Passions

Last weekend, I injured my back. I did it by… actually, I have no idea. It was fine, then it was a bit not fine, then it was very much not fine, then I was starting to black out from the pain. (That happened over a couple of days, not the 3.7 seconds it took to read the last sentence.)

I am fairly certain – and so are two doctors and a physio – that it was caused by my job. In particular, the repetitive movements I do all day, every day. I will be making some adjustments when I go back to work on Monday but some movements are simply unavoidable if I’m to do my job. So we’ll see how it goes. But in my pain-ridden, prescription-drug-filled state earlier in the week I decided I would have to find another job, because this pain is unbearable. Nothing like clear, rational thinking and decision making when you’re at your best, right? I spend some time scrolling through a job website and decided there are NO jobs available, and I have NO skills and there are ZERO jobs that I can do and by the way I have no interests either and therefore I totally SUCK and I’m useless.

(See previous point about clear thinking.)

Once the drugs had kicked in a bit more, and after I’d seen the Sorcerer (er, I mean physio – who spent 3 minutes, if that, pushing at a spot near my spine and managed to improve my range of motion by about 300% and decrease my pain by a comparable amount… it’s sorcery, I tell you!) I decided that rushing off to find a new job right this instant is probably not the wisest option. But it got me thinking about what I would do if I wanted to change jobs.

I know I could do another admin job. I’m really good at it. I’m also a good editor, and if I put in a bit more effort I could probably get a lot more freelance work. These are my skills. But what are my passions?

That was – is – a much harder question. I think it’s a harder question because I want to neatly align my skills and passions, but I can’t do it. I’m not passionate about admin. I can do it, I’m good at it, and I find it quite enjoyable to bring order to chaos. Passionate about it, however? No. I’m not passionate about admin. I’m barely even enthusiastic. If I’m honest, I don’t even like the word passionate all that much. It implies a certain level of commitment, and suggests that if I am not DOING ALL THE THINGS then I’m not really passionate; I’m more of a slacktivist. However, I can’t come up with a better word right now, so I’ll reluctantly stick with it. And I think these are my passions (at least, they are right now):

I’m passionate about women and girls.
That is, I want to see women safe from emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual and financial abuse. I want women to have access to safe medical care. I want women to be free from sexual coercion and rape (both in relationships and outside them). I want women to have access to education and employment in all areas. I want women to know they have a welcome place in their society regardless of their income, marital status, parenting status, job, looks, size, weight, health or education. I want women to be valued as human beings, not as (only) wives and mothers – which means I want to see unmarried and/or childless women treated the same way as wives and mothers. I want girls to have choices beyond princess culture, a sea of pink and a life of ornamental inactivity. I want to see women truly empowered, not believing the lie that empowerment means stilettos, nude celebrity photo shoots and pole dancing ‘exercise’ classes.

I’m passionate about Health At Every Size.
The website says it best:

Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:
* Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
* Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
* Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

Related to this, I’m also passionate about exposing the truth about dieting (ie, diets don’t work, and about 95% of people will gain back all the weight AND MORE after 5 years) and getting past society’s obsession with food regulation, labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and being thin at all costs. I suspect some of my friends would call me obsessed, not passionate…

I’m passionate about children’s ministry.
This doesn’t mean I want to teach Sunday Club for the rest of my life. Or even at all, just at the moment. It means I want to see children’s ministry taken seriously and treated as important and valuable. I want to see children welcomed in church as believers, not as disciples-in-waiting who have no place in the Christian community until they’re in their late teens. I want to see kids’ ministry given the same weight as ‘big church’ – it’s not a babysitting activity, it shouldn’t be cancelled at a moment’s notice (would you cancel the ‘main’ service if the preacher were sick?) and it is vital to select, train and support your leaders with care and wisdom.

So… those are my passions. Is there a career path there? Yeah, maybe. But maybe not. I think what I’ve learned from this exercise is that I do have things I care about, and I’m already ‘active’ in various small ways. And that’s okay. Perhaps, one day, it would be good to have a job in an area that develops one of my passions. But for now I’m simply happy to have clarified the things that matter to me.

(For the record, I’m also passionate about sci-fi, chocolate, relaxation and caring for my friends. Not necessarily in that order.)

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Reflections

I moved house about six weeks ago, which means for six weeks I have been using a bathroom that doesn’t have a mirror in it. There was a full length mirror tucked away in the back of my wardrobe, so I got it out and attached it to the wardrobe door with about 50,000 sticky mounting squares. It turns out that in a heatwave you need about 70,000 sticky mounting squares and maybe some superglue, otherwise the whole thing will slide off the door at an unexpected moment and bounce on the carpet. Happily, it didn’t break, but it left me without an easily-usable mirror. I have propped it up against the wall for now but in order to see what I’m wearing I need to stand well back, and to see my face I need to hunch over at a weird angle. Kind of like this:

gollumThe upshot of this has been that I haven’t looked in the mirror much lately. Which has been an interesting thing, in that I have found that I haven’t really worried about how I look. I haven’t spent ages on my hair… although to be honest that is nothing new. I saw my hairdresser yesterday and she asked me a question about my blow-drying routine. I said it consisted of turning up the air vents in my car on the way to work. But I also haven’t fussed too much about making sure everything is Just So before I leave the house. I have a quick look and if I look reasonably respectable with nothing out that should be in, then I’m done. It’s been good.

There are mirrors in the bathroom at work, and I do occasionally go in there and think “Oh, so that’s what my hair looks like today”, but I haven’t worried too much. It is what it is (and what it is, is curly and a bit unkempt, and all the fussing in the world won’t change that anyway).

But here’s the interesting thing. Yesterday I bought a bathroom mirror. I like how cheery it looks with the purple walls, and it was only $10, so why not?

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But this morning, I got up and fussed about my hair. I looked at blemishes. I felt depressed about my broken teeth. I peered at my fat face, wishing it were smaller. I found more wrinkles. And then I went into my day feeling fat and ugly and old and wrong.

This was unexpected, to say the least. Now I’m in a bind. I want to keep the mirror, but I don’t want to feel bad every day. Of course, the mirror didn’t cause all of this. It’s not a magic mirror. But having it there threw me back to some unhealthy habits of self-criticism and body hatred. And now I know that, and I can be aware of it. So I guess what I need to do is look in the mirror. Just look. Looking is fine. Listening? Not so much.

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