I used to love what I do for a living. That is no longer the case. In fact, I have come to dislike it so much, I am now willing to walk away from it completely even if it means living on a much tighter budget.
The past week and a half and a bit more have been almost on par with some of the days I experienced once it was confirmed I had breast cancer. The emotional roller coaster is wild, but not free. It is not enjoyable. It is heartbreaking. It is not liberating. It is confining, destructive and abhorrent.
So you can understand more fully what I am about to show you, I will take this description one step further and reveal to you a portion of my very personal journal:
This has been a very difficult week. Seven days ago I was told my position is being eliminated. For years and years I have watched this go on within the company, seeing my peers slowly being walked out the door, sometimes in shock, and sometimes I could feel the anger boiling off their skin. It was only a matter of time before it happened to me too.
I have run the gamut of emotions, shock, mostly, which I think has finally worn off. Fear so palpable I could taste it and feel it like a live animal inside eating me alive. Anger which flares like a red hot poker, unexpectedly burning a hole through the layers of denial I built around myself when I’m talking or writing to a friend, trying to explain my situation. Even joy at finally being out from under a narcissistic environment so deadly it was eroding my spirit like acid eating away through metal. That joy however is so overshadowed by fear, it was like a tiny ember buried deep beneath the ashes of despair.
Then when I’m slammed with all the emotions at once, it becomes impossible to hold back the tears, they start flowing first just a trickle then before I know it, they become a flood as if a dam finally broke and I can’t hold back the gut wrenching cries that accompany the tears.
I feel betrayed. After 33 years, I am kicked out without a by your leave or a thank you for all you have done. Not even a letter of recommendation from the corporation I devoted my whole adult life working for.
This does not really explain all I am going through in its entirety. It doesn’t explain why I have such fear. Those who have read some of my history here on my blog, know I have a twelve year old daughter. This is where my fear is focused. The fear of not being able to provide for her.
I have settled down into a sort of acceptance, and a deep hope this will all work out providing me a life I have been wishing for. A life where I can devote my time to helping others, and doing the things I love doing.
I no longer love the work I have been doing. In fact, I am coming to realize I never really loved it. In fact, most of the time I felt uncomfortable as if it weren’t really a part of me. I think what we do for a living should be connected to the core of who we are, and this wasn’t me. I always felt alien, though I was quite capable of doing the work, I always felt like I was outside of myself when I did it, except for those rare moments when I would find myself deep in the zone of programming. When you get into that zone you are an artist. A true artist.
The interesting thing is, I have always had trouble connecting with my inner artist. I could dream up all kinds of things I wanted to create but actually doing it, actually taking that first step to pick up the pencil, or open a drawing pad, or begin the actual process, was like trying to walk through a solid concrete wall.
A couple days ago, I felt the need to pick up my pencil and instead of procrastinating, instead of that all too familiar feeling of being afraid I wouldn’t be able to do what I had in mind, I just did it. The time had finally come to no longer not trust my inner artist.
Now I love what I do in my spare time. It brings me joy. Here is what developed over the past couple of evenings. I call it “Coming Together”.
This was my first true attempt at creating a mandala.
I was just looking at my sketchbook where I drew this. The price sticker is still on it with the store name. This book has been with me since at least 2002, most likely earlier than even that and has moved with me half way across the US, and now in and across Canada. My daughter even used it for a short period until I bought her one for her own. There are still lots of pages left in the book.
Maybe you are starting to understand why I am telling you this. My inner artist has been suppressed for most of my adult life. I didn’t find out until eighth grade that I had any artistic skills at all, thanks to my art teacher allowing us free-reign to experiment, enabling me to find out I had at least some talent. During that year I won a contest among my fellow students to see who would earn a commission to create a sign for a bird dog club. The club picked mine out of the many pieces which were submitted. To say I was surprised is an understatement. I understood the significance of it. So did my teacher. He was my mentor until I graduated, encouraging me to pursue art after I graduated. However, due to financial concerns at home, college or art school wasn’t an option. The military became my way of gaining the skills for the career I now have, or rather will soon become ‘had’. My inner artist was set aside.
Over the years, I would try to reconnect with her but those attempts were feeble. Where I had once gained confidence in my artistic abilities in school, they had floundered throughout the years afterwards. I made meager attempts which my sketchbook illustrates in many ways while still giving a hint to the hidden talent buried deep inside.
My refusal to give up and allow my current situation to tear me apart seems to have opened up that door I had sought from time to time over the years. It is rare for me to look at something I have drawn or sketched and feel the joy of creating it, flaws and all. Last night after completing some of the major portions of the above drawing, I had difficulty falling asleep even though it was well past my bedtime. I lay there allowing myself to feel the joy over creating something which I love and seeing the possibilities of creating something which I would be proud to display in my own home. (That is if I am able to keep the home I now have. If not, I’ll display it wherever we call home.)
It was a wonderful feeling last night. I found myself in a creative zone I have not felt probably since high school. Other than the initial start when I first picked up my pigment liner to begin, each stroke following the first found its true spot taking the path it was meant to take.
In some ways, I see this as an example of my current situation. I am on a path which I am meant to take. Like each stroke of my pen last night, each turn I take, is meant to show me my true direction. This came upon me yesterday and because of this insight, I find myself calmer, able to focus, being shown a direction I may well be headed which may actually take me on a path I never thought possible and had only thought would be a dream never realized.
Do what you love. No matter the situation. No matter the circumstances. No matter what life throws at you. Do what you love. Don’t waste your life doing something you don’t like just so you can have a couple hours each day to do something you love. Eventually, that which is more abundant will erode that which is less abundant. In other words, if you work in a job you hate, so you can have a few minutes or couple hours each evening to do something you love, eventually what you love will become tainted by what you hate and it will no longer provide you joy.