I have been fighting for financial survival for a long time.
Early last year The Newspaper, which was my only source of income, cut my earnings by more than half. They were struggling to make ends meet (understandably, print media is sitting in dire straits!), I got that, I get that, Therefore, I lowered my expectations and pushed forward.
And then, starting in March (March 23, 2012. Am I holding onto anger? Sadly, yes.) they cut me out entirely, leaving me without any income at all until I would agree to sign their (outrageously ridiculous, one-sided — yes, I am still angry) contract. I held out for six weeks before they finally relented and asked me to come back to write their weekly Outdoors section again. (Cards, letters, emails, and phone calls from readers pushed that along, I believe. “Where’s Kim?? We miss her!” they said. TBTG for them all.)
And then in November they started back up with the contract talks again. I alternated between trying to ignore them and trying to negotiate with them. That continued through January when I was finally told, “No, this contract stands as is.”
The contract they wanted me to sign was a contract giving them the rights to my work as though I was an employee and not a freelance journalist.
Newspapers OWN the work of their employees, and for that the employees trade their rights of ownership for medical benefits and such. It is a fair trade, I think. But I was NOT an employee, and they wanted all of the benefits of ownership of my work without paying me a single penny for those rights.
In mid-January, I resigned. It was the scariest thing I had done in a very long time. But I had prepared for it, I had saved up three months wages, I could do it. Physically, I could do it. And I would never starve, or lack a bed or the comfort of family and friends. I was okay. Physically.
Mentally? It was a major struggle and continues to be a major struggle.
Throughout the time leading into the struggle and during the actual event of leaving my job and then while income-less, I struggled mentally. I was already behind in my Nun Homework and am STILL just as behind (or quite nearly so) as I was when I started. This nun homework has to be done or else I don’t move on from postulancy to the novitiate. (!!!!)
My relationship with God is THE most important thing in my life. My journey in relationship is tied up with and nourished by the community of the Sisters of St. Gregory, my own parish community, and, of course, by God Himself. But just trying to physically survive and to mentally cope has put both of those community relationships — relationships that are vital to my spiritual core of well being — on the back burner.
And now, at a time when I have finally started to get money rolling back in (see my work in progress at Raintree Nursery’s Plant Care Blog, and I also have another redesign job waiting, TBTG!), I am STILL struggling.
I’ve started to think that perhaps that struggle has become a habit with me.
I have been working from sunup to the dinner hour. I am so mentally exhausted by the end of the day that all I can do is Crush Candy on my iPhone. I have no mental energy left for contemplation or the writing of reflections.
So, I have determined to BREAK that habit. My spiritual director has advised me to go on retreat. Genius. But when, I cried???
And then, today it came to me.
Just as I have been setting aside time for the mental and physical work — and limiting myself to only do that work until 6 p.m. (or else I would continue to fiddle with design until the wee hours), I must set aside a block of time for spiritual connection.
During these 10 days of Ascension, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., I will be on retreat. A total of 40 hours in the ten days of the season. A magical, mystical number that 40 is.
No, it is not a full retreat. BUT! I think that even those four hours each day for ten days will stretch my abilities as a human being (instead of a human DOing) and challenge me as a mystic-sister-in-formation.
I am not going to plan my hours or prescribe what must be accomplished during those hours, I will see what God has to say and where I am lead. Yes, I certainly HOPE that he helps me to sit down and do my Homework, but I am letting go of my expectations for this time — or, at least, will seriously try to let go.
I imagine that, like any form of meditation, I will spend a lot of time focusing on refocusing myself to the task at hand, listening for God’s voice through the din and clamor of my own human, egoistic demands.
Funny, that, “listening.” I just realized (and actually LOL’ed at the very perfect synchronicity of it) my next chosen book for the Nun Homework is The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice by Kay Lindahl.
Wow. Just “Wow,” God. Thanks be to You.
Now, it’s 12:15 p.m. and I’ve got just one hour and forty-five minutes to get this week’s fishing report written and posted on my own website, Almost Daily News. The work is half done, I have some great photos of a local hot babe (who owns a coffee shop that I will link to) in a bikini top, holding a trout. Hmmmm, I wonder, is that nun-like behavior? LOL! Hey, God created her and her fish … and they are both very beautiful and worth sharing.
I love you, XOXO,