Friday, December 4, 2015

Life without Spirit IS crazy

For three months I was crazy busy, so I gave up my blog. Temporarily, I told myself. For the following three months I’ve been, well, crazy. Without it and the chance to process life.

Something tells me that exposing my vulnerability has a resonance with others. Plus, six months of looking for exterior validation has just about done me in.

I jumped this ship for a university marketing job The first month was heaven. Then I partnered with a nice, smart guy with little marketing background, but a Ph.d in process. We reported to an IT guy, also congenial, but very busy, hands off and reliant on my partner. So I busied myself writing and not shaping the marketing plan as I had been told. Along the way, I learned that the last three marketing directors had been fired. My perspective changed.

I am proud of the work I did accomplish, especially connecting with students from a high-needs high school. In fact, one of the young men continues to check in with me. He has so much promise and we bonded over the drive home from the end-of-camp celebration. His parents, immigrants from Somalia, were busy working. The fact that I knew his neighborhood, where I used to live, surprised him. He moved here not speaking a word of English. He’s since absorbed so much, blossoming in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum at Hughes High School. He’s a year between my daughters, so I have been coaching him on what to expect senior year. He texted me on Thanksgiving and I wrote back that his friendship had been a gift.

I also drafted content for a special-education website, wrapping it with the personal story of an amazing young woman who lives with autism. I serendipitously ran into her mother at a family function and asked how her children were doing. Julia was at UC on a non-degree track. I knew she must be in one of the program I had been writing about. She agreed to tell me her story, which really personalized the web copy, and touched my heart.

And I made a wonderful new friend, a talented young graphic designer from China. Toward the end of my tenure, instead of working through lunch, we found a shady bank of tables near the library and shared our lives over food; typically a salad for me and some wonderfully spicy Chinese leftovers for her. She has expanded my worldview, for which my life is richer. I am still struck with one conversation about the effect of China’s one-child rule. Fei-Fei says her generation feels abandoned because they had no siblings. She infused her frustration over tedious immigration regulations and snafus with candor, charm and humor. I learned what it’s like to be here as an outsider, grateful for the opportunity and working hard. She has little sympathy for illegal immigrants.

The gig ended with the verbal promise of freelance work. I am still awaiting that call, though I am back to some of the amazing work I was doing at the beginning of the summer as a freelancer.

This fall, applied for a graduate writing fellowship feeling very confident in my proposal only to learn I was the alternate. That was crushing, though the program director has promised to provide feedback and lauded me for my passionate entry.

Just before Thanksgiving, I spotted a marketing job at a growing arts center that sounded perfect. I heard back almost instantly, but the salary had no business being advertised as director-level compensation. I let that one go immediately.

Out of the blue this week, I received word that a devotional entry I had sent a year ago was being published in a global collection. They asked us to promote it like crazy. I complied and trumpeted my success on Facebook. Two days later, another e-mail arrived saying they had made a mistake, I had not been included. I was livid, mostly embarrassed, because I had tooted my own horn. Now, what do I do? I asked.

Irritated, I trotted off to an advent evening of reflection with a spiritual buddy. She kindly let me unload. We do that for each other. We listened to readings of the Christmas story centered on Mary and responded to queries. They helped me see that I took some time away for practical things and I am on the next step of the journey whether or not it’s obvious to me. A few spare lines in an adapted Magnificat, song of Mary, stopped me cold as we recited them together.

You have blessed me lavishly and make me ready to respond. You shatter my little world and let me be poor before you.

You take from me all my plans and give me more than I can hope for or ask. You give me opportunities and the ability to become free and to burst through my boundaries.

How can I serve? I was forced to offer.

I took a long walk home from the gym this morning, reconnecting with Spirit. When I returned, I found a heartening response in my inbox about the devotional. I want to share this exchange:

Hi, Cathy, 
I'm so very sorry for the social media predicament my
mistake has caused you, especially after all your
trouble to help publicize the book. It was a very
human error and mea culpa completely for selecting
the wrong group in our e-newsletter system.
I am trying to look at this in a spiritual light – for myself – and the message seems to be to look inward at God and not be so tied to external affirmation. Not an easy lesson, but a necessary one nevertheless. So thank you for helping me see that.
-- Cathy
Hi, Cathy,
I really appreciate your sharing that with me. Hopefully soon it’ll be something I can write about as a grace-lesson in my own life, but for now eating humble pie is not so savory. Still it’s a good lesson in my frailty and need for grace!

Thank you, dear reader, for allowing me this journey. I feel re-centered as a result.

• What happens when I stop a regular spiritual practice?
• How do I let life get in the way of being with God?
• How do I let life dictate who I am?
• How can I return to looking within and letting Spirit tell me?
• How can I model Mary’s quiet servitude?


so busy and out
of control
in life

thinking this
is normal

back in

what centers
me, reminds

that life without
IS crazy