Course Correction

My parents, like most, tried to guide me to follow what they considered the “right path”. They wanted only the best for me and a large part of that resided in financial security. Security is always a good thing, but, I am starting to question two parts of that equation: one being whether adequate, or even abundant, finances truly give anyone a sense of security? The second question that is coming up for me, is whether or not one can ever achieve security of any kind without first being grounded in, or by, serenity.

 

For whatever reasons, my parents chose to raise me (there were two of us children, however, I am learning slowly that I can only speak for myself) with no religion. They told me that we were Jewish, yet we did not attend synagogue, nor did we observe Jewish holidays. We actually celebrated Christmas and Easter, but without Jesus, as my parents told us they were “National” holidays! Like most things, there were both benefits and drawbacks to this for me.

 

I think the greatest benefit that I received is that, without the constraints of a formal religious upbringing, I was given the freedom to explore and define God for myself. Although my mother did share with me that she was unsure whether or not God existed, she also confided that she was gong to “act as if” in the event that God did exist and her belief would affect her admittance to Heaven! After she died, my father informed me that we would not be putting up a Christmas tree, as we were no longer celebrating the birthday of a renegade Jew!

 

Regardless, these small declarations made on rare occasions by my family, did little to inform or impact my perceptions of God.

 

I bring all of this discussion of religion, God and my childhood up as they definitely impacted both my feelings of security and serenity. In my family I was taught that security came from finances, from working hard, from succeeding and from marrying well. I was told that it was as easy to love a rich man as a poor one, the implication being that (a) security came from money and (b0 someone else could provide security for you.

 

This has not worked out so well in my life.

 

I am not complaining about my life. Quite the opposite, in fact. Years of struggle and disappointments have brought me to where I am today and it is not a bad place. Like many people, I find myself unemployed. This is not the first time this has happened to me and what I learned form the last time is serving me well.

 

During the dot-com bust, which was the last time I found myself without a job, I learned that I could not define myself by my vocation. When people asked me what I did, I struggled to answer and became full of shame. I had been deriving my sense of security and a large part of my definition of who I was, by my title. This extended beyond my job title and included titles of wife and mother, but, sadly for me, my job loss coincided with the end of my second marriage and came at a time when my children were in various stages of crisis’s, which left me feeling like a complete failure.

 

Having absolutely no feeling of security, neither financial nor emotional, I had to embark upon a quest for serenity. It was the loss of the source of my security that launched my search for serenity and it was on this quest that I found what I have come to call God.

 

What I know today is that although I often feel powerless over circumstances and events that occur in my life, I am not powerless in how I choose to respond to them. I can also choose to focus on what is going wrong in my life or what is “missing” from it, or I can choose to focus on and be grateful for all of the blessings that also fill my life.

 

I have not been employed since the middle of November. It has been hard to avoid getting caught up in fear, especially with all of the doom and gloom prophesies that have accompanied the decline of our economy. I had been making a very good living over the past decade and especially since moving to Denver almost five years ago. I moved here without my children who are fully cooked and on their own, which expanded my income even more. Unlike when I found myself out of work in the Silicon Valley at the start of the Millennium, I did have some money saved and I don’t have three kids to provide for. That said, I do not have a lot of money banked and I do have a large mortgage, a HELOC and various bills and debt.

 

While it hasn’t always been easy to live in gratitude and walk in faith, it does make me feel serene when I am able to control the voices in my head.

 

The weather in Colorado this winter, while arguable not a good indicator of the state of our environment, has been sunny, warm and dry. I have been able to bask in the sunshine, taking my dog on beautiful hikes and delighting in the panoramic vistas provided by the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains. Nature is one way for me to get in touch with Spirit and to feel serene.

 

I have also taken advantage of my unemployed status and the gift of time by visiting friends and my children. I have spent a full week at Thanksgiving in Lake Tahoe at the home of my best friend and driven from there to San Francisco with my daughter, enjoying the Bay with both her and my son. I spent Christmas week with my youngest daughter and my two amazing grandchildren and am headed back there tomorrow. I also visited friends in San Jose, Monterey and Sonoma, stopping once again in San Francisco to be with my middle daughter.

 

Of course I have also looked for a job, as well as developing work independently. What I try desperately to do is to believe, or better yet, to KNOW that the best possible outcome will manifest. I try not to get too attached to what that might look like, because I know that God can create things far greater than I can imagine. Knowing that my God wants the absolute best for me helps to create my sense of serenity.

 

Where I find myself struggling is to counteract the old beliefs that I know do not serve me, with the new ones I have developed but which are still in their infancy, or maybe they’ve evolved to become more adolescent-that awkward halfway mark between childhood and maturity.

 

I was raised to believe that “if it is going to be, it is up to me”, that I had to take action, continuous action, to make things happen, that I had to “plan my work and work my plan”. Some things that truly help to ground me is to read spiritual literature and to journal. It doesn’t seem to matter which author or book I pick up: Marianne Williamson. Eckhart Tolle, Ernest Holmes, Michael Beckwith, Depak Chopra, Pema Chodron, Neale Donald Walsh, to name just a few of my favorites. But I always seem to be guided to read exactly what I need to help me feel serene. I also have to counteract that voice in my head that tells me that this is not a productive use of my time, that I should be focusing all of my time and energy on looking for work.

 

I also have well-meaning friends and family who feel compelled to tell me that I should feel panicked and that I should find a job, any job, to hold me over.

 

The truth is that my soul longs for a job that holds more meaning for me than just a paycheck and my faith tells me that this and more is manifesting as I type.

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