Miss Money Bags...
...or, Things That Aren’t Always Around When You Are Searching For A New Career Path
I have just told money counting it can wait.
“You can wait, money counting,” I said, out loud to myself, (something I love to do and do all the time), and now here I am, sat down to write instead.
I should explain with money counting I mean literally counting money; coins in their smallest dollar values that I put into small plastic bags. I estimate I have approximately $1000 or - fingers crossed - more, sitting in money bags to be given to the bank, so that I can feel like I’m the money bags. Imagine my satisfaction when I hand all those bags over to the teller.
I like counting money from time to time. I feel both frugal and careful, and turn phrases like count the pennies and the pounds will count themselves in my head, to gee me on. At other times as I stack up 20 cent pieces, I think I must look like Scrooge Duck at the beginning of the 1980’s children’s cartoon DuckTales, hoarding and counting his money greedily and miserly.
As handing money bags over to the bank from coins my husband has emptied from his pockets over a three year period into drawers and jars is my current — and only — income, I will continue getting satisfaction from this task, and feel like I’m contributing to house finances.
But I told money counting to shove off, and so writing about it is no good either. What I wanted to write about was JOY. And IDEAS and other Things That Aren’t Always Around When You Are Searching For A New Career Path.
Today I feel joyful, and I might even have ideas, in fact I DO have a few sniffs of ideas that I’m going to write down. I am no longer being horrible to myself, being horrible to oneself is so terribly boring, monotonous, and isn’t full of the unexpected twists and turns that joy is. It’s a double whammy, boring horrible to oneself. I feel miserable because I’m being horrible to myself (certainly no one else is) and because I know how stupid it is to be horrid to myself. I confess earlier today I was doing exactly that. I woke up with fear, with dread, with being most unkind to myself, stared at the ceiling for a long time thinking, I am neither working to earn money in my old job nor relishing this time to cultivate something new. I was most uncomfortably wedged between my own fear of indecision and failure, making mild protestations.
But something today has changed. It will only last today, that’s the thing about joy. You need to seek it each day afresh, but I snapped out of my sticky boring heap enough to muster up going for a walk. I was helped — it’s a corker of a day, and there was perfect white frost everywhere, the sky blue, the sun high, the birds throwing out their song. Joy was mine for the taking, but still it took me some time to throw my critic off, even with the sun on my face feeling like a walking advert for country living (and no one around, not even my own phone to capture the moment).
I walked, allowing a little whisper of a wandering spirit to lead me down teeny new paths I had never walked before, I followed them here and there, picked up new ones, was taken by surprise at kangaroos bobbing off, until I was lost. Really quite lost, it turns out. On my eventual return I realised I had missed an appointment by a fair whack.
But what a thrill. The newness of those paths, the courage to follow them just to be curious. I quite forgot what I must have looked like, I forgot the time, I got so lost my critic had no idea where I had got to. I had outsmarted him. I was lost and there were literally signs saying Warning, Danger, as I had wandered into an old gold-digging site, and who knew what perils lay beneath my feet. That sufficiently freaked me out and I re-traced my steps until I eventually found a familiar path.
But I let joy win, and gently shoved my critic and all his opinions over to the side. I broke the broke rules and went for a coffee at a cafe just to celebrate feeling like it is a Saturday, a holiday day, even if I am not technically working the week days at present.
And I thought as I was re-tracing my steps on my little adventure, I need to get three things down that I might try to reach for when I’m feeling outstandingly uncertain and uncreative. Because I know it will creep back, it always does. So my list of things to remember when ceiling-staring kicks in.
Get out and into it.
These are the words of the very wise Parker Palmer. Get a coat, and get out and into it, metaphorically and literally.
Literally, there’s not much else to say, except that I defy anyone to feel worse (unless unwell, or other legitimate reasons) after getting outside come rain or shine and observing how today, yours for the taking, there are a multitude of new things to be seen, feelings to feel, different most completely than yesterday. Relish it, soak it up, there is always more detail to see, to feel, even on the most familiar of objects. “Motion is lotion” my physio once said, and went on to say how she meant lotion for the mind as well as the bones she needed to sort out.
Metaphorically this means get out and give it a whirl. It actually still means get out physically; get out and volunteer, go to a museum, have deep and meaningfuls about life with your friend, a stranger, do something new, do it all to just get your brain ticking, connecting with humans, with animals, with bacteria, with life. I think that’s why I feel at sea sometimes, because I wasn’t meant to be cooped up hoping for divine inspiration to surface and grow disappointed when it doesn’t arrive.
2. Sniffing Ideas.
Maybe it happens to other people, but it doesn’t happen to me.
Ideas for me, whether it’s writing poetry or a story, or designing or whatever, reveal themselves to me slowly. I get the faintest whiff of something compelling. Very infrequently it will present itself as a vague vision in my head, but mostly it happens through gentle wooing, cooing, coaxing, stroking, and rushing to give it a go.
The idea gently bobs its head up and I trust that there’s enough there for the rest to be revealed. I just have to start and trust the process. Put pen to paper as it were. I have written 5 chapters of a story based on the idea that I would like to write a fantasy novel. Let me be clear, I didn’t have an idea for a story, or even an idea about a character or a plot, or anything helpful like that. This lack of plot / character / anything has held me up for years — how can I write anything without so much as an inkling of a ‘good’ idea, I would think.
No, this time, whilst walking, I just got an idea, a feeling, that I would like to write a book about magic. So I’m doing it. I started and wrote and it’s revealing itself one sentence at a time. Will it make me money? This is highly, highly unlikely. Will the inspiration run out? I’m scared to death it will, who knows? Will anyone like it? I really am not interested in that right now as I’m still writing it, and maybe some will, some won’t.
But I feel flipping brilliant that I got five chapters out of being curious after sniffing the sweet smell of an idea.
3. Keep it up.
This is a new lesson for me, but one that many others know and practice. Keep putting pen to paper. Keep writing, creating, drawing, listing business ideas, whatever it is we all do. No matter how bad I think it is, write it down and take joy from the simple pleasure of just giving it a whirl. Day in, day out.
Harriet is a writer, collaborator and a serial joy enthusiast. She has recently taken a break from her corporate career in sustainability to step into the unknown, and start listening to her inner voice and what it has to say. She’s passionate about a long list of things including business actually doing good, food, living frugally, people saying it like it is, and how beautiful our planet is. Originally from London, Harriet lived and worked in Ghana, California and Bangladesh before moving to Melbourne some 4 years ago.