true success

miguel-bruna-704166-unsplash

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

I had my weekly coaching session with my business coach yesterday, and it was a humbling experience because I felt like I had run out of runway to take my life in the direction that I have wanted to for so long.

My writing business has taken a while to recover from losing an anchor client back in April. So for going on five months now, I’ve been trying my best to get a new one. Technically, this anchor client would be my coach: we barter writing services for coaching services.

But I have tunnel vision–no, myopia, about this goal.

And that’s a typical Capricorn–get that money!

But I am miserable.

And it’s not just because of limited funds. It’s that life has become about this one thing, and the rest of me is resisting–and rightfully so.

my precious

Last week, my coach and I talked about scheduling my time better (something that came up around this time last year). And I didn’t do anything about it last week because somehow time got away from me. 🙄

I dealt with the pressure of time pretty well last year. I was having these low-key panic attacks over writing, waiting until the last minute to get things done. I sought out an astrologer, we worked on those issues, and then I had more structure.

But then I slowly got out of the habit of having structured time to do the things I want and need to do.

Being so driven for one thing has made me dull. What am I outside of this one goal, outside of what is, or isn’t in my bank account?

I’ve quoted Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club before, but this quote really reminds me of what I am.

You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

This individuation from old coping mechanisms–chiefly delaying gratification to the point that I never get any when tasks are done–it’s painful, but it’s also one that makes me laugh because this is when I feel like the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

Coping mechanisms work until they don’t. I’m not sure how long I’ve been running on fumes, but I’ve reached the point that effort alone isn’t enough. Working hard isn’t getting me anywhere because I feel terrible and self-defeated about it. It’s an inescapable ouroboros of misery, a leminscate of terror.

When I reach out to people about business opportunities, it almost feels like I am tossing coins in a fountain, just wishing for something to come back. But I’m putting in much more effort and intention in every email and contact request I make.

Why can’t I give myself any credit for that skillful effort?

Sure, I can rewind back to how my parents were hypercritical of me, how they rarely gave me praise for any good I did. Their brittle view of their little girl and firstborn was one that already interfaced with my unyielding, intense, and, at times, cruel way I looked at myself.

Yet my “inner mean girl” never seems to be hurling insults and epithets at me–well, not that often. It’s more that she withholds any credit, any praise, any celebration of success. If I do celebrate, it seems stupid because it’s not the big win. That’s all that matters to me.

And what an empty life that is. It’s not self-discipline. It’s self-deprivation.

No carrots, just sticks.

Business is actually picking up, but I am acting like I’m going to go through my own personal recession again. The fear keeps me on this treadmill of terror. I keep running, running, running…and getting nowhere. I’m lost in a labyrinth of longing and loss.

I’m just tired, sweaty, and sore–and for all the wrong reasons.

And to my credit–having a successful business isn’t for some deep personal reason. I’m still doing this because there aren’t any other options right now. This is it. This is about survival. I am committed, whether I want to be or not–but I want to be.

What’s interesting about all this, too–this is all happening in the background. It’s subliminal messaging I’ve given myself probably for my whole life. It worked for a while, being this driven and merciless to myself.

But not anymore.

My coach asked me what success looks like–without this big win that I’m obsessed with.

It was laughable but ultimately sad because I didn’t think I was that successful.

My coach pressed back with questions: well, what about finishing your client work on time? What about following up on emails from prospective clients? How many people did you reach out to last week?

The problem is a lot of what I do just ends up disappearing into the ether of time. I don’t keep track. They are just tasks or events that occur, and I move onto the next.

I can only seem to congratulate myself for tough wins, like when I finished this project over the weekend that seemed to be mired in doubt and confusion from the client. So I just decided to finish it and hope for the best.

The client accepted the work and gave me a 5-star review. And here’s the GIF I used to celebrate:

YES

I celebrated that win on Twitter today, but according to my coach, I should be celebrating much more often.

And back to how I grew up–we didn’t really celebrate much of anything, not even my birthday after a while.

