Things have been somewhat calmer lately. She recognizes that I don't answer her when she speaks about going back home. I have continued to keep her weekday schedule pretty full with bridge games, which are only about 3 and 1/2 hours long. After that she comes back home and settles down.
Did I tell you that I finally fully hired the newer caretaker? No???
Oh my goodness. That was the hardest thing in my life. I let the first one go. Listen, at the end of a work day, a couple of colleagues sat me down to coach me on the process of letting someone go. It ain't no ways easy.
I got spiritual help too. On my way home from work that day, I walked a different street. One that did not carry me by the bank to deposit my check. Riding on the train, I remembered. So I get off the train a stop early, walked to the back exit (which I seldom do at this exit), and at the top of the escalator near the turnstiles a prayer station had been temporarily erected. I never visited those set up around the city before. They pop up every now and then.
That day as I walked towards the exit, I continued along the path that led toward the prayer station almost marvelling at my legs that seemed to be marching all on their own with my body in tow.
My legs seemed to march me right toward one woman in particular. She rose to greet me and immediately took my hands in hers.
How can I help you, my sister
I need prayer.
How can I pray for you.
I need to fire someone, and I want to pray for her. Then the tears came so quickly.
Then she prayed. I've never done that before -- prayed in a public place --been so exposed and so vulnerable and so public.
Afterwards, when I called her, my caretaker, she didn't answer the phone. She wouldn't. I left a message, and I sent her a severance pay. All I could think about was I know all too well what it's like to no longer have money coming in that you expected to have coming in.
I love our new caretaker. The lesson I learned with the previous one was to be brave enough to communicate my limits before things spiral to a point of no return.
So I hide in plain sight. What's that all about?
Oftentimes when I need a break from my mom, I escape to my bedroom. She's sometimes not too good about being alone. So, it's at those times that I have to hide from her. Sometimes I sit on my sofa that is parallel to my bed with the lights off. Last night I scooted down my bed just about half way down and put my pillow on top of my head. Either way, my mom stands in my doorway of my small bedroom calling my name over and over. It's a strange thing. On my sofa I look right at her with just the bathroom light filtering into my room, and she never sees me. The bed is in right in front of the door, and even then as she stands there she still does not see me.
All this does is teach me. No matter how many times she insists that she can go home and be on her own, that she's better, my ability to hide in plain sight right in front of her on a regular basis tells me otherwise. I look forward to the day that I can afford to pay the caretaker to spend an entire day with her, on multiple days, beyond bridge.
She has taken her to get her nails done after a bridge game, but I wish to have more of that. I realize my mom is with her caretaker about the same time I am at work. She comes home then I come home. I don't often get a break. That's why I have had to resort to hiding in plain sight. Last night after a ten hour work day followed by a three and a half hour class and a brief half hour rehearsal with my scene partner, I was Tired. It was 10:50 PM by the time I got home. I would have to leave by 6:15 AM the next morning. I had to get her money together and her medicine together for the following day. And I needed to just go to bed. She was not ready for me to go to bed. I did what I had to do for her and for me, then I went into my bedroom, turned off the light and hid in plain sight with my door wide open. I watched as she stood at my door calling my name in the dark room, then tried the front door of the apartment (which has an alarm and two door stops so that I won't be surprised by another late night wandering). I watched her trying to locate me in my small one bedroom apartment. I watched and realized I was watching the teacher (she is a retired school teacher) teach me how necessary it is for me to take care of this person for the rest of her life.
So last post I said I was willing to give it a try. I was willing to boldly trust. I revisited Norman Vincent Peale's anecdote about the trapeze artist and his teacher, and taking a lesson from that said I too would "throw (my) heart over the (trapeze) bar" so that my body would follow. And as soon as I said that so much followed.
1) I found myself in the midst of drama at a job. It was frustrating, draining, juvenile, and ugh.
2) Then I heard myself say aloud, "This (place/job location) isn't my goal." And for some reason it settled it. I made up my mind to walk away. I didn't quit the job. I just decided to no longer make that job location a priority.
3) I prayed at a prayer station that miraculously appeared at my subway station and asked for prayer for the woman I would have to let go. The woman who was my mom's first caretaker. Man oh man was that hard--letting someone go from a job. There I was standing in the midst of a busy subway stop during evening rush hour, being prayed over while I let the water works fall. After which I bravely called the old caretaker to agree to what she already suspected. That was hard.
