Guilt got in the way of my Now

Back in 2008, I quit teaching.  It was a career I had loved for 19, 20 years, one I had poured my heart and soul into.

But I gradually found myself losing my passion, feeling that teaching was more “work” than “love.”  I had promised myself that if I found myself getting bitter, poisoning the environment around me as I’d seen others do as they hung on to make it to the required 30 years for retirement – and if I had the financial option – I would quit.

I’d quit when I felt the bitterness seeping in.

And so I did.  I quit teaching after 23 years in the classroom.

I took what I called my “Jubilee Year” when I did what spoke to me.  I took a couple of Western Excursions, I joined community groups, I helped a former student (and current friend) make a movie, I went on retreat.

I had a ball.

And as that Jubilee Year ended,  I felt guilty that I wasn’t working, that I wasn’t being a productive member of society.

Where did I get that idea, the one that I had to be working and producing income to be “worthy”??  I have struggled with that guilt for the past five or more years.

Who am I and what is my value if I don’t have an income-producing job?

The guilt was a nagging undercurrent from the end of my Jubilee Year through my breast cancer journey and through my recovery time.  When would I get a job and be “valuable” again? Was I just a slacker, somebody too lazy for our society, somebody who was not a worthwhile person?

I had beautiful experiences, got to spend time with people I loved in wonderful places both here at home and in my travels.  I had the time to recover from cancer.

But still my lack of a job – and material, measurable output – worried me over and over, a current running under everything I did.

And then I had a breakthrough.

I realized that I had wasted so much time worrying about not having worth that I missed being in the moment, that I missed enjoying the beauty of the Now that was.

I wasn’t truly present because of my guilt.  I missed the joys of what was right in front of me at each instant.

I realized that my whole perspective was stupid!  What a lack of wisdom and insight . . . and trust.

I realized ONCE AGAIN that I’m not in control.  That I’m blessed in innumerable ways.  That I’ve had a financial situation that has let me not work and still not be in debt.  That when the time is right, I’ll be back on the income-producing track, but that track doesn’t make me a more valuable human being than the one who didn’t have a job.  That I can be out in the world seeking – and that what I need will come to me when I need it.

That if I trust and act and let go, that’s enough.

IMG_5822And that I can let myself appreciate what I do have in each moment.  The health to take a walk and enjoy the blooming spring flowers. The once-stray cat who adopted me and who finally rolled over on her back to let me scratch her belly.  The freedom to take a trip to Savannah and revel in the live oaks and azaleas and Spanish moss and the ships on the Savannah River.  Time to start a new television series and binge watch on some days.  Time to have long lunches with friends.  Time to take a nap when I’m tired.  Time to stay up late and sleep in sometimes.  Free time with no obligations, no rushing around, no must-do list.

So many, many gifts.  Ones I didn’t fully appreciate because of the lingering guilt I felt.

Until just recently.

And then I finally gave myself permission to enjoy the Now, to forgive myself for being too ignorant to let go of guilt about working, about being valuable, about contributing to society through a job.

Finally to let myself be blessed each day, each moment, each Now.

Guilt-free.

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The nudge I needed to write this post.

The nudge I needed to write this post.

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8 thoughts on “Guilt got in the way of my Now

  1. I feel that if you are “living” and touching others in any kind of positive way, you are earning your keep on this earth. You have done and still do.

  2. Krista, you have said it so well! Love you, and value so much your taking the time to share your journey and your truth. You are awesome!!

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