But I am tired of feeling like life is a slog when it comes to my everyday life. If life is about the journey, not the destination, then it’s time to start acting like that. It’s time to start embracing the bulk of my life.

So my homework for this week is to schedule my time so I can start doing more of the other things I love–like tarot and astrology professional development, writing professional development, and journal about my work day.

Astrologically, I realized today that there’s a lot of restructuring (Saturn) and healing (Chiron) that has been going on in my life for the past few months. It’s uncomfortable, painful, and even embarrassing sometimes.

A lot of old hurts and wounds are being drawn to the surface for healing. But the timing isn’t quite right yet. But that’s OK. Healing is still in progress.

What’s funny is that so many times as I’ve been working to get to a place of OK to better, I always think–now the real healing is going to begin. I’ve finally arrived! But there are always layers, layers which have served as protection for a battered and weary heart.

The healing journey is never-ending, but it does get easier, because eventually there are less layers, even if we accumulate new hurts and wounds along the way. And also–we accumulate wisdom and other therapeutic tools to keep us safe and to help us heal more quickly.

This time, I’ll say again that this seems like I’m in the inner chambers of all that I’ve endured and what’s befallen me…and letting the weight of all the years just all fall off of me. I wish it was some dramatic reveal, like a slinky evening gown that I could shrug off.

And that’s because I’m impatient. And rightfully so. It’s been a constricting time–not only by circumstances, but my own almost grandiose ambitions and expectations I have for myself.

I hate to glorify suffering, but I can at least see some semblance of sanity woven through the last six years of my life. It’s like what I said last time, how my heart has expanded with empathy. I feel so much more connected to my fellow human beings because I’ve been so much closer to my dusty existence than the loftier life of the mind.

I didn’t have to choose that empathy, though. And I didn’t all the time. Sometimes I chose bitterness and entitlement–and sometimes I felt those choices were unavoidable and inevitable. Even still–choice or no choice–I want to choose differently now.

And failing over and over, but still rebounding and trying again after each failure–sure, that’s part of my journey as a double Capricorn, trudging up and sometimes falling down the mountain. But so is triumph, the mountaintop view.

That brings me back to what I believe success is. It’s not the just the glittery, glorious triumphs, the accolades, the praise and the parades.

It’s the gritty rebound.

It’s picking yourself up out of the mud and trying again. It’s letting people help you get up again. It’s helping others get up and keep going.

So it brings tears to my eyes to admit this to myself for the first time: my time in Florida has been extremely successful, that my life is a glittering, glorious success.

It’s time to feel good, and proud, about that.

feel good SOM

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Five Ways to Get from Here to There

harmony and peace SOM

I’ve written a lot in the past week, and if you’re a patron of my blog, then you read about the adventure I took last week. That’s all to say, I’m a little written out (and yet, I’m sure I’ll find the words for this week’s blog post!).

The original goal of this blog was to chronicle all the supernatural and spiritual phenomena that happens to me. That would have been a daily blog, honestly–it’s been too much to keep up with. And I feel very fortunate to say that. I was telling a friend the other day that I’ve gotten used to daily signs, so I’d be afraid if I suddenly wasn’t getting any signs.

One thing I’ve been learning while I’ve been seemingly stuck in a house with two older white men who are not in the best health, mentally or otherwise, is how to healthily detach from unhealthy situations.

That wasn’t really the goal, though.

Usually, my goal in a tough circumstance, is to get out of it ASAP. I think that’s how most people are. But a lot of times, we can’t, for whatever reasons.

A lot of times, we’re in transition from an undesirable place to a more desirable place.

So what should you do while you make this journey from here to there?

The very first thing to do is to accept where you’re at. And maybe this is where the somewhat annoying and inaccurate adage, “Suffering is optional” actually makes sense.

So much of life is really undefined, and lived on the way to somewhere. We get a glimpse ahead, and that’s about it. Only a step or two is illuminated ahead.

As you journey through life, trying to get to a more palatable place, there’s a point that complaining about where you’re currently at only drains and further depresses you. It only makes you feel more stuck.

Wishing you were somewhere else doesn’t get you to somewhere else any quicker.

