joined by two men who were ploughing on the owner's property.  When they came inside, she offered to feed both of them, as well.

There's something about homemade potato salad that requires me to eat it.  It's not a choice, really, more of an obsession.  That and devilled eggs.  I will sneak at least 2 devilled eggs while pretending to carry plates to the kitchen.  Hide them!

After the plates were cleared and dessert (yes, I wanted to slide under the table and fall asleep) one of the women mentioned that she enjoyed the energy present for the meal.  She wasn't talking about the food.  Another woman to my left explained, "Yes, we all have gifts of one sort or another; we may just not know what they are yet."  The energy woman explained that she was a second level Reiki practitioner and one of the other ladies said, "I have degenerative disc disease...and it hurts here."  So, while the conversation continued and the tea cups clinked; I watched the practitioner position her hand where the pain was as if nothing in the world was unusual or different.

I want more dinner parties just like that one.

~~~

Today, Monday July 23rd was the first day I didn't have anything planned.  I got up with Sarah, promptly missed the camp school bus and drove her to Camp Sudaca.  I looked for the bear we spotted on Saturday (no blueberries to be found anywhere) and was relieved I didn't see him again.  Then I drove to Timmies to have a coffee and read among people.  One thing about this time off -- I have to have time around people.  Just being by myself in the house is not only boring... it's kind of lonely.  Not that I need people 24/7 -- I just need to get out a bit in the sunshine.  I use our beagle as a social foray and wander out with him a couple times a day, ball-thrower in hand and treats in pocket.

As I was sitting at the Timmies, I read something that I wanted to share:  "Rumi is said to have discerned in that sound the dhikr -- la ilaha illallah, There is no God but God -- and was so overwhelmed with joy he began to turn.  I can imagine what the good people of Konya must have thought of him then, or later when he turned at the funeral of a friend, in a spontaneous celebration of his life.  The sema, as the whirling ceremony is called, is loaded with symbolism.  Individually, each dervish, or semazen, is turning toward the truth, opening to it.  The head is tilted to one side, out of the way.  One arm is held high, in another world, and the other low, in this world.  With each turn, he or she says silently, 'Allah, Allah.'  In a group, the dervishes orbit one another, re-creating the movement of the heavens.  The way we in the west use the term 'whirling dervish,' colloquially, as in 'He's running around like a whirling dervish,' is all wrong.  Whirling dervishes may be ecstatic and intoxicated, in the Sufi sense of the word, but they are not out of control; they are very much grounded, more so than most of us." (Found in "Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine" by Eric Weiner).

I put down the book and the thought occurred, "Tom asked for visitors."  One of the group members at the Sunday meeting said that Tom was in hospice care and asked for people from the group to come see him, even for a few minutes at a time.  This may sound a little bit nuts to you and if it does, well, I am.  When I have stray thoughts like that -- that come out of nowhere, supposedly -- I follow them.  I believe that I receive direction from my Higher Power that is usually received at the most awkward times imaginable and I'm usually muttering, "Really?" on my way out the door.

I suppose I should mention that I didn't have a clue who Tom is.  I just knew that he's a long time member of the group and is located in the last room on the right at the hospice.  I parked the car and walked past a hand-painted fence post in a serene garden.  There was a babbling brook and two mint green, wrought-iron benches.  I made sure to wash my hands in the sterilizing soap before entering such an unbelievably quiet space.  There was even a place to remove your shoes and put slippers on.  I've got this thing about communal footwear; and my sandals smacked a bit on the floor.  I'm alive, I have loud sandals.

See?  This is why I remain silent and aloof -- speaking aloud is a sure way to alienate at least half the room. 

I introduced myself to the man up front and said, "Um, I'm here to see Tom but I don't know his last name, I only know he's in the last room on the right and he's asked for visitors.  We're in kind of a group of people that doesn't use last names, okay?"  The man grinned and took me straight away to Tom.

Oh my Lord, I know him.  Not only do I know him but he's one of my most favorite old timers at the group and this is why I haven't seen him lately.  I love Tom because he embraces irony.  He's tall and thin, a wiry intellect that always explained what he was saying with just a hint of "I've read a lot and thought a lot... researched my entire lifetime and this is what I've found..."  I ran into him at bookstores.

