January 5, 2015

Hi, my name is Kristin.  It’s January 5th and I don’t have a job.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that about a year ago, my health professionals recommended that once I moved to Ann Arbor, after 21 years of parenting, teaching, and managing the lives of many around me, often to the detriment of my own, I should take at least six months to rest and recover.  I had been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in the spring of 2013 and had, by necessity, kept pushing through life’s demands.  I was exhausted, but I thought surely six months was too long.  Wouldn’t three months be ok? No, I should start with six and twelve was not out of the question.

The idea of ‘doing nothing’ for six to twelve months was very foreign to me.  First of all, we are not independently wealthy.  We always, it seems, have ‘just enough’.   We don’t have a ton saved up for retirement, we have bills to pay every month, and we are still supporting two of our children.  Why would I think, as the wife of a pastor, that I could take six, let alone, twelve months off from work? Second of all, I have been (except for about a year during adolescence when I sat in a recliner eating chips and reading books) for most of my life a type AAA personality.  I do things.  Lots of things. How was I supposed to sit around for all those months doing nothing? Shouldn’t I pursue my PhD now that I am living in a town with the exact program that I have always wanted?  Shouldn’t I transfer my teaching credentials back to Michigan and get a job in an underserved population?  Guys, I could have a job today that would wipe out our kids’ student debt and afford us a second vehicle in no time.  But the doctors, and my husband, and my children, and my friends, all said, “you really need to take a break.”

Ok, fine. I will take a break, but only until January 5.  By then I am going back to work.

Um, guys, I’m sitting in my pajamas at 9:20 AM, and it’s January 5.

My plans for today?  Blogging, exercise, dropping off another load at Salvation Army, drinking tea, and resting.

Why? Well, I don’t think it’s time yet.  I keep poking myself with a fork, but I don’t seem quite done.

First of all, my health is still evolving.  I am doing SO. MUCH. BETTER.  But there are still questions.  For instance, last week my newest doctor, who practices Integrative Medicine, called with some lab results.  Apparently I have had mono at some time — can’t tell when, but I definitely have had mono.  What? And also, my cortisol levels are low.  What does that mean?  Well, one theory suggests that prolonged periods of stress can lead to abnormal cortisol production — too much or too little cortisol.  Too little cortisol can cause the following: brain fog, fatigue, inflammation…. Yeah.  Let’s not unpack all of that right now because then I would have to admit that all my butt-kicking and name-taking had potentially caused the state of chronic fatigue that I have been in for over two years.  Moving right along.

Second of all, I am learning lots of new ways of being.  My quest for better health has caused me to adopt some new routines — new ways of eating, exercising, relaxing, interacting with others, and being still.  All of this takes time.  Right now, in my recovery, the pay off is worth the time.

And, I am actually using my skill set and gift mix to earn a little cash.  A little.  I am doing some editing for a variety of people, mostly students, which is feeding my need to interact with others in a coaching role.  I feel useful and appreciated.  I have also been approved to be a grader for the Educational Testing Service — reading standardized test writing responses and evaluating test items.  I am waiting on the paperwork for that.  I have also registered for a tutoring service that matches tutors with students.  I am expecting to see a little activity from this in the next couple of weeks as students get into the semester.  All of these things I can do at my leisure, when I am able, not on a schedule.

Further, because I am not working in a full-time capacity, I am much more present for the people who matter most to me — my husband, my kids, my new granddaughter (!!), my extended family, and my friends.  For a very long time, all of these people have received my leftovers.  That is not how I want to spend my life.  I want to be able to answer texts from my kids, go out for coffee with my husband, go to Bible study with my girls, and take a road trip to see a baby if I want to.

Lastly and most significantly, I am moving slowly enough right now that I am noticing God’s work in my life. When I was moving at blinding speed, I didn’t always pay attention to His subtle and not-so-subtle messages to me.  But here’s the thing, when I start my morning in His Word each day, I am always amazed at its relevance.  I wasn’t taking the time for that before.  I was running my life, thank you very much.

So, I’m unemployed on January 5.  I’m not exactly sure what’s next, kids, but I am good with that for now. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am not writing this next chapter. 

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

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