Manifesting something much better

This pin acknowledges my time as a public servant in the Air Force, as a NOAA weather forecaster, and as a Decision Review Officer with VA. I am proud to have been able to give so much to my country.

While texting a friend last night about his career as a musician, he said he has been overcoming challenges and right now is focused on manifesting something much better.

This morning I got the email reminder that my Leave and Earnings statement from my federal government job is now available for review on the .mil website. It’s the one I’ve been worried about, and it took me a while to open up the website and take a look. With relief, I see that it was the best I could have hoped for, which is 73% of what I usually receive. It means that I was credited every last hour of vacation leave and sick leave I had left. Until now, I wasn’t sure if there were any wonky rules that would end up restricting use of some of those hours. But yes, I was paid for it all.

While Human Resources helps me through the paperwork, I am now in Leave Without Pay status. It makes me anxious. Today I received my last paycheck from VA. I’ve been questioning myself over and over and over: what the heck am I doing? Trulove, are you crazy?!

My job at Department of Veterans Affairs is stressful, and I may have expressed it now and then over the ten years I have been blogging. They do not manage people well, and it is hard on employees. The government takes forever to fix a problem, and that is only after they’ve taken forever to even admit there is a problem. VA has not yet realized, as an agency, that it doesn’t manage people well. Clearly the fix is not going to happen soon enough for me.

With the new White House Administration, the screws have been tightened more than ever before, and our managers are being squashed under unrealistic demands and expectations. It trickles down even though many managers try to shield us.

On a personal level, I have been struggling more than usual. I have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to multiple sexual traumas in the military. Since my job requires reading medical records of veterans so that I can make decisions about benefits, I’m reminded often of my own trauma. There is a case on my desk with someone who has PTSD every single day. It’s that common.

October 2017 sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein exploded into the #metoo and #timesup movements. I wrote, at that time, about how I can feel this kind of news story in a physical way. A jab in the stomach every time I hear the news. It has literally been in the news every single day for a year.

Beginning October 2017 my performance at work began to decline, and it just got worse. My managers had to get creative to protect me from getting fired due to my mistakes. A month ago, I hit a wall and could not go back. The combination of everything spent my resources and I couldn’t get out of bed. I have not gone back to the office. That explains why I used up every last hour of paid time off.

So here I am.

FYI, I can afford this for right now. I have talked with my financial advisor, and it’s ok for awhile. Tara can stay in college. I can make plans without time pressure. It’s a relief.

And I’m doing better. I’ve been sleeping through the night, which I think is the same as medication. I’m painting much more. I’ve had time to visit friends. I’m working on my photobook for my trip to Myanmar. These are the things that fill the fuel tank rather than drain it.

The surge of anxiety this morning with the notice that I just received my last paycheck was the most anxiety I’ve felt for a couple weeks. It feels normal to get anxious now and then over some scary news, instead of anxious every day.

A few hours ago I sat at my computer, carefully updating my financial spreadsheets, and worrying about future unknown expenses. The words from my musician friend came back to me and I realized he had given me the emotional boost I needed today. As scary as change is, I am doing a good thing. I am manifesting something much better, though I don’t yet know what that is.

27 thoughts on “Manifesting something much better

  1. You’re ever an inspiration, Crystal. I hope maybe we can do good things together, if it suits you. If not, I’ll support whatever you wish to try.

    1. Do you mean an art collaboration? That would be amazing!! And of course, yes, we still have an outstanding date to meet up and catch up. Tell me when you’re free! Your schedule is way more packed than mine.

  2. PTSD can be a very hard thing to live with. I have it myself for a number of reasons including sexual abuse and having had death and near-death experiences a few times (including a couple of weeks ago); the freedom not to have to deal with other people’s similar issues is very important in getting better, since then you can focus on everything else in the world that is NOT that, and it makes much more spaciousness in your world for good to exist. Good for you for doing what seems necessary to be well. It contributes to your greater well-being, which is so important, and also your greater ability to help all. Best wishes with it.

    1. Oh Donnalee I am so sorry to hear you have suffered traumas. You are brave to talk about it online on my blog, and thank you for the honor of sharing my experience publicly with me. You clearly have a lot of love to give.

      I think you are right that this will open up more space in my life to fill with the delights of living. When left alone to my own devices, I always pop back up to the surface of the water like a bobbin. I can’t help but find joy and see beauty if there is an opportunity for it.