Accepting where you’re at is also a way to assess things more rationally.

Sometimes acceptance involves a lot of investigation.

Have I done all I can within these circumstances? Are these barriers systemic? Is it worth the energy to pursue this path?

While I was away, I had a convo with my friend about my housing situation, and it just dawned on me how white culture of keeping up appearances is why things haven’t changed around here, after months of complaints.

The landlady and the other guy I call the shut-in–they both have told me that they want the creep gone. But if you saw their interactions with him, you’d never know it. They are chipper and cheerful, accommodating and welcoming.

Ultimately, they enable someone who is a narcissist, with poor boundaries and entitlement issues, actively psychotic, and, ultimately–just an unkind and selfish person.

So really, that’s really something I can’t fight against–at least by myself. Really, the only remedy is to leave–which is exactly what I was working on last week, and for the past few months.

Once you accept where you’re at, then you can make plans for change.

Now that you have a better sense of where you’re at, what you’re capable of, what your resources are, then planning for change is a lot easier. But even then, there could be bigger things going on than you can see or perceive.

Like, you know…your spiritual growth. No, really.

Financially, I always have just enough to stay here and pay my bills. It’s madness, because my expenses are very low. Like I know how to make money…or so I thought.

I don’t want to get into the woo-woo/metaphysics about why I’m a bit stuck, because that involves, in my opinion, a lot of self-blame. And I think a lot of it just doesn’t take into consideration societal influences. It assumes a lot of white privilege.

Some of the stuckness has happened because that freelancing is hard, period. I keep kind of saying this plaintively (it’s pretty whiny), that I didn’t sign up for the freelance life. But I’ve realized that whether I signed up for it or not, I need to start treating it as something that isn’t going to go away for a while.

So I may as well make the best of it.

Making the best of it involves ridding myself of ignorance. Freelancing is a business. I have my own business now. So I’ve been learning the business side more in the past few weeks. I’ve had to be patient with myself because I want to rush ahead and get to the better place–not only because I learn quickly, but because–well, poverty sucks.

And some of it is just bad luck–I lost a major client a few weeks ago, and things haven’t improved since then, which brings me back to the first point: freelancing is hard.

And there’s just the obvious barriers that I don’t even think about–race and gender. I don’t think about them much at all since they aren’t things I can change. But I know they play into this mess a lot.

Because of the stuckness and a real lack of momentum, I’ve had to dig deep spiritually. I hate to use the cliché, “grow where you’re planted,” but…ta da, that’s me.

I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten where I need to be spiritually. I’m closer, though…

When you accept where you’re at, you’re better able to see what you can push back against and what you need to work around.

When I came back from my adventure last week, I had already discovered that all my clothes reeked of cigarette smoke, so I wasn’t surprised that my room smelled terribly of cigarette smoke. It’s something I will eventually mention to this lazy landlady.

I was so disgusted that I also decided to investigate and see if legal action was an option. And as I had suspected, really, it’d be so much cheaper and easier to move.

Through all of that, I didn’t feel as anxious as I usually would. Even though absolutely nothing has changed circumstantially, I have some deep, (hopefully) lasting peace.

So when things don’t change circumstantially, after taking more traditional courses of actions, usually that means there’s something bigger here to learn or grow in/through/beyond. 

I’m not happy to be here, nor am I happy to learn these lessons in this way. But at the very least, knowing that there’s something bigger and better happening here, it makes it easier to not GAF about whatever the creep is doing or not doing.

It’s easier to not take this personally. It’s easier to focus on what makes me happy, right now.

And then it’s easier to use the energy I’d use fretting and internally raging to focus on where I want to go next.

As I make that shift in my perspective, I’m really tired emotionally. And I have to figure out what will fill me back up. I caught up TV shows like The Good Fight and The Americans. I haven’t had much space for emotionally intense dramas. TV really isn’t an escape when it only reminds you how hard your own life is.

It’s also shifting focus, from survival mode to…”You know what? I am capable of leaving here, with my sanity and dignity in tact.”

And that takes time.

