On January 1, I was rehired by UC Irvine. Since my COBRA health insurance benefits were due to run out at the end of the month, and my insurance premiums (as someone who had stage 4 cancer last year) were about to go sky high, I am very grateful for this job. Teaching is one of the most rewarding tasks I can imagine and I love my students. And getting a monthly paycheck again is wonderful.
Then Reality Sets In
However, after two weeks of teaching, I feel trapped and filled with a sense of depression and anxiety that surprises me. After returning to a beloved job that I had lost almost two years ago—when budget cuts devastated the California university system—I am now seeing everything from a totally different perspective. I changed more than I realized when I faced death last year and then came back to life. I am currently healthy, eight months into remission, but going through an intense transformation process of integrating my experiences and lessons from the past year. I am still healing on every level—mind, body, emotions, and spirit—and I have a long way to go yet.
I feel trapped because this job does not pay me enough to live on—I still have to do at least ten hours of free-lance editing a week to survive—yet the teaching takes up a HUGE chunk of my time. With a total of 46 students, who are each doing a blog, a forum, Connect Composition Plus readings and a quiz, and numerous small assignments and large papers each week, I end up with around 150 assignments to grade weekly. While there is so much to enjoy in this teaching situation—and I believe I can adjust my attitude so that I am enjoying myself even more—quite frankly, I feel bored and brain dead half the time when I have to sit for hours, read all this stuff, and say something useful about each assignment it to each student.
Fortunately, the students are happy and feel at home in the class. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and when I’m with them, we have fun together.
What I Really Want
What I really want, however, is to rock my students’ world, to give them something valuable that they can take through life with them because, God knows, they have no idea what’s out there waiting for them. So much joy, so much tragedy, so many challenges, so many opportunities to become more than they ever dreamed possible if they can just survive the initiations life throws at them.
Bottom line: I’ve realized that this university job is not my future. I just can’t do it much longer. I hope to live to old age, but if I don’t, I frankly don’t have the time or the inclination to do any job that does not fill me with joy and fulfillment. I’ve made a six-month commitment to UC Irvine, and I will give them 100 percent. But I’m looking for another job, one I can hardly begin to put into words.
Visualizing Something New
I have two friends who are becoming masters at visualizing and manifesting what they really want in life. One, is my teacher Gretchen who had to move out of her rental home almost a year ago when the owners decided to move back from Hawaii and live in CA. We had done so much community and healing work in that house and in the yard with the plant spirits and spirits of nature that we were all devastated. However, it was time for Gretchen to move on, and this time she decided that she was deserving of creating her ideal situation, a home that truly supported her calling in life. She generously gave me permission to tell her inspiring story in this blog and to share the email below that she wrote to her community. It is an amazing model of “getting clear” about what you wish to create in your life:
“It has come to my attention that I need to ask for your prayers and assistance in finding a new home for Rusty (her cat) and me. I know and accept with joy the truth that my work is to see clients and hold sacred space for this shamanic community. However, I need a home that supports that and right now I’m quite challenged and a bit overwhelmed by circumstances. Spirit is suggesting that since my home supports the community, the community is important in assisting me with prayers and eyes that are on the lookout for this home! So, here is my ‘wish list’ to focus your prayers and I welcome your help! I love all of you!!”
Gretchen’s & Rusty’s Wish List:
$1100 – $1400 per month
Preferably in Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach, Dana Pt, SJC, Capo Beach, or north San Clemente
1000+ sq ft
Open living room/dining area (big enough for WT, Healing Circles, classes, etc)
Open floor plan
Updated kitchen (I have a refrigerator)
Garage (if no garage I need a storage shed – if not possible I’ll have to rent a storage unit so that would mean I would have to pay less for the place)
Greenbelt and trees surrounding area
I prayed for Gretchen’s wish list like I’d never prayed for anything before. I truly believed that if she could manifest all of this, then I could believe that anything was possible for myself.
And she got every…last…thing…and more.
A good friend of Gretchen’s bought a home in Laguna Beach and built a second house on the property for Gretchen to live in. She completely understands and supports Gretchen’s healing and teaching work. The rent is very reasonable, Gretchen has all the space she needs, and everything she wished for in the design and layout of her little house, including and a patio overlooking a breathtaking canyon, land with which everyone in her shamanic group is developing a sacred relationship. The lovely woman who owns the property generously allows Gretchen to use her large living room space for the larger workshops Gretchen teaches.
What I Learned
Witnessing Gretchen’s dream become manifest in reality has taught me is that anything we imagine, in obedience to our life’s mission, from a sincere desire deep in our hearts and souls to help others, can come into our lives.
We deserve it. We are truly worthy of living our heart’s joy and doing work that rewards us and blesses others on every level. There are no real barriers except the limitations of our own imaginations. The answer to our prayers might not look exactly as we imagine it. It will be better and more suitable, even more in alignment with our true purpose.
What My Own Heart Longs For
I am just now at the very beginning of discovering my ideal job, the one that will make me get up every morning and look forward to work, that will make my heart sing, that will satisfy me to the bottom of my soul. Here is what I know so far about my ideal job.
- It will involve writing because writing is what I love to do more than anything else in the world. Writing makes me happier and gives me more joy and fulfillment and sense of purpose than anything I’ve ever done in my life. And I’m a hell of a good writer, baby.
- It will involve helping others, because my heart’s desire is to help other people who are looking for hope, who need healing, who are looking for a new perspective to get them through life’s challenges and to become who they are meant to be.
- It will involve teaching, because I love to teach others. (And, of course, teaching involves learning from others and being mutually enriched and blessed.)
- It will pay me at least as much as the UCI teaching job, and it will involve working less than five days a week so I have a few days off to breathe, continue with my editing work, and write my books.
- It will have an excellent health insurance plan so I don’t have to worry about that any more, and (if I’m willing to dream big) some kind of retirement plan.
This is my starting place and I will refine it as I go along.
In the past, when I’ve wanted a new job, someone has shown up and offered me one. That’s what happened when I got my teaching job at Columbia University and when I was hired to write the Maya books for William Morrow Publishers. Or I’ve just looked around, applied, and got hired for the first job I interviewed for. That’s what happened at Parabola magazine and UC Irvine.
I think I will need to be more proactive now since the stakes are higher. So, my task is to use the tools of my imagination, network with others, pray, meditate, visualize, and seek.
My Mother’s Dream: Ask and It Shall Be Given
After my beloved Grandfather, David Woods, died when I was eight years old, my mother had a dream about him. She was walking in a preternaturally beautiful redwood forest and suddenly she saw her father in a long robe, young again, his face shining with light. He said to her, “Seek and ye shall find, ask and it shall be given, knock and it shall be opened unto to you.”
When she shared that dream with me years later, I felt it go right to my heart, as if my grandfather were delivering that message to me personally. This is Christ’s promise to us, my grandfather’s promise to me, life’s promise.
Since I have regained my health, I have come to understand the value of life in a new way. I do not have time to sit around with a second-best job. I have gifts to give, dreams to fulfill, lives to touch, songs to sing, healing work to do.
It’s time to stand up and dance. I can hear the music coming closer and the words are becoming more distinct.