I hate this question. I mean, I truly loathe this question. First, I hate that our entire society pins the definition of our identities on this question – on something as banal as a job. And for most people, that’s all that the answer is – a job. An occupation. They do what they do to put money in the bank to keep food on the table and roof over head. Yet, the question itself implies this vast importance attached to some 40-60 odd hours a week of our lives (if we’re lucky enough to have a decent job, that is).
The answer to this question is so complicated for me that it has become uncomfortable to answer. What’s worse is that for years, I interpreted this discomfort for shame. I would begin to feel anxiety anytime I’d be about to meet new people, because inevitably the question would quickly arise. I became very adept at evading this question, mostly because I really suck at just plain lying.
When I actually dig in and examine myself, I don’t feel shame in the answer. I’m happy to be able to do the work that I do. It’s simply a matter that no singular title actually conveys my work effectively.
Psychic Medium is probably the most common answer given (at least when my friends describe what I do), but it lacks the components of creativity, connection, and frankly the term has become almost clinical. My work is much more intimately tied to my spirituality and my art than what people assume.
Yoga teacher is one that I throw out there when I just don’t want to deal with too many questions, but that falls so short of the actual scope of what I actual ‘do’, that it’s almost laughable. Yes, I teach yoga, but that’s not what my day looks like.
Artist makes my skin crawl, but that’s a total insecurity space that I battle. I also hate actually discussing art with people, since my ‘technique’ is mostly “I wonder what will happen if I ____”.
Ministering or priesting is somewhat accurate (accept for the part that I’m not really attached to any church), but then the assumption becomes that I’m a Christian minister. People also have no idea what ministers actually do – they just think they write a nice speech and show up to church once a week to give it. They don’t see ALL of the work that goes on behind the scenes, which is the work that I actually do. Ministerial counselling, organization and leadership, volunteerism, research, not to mention the immense amounts of keeping your own spiritual practice in a good place…..that takes a LOT of work.
None of these terms are a catch all for me, but they are all hats that I wear in the broader stroke of what I do. Nobody sees the full scope. I live with my best friend, and we spend a great deal of time together (as in we not only hang out, but we also volunteer at the same place, work together a lot, etc.) For all that she sees of me, she still doesn’t really see everything that goes into my ‘professional’ life. She glimpses maybe half of my world. I believe that to be a true sentiment for most people though. No matter how well you know a person, or how much time you spend together, you never really, fully know.
It’s also hard to draw a firm line between what is part of my ‘professional’ life and what isn’t, because there’s a lot that I consider part of my profession that I’m not financially compensated for. But sometimes these are the parts of my career that are the most important to me. That said, I still have to keep the bills paid and edible food on the table, so begins the great balancing act of life.
There’s also no such thing as a typical day. One thing is for sure though, my day is almost always filled to the point of overflowing. I try to make time for myself, but this rarely seems to hold the space given on my calendar, and I’m working on that but I also have no regrets. I’m always happy to be of service (and if I’m not, I will generally say so).
A fictional account of a ‘typical’ day may involve waking up and sitting in my own spiritual and yoga practice (this is an ideal – sometimes these don’t get worked in until later). Then I may begin with one of my various projects, where I’ll get maybe 10-20 minutes of work done before the first call or message comes in. These may be about a personal or spiritual crisis, and I determine what is going to be the best course of action for the person. (95% of the time, it’s not me – it’s not a reading or healing that I do that’s the type of work that they need primarily, so I refer them to people I may know, such as lawyers, therapists, massage therapists, etc.) Sometimes, what they need is a listening ear or a friend. Sometimes what they need is someone to just tell them they aren’t crazy.
My day gets highjacked a lot. I think I’ll be doing one thing, and it turns into another. For instance, on the rare occasion I may work a purely social call into my calendar, it frequently becomes one of those moments where someone shares something they’ve never been able to share with anyone else. So we cry together. I hold space. I let it become something sacred for them, and that takes time and patience. More often though, I’ve never bothered putting the social event into the calendar.
I may go into the office where I volunteer to help with (usually) the paperwork end of a non-profit that helps ex-offenders after they’ve gotten out of prison. I may go into the studio where I teach yoga. I may just be going to the store to run some errands. In the midst of all of this, I’m approached with questions to help people process their own spiritual journeys. I’m approached with stories about hate crimes and violence. I’m frequently approached as the first person someone has ever told about being sexually assaulted. So I hold space. I make the conversation sacred for these people, most of whom are strangers who have no idea who I am or why they feel compelled to talk to me.
In the middle of all of this madness, I schedule in time to make appointments for readings and healing sessions. I fight to carve out time for my art, though admittedly that time frequently never comes, or doesn’t come until the wee hours when I should be sleeping instead. I struggle to maintain a disciplined routine of a set schedule, so that I know that the hours of x to y are for my personal spiritual and yogic practice, and that y to z are for creative expression…… Then necessity rears it’s head, and I bend and my practice slips into the spaces where it will fit. My creative endeavors take a backseat to that which the Lady Ananke presents before me, as I curse at her consort Chronos for not being enough.
There is no part of this that I don’t consider a part of my ‘career’, or the better word for it I suppose would be my ‘calling’ (which I choose to make my career). It’s all part of that same greater overarching vision that I choose to paint into the world – one interaction, one reading, one piece of art – at a time. So, how can I answer such a question? What answer would lead the asker to see the value in what I do? And furthermore, why do I need them to find value in what I do?