Each day in spring, even days I spend 12 hours at the computer, I make sure I walk to the lambs. My daughter named 2 Clover and Clancy. They are joined at the hip and never leave one another’s side, munching grass with Velcro-splitting sounds. In the dark, you can see only the glow of their eyes by flashlight.
These 30-minute fragments of time are my vacation.
I saw a New Yorker cartoon I would like to paste here but will not for copyright laws. It is of a man at a desk with certificates and calendar on the wall behind him. His thought bubble shows the same scene, except the calendar is replaced by a picture of palm trees and a beach.
That is me. Dreams of vacation are so downsized, they have become a picture on my wall or my neighbor’s lambs.
I have tried very hard to integrate advice into my life that we can create and bring what we want into our own lives. A fulfilling job. A rewarding personal life. Enough funds to live without anxiety about paying the next bill.
So why do I stay with a job that requires me to work 60 hours to earn what I did 17 years ago in 40, even though I have certificates and 17 years of experience and knowledge? I do not know who made the industry wide decision that editing a medical document with voice recognition software should be paid at half the rate of transcribing the same document, but I can definitely say that no one I know is able to edit at double speed what they can transcribe. We still must listen to every single word and edit for context, like bacteria species names that can dramatically change what type of infection a patient has and what drugs should be used to treat it.
Example: My transcription capability was 250 lines/hr, and company speech editing averages are 315-325 lines/hr. Anyone I have told this saga to tells me to either notify Erin Brokovich or find a new career.
Here are things I have tried in an effort to dream up a career shift:
1) Applied for graduate program in Clinical Informatics with a nursing school, took a year of prerequisites at my community college, got accepted to program, then learned the loan load I would carry would be $100,000 at the end of 2 years, so declined that offer.
2) Weekly searches in Seattle area organizations that can use any of my skills. So far, nothing has come up earning me more than I do currently (about $14/hr with benefits), adding on cost of commute, childcare, and clothes.
3) Writing down things to do that give me most energy and see which translate to jobs.
4) Ask the universe for ideas of a business I could start and request an answer within 3 days. Universe’s answering system still has me on hold. Nice music, but no answer yet.
Sometimes I think it is best to honor the cycle of life we are in, if no open doors are visible. I know when I emerge with more freedom to look back at this decade of my life, I will be glad I know what it is to sacrifice for someone else (child), to work long hours with focus, to find solutions at times of scarcity like food banks or community services, to keep in perspective things could be a lot worse.
A quote from my “Bible” of sorts for the past 15 years, Jack Kornfield’s book, A Path With Heart:
Occasionally we get to choose the cycles we work with, such as choosing to get married or beginning a career. At these times, it is helpful to meditate, to reflect on which direction will bring us closer to our path with heart, which will offer the spiritual lesson that it is time for in our life.*
More often we don’t get to choose. The great cycles of our life wash over us, presenting us with challenges and difficult rites of passage much bigger than our ideas of where we were going. Midlife crisis, threats of divorce, personal illness, sickness of our children, money problems, or just running yet again into our own insecurity or unfulfilled ambition** can seem like difficult yet mundane parts of life to get over with so we can become peaceful and do our spiritual practice. It may be a lesson of staying centered through great confusion, or a lesson of forbearance, developing a forgiving heart with someone who has caused us pain. It may be a lesson of acceptance or a lesson of courage, finding the strength of heart to stand our ground and live from our deepest values.
*Er, probably coulda shoulda meditated more at those choice points.
**Bingo! Exactly describes my last decade.
So this Spring Break, as my daughter heads off for a week with her dad and I to another 60 hours at the computer keyboard and headphones meticulously recording care of patients in hospitals, I reflect on the spiritual lessons of my past decade and gratitude toward them. And I make sure to walk to see the lambs.