I've been in a funk for a few days. We just got slammed with a $3000 car repair bill. There goes any thoughts of a family vacation this summer. I know. I know. First world problems. At least we own a car. It would be a nearly impossible feat to get around this town on foot or by public transit alone.
We're lucky we can afford a car. Two cars!! Two thirteen-year-old cars whose engines are grumbling like an old dog. Like our dog, Good Boy Earl, before he died a couple of weeks ago. It was bad planning on my part to get a dog and two cars that were all made in 2001. Just when the dog dies, the cars begin to fail, and you feel like a total asshole grieving your empty bank account when you should have the luxury of spending your grieve energy on your loyal, furry companion's passing instead.
I don't know where we're going to get three-thousand dollars. It wouldn't be a big deal if I were still working full time. Sure, three-thousand dollars is a lot of money nobody wants to pay for stinkin' car repairs. But it would be less of a worry wondering where it would come from if I worked forty-hours a week rather than twenty-four.
I cut back my hours at work three-years-ago this July. My doctor recommended it to me, after asking if it was possible.
"Oh no!" I protested. "There's no way I could work part-time. Could I?"
I left her office befuddled. I had never once thought of not working for pay outside the home, forty-hours a week. Even after Katie was born. Of course I would go back to work. Full time.
I'm a feminist, I thought. All those feminists throughout history, I owe it to them. They fought so hard for women to be accepted into the workplace. I can't blow it now.
But, when faced with upping my dose of Sertraline or popping Clonazepam daily rather than only in case of a full-blown panic attack, I decided instead of popping more pills to try cutting back my hours at work as a way of reducing the stress in my life that was making my family and me miserable.
I'm not good at working for no pay, though. I grew up in a society where someone's income is one of the major ways you measure a person's worth. So I told myself, and my husband, that I'd publish a novel, or a memoir, within six months.
I know, right?
Delusions of grandeur was never my strong suit. My psychotic episodes involve more anxiety and rage. You can't dwell on your superior abilities while simultaneously being pissed off at yourself and the rest of the world. Yet somehow, I told myself I'd work through it and come out at the end with a paycheck.
I have not.
I have loved every minute I've spent writing these past three years. I regret none of the time I took off work to write. But I do regret having made that goal, to publish something profitable enough to pay our bills in an extraordinarily short amount of time. Now, despite how well my blog is going, and how much I value the words that come with this unpaid work, I feel like a loser.
I'm a lowly unpaid blogger. What is my worth?
When I feel low, I pull down the shades, tucking the sun away, and hunker down, waiting for the rain to pool into a river of reflection. Maya Angelou taught me that. She taught me to sit still and listen to myself.
"I think when we don't know what to do it's wise to do nothing. Sit down quietly; quiet our hearts and minds and breath deeply." -- Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou died yesterday. Another one of my inspirations. No wonder I'm so low. Maya Angelou was 86. She had lived a long and fascinating life. It was her time. But still, I'm not sure I was ready for her to go. Her spirit is filled with wisdom. I greedily beg her to share it more.
Just before she left this earth, she left this comment:
"Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God." -- Maya Angelou, a few days before she died.
So I've been quiet. Sitting still. Waiting for inspiration.
And then it came. Today My pastor shared this video on social media:
"I think love is that condition in the human spirit--so profound--that it allows us to forgive. And it may be the energy which keeps the stars in the firmament, I'm not sure. It may be the energy which keeps the blood running smoothly through our veins. I'm not sure. But it's something beyond the explanation...It still humbles me that this force which made leaves and fleas and stars and rivers and you, loves me....It's amazing. I can do anything. And do it well. Any good thing I can do it. That's why I am who I am. Yes. Because God loves me, and I'm amazed at it. And grateful for it. " --Dr. Maya Angelou
Yes! Yes! I needed to hear that, Dr. Angelou! Yes, thank you, Pastor Jonas.
God loves me. My bank account, empty or full. God loves me. On days when I don't feel like facing the world with a smile on my face. God loves me. When I write and when I don't write. God loves me. Whether the work I do makes money or not. God loves me. Even on days when it's hard to love myself. God loves me. Whether my mind is full of delusions of grandeur or depressive ruminations. God loves me.
And what does God want in return?