The Serenity Prayer: Some Practical Applications
Yes, it is a Monday. No, I will not be writing the usual Monday Meeting Miracles post. I was unable to chair this morning’s meeting; instead, I attended a funeral. More on that in a moment.
I’m thinking this post may have all the structure and logic of a long overdue phone call with an old friend… at the end of it you will have all the information, but the delivery may be a bit convoluted. It’s been a while since I have written in this blog just for me.
First things first. Actually, I have no idea which to put first… updates on my life, or the reason I am sitting down to write at all? Here’s the quick and dirty synopsis: life is a little bit chaotic right now. I qualify with “a little bit” because I know plenty of people whose lives are perpetually more chaotic than mine, and in fact chaotic is a subjective feeling. For me, chaotic means: the usual rigamarole of winding down spring sports, which overlaps with the start of summer sports. As a matter of fact, this is the first summer both kids have that overlap, so things are trickier than usual. End of the year school stuff, which includes, but is not limited to, half-days and talent shows. Finally, since the rest of the world has this same stuff, there is the family obligations, and fitting in their stuff as well (note to self: Father’s Day is this weekend, need to get on the stick!).
All of this is routine, and I’m pretty sure I
complain write about this stuff every year. But this year two additional things have conspired to add some more chatter to the monkey mind. I alluded to both of these things in a recent post, might as well take time to write out about each in a little more detail:
I. Dental woes
I have been experiencing some serious, and I mean seriously serious, dental issues. Let me sum it up with this story: I crack a tooth a few weeks ago, and it’s towards the front of the mouth, so I am forced to make this issue a priority so as not to look like an extra from the cast of Hee Haw.
I go to the dentist, he takes a look around my mouth, and tells me the issues are more complicated than the cracked tooth, and that he needs to refer me to a specialist. No stranger to dental problems, I ask, “Do you mean an endodontist?” He says, “No, a prosthodontist.” I actually had to go home and look up this word, since I had never heard it before. Looking it up did little to reassure me, by the way, as they seem to specialize in replacing teeth, and I was obviously hoping to save this one.
Turns out, in my case anyway, going to the prosthodontist was the right call. The regular dentist said no way was the tooth going to be saved, but the prosthodontist did exactly that.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, and I can already see I’m rambling too much. The point of this whole story is that the entire situation is stressful. For obvious reasons… who the heck enjoys cracking a tooth and needing to go to multiple dentists? But as a person in recovery, the prospect of anxiety-producing and painful dental procedures are an extra source of concern. Finally, the unknown cost of these “complicated dental issues” adds an extra layer of fear into the mix.
II. Job Search
I can’t remember if I’ve written about this or not. Again, trying to make a long story short, I have been looking for a job, and preparing myself mentally for the transition from being a stay at home mom for the past 16 years to being a working mom. A job has presented itself, and the process has been a long and deadly slow one. I submitted my resume in early February, for Pete’s sake! Here’s the good news: 130 resumes were submitted for this job, and I was one of 9 interviewed.
Here’s the not-as-good news: that was two weeks ago, and I’ve heard not a peep since.
Then again, it’s been a slow process thus far, so maybe it’s just continuing to go slow.
Time will obviously tell. In the meantime, I doubt I have to write out the ways this process has been a stressful one. It can and should have a post of its own, and, depending on the outcome of the process, it likely will.
That’s the long and short of what’s been going on with me. None of which explains the title of the post, does it?
Yesterday I was speaking to my husband of a workplace challenge he is experiencing. Not being a part of a workplace (yet, she says with her fingers crossed), I did not want to take a stab at having the answer, nor did I want to pooh-pooh the issue by giving some trite “You’ve got this!” cheer. So I tell him what always works for me when I am faced with a complicated issue, and that is the serenity prayer.
Hopefully this advice helps him. More to the point of this particular post, it sure as hell helped me!
When was the last time I actually used the serenity prayer in my own life? The fact that I can’t answer that question tells me all I need to know about my current level of serenity. The trouble is, the loss of serenity is an erosion process… it starts small, with the occasional worry over the pace of the job selection process, but it gradually bleeds into every aspect of your life.
I worry about fixing my tooth, I worry about the upcoming dental bills, I worry if I get the job, I worry if I don’t get the job. Pretty soon I’m worrying about things that have nothing to do with either. Before I know it I’m thinking in patterns that I describe as Old Josie Thinking: making everything about me, projecting my thoughts and feelings onto others, assuming I know better than everyone.
And that, my friends, is a slippery slope.
So the timing of this advice could not be better, which is the way things go, for the most part.
I had time to flesh this out on the way to the funeral this morning. I was attending a service for the father of a friend and former co-worker. I have not seen this friend in years, but thanks to the magic that is social media, I was alerted to the death, and felt compelled to attend. During the drive, I became aware of nervous feelings, and I attempted to talk them out with myself. Turns out, I was worried about issues that are decades old, and could not have been more preposterous.
It was at that moment the light bulb went on that illuminated Old Josie Thinking, and I flashed back to the conversation from yesterday about The Serenity Prayer. So here’s the practical application:
Accepting things I cannot change: things that happened close to 20 years ago certainly fall into this category, as do the thoughts and feelings of others (what other people think is none of my business)
Courage to change things I can: paying my respects to a person who was an incredibly important part of my life, especially after so long an absence, takes courage
Wisdom to know the difference: paying attention to my own advice (for once) is wise
So as not to make this already long post even longer, I can apply this prayer to both the dental issues and the job process as well (and both lean heavily in the accepting-that-which-I-cannot-change direction).
Whew! When’s the last time I wrote this much? There you have it… the life and times of me. I will keep everyone up to date on the job process. Either way, I will have a lot to process!
I’m going to have to go with taking the time to write out this post!
Adding a second miracle: just got back from the talent show of my 7th grade son, who forbade me from attending (I compromised by sitting in the back where he hopefully did not see me). Turns out, his act was a group of his friends flanking a special needs student and singing “You are My Sunshine” I am sooooooooooooooooooooooo glad I did not listen to his order that I am banned, and now I wish I had thought to videotape!