4. A young just out of grad school preacher preached at my church on Sunday. The lesson from the young visiting preacher this past Sunday was all about what we're focusing on. And that lesson is still bouncing around in my head over and over and over. I woke this morning with it dawning on me what it was I thought about first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I thought about those things that irritated me. I then got a glimpse of myself contemplating leaving acting once again and realized then that up to that point I had been spending the majority of my time thinking about anything but my acting career. I am so grateful for that awakening.
I also realized how I seldom learn a lesson the first time. I usually learn eventually...yeah...well.
So, that drama at work was the second time I found myself enmeshed in drama at that same location; second time; second person. Hmmmm...and it occurred to me that I was turning into the people I worked with at that location. People who confused the heck out of me when I first worked there. They easily put in 15 sometimes 18 hours a day!!! How do they spend time with their families, have a life, do anything else. Their entire lives are consumed with that job and there is no advancement. There is no acknowledment or reward or anything. They are unhappy and advancing no where. I was becoming like them. I had put in as many as 14 and 3/4 hours in multiple days within the same week. With that much time put into work, there is very little time left for you/me. Hmmm...
Also, I am beginning to think that it's not so much my mom who must learn but me. I recognize now that I've been hearing that said to me several times. Yes, she swears she's going home. Ugh, tonight I listened to her as she told my cousin how she couldn't wait to get home to have control over her pain meds so that she can take as many as she wants at a time. Yeah, seriously she said that. Visions of that overmedicated woman who first arrived here back in December floated past my eyes.
The student in this journey, with my mom, my work, my career, my art, my creations, my faith, my belief, etc. is me. It's funny how I can sort of see this now. It's kind of like if you've ever seen a ghost. Maybe you have or maybe you're one of those people who hasn't. You sort of see something peripherally at first. You know you can't turn and focus on it...there's that word...FOCUS. Well you can't focus straight on. You sort of have to focus on it peripherally. When you do that though things in front of you sort of vanish and you then get a fairly clear peripheral picture. Hmmmm.... Let me think this one through.
Focus...so I've been holding my attention on those things that are not serving me. Oh, yes, I need income, of course. But I had become stagnant and consumed, gobbled up, swallowed up, but fortunately these nudgings had come along trying hard to redirect my attention away from that straight ahead route that did not serve me whatsoever. But I wasn't getting it. My focus was frozen or dulled or deadened or dying. But fortunately I had a breakthrough, and it happened before, during or right after I decided to be bold in my faith, tossing my heart over the hypothetical trapeze.
So, as for me, this day I intentionally and repeatedly shifted my focus away from that which made me irritated and distracted, and back towards the personal professional journey I set out on. I also shifted my focus away from wanting to get my mom to be or do anything and more towards getting myself to recognizing her limits and that I am actually the student in all of this. Also to recognize that the one who is being or doing is me. I'm not sure any of this makes sense for you, but it does for me.
The lesson was/is focus. So, my heart has been tossed in faith, and now I purposely practice with my intentional focus, my on purpose focus.
This entry is kind of all over the place, but then again maybe all of my entries are all over the place.
This journey has been stressful. I'm talking about this journey with my mom, this journey with quitting my job as a teacher, this journey of returning to acting at my age, this journey of being a responsible grown up.
In the late 80's, I did my first tour (mini tour; minuscule tour) with a tiny but fun production of Little Shoppa Horrors. I was a doo wop street urchin girl. I loved it. This was shortly after I dropped out of a female New Edition wanna be group, which came after I dropped out of Michigan State University.
I was just talking to my current scene partner for my current acting class about how overwhelmingly miserable I was at MSU. Gah, I was big time depressed. But my unsuccessful journey with the female vocal group and the short musical tour lifted me to places I couldn't explain.
On the tour, after a performance, while the cast ate together between cities, the woman who played Audrey told me that in her opinion I was a new soul visiting this earthly plain. Okay, it's a bit spacey. But I admit that I have met those persons who have given me the feeling (from someplace I don't know) that has made me utter the words they're an old soul.
Sometimes, as I step back and watch myself, I too get the feeling of a very new soul to this world.
Okay, here goes...
When I was a kid, I used to imagine that I was this spirit, or whatever, that pleaded with God to let me please come to this world, so when the actress said that to me, it reminded me of that childhood imagination.
