Surrendering my work to the Muse

After the initial thrilling release of resigning my job last Monday, it took only about 24 hours for pure terror to set in.  There were three threads: “How will I replace that income?”, “What work will I do?” and “Who will I be?”  I had moments of elation still, but they oscillated very quickly with this cold fear running up my back.  Wednesday night, when I spoke on the phone to my men’s group, I did represent to them that I felt good about this move.  But I did also acknowledge the terror: “I’m afraid I won’t be able to support myself.”

The front of our grocery store is locally known as a hub of buskers.  Most of the time, we have a singer out in front of the store.  Thursday morning I was returning to work from my ten minute break – spent, as it was any time the weather allows, sitting on the curb around the corner…where I can be outside and by myself.  I saw Ginnie playing her guitar and singing, and thought “I could be a busker”.  “No you can’t – you can’t sing or play the guitar.”

Baba busker

In Buskerland outside of Earth Fare.  This guy’s sign says “Sacred Geometry, Numerology”.  “Spontaneous poetry” will not be a stretch for these folks – especially since so many of them already know and like and trust me.

Then it all started to bubble up.  My friend Lynn Adams had told me years ago about a busker at her local farmers market who set up a manual typewriter on a little table and sold poetry: you tell him what you wanted the poem to be about and he typed it up spontaneously as you stood there and you paid him for it.  Lynn said to me, “You could do this – you should do this.”  At that point, I really did not believe that I could to it.  Yes, when the Muse spoke to me I would write very spontaneously – it would all come out in a rush.  It came from somewhere else.  I tapped into Spirit.  But it mostly didn’t come when I chose it. It came when the Muse wanted to move me.  It was not poetry on demand – you pay me $x and I write a poem on the topic of your choosing.

But over the last few years I have been leaning into improv poetry.  First I did some at an Interplay workshop: I didn’t think I could do it, but somebody encouraged me to try.  It was killer and blew all of us out.  At Tom Kilby and Amanda Levesque’s Fringe Fest one-hour show two years ago, I inserted improv poetry at seven points in the show.  It was very successful – really captured/mirrored/amplified their own improv theater.  At Jessica Chilton’s Shine Expansive a few years ago I did some improv poetry that we all loved.

I’m ready!  I may not always feel the truth of this, but it is true.

Surrendering My Life To the Muse

It’s been six days – Monday – since I surrendered to the inner guidance to leave my job.

I had been told two weeks before – way too late in the process – that I had too much income to qualify for Battery Park Apartments, the subsidized senior living apartments for which I had applied a year before.  When the apartment manager looked at my income figures, she said, “Your social security income gets you right up next to our limit – you would have to quit your job.”

When I lamented on my plight on Facebook, this is a composite of what several of my friends said: “You are meant for this living situation – you know it.  They are nice apartments downtown at a livable rent.  The location will agree with you.  You need desperately to be nesting.  You need your own place.  You have held up extraordinarily well considering the circumstances – seven homes in ten months – but it has worn on you even more than you know.  Stop.  Do this.  Quit your job.”

Battery Park 5-18

Battery Park Apartments, downtown Asheville

When I checked the numbers carefully, my Social Security check got me right up to the allowed income – lowering my hours at Earth Fare was not an issue.  At first quitting seemed just impossible.  I think it’s actually the residue of all the little choices to stay in a job that is so monotonous – that has been so hard on my creativity.  Again and again I have told myself, “You have to stay here.  You need the money.  You need to be working – stay!”  Even the initial consideration that I might quit started to peel the scab off the wound.  Each day I saw more and more that five to eight hours a day standing on my feet in one place repeating transaction after transaction did beat me up.  I used all the creativity at my disposal to make these transactions creative – and many of them were.  Some were magical.  But oh it has been hard work.

I had such a deeply ingrained taboo that “You must not let go of this job”, but when the letting go happened it came so easily.  Monday morning I was talking to the manager of the apartments.  “Can you guarantee that if I give up my job I will then qualify for your apartments.”  “Yes.”  “OK, then I’ll do it – I’ll quit my job.”

I was not feeling totally ready to actually do the quitting.  I had a little short list of people I wanted to talk to before I took that step.  I told myself that I would talk to my boss tomorrow.  But then at my afternoon break, as I was leaving my station, there Nicole was.  “Oh, do it.”  “Nicole, can I have a couple of minutes with you?”  “Sure, right after I respond to this one call.”

Nicole was wonderful.  She is a new supervisor, but she had the poise of a pro.  I know she likes me a lot, I know she wouldn’t want me to leave – and so many people are leaving at the same time.  But she took in the situation for just a moment after I gave her the news and then said, “I hate it that you are going – we will hate to lose you – but it’s so great that you are moving to this wonderful new living situation.  I hope it all works out great for you.

So far, letting go was working great – it was, in fact, thrilling.  I move in on Saturday.  But I had no idea all that was to come.

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Customer Service as Sacred Work: my workshop for the Creation Spirituality conference – and for you

Principle 4 of Creation Spirituality: Every one of us carries within us the capacity to be a mystic, to be creative, to be visionary, and to be an agent for positive change.

Whether we are servers or customers, we all get lots of chances to exchange energy in  customer service interactions.  Part of the beauty of these interactions is that they are so omnipresent: if we enrich them it can make a genuine difference in our quality of life – and we get to try them again and again to have them work in satisfying ways.  cashier 3

For this 90-minute workshop, we start with warm-ups to get us loose with each other, then practice four components of a customer service interaction (all magically getting our focus while we are simultaneously running the business – like cashiering – of the interaction):

  1. greeting
  2. connection
  3. affirmation/validation
  4. blessing

For a sweet and insightful glimpse of the affirmation/validation component of these interactions, watch Validation – the Parking Attendant.  The validation component is very powerfully presented in the first five minutes of the video, but the remaining 11 minutes comprise a sweet little love story that is also very worth watching.

Contact me if you would like me to offer this workshop to a large or small group of your choosing (friends/neighbors, church, work group).  For the time being, I am wanting to explore the power of this workshop and am willing to offer it very inexpensively to social groups and for a modest expense to business groups.