How many of you grew up with a workaholic for a parent? How many of you were shown over and over and over again that your stuff, or even family stuff was secondary to the need to excel at work?
It just dawned on me how deeply embedded that belief is in me. Here I've been thinking that because I don't work at a traditional job, and because I don't work at my non traditional work all the time that I couldn't possibly be mistaken for a workaholic...certainly no one would ever label me with that word.
Like everything else, though, being a workaholic starts in the mind. Perfectionism, ambition, drive, passion, dedication...those are all words I've used that kept me from understanding how the early lesson of "work hard, because play is for failures" has shaped the way I think about my purpose, my calling, my family, and how I live my day to day life.
I learned that rest = laziness, unless you've worked yourself to the bone, and now cannot get out of bed for 24 hours.
I learned that letting work go until tomorrow was equivalent to saying no to God's blessings.
I learned that if you have a calling, it should take precedence over every other thing in your life, or even if it's not your calling...work comes first.
Work came before school plays, concerts, birthdays, holidays, and family meals. It came before schoolwork, play, downtime, and it certainly was a higher priority than personal health.
This, among other things, bred an environment of manic stress. It was almost constant.
It also bred a bunch of "hard little workers."
I left my home of origin with a lot to sort out. This work issue, it wasn't so urgent.
I struggled with work, though. I struggled to stay in one job, opting to hop from place to place. Just as they were about to promote me, I'd quit, tell myself I was bored and find something else. Honestly, I was just afraid of getting trapped in what felt like the food/retail management hole. I wanted something different. I wanted to hitch my wagon to a star, but I couldn't reach the stars. I knew I must not be working hard enough.
So I went to work on myself.
The idea that life could flow easily never occurred to me. The idea that the right star would float my way just as soon as I allowed Life to flow through me wasn't even on the register. The idea that all of the pain and trouble would wash its own way out if I were to trust seemed like some quack's flaky "solution" to life's problems. Yeah. Right.
Proactive. That was what I needed to be.
And maybe I did.
Maybe I had to take life by the horns so I could get to a place where I could believe the guiding voice inside without analysis or angst.
Mostly, I think I was just exploring what it feels like to be in control. All the healing, though, happened when I wasn't looking, and in ways I never expected.
As I was healing, my intuition began to take over. Do this, it would say, and when I didn't, I could feel the impact, and when I did....bliss. I began to let go here and there. I began to trust when Life said, "You don't have to be perfect. Take the kids through the drive-thru. It's okay to make yourself comfortable. Don't strain your mind," as much as I trusted directions like, "This woman will guide you through this. You can handle this now. Feed your soul. Go to the woods. Reach out to this person. Start that book. Let go of your old life, leaving everything and everyone that cannot or will not support your new way of being."
Ever so slowly, I have learned to listen, trust, and act in line with my intuition. It never, ever leads me astray.
It is the star I've hitched my wagon to.
Today, it is teaching me, that no matter how important I feel the work is that I'm working on, about a bazillion things are more important than it is. My well-being, tickle time, sunshine, inner peace, my family and home of creation, learning, making space for growth....it goes on and on. I love the work that was laid out before me. It's intense, and it is mine, but it is not all encompassing, and it will happen in its good time.
The real "work" is me, and it is not the work of my childhood. It is not grave, demanding, or worth starving for.
It's the work of nourishment. It is flow and allowance. It's the tending of the Joy Garden. It's the stirring of the Hearth. It's the love of Mama Resource. It's the building of our potential, and it is allowed to be both passive and active. It is Intention and Trust.
It's an ear to listen and a heart to follow.
The rest is not worth being urgent about, because the rest will happen naturally. Your calling, or your Life's work flows naturally from you when you are kindling the Hearth with loving compassion for yourself.
All of those old beliefs seem so flimsy next to these new truths. I'm laying them to rest with profound gratitude...I've come this far with them after all. It's just that, I've found a way that is better for the life I'm creating right now. So, workaholistic-thinking, thank you, and...dissolve in peace.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.