I have such grace.  My first words, "Well, are you ready for the next leg of the journey?"  He laughed, physically moved back with his hand to his chest and said, "I'm not dying yet!"  Then he leaned forward and whispered, "I had this cancer years ago and I had radiation, two or three years in remission.  I am somewhere in the middle of living and dead."  He asked what was happening with me and I felt very ridiculous telling him I was off trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life.  I felt very...ungrateful.  He said, "Well, have you thought about working with people doing home care because you know, you aren't too cheery."  I gaped and giggled.  He said, "No, I'm serious.  I get people in here every day -- a new one each time -- and they are so over the top cheery."  He placed his hand on his chest again and held up five very long fingers at a "stop" positioning.  "I want to tell them, please... I just need my space.  And when the visitors come in a bunch, I need to concentrate on just one person at a time.  It's hard to hear me whisper."  I heard him.  How could I not hear him.  Our visit was ended by the nice man coming to give baths and I thanked him under my breath because I suddenly didn't have a whole lot of wise things to say.  I promised to come back and walked on unsteady legs to the nearest volunteering pamphlet.

My car came to a stop at Bell Park and I decided to go see Carmen's gardens.  Carmen is the lady who was digging weeds out one by one at the park.  We talked late last week and she told me that she had kept golf greens for the last twenty years.  One day she looked up and realized that the club owner wasn't going to repair the equipment she needed to perform her job.  So she quit and started on her second life of making swans out of flowers.  I didn't see Carmen, but I was passing by her flowers and Monarch butterflies were lit on top of the purple flowers, two and three in a bunch.  I tried to take pictures but all of them came out blurry and distorted.  I don't think He meant it as a photo op.  I watched the butterflies circle one another and dive like orange and black kites.  I thought about how curious I am to see where He is leading me... and that I might be resting, but I'm going to have a great time doing what I thought was just whirling.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mind Full or Mindful? Bhante Saranapala Shares

Bill Land and I went off on a wild adventure Monday night.  We braved Laurentian University's Fraser building to go see Bhante Saranapala speak.  I have been to the Fraser Auditorium to see Stuart McLean of "The Vinyl Cafe" but not into the inner sanctum of university life since... well, the mid-80's.  I have to admit I felt a bit intimidated!

 

We arrived and found room F228, a three-tiered lab-like structure with flip-up computer desks.  How things have changed.  We didn't have computers at our desks when I went to university, much less laptops...and now they have computer screens that flip up to greet you.  The room became full quickly with people milling about greeting one another.  The age grouping of the audience was much like Mr. McLean's, in their 40's, 50's and 60's.  People who are past the pushing, shoving and groping of the 20's and 30's and into the "okay, really...what's next" existentialism of living.

The facilitator,  Lucky Amaratunga, asked the classroom to rise in respect to Rev. Saranapala and as we stood, the Buddhist monk entered in his kashaya robe.  I was surprised to see such a young man; who already has two master's degrees and a Ph.D. to his name.  He is the Buddhist chaplain at the University of Toronto.  He was here to speak on the benefits of meditation.  Some of my notes from his talk follow:

1.  Prevention (Samvara)
2.  Elimination (Pahana)
3.  Development (Bhavana)
4.  Preservation (Anurakkhana)

1.  Awareness
2.  Mindful Observation of Physical Subtle Changes
3.  Inhaling and Exhaling Exercises
4.  Cultivation of Goodwill Thoughts

Purify your own mind for calm happiness.

All problems are creations of our own mind.

The mind is everywhere.
Mind has no time or space.
All things are preceded by the mind,
Led by the mind,
Made of the mind.

(Love this one....)

Mind Full or Mindful?

I realize that my notes were scant but I heard the most important message, to me.  He repeated, several times, to live in the now.  Do not live in the past -- it is gone.  Do not live in the future, it is not here yet and you are ruining it living in the past.  Live right in this moment.

Rev. Saranapala concluded his sharing with reminding us that we learned the most important lesson in nursery school or kindergarten.  He asked us to join him in song... and slowly, everyone began singing and then laughing....

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

Namaste dear Bhante Saranapala.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Hookers

Those of us who remember 1975, however vaguely, are familiar with the book and movie title "The Happy Hooker."  That's how my mother-in-law, Barb Woolman, jokingly refers to her Thursday afternoon rug-hooking group.  This is a picture of the happiest hooker I know with her granddaughter.



Today is May 27th and our family usually finds a happy way to celebrate my son's birthday.  Ben is no longer planet-side to be able to celebrate with us -- but we celebrate his birth anyway.  This year, because of job changes and just life in general, the day was almost left to a Hallmark greeting card version of "Yay, you were born." 