      1. I am glad that you are giving yourself the space to have options that feel healthy and good to you. It must be difficult to have to change and give up a job that has helped define you and/or your life in many ways, but it sounds like this transition is the wise and healthy thing to do. Best wishes for it being easy and beneficial–

  3. thanks for sharing your story – I have followed your blog for a while but did not know your story.
    Your health is wealth and you could be saving your life – so keep reminded yourself of that.
    I know three people who work for this organization and they also note the flaws.

    Good things are in store for you – because you are right – sleep is medicine and so is the daily relief of not having the anxiety caused from working there.
    Life is too short and you took the less safe path – but it will pay off.
    I call this the Henry David Thoreau choice – He’d be proud of you

    1. Thank you so much for this supportive comment and for validating my hopes that I’m doing the right thing. I’ll find a new occupation and get all my power and joy back. 🙂

      Thanks also for following my blog. I think you have commented before, and I appreciate it.

      Thoreau was being all activist, and I don’t really relate to that in my particular case, but I understand what you’re saying about having the courage to go against what everyone else is doing/the safe route. I’m coming more from the John Burroughs position: “Leap, and the net will appear.” I’m sort of just squeezing my eyes tight and jumping! It’s scary, but taking the less safe path, as you note, nearly always pays off in bigger ways than I expected. I’ve lived long enough to just trust the process because it works, though I still don’t know why!

      1. well yeah, thoreau was activits – but I never think of him in that way (and I should)
        but I think of when he did not have enough money for the train and said he’d walk and then they’d compare the journey later with those in the rat race who bought the train ride and what cost it had on them for the rat race choice.
        something like that.

        and we just buried a 47 year old lady (more of an acquaintance) and well – life is friggin way to short to play it safe because we do not know when our last day arrives.
        I’d even take a small house or giving up stuff to stay fully alive (and I have practiced what I preach on that).
        and you know, a neighbor left a very sweet job – she told me about it a few months ag.
        I was floored.
        She said something about “what the job was doing to her”
        and Crystal, I sometimes envied her high salary. Not total envy because I chose to put my career on hold to stay home with my kids (I did work part time on and off – but sometimes envied her secure job and tight pay) and standing there, listening to her, I felt humbled and grateful – and also cheered her on because she gave up a lot to walk away from it.
        she felt trapped and in her case, her hair was thinning and other immune system issues –
        she now works part-time and I think they took no family trips in 2018 – but screw the trips – the kids will have a momma now and in the long run

  4. I’ve seen it happen over and over. Even to my first husband when he lost his job or was afraid to give up one that didn’t feed us. Each time he let go, something better came in it’s place. The Universe has your back. I know that. Watch for synchronicity. It’s everywhere. You were wise and brave. A safer door will open.

    1. Yes, yes! Being too scared to stop what you’re doing and start over is opportunity lost. I agree with what you said completely. I was stubborn this time and held on too long, and my poor body was forced to shut down on me. But yay for smart bodies that tell us what we need to know! I have a co-worker who told me he recently went through a very tough period and he is in a completely different place in life: with a young family to provide for. I am so grateful that I have the luxury of making this “choice.” (It really wasn’t a choice)

    1. Derrick, can you believe I specifically worried about you when I posted because I knew you would be sad about the news? Well, it’s good to be sad about the yucky stuff in the past, but now you will be glad because when I feel good I write well! You always get a charge out of my writing when I’m feeling confident and my real voice comes through. I expect that soon my Crystal voice will come back to the blog.

      Also, won’t it be an adventure to find out what happens next? I am so excited.

  5. Wow, Crystal, I am ever so sorry. It has to be incredibly tough. Here’s hoping that you weather this storm and come out better off. It seems to me that you made the only decision you could. –Curt

  6. I’m very sorry to hear how tough times have been lately but I’m glad that you’ve turned a corner. I will pray for you.
    I think you knew me (virtually through my blog) before I found my way home to Christ. It makes me sad to see my friends fighting through life without Him. I hope one day that you will be able to be like the lost sheep raised onto His shoulders with joy.
    One of my patrons is St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Have you heard of her?

