Tag Archives: attention

a personal rant

I just figured something out. And wow.

So Radical Love Project isn’t filling my time or my life, lately. Well, it kind of is, in that I haven’t stopped with the crazy pursuit of love. But since we moved to Columbus, that path is fuzzy. It’s taking a long time to feel like we have any sort of home at all. Life goes on… Tracy’s found his place, and I’m feeling around for some footing.

I wrote this birthday post for my 45th, and have been feeling like I am ready to step into life in a way that I haven’t known how in the past. But what does that look like?

Hi, I’m Angela, and I’m a compulsive entrepreneur.

I’m a starter of things. I’m one of those people who is always up to something, always has an idea brewing. Which has its joys and its blips, of course. But it’s me.

My freelance writing and editing business has been satisfying, but I’ve been pulling away from it for a while now. The time I spent in ministry in Eugene was a beautiful distraction, and I think if we were still there, I wouldn’t be wondering what’s next. That felt like exactly the right thing to be doing. Or rather, what’s next would have involved some things that were intimately connected with what we were already doing. Which is how I like to flow.

But now we’re uprooted, and I’m wondering. I think I might like to go back to school. I think there are ways in which I like the idea of bringing love to business, believe it or not.

Measuring outcomes

But see, I’ve been on this intense spiritual path (in order to find a way to survive in this life). I’ve given up a lot of things, like clinging to attachment to security, like a sense that I deserve (or don’t deserve) anything, like my conviction that I have no right to exist, that I’m in the way. Another thing I’ve given up is the measuring of outcomes.

I love this post a friend (who does ministry work similar to RLP) wrote about measuring outcomes. It says what I mean perfectly.

And yet, I’ve watched his ministry grow (with difficulty) and seen him struggle with those questions over and over. His days are caught up in things that “have to” get done. He’s got bank accounts and an official 501(c)3 designation. Someone withdrew support recently because he doesn’t preach that God sends people to Hell after they die. (And this is related, because he’s not working to “save souls” in his ministry, but to love people. This means no outcomes in the form of “souls saved” per year.)

The contacts we made in what we came to call the Radical Love Project, on the other hand, were always personal. When I bought food to share, I couldn’t bring myself to separate its cost from our grocery cost. I didn’t want to know how much we were spending per person, per week.

More outcomes measuring I don’t do…

  • Unschooling the kids. They aren’t a means to any end. They’re people, and I want to love them as they blossom. They do state mandated assessments, but we don’t prepare for them or put any attention to them. (I suppose we would if we ever had trouble with them.)
  • Loving my friends who live under a bridge. I don’t ask them to change, but I hang out with them, listen to them, support them when they want to change.
  • Work life. I really reach for doing what I love, and encourage my partner to do the same. Trust that energy flows, and we’ll have what we need. And we do.

And yet, I know that…

Outcomes are life.

The temptation is always there. And by temptation, I mean the realization that we might not have grocery money if someone does what they think is right instead of what will appease the boss. Or that somebody might try to force our kids to go to school if we don’t give them the papers they want. Outcomes like these, or like having a running car, even getting approval from people, are tempting.

But I don’t like measuring outcomes with people. Which brings me to what I’m doing with the (probably) upcoming decades.

Counseling, coaching, ministry.

There are a lot of things I’ve always wanted to be. An architect, an astrophysicist. (Oddly, I never wanted to be a philosopher very badly. Might explain why I walked away from that Philosophy degree with such aplomb.) But my whole life — what I actually am — points to this one thing. (Or three things. Whatever.)

And I can’t seem to do it. I realize this is an oppositional whine, but stuck is where I am, so I might as well give voice to it.

  • Counseling. Where do I start? I want to love people and walk with them through their pain, and help them emerge. So I join a system that requires that I medicalize, that I “apply effective evidence-based treatments” and get them out of therapy as quickly as possible? Did I fall into a different universe where Carl Rogers never existed?
  • Coaching. So, so tired of DIY. Tired of being an entrepreneur. Tired. I so don’t want to hang out a shingle. Don’t want to build a beautiful seo website. Don’t want to sell.
  • Ministry. DIY ministry was lovely. I think my DIY is just broken these days. But other than DIY, ministry is not in reach. Why? Where do I start? Can’t be in a denomination. Zen isn’t enough; Christ is important to me. Yet I can’t really get into Christian mythology. Ministry involves creating a profitable institution, even though that’s not how it’s described. Money in – salary – other costs > 0. If I wanted that, I’d start a business. Aren’t I hard to please? Sheesh.

You know what? I think my opposition centers around one thing. I have this idea that I don’t have to compromise. That I can just embody love. And that things that feel yucky are in the way of that.

I wonder what I want to do with that idea?

Buck up and deal.

No, I don’t want to do that. I spent years trying to do that, and it didn’t work. It created a scared, neurotic young woman, and wasn’t even successful by most any standards. Besides, I really do love this inner compass I was born with, and I want to pay attention to it. If something is revolting, I want to notice that, and not try to plow through the revulsion. And right now, counseling, coaching and ministry are all, in a way, revolting.

I warned you this was a rant. A weird, meandering rant. (Wonder if I will click “publish”?)

Times like this, if I’m lucky, I remember that I have what I need inside myself to figure this out. So… back to the cushion.