The message light on my phone was beeping yesterday and it was Barb inviting us to go with her to North Bay on Sunday to go to the OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild) 46th Annual Conference at Nippissing University.  I have the great fortune of having a mother-in-law who is also my friend.  I didn't say a word about how relieved I was not to be alone with the Hallmark greeting card version of this day.

The first scene we were greeted by was a four-panel mural of what life is like in Northern Ontario. 


The story I heard was that a community of hookers got together and asked everyone to contribute something to the panel about the seasons of what it is like in our part of the world.  One little girl reminded them that the scenes were missing a vital part -- and the mermaid was added to the second panel per her request.  To understand how much detail and work was done to create the mural, below is Carol showing us how to hook.



There are several supplies needed in order to create this kind of art.  Although I was assured that anyone can do it, I felt like Alice in Wonderland waiting for the next clue.  Even the handles of the hooks were unique.


These are palm hooks and Carol is holding a pencil hook.  I tried the palm hooks (left-handed) but it looks like I'm a pencil-pusher in the hooking world, too.  Maybe.

The colors... oh! the colors... wool seems to be the fabric of choice because it dyes well and in so many different shades.


This woman explained to us that the wool here is not tie-dyed, but it is put into a pot to boil on the stove with one dye and then other colors are ladled with a spoon onto the same cloth.  One of these strips cost $4.00 and it was also explained that part of the expense of the material is the effort it takes to get the colors. 


Our model, Sarah is showing the other kind of fabric that is dunked three and four times into dye so that the color bleeds down from one shade to another.

There are other kinds of fabrics used to hook.  These are skeins of saris. 


I found the brightest color of purple I've seen yet today...and the happiness I felt when I picked it up was palpably purple.  I promise you when the budget constraints ease up, I'm going to find that material again and use it.


I'm going to end this blog with a series of pictures of May 27th, 2012.  The words to describe what I found today were on a person's description of why they hook.  "How do you live a creative life?  Release the child within and lose the fear of being wrong."












Happy Birthday, Ben.  We love you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jackson Pollock Cake

What happens when two people -- who really love one another, try again?  Well, first, the dye works SO much better, brighter.

"Mom, how about we put in 7 more drops of blue?" 

"How about 14, Sarah..."

"Ok."



"Mom, I really want the purple more purple-red than purple-blue."

"Yeah... we can do that."

"Hey, instead of doing the whole concentric circles thing... how about we drizzle?"


"There's a painter... he painted like this, with splatters.  Hey, that's it!"
"Mom - this is a lot better than last time."

"Yes, honey, it is... "


"His name was Jackson Pollock, ya know...  I never really understood his paintings, but I kind of do, now.  What message can we find in the mess?"


"We do good work together, especially the second time around."


So, okay...the third time we make this cake, we're going to figure out the icing.


Sarah -- I think we made something together that we can be proud of.  For me, it was peace about a chapter in my life, a long time ago.  For you?  What was it for you?


"That everybody makes mistakes and nothing's perfect... but it is delicious."

Yes my dear young woman, it is.





Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Love You More Than Cake

Pinterest users frequently post recipes that look seemingly easy on Google images and blogs -- and the Tye Dye Cake recipe looked like a challenge.  Sarah and I were up for that challenge.  Our thanks to Bird on a Cake for this idea! 

Our first lesson was in using food color for the 60's theme.  Most tye dyes are bright and ours ended up... well pedestrian pastel.  When in doubt, double the color.

Also, we used two 8-inch circular pans and it looked so very simple to do "concentric circles" of the colored batter.  Well, yeah... first you figure out that if you use your spoon to spread the circles, it's called double-dipping in a whole new way.  Sarah figured out that if you tap the pan in one direction or another, the batter evens out in the pan.  That worked!

Still, we had a good time because I love my daughter and she loves me.  We were giggling and knew our creation was going to look like a spirograph gone bad.  We were arguing over who got the last of the purple and which color should come next.  Mysteriously cake batter ended up on my shirt and on my chin...have no idea how that happened.

The cakes came out of the oven 30 minutes later, cooled a bit and then I began to ice them.  Icing always makes me nervous because I'm always afraid I won't get it all even.  I'm pleased to report that I did a great job and got a picture of at least the inside.  The cake is perfect for 3 or 4 people because it's on the small-ish side. 

I finished the outside and, of course, slathered icing all over the plate.  I called Sarah to help me "clean up" the icing so it would be picture worthy.  We were conspirators in a hygeninically questionable cover up.  That is...

