David Crosby’s song, “Almost Cut My Hair” has been going through my head today, except the words are, “Almost quit my job….” Except I did, actually, quit my job, several weeks ago now. I’ve been too chicken to admit it much, but by now the reality has sunk in that I am, indeed, jobless.
This is not a first, nor is it the first time I’ve done a mostly unpremeditated (read: impulsive) and risky thing. In fact, what I don’t kill myself doing just might make me stronger, I’m hoping. The stronger part hasn’t quite happened yet. I’m just at the freaking out part, but it took me a while. I had to wait for the denial to wear off. (Joy Strategy #2: Find out what joy isn’t, from my new book. Read on.)
The reality is, I’m out of money, which I knew would happen. And the way I figured it out was like a scene from a movie in which, say, Julia Roberts, has her identity stolen. I went to an ATM and slid my card in for cash. The $3.50 fee turned me off, so I canceled the transaction. The next ATM was temporarily out of service. I felt a twinge of paranoia and worked at not taking it personally. Finally, I went to the grocery store and bought a muffin just to get cash back. (It could have been a banana, but for the story, I had a muffin.) At the check-out, the transaction was declined. I put it through again without the cash back. At least I got my muffin. Which by then I really needed, because I had no idea why my card had been declined.
Yeah, I don’t really keep up with my checkbook. I have a vague sense of how much is in there. And obviously, very vague, and very wrong, so I was taken by surprise but shouldn’t have been. But was. Took it well, went about my day, came home and then I started freaking out. (Joy Strategy #29: See self sabotage for what it is.)
I closed my personal checking account today, something I’d been meaning to do for a while anyway, associated as it was with a past relationship that needed to be over in every possible way, and this was possibly the last. The closest branch was in Walmart, and now I never have to go there again, either. Closing the account meant discontinuing the three remaining automatic withdrawals, one of which was my membership to the national organization of my former profession, a mixed feeling indeed. I also stopped, temporarily, my membership to public radio and my tiny monthly support for the candidate for governor I believe in. These made me sad.
I almost flipped into some past life memory of being a slave, a kept woman, or an indigent person, but I decided that wouldn’t help anything. I started looking for the opportunity in the crisis (Joy Strategy #8: Out of crisis, opportunity.) For one thing, my partner and I will have to learn to manage money together. I will have to trust and compromise more. Two, I will have the chance to re-do of a developmental step I last negotiated in my 20’s when I dropped out of college to become a writer and started working in health food stores, as they were then called. This time, I get to find work that feeds my creativity, a next door neighbor to it, so to speak, not something from another country that pulls and drains and competes with it. That’s all I want, really, so that’s what I’m putting out to the loving Universe I purport to believe in. Also, of course, if unprecedented fame and wealth occurred as a result of my creative works, that’d be good too. (Joy Strategy #22: In one word, what do you believe in?)
My writing goal this year is to reach as many new readers as I can, to find and connect with my tribe as a writer. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on whipping up a collection of 30 essays into a book. The working title is “Juicy Joyful: How To Squeeze More Joy From Your (Already) Messy Life.” These are the product of the 30 Days of Joy challenge I did on this blog a couple of summers ago. (Joy Strategy #3: Move from reducing stress to thriving)
And here’s the wild part of that story: The book (whatever it’s final title) is going to be FREE. To you, my readers. It will be available as an ebook in any gosh darn format you want (Kindle, Apple reader, Nook, pdf, etc.) Print books will also be available, at a low price. It’s time to get my words and ideas in front of their audience. If you are a recovering crazy-head creative, lover-and-struggler of life, or just a middle aged woman about to blossom, you are likely part of that audience. (Joy Strategy #19: Dare to be sloppy, ill-prepared and boring.)
Stay tuned for the release date and further details. I’m very happy about this new book. Just add Fall apples and my life will be complete. Okay, fall apples and 5,000 readers and a happy, little money gig.