Sometimes I would imagine everything was brand new for this new entity, me. This is crazy stuff but I'm just trying to have the courage to let my imagination and courage intertwine right at this moment.
So, sometimes I would imagine God was watching this little brand new soul wandering this way and that way and so often taking the path that led right to a sharp cliff on a steep hill and that was when God's interventions weren't so secretive but obvious.
Afterwork tonight as we walked pass the new World Trade Center, a colleague and I did what New Yorkers must do on and off on a regular basis since that day. We recounted our personal miracles that intervened hours or days or weeks before to direct our paths away from the tragedy.
My miracle, at the time, sat in the form of a rejection letter. I threw it away (I think) years ago after that tragic day. But today I wish I kept it. It was my physical evidence of a miracle.
I remember the shock and disappointment at being rejected for a waitress job for breakfast no less. I never even got invited for an interview. I was simply rejected via the post. For whatever reason, at that time (a couple of months before that day) I kept the letter. No restaurant had ever sent me a rejection letter before. But Windows on Top of the World did, the restaurant that sat on the top of the North Tower.
A delayed train kept me out of harm's way. This was just a few months ago.
And another time...
Several years ago, the starter on my '85 Camry failed to start each time I made up my mind to go visit a new guy I was kind of in to. On three separate days each time I hopped into my car to go visit him my car refused to start. When we'd cancel our plans, the car started up just fine. Not even my stepdad could get the car to start on those days.
There are other happenings over the years but they get even more bizarre.
So, as I prepare myself to face another month of my breaking my mom's heart in her want to go home, I think about another miraculous or serendipitous or coincidental happening. It happened boldly after...
Or maybe I prayed boldly then it happened. I sincerely didn't know what to do after she tried to walk out of my apartment at 2:30 AM on December 26th. So on January 2nd, I prayed: show me what to do.
Hours after that prayer, she tried to walk again. I saw this was for real.
I keep seeing little things now almost every time she brings up going home alone, every time. It's like she is invisibly directed to do just the right wrong thing to get my attention, to make me see.
Right now, I also see the connection in my journey as an actress; the little invisible guiding. So, there are the mounds of rejections. The need to have the survival job(s). The juggle to balance which job or pursuit at what time to give the most of my attention. And finally there's that constant internal silent battle with the want to just quit.
And so tonight I was reminded by my work colleague as we passed the shadows of the past about the miracle that played out in the form of rejection that was so big and bold right then. That sat on my dresser hurting my feelings making me feel inadequate, but how it was really none of those negative things. It was my real life evidence that miracles are real, and today it is a reminder that in the midst of all those rejections on this actor's journey is a collection of miracles.
That in the midst of this uncomfortable journey with my mom is a plethora of miracles for her and me.
My colleague said, really there is nothing for you to worry about since there is always some guidance, so to speak, going on. Perhaps that's true.
So right now I have decided to try a tiny experiment with myself. I am going to practice that's it's true. That I can just trust wholeheartedly in the spiritual realm. Each rejection is by design as is each acceptance.
I needed this now because my inner actress has been feeling a wee bit depressed. She's been rather neglected. She hasn't auditioned since January (well, one last week but I'll get to that).
She was feeling neglected and silly for wanting to even continue this pursuit. She's been forced to play the role of being responsible for the well-being of another, and she's been feeling fairly mediocre at the role.
And as she was sure she was being rejected, a miraculous check arrived just as she wondered if her agents had dropped her. It's just a fluke she said while still on her way to convincing herself to quit. Then a "recast" audition arrived giving her the opportunity to audition for a different role in the same production. The two arrived days apart...out of the blue...exactly when she tried to convince herself she'd been rejected again. Plus a miracle that meant nothing to no one but her: the two arrived in a way that did not force her to have to cancel work. It all just fit perfectly in her schedule as it was..
So I've decided to play a game of trust.
I remember that anecdote shared by Norman Vincent Peale:
"A famous trapeze artist was instructing his students on how to complete a performance on the high bar. After finishing his talk, he asked his students to demonstrate what they had learned. One of his students stood looking up at his precarious perch, pictured himself falling, and become completely frozen in fear.
“I can’t do it. I can’t do it.” he gasped. The instructor put his hand on his shoulder and said these words:
“Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.”
So I will give it a go. Tonight, at 1:15 AM, I throw my heart over the bar.
I'm just writing to keep from losing it.