....until the cake....

...ended up on the floor.



Sarah looked at me.  I looked at Sarah.  The room was silent.  Later she would recount this moment as the buffalo and the bunny.  I think I've finally managed to grow up as a parent.  I admitted I was angry but I kept saying the same thing... "Sarah, I love you more than cake."  After the mess was cleaned up and the beagle barfed tye dye... my daughter gave me my Mother's Day presents early. 

She ran into our office and came out with a card that said:

Mother
If I could give you diamonds
For each tear you've cried;
If I could give you sapphires for each truth
You've helped me to see; If I could give you rubies
For the heartache that you've known,
If I could give you pearls for the wisdom
That you've shown.

Then you'd have a treasure;
Mother, that would mount up to the skies;
That would almost match the sparkle
In your kind and loving eyes.
But I have no pearls or diamonds,
As I'm sure you're well aware,
So I'll give you gifts more precious,
My devotion, love and care.

-Unknown

God bless you, SarahAnn Land... I love you more than cake, honey.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Parachute is Lime Green

It happened again. I woke up at 3:13 a.m. and I’m not with my old employer anymore. It must be me! Actually, all deadpan humor aside, I already knew that before I left my job. I just reached the jumping off place where I knew, instinctively, that it was me or them. Either I was going to continue another two years of sleepless nights worried about things that I could not control, or I was going to package up the worry, put the itchy twilling apart twine around it and hand it back to them – pressed and neatly folded. Well, that was the intention anyway. That last day, I handed them back the shirt bunched up in a ball with dog poo in the center and congratulated myself for being civil and giving the socially acceptable two weeks notice. I exhaled when he said, “You can go home today.”

Now I’m worried that I am unemployable. I dipped my toe back into the pool of social work and found an Alzheimer’s patient screaming Ukranian vulgarities at me. It was a universal truth and I recognized the sign as it was stamped on my forehead, “Simply does not have THAT much compassion.” Even when she calmed down, the SueAnnie that hid in the suitcase as a toddler was still waiting the oncoming slap. I have come to accept there are parts of me that remain slightly askew. Okay, very askew.

So here it is… I have a new job. Tra la la. I think what I am finding out is that my ego cannot be defined by what I do professionally. Of course, this is an age old (like from my 20’s) lesson that I keep relearning. The definition of insanity rings in my head like a knock-knock joke. “The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing again and again expecting different results.” It’s not about them – it is very much about me.

Embrace gratitude.

My ass!

Michael Douglas with his horn rimmed glasses is screaming in my head, “I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!” Well, yes, I kind of am. I have VISA to consider, not to mention the rent for the new place. That and I’m kind of in my mid-40’s without a 401k, RSP’s or even the slightest idea of how I will support myself when I am reduced to a non-existent pension.

One thing for certain, my periods of learning are becoming shorter and shorter, kind of like my hair.

I like my new job, I really, really do. The people are nice. The office is heated and there is a window to cool it down. I have a desk. I am employed. Hallelujah, brother, do I hear an “Amen?”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Exit Stage Left

I’ve quit my fair share of jobs, believe me. Some of it is them, most of it is me… either way, it was time to move on and I did – more gracefully than normal, of which I am proud.

(Gotta love M.C. Escher, this has been my screensaver for weeks now.)

It occurred to me as I walked down the steps with my box in my hands that I had just put a $1,800 hearing aid on order. Perhaps it might be wise to cancel the oncoming choo-choo of debt. So, I got in my car and went directly from my resignation to the Canadian Hearing Society. I explained to the receptionist and apologized and she said, “Oh! You’re looking for work then. Well, you know we have employment services.” I just stood there as she took my information down and contacted her co-worker to come visit with me. I didn’t come there looking for help of that nature and I knew, immediately, that I had made the right decision after two years of 3:00 a.m. arguments with myself. We traded phone numbers and I got in the car and thanked God for the help and the human beings that offered it to me.

At home I started writing emails to friends that I had worked with, saying good-bye and exchanging home emails and sites. I sat for a long time at our desk and felt gratitude take control of the fear. Back into action, I spent the afternoon updating my resume, printing off copies and searching the Internet for job postings.

