Emotional Space.

I realize that sounds incredibly loaded but I promise it’s a real thing.

I keep gushing about my new job. Anytime anyone asks me about it, I find myself repeating, I’m really where I need to be right now. (How can people stand me sometimes?!)

But that where that is here is a space of emotional openness. It’s wide margins (that’s the space between where your work ends and where you fall off the page.) It’s time that’s not dedicated to anything. It’s kindness in saying good bye and good luck to things that don’t serve me anymore.

It might go without saying, but it was not always this way.

This fall was an incredibly foggy time in my life. I was losing my job. Because I was losing my job, Brett and I had to back out of the contract we had signed to purchase a home. (You can wince here. I often do.) It felt like I might never stop crying. It was perhaps the most profound disappointment I’ve felt in my life. Everything that had seemed quite certain was gone in weeks and rather than try to weather any more transitions, I left my position about a week or so later. And then nothing was certain.

It felt very risky to give up a paycheck but I was in such a scary place emotionally at that time. The risk of bitterness and resentment lurked everywhere and it was a daily struggle to keep those feelings in check.  I didn’t want to be angry or sad anymore. So I left.

The next weeks felt like one long weekend. I rested and repaired my soul. (That is, I slept in and worked on craft projects) In all, I spent a little over a month without a job which was a true blessing and a testament to God’s hand in my life. I think there were some real things at work during that time that helped me frame the situation as a “transition”, rather than and out and out “crisis.” Managing those few months with some emotional dignity (and by that I mean I didn’t just lose my damn mind) helped prepare me to come into a new workplace and be readily available.

One of the things at work was that I was practicing for the first time a real awareness of vulnerability and the power it has to effect relationships. I watched this Ted Talk by Brene Brown and if you haven’t watched it yet, allow me to say, without exaggeration that it was transformative in my life. You see it at work here, in my writing, when I tell you that I’m both a person who is trying to lose weight and one who is eating an entire plate of fajita nachos for lunch (yesterday) and when I say that I like the idea of being healthy but love the idea of being skinny. Those things are silly and fun and we can all say YAS! but it was more than silly and fun when I realized that even though I felt hurt, I could still love and I could still forgive.

When I interviewed for new positions, I could speak candidly about where I had been, where I was going, what I was good at, when I had failed. As I orient to my new work, I am able to say I need help, thank you, can you repeat that? When someone asks how I like my new job, I say, I’m really where I need to be right now. 

What I want to tell you is that you can open up in this way. In fact, so many of you already have. (If you have reached out to me since I’ve started writing, allow me to say Goodness I just love you.) When I say open up, make space, what I mean is that if you are burdened by something, you can let that thing go. If it is spiritual, emotional, relational, or material. There is power in you that you can use towards whatever you want. Don’t waste it on anything that doesn’t serve.

Next week is a campaign celebration for the United Way, and it will be my last commitment as a member of the board, as my term has ended and I’m ready to step down. Can I be real here? Leaving is a scary thing because I am a doer. I am a get-things-doner. If I’m not there, who will do these things? Someone will. There is great potential in all of us (not to mention exceptional leadership on that board right now) and I don’t have to hog that piece of the pie.

It feels good to step away from that commitment because I have new priorities that I must make space for. The things I remain involved in are emotionally light and I can recognize heaviness a great deal sooner now. Maybe you are a person for which opening up means starting something new (introverts, I see you.) Fear can be reckless in our lives and it can be the thing that turns commitment into guilt or motivation into shame. You can join that club or go to that happy hour and people are going to be kind and warm to you. You can quit your job or leave that committee and the bottom will not drop out.  You can send that dancing cat gif in an email to your entire team, you won’t get fired. (Speaking from experience here.)

Make a little space today. It’s Friday so you’ve got all weekend to calm down from doing something really brave like that. I think it will make you a little lighter and that lightness might make you a little happier. And that little bit of happiness might make you a little more fortified to make a little more space and then, what could stop you?

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