Even though I am working towards my dreams and some of them are actually coming true, sometimes my life feels like I’m trudging through loose sand on the longest backpack trip of my life (with about 40 pounds on my back).
I told a client the other day that she cannot compare her pain to someone else’s — that just because someone else she knows is battling cancer or living in poverty or has lost a loved one — doesn’t mean that the pain of her own divorce is lessened. It’s important that I remember to extend that same compassion to myself.
Even though my material needs are taken care of, I have many friends who love me, and my son is happy and healthy, I still sometimes feel tired, anxious, and stuck in my life. When this happens I try to remember that it’s ok. It’s ok that my old friends, depression and anxiety, continue to stalk me. It’s ok that some mornings I wake up and I want to stay in bed because I feel exhausted or scared for no apparent reason.
But rather than give in to my exhaustion, overwhelm, and fear, I remind myself each and every day that I am not my thoughts – I am what I DO. If I am playing music every day, I am a musician. If I counsel people every day, then I am a counselor. So no matter how crappy I feel inside, what defines me is what I DO about it.
This morning was a perfect example. I’ve had two fairly easy days at work, and quiet evenings after work to walk, make music, and take a long hot bath. But even so I woke up feeling anxious, and my stomach hurt. My first reaction was to accuse myself of causing this (self-blame, a bad habit of mine from childhood). Then I got angry when I realized there was no good reason to feel bad.
But if I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that my thoughts and feelings are more affected by larger things — the little daily stuff doesn’t matter as much to me as the bigger picture of my life. And the truth is that right now, I’m powering through what I think of as “The Great Slog”.
A few months ago, I decided to take on the project of working towards my Marriage and Therapy License. I graduated with my Master’s degree in counseling psychology the year my son was born (1999!) and up until last year my focus was on working as a spiritual counselor. But the realities of life and the desire to challenge myself further have led me to taking on a bigger role.
I found a corporate job working as a more traditional counselor where there is a huge commitment to bringing mindfulness practice into the lives of both employees and the clients we serve. And honestly, sometimes it’s soul crushing work to deal with people in crisis who aren’t ready to change. Other times it’s like floating on a cloud to introduce someone to spiritual connection for the first time. But in the midst of all this, in deciding to work towards my license, there’s an even bigger commitment — to publish a new book this year and to find a way to complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience for my license in addition to the full time work I’m already doing.
And so for 5 months now I’ve been mostly paralyzed with this overwhelming feeling that I will never be able to do it. In my mind are visions of me working a 40 hour week and then also working a 10 or 20 hour intern position, then spending every other spare moment getting my book out to the world.
And then I feel exhausted.
I’m not actually doing all this yet, mind you, it’s only the envisioning that’s wearing me out. This is when I have to engage my choice meter. It helps me so much to remember that there are many different paths to achieving my goal. One would be to change to a job that would count towards my licensed hours (my current job doesn’t work for that). But I love my job, and the comfortable living it provides me. I just don’t want to leave it.
And this is where the spiritual part comes in. I just keep praying to be given the right opportunity, the right guidance, to move forward. I pray for patience and courage too, to let it be ok to move forward at a tortoise pace, if that’s what works for me. I feel impatient for the answers to present themselves, but life has taught me that this is the kind of process I cannot rush.
In the meanwhile, I’m engaging in some magnificent self care. I sleep and rest a lot, and my bedroom has become a sanctuary. My battery-operated candles click on at 7:30 PM, signaling that I can start winding down. I’ve upgraded to a wonderful down comforter and beautiful furnishings and art on my bedroom walls. And every night I nurture myself in the tub, cultivating what Wallace J. Nichols calls the “Blue Mind”, the positive effect of water on my very human emotions.
On the outside it looks like I’m not doing much, but really what I’m doing is creating sustainable space for spiritual guidance to come in as I pamper myself. So by the definition of “we are what we do”, what does all this spiritual practice and self-healing make me? A priestess, a visionary, a yogi…and a healer.
All My Love,
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If you’d like some help getting out of work stress zombie mode, you might like my new book, Shamanic Stress Relief, due out in a few weeks, or for a nurturing spiritual shift, check out my Shamanic Clarity and Balance e-course. If you’re interested in one-on-one support, you can click here for a free phone consultation with me.
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