I got up at 5:30 the next morning and got dressed for work. Work had now become looking for work. Chris and I went to breakfast together; our “thirty minute, reading, week day date.” If I have one habit that I would like to keep, it is sitting across from my husband drinking coffee and reading a book. While at Tim Horton’s (a/k/a Timmies), I also stopped at a table full of miners and handed every one of them a resume to take to work with their donuts. From there I drove to Health Science North and was told by a volunteer that HR was at the old Memorial site. I went to Memorial and they said HR was at Cottage One at Kirkland (the old Algoma). At Algoma, a man answered the door and told me I was lucky because in a month they wouldn’t be taking paper resumes. And yes, I know the world is electronic – I live in it – but I still prefer seeing someone’s eyeballs when I introduce myself.

Back in the car, I began to listen to a Louise Hay CD on prosperity; and I never listen to self-help stuff. I don’t care about how to become the “Top 10” of anything, really. My mother-in-law, Barb, kept after me and said I needed to hear this woman’s message. She handed me the CD the week prior on my fifteen minute stop-over from grocery shopping to vacuuming and said, “Pay attention.” Margo had recommended Ms. Hay years ago; but she knows that her timeline and my talent of procrastination usually meet up at some point. Something about when the student is ready…

I told myself I would actively (out on the street) look for a job until noon every day until I found something. I traveled to more companies before I went home that day. What Louise said rang in my ears. She said that prosperity is not only about wealth and being poor is not only about money. We can be poor in spirit, poor in perception, poor in outlook and poor in results. We can be prosperous in gratitude, rich in affirmation and wealthy in hope. “Ok, so…the power of positive thinking meets The Secret and spun into another message…” I talked to myself as I drove around dropping off resumes. Still, I was listening. Better yet – I knew what she was talking about. The thing about quitting these jobs is that every single one of them held a lesson for me. They supported me, and sustained me until there came a time when we had outgrown one another. I realized that and knew it – I thanked God for my time at my job and asked Him to please direct me to the next one.

I got home and followed up with a phone call to a job that wouldn’t have been on my radar, or that fit my qualifications really – just something that would be part-time and pay the bills until I found the right job. My good friend, Chantelle, had recommended a driver position for a friend of hers who worked for the CNIB. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, the prior name was Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

The first time I spoke with Barb Smith I cried through my on the phone interview. Of course, I also had a pretty bad cold so I attempted to mask the snuffles through the phone. Somehow, I think she knew. I thought the job was “just a driver.” The job that she described to me is a driver/assistant for four individuals who cover Sudbury, Manitoulin Island, North Bay, Powassan, Sturgeon Falls, Parry Sound, Parry Sound Island – basically North-eastern Ontario. Barb described going to the homes of people who are losing their sight and marking spots where the washer and dryer are, the microwave. Helping them to learn to knit using a loom; and a machine called a daisy. She described learning software called “Jaws” that reads emails and websites, helping to run the company store…and scheduling the four people to travel three days a week all over God’s green acres. I CAN DO THAT! I told her that I had been praying for a job that would actively help human beings, for a long time.

After we got off the phone I nearly vibrated into the stratosphere. I was in much the same position when the job at Terrell State Hospital came along and I remembered being out on the porch of my home and saying to Laura Collins, “there’s a lot of difference between zero and $15,000 a year… I’ll take that job.” I had to become willing. I had to be brought to my knees before I could be open to what I was supposed to learn. And that job was the single best job I have ever had in my life…so far.

The next morning I was up and at Timmies again with Chris and Sarah for breakfast. Then I went down to the Provincial Building and picked up my driver’s abstract and paid for a police check. The snow was flying that morning and it was so cold. I imagined that my lunch date at home would probably cancel and was pleasantly surprised when my new friend showed up on the back porch knocking to be let in. I have found that when this kind of change occurs, God keeps me very active in helping other human beings…in the ways that I know already. I sat with her at my kitchen table talking about everything under the sun and reading the Big Book. She ate a salmon sandwich and banana, being fed the words that had saved my life so long ago. At one point in the conversation I head the first step being uttered. She said, “I’m lost.” No, my dear, you are not lost at all…just finding a different way to go.

All of this time, my recovery life has been dormant. It’s been sleeping with my writing in places where I could not go. I felt like I had outgrown it or changed somehow, magically, into a fully-functioning, normal person. I’m so glad that’s just not true. I am still under construction, headed this morning with Rita to the meeting at the “San”… coincidentally, and miraculously, at the same location as Cottage One of the new Health Sciences North. I’ve been beating down that door for the last six years, trying to get back into the psych unit, into the lessons that Terrell State Hospital had for me…to my calling.

Hopefully, I’ll be learning how to be a driver guide soon. God – I am willing to take you up on that offer.