At the beginning of this year I was gifted two incredible sessions with a career coach, Rich Litvin. This came out of my connection to Steve Chandler, whose work I have often quoted in this blog.
Rich is one of Steve’s associates and he is very smart and insightful (not to mention very handsome. I checked him out on Facebook.)
We had two long conversations to map out a simple plan for what I want to do this year and one of them is to write for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. It doesn’t always have to be the writing project I’m working on, but it does have to be some kind of writing. And if I miss a day once in awhile, it’s okay – it’s just a commitment to do my best.
Last night, Lucy was sick and I had to walk her in the middle of the night, so I couldn’t get up very early this morning, which is usually when I like to do my creative writing. I just came from Judson Memorial Church, where Abigail, my loftmate, gave a lovely sermon, so I thought I would write about that.
Abigail started with a story about her sister, Nancy, who works as a minister, at a maximum security prison for men in North Carolina. Recently, one of the inmates she really likes came into her office to make a phone call to his sick mother. Just as Nancy was dialing the phone, the inmate decided it was a good time to unzip his fly and show her his private parts. Nancy told Abigail later that day that she felt worn out, sick and tired of trying to be a minister, of trying to do good – she was angry and fed up. She said she felt like the story in the Bible about God and Jeremiah. I guess Jeremiah was a big whiner to God and God also whined back to him, telling him he was fed up with being God-like (or something like that.) Abigail spoke about the hardships of life, the challenges. When we’re young it feels like these are difficult challenges to overcome, but when we’re older sometimes they are about acceptance. (I think I threw that idea in.) She mentioned a phrase I particularly love “stronger in the broken places” and also Martin Luther King’s quote, which is something like “Over the course of history, the arc of life (or time) bends towards justice.” (I will ask Abigail for the exact quote.)
Judson Memorial has been in that location for something 150 years and the congregation, though small, feels like a real community. It has always been a place of social justice and liberal political action. At one point in the service, people get up and share about losses and ask for prayers through difficult times. It reminds me of all the gratitude for the communities I have in my life. Judson has been Abigail’s lifeline and I enjoy visiting it, especially when she speaks and also when they have flash mobs. Today, one young woman asked for prayers for her grandfather. She said it was hard for her mother to be losing her father and she felt so sorry for her mom. I felt my eyes fill up with tears — this is such a gift to me — to feel empathy now, when for so many years I was emotionally closed down, locked up, afraid of feelings because there was just too much to deal with. Thanks to Friends In Deed in particular, and having safe places to share my feelings and feel held and supported, it’s become a great joy to feel alive.
I also realized that after being in therapy for years, I have stopped going to see my therapist. This began when I started dancing. I still stay in touch with Mike now and then with an email, I totally value his input in my life, but mostly I’m dancing and living my life. And writing – 15 minutes or so a day. I feel joy from dancing, it’s truly changing my life.
Another thing Rich said to me, for this coming year: “Do what you love.”