Even what I’m listing out here, I wouldn’t call it a linear process. Acceptance is not a one-shot deal. It’s a daily practice. Assessing your situation happens on a continual basis.

Even if you’re in some unbearable holding pattern, you have to have faith that things will change. Whether it’s by your own hand, or divine intervention (it’s usually a combination of the two), change is coming.

Change is always coming.

It’s hard to keep the faith when you feel emotionally tapped, but you have to start to look at what’s going on around you. There are signs.

For example, the more spiritual practices that I do, it seemed like things actually got worse here. The worsening wasn’t some sign to stop doing what I was doing. To me, it was a sign to keep going.

It’s like in a video game, when you’re trying to beat the boss, and right before he dies, he gets really desperate and will try everything to stop you from beating him. It can be almost wildly dangerous right before they are beaten.

Things got worse here when I asserted boundaries. They continued to worsen as I kept asserting my boundaries.

But I’m not going to stop. Having healthy boundaries is great and necessary.

And that part, to me, is done. There’s not much else that is going to change unless the creep decides to leave out of his own free will.

There’s no more reason to push, to be attached to these people.

Now I have to look forward.

Maybe the deliverance will be conventional–I’ll find a client that pays more than the former one. Or I’ll find a new full-time job.

Or maybe it’ll be unconventional. I’ll get an invitation to do something or to go somewhere.

Or it could a mix of both. Who knows?

What helps here is to get curious about what happens next.

Doom and despair can leave you feeling like the road stretched out before you never ends, never changes. It’s the seemingly never-ending hellscape scenery.

But, it’s not really true. And this isn’t even me talking about having some gratitude exercise or appreciate every good thing in life.

Sometimes, we just don’t have the space for that. So, maybe, you can just think: I wonder how tomorrow will be different. Who will I talk to? What will I learn? What will I experience?

This practice of curiosity has kept me alive. As a writer, I see myself in this story, as the main character, and I want to know what happens next to me.

When will she finally get out of this house? What job lead is going to pan out? Will she ever get her HEA? Who is she going to meet this year?

How will she be different a month from now? Six months? A year? Five years?

I keep picturing myself like some spiritual Houdini, like I’ve put myself in a straitjacket, hung myself upside down, in a water tank. The water is rising and I’m just wriggling, wriggling, wriggling, trying to free myself.

No pressure. ALL PRESSURE.

So. I’m here, with three people, including the grandmother who lives in the mother-in-law suite next door.

They are all living the twilight of their lives. Probably the next place they will live is in a nursing home…or hospice.

And that’s when I feel the doom and the hopelessness starting to rise. It’s scary to think that nothing will change, that I will be stuck here in this de facto old folks’ home, barely scraping by. They are so much closer to the end of it all. And I feel like I just started, at age 40.

Spiritually, I feel like I have endured and fought so much fucking nonsense to get to this space of…I get it. I finally get it.

I know what matters to me. I know what I’m about. I know what kind of people I want around me. I know what I’d want my family to look like. I know where I want to live and grow and thrive.  I know how to keep better boundaries.

I know. I know. I know. And life is so short. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time…waiting, fighting, longing…

And I’m ready to apply this knowledge, to leave what so many call “God’s Waiting Room.”

My time has not yet come.

So sometimes, the suffering comes from feeling like there is so much more out there for me, and that these old folks are somehow in the way of my happiness.

It’s so easy to be angry, hurt, and sad–for very practical reasons. This housing situation is frighteningly and unreasonably absurd.

But then again, it’s also just the way it is. I can accept and even embrace the absurdity of living with someone who looks like the grim reaper.

Ultimately, the real question is this: do I want to give these people any power over me?

And the real answer is: no.

Eventually, I just have to say, and repeatedly say to myself, these people don’t matter, at all. What matters is me and my happiness.

The only harmony and peace found here will be within my own heart.

And that journey, even before I leave here, is the most important one I need to take right now.

So acceptance, assessment, allowing growth, planning, and curiosity…those are the things that are finally sustaining me as I journey to a better place. And I hope they will sustain you, as you travel from here to there.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. 

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support!  💘