    1. Sarah, what a kind message. Thank you so much for your love and for giving me what I know to be the greatest gift you can give – love and a message of encouragement to faith. I briefly looked up St. Kateri Tekakwitha, because I had not heard of her. What a delight to find an American Indian Saint! It is wonderful to hear about her, thank you.

      I was raised with a lot of religion. My mother had a quest to find her proper church, and as her child, I was immersed each time she tried a new one. Christian Scientist, Mormon, Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonite…to name only a few. By the time I was a teenager I had a unique perspective, and saw these religions as only the creations of humans, most of the real spirituality being lost while people judged each other for not wearing the right religious clothes or not eating the right religious food.

      I questioned it all further and came to the conclusion, at age 30, that I couldn’t believe any of it. Raised that any rejection of Christ was a sin, I became a dedicated atheist. It was a hard choice but I just couldn’t buy it anymore. My childhood experience is that believing in God means guilt, pain, judgement, and misery. I do not recall any joy or light being a result of faith. When we had fun it was when we intentionally rejected what faith taught us to do. I know it’s different for all people, but that is my experience, and I am shaped by it. I have known more love, more generosity, more humility, and more joy when I finally gave up God for good. I am satisfied with my choice and I will stick with it.

      Many of my family and some of my dearest friends are deeply faithful, and I admire it in them. Some people do it right, and you are one of those. I have seen the way you live your life – as much as I can in your blog – and I can see that your path is humility rather than judgement, and joy rather than guilt. I want to keep your kind of faithful in my life, because I know there are things I can learn from you. Thank you for your love. I hope that I can earn a place of respect from you, even though I choose a different path.

      1. Thanks for giving me a glimpse into your religious background, Crystal. You’ve helped me see where you’re at and why. Your mother shopped around a lot! She, like you, obviously had difficulty finding authentic Christianity. Those denominations you mentioned were all indeed “only the creation of humans”. The church founded by Christ, the Catholic Church, has always been more or less imperfect in Her human element. (Few people make it to sainthood on earth, and quite a lot, even the occasional Pope, have been downright bad.) This drives people to try to reform the Church or remake Her and so new churches spring up. The real answer has always been to see past the sins and imperfections of the Catholic laity and clergy to the perfection and goodness of the Church proper.

        Anyway, I can see that you’re quite resolved to be done with churches for now so I will say no more. I wasn’t baptised for nearly 5 decades so I feel like I have a little insight into your position. Obviously, I hope some day that you change your mind but I won’t be trying to force the issue. Instead, I’ll keep praying for you.

        All the best with your more recent decision. I’m glad that you got the finances you needed to give it a shot. Life on low income can be hard but it also makes life more simple, and helps to clarify priorities. (I speak from experience.) Your new lifestyle sounds much more healthy for you. I haven’t caught up with your latest posts yet but what I have read seems full of joy and love. I look forward to reading more. Btw, I’ve prayed to St. Kateri to ask if she will walk with you a while.

      2. Thank you my friend. You are an authentic soul and that’s what I like most about you. Well, that, and your artistry! 😉 Thank you for recognizing that I have made my choice. I can see that you listened to my words and that means a lot to me. Consider that telling an atheist “I’ll pray for you,” is not a kind thing to say. Of course you’ll pray, it’s your choice. But to hear me say that I chose carefully and intelligently this path in order to be the best human I can be, and your response is somewhat like, “There, there, poor ignorant person. I know what’s best for you, and you do not,” well, that’s insulting. While I make a great effort to respect your faith, I hope that you can make a great effort to respect my faith. I am joyful to know that when I die, I might have the opportunity to rot and feed worms. The study of the scientific beginnings of life is delight and excitement to me! The idea that humans can rely on ourselves and pull ourselves to the heights to which we aspire gives me unending hope! My position is a wonderful place to stand, and it’s puzzling when a person of faith feels sad for me. For me? I have such an incredible life of love and pain and loss and accomplishment! Be happy for me, and maybe trust that I made a wise choice; for me.

  7. Thanks for the further insight. I found my time as an atheist mostly hard and often bleak. It was wrong of me to assume that you have a similar experience. And I’m sorry I insulted you. I’m always putting my foot in things. I’m sorry that it was you on the receiving end this time. You are a wonderful person. I will try to learn from this mistake. Thank you for pointing it out to me; people might not like being told they have spinach in their teeth but it’s worse to find out you spent all day like that and nobody could be bothered to tell you!

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