Archive for permission

The Same Old Question

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

Why don’t I make more money?

I ask myself this question every couple of years, and I always come up with the same reasonable answers:

  • My field, non-profit live theatre, doesn’t pay well financially. The personal rewards of doing good work in this field are huge, but there’s no money in it.
  • My family means a lot to me. Choosing to homeschool my daughter and live close to my mother has curtailed the time I can afford to spend at a high-paying job.
  • My husband has a good job, so my family isn’t suffering. In fact, I work hard to run a frugal household, so that we can live comfortably and save for retirement. I enjoy the challenge.

Those three answers are so strong, they ought to put an end to the question. But somehow, like a bad penny, it keeps turning up.

Why don’t I make more money?

I’ve decided to risk changing the question, rewording it in order to rethink it.  So here goes:

  • Do I really want to make more money?
  • What, specifically, would I do with a higher income?
  • How much more money would I like to make?
  • How could I make that amount?
  • Am I willing to make the sacrifices and get the training I might need to make that amount?
  • Do I give myself permission to start finding the answers to these questions?

I think you can guess that I’ve already given myself permission to start finding answers. I have a long way to go. But I’ve given myself one concrete, though completely arbitrary, answer to guide me, at least for the time being. I’ve decided that I would love to make $40,000 a year for at least five years. After that, who knows?

I don’t know where this search for answers will lead. But just reframing the question has opened my mind. There was implied self-loathing in the first question: why don’t I, the stupid, flighty, creative type, make more money? Why am I dependent on my husband’s salary?  Why have I squandered my intelligence and education in a low-paying career?  What’s wrong with me??

That line of questioning was getting me nowhere fast. I’m risking new questions, seeking new answers, and keeping a firm handle on my self-respect.

I won’t ask that same old question again.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. You can now read about her life and insights at her own blog here.

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog, a project, which has now concluded.

Dropping the Ball

By Guest Blogger, Carolyn Cook.

OMG, I forgot to blog on my assigned day.

I know in advance that I am forgiven, so I’m not even going to pretend to obsess about this.  I know that you understand how it feels when you drop the ball. Right now, my life is a like game of catch. Most days, the ball is winding up in my glove. But on days like today, I’m not only dropping it, I’m watching it roll down the street and into the storm drain. Goodbye, ball.

I can’t even think about taking an intentional risk today. Risk is built into the structure of my life.  I am taking risks every day, because of the choices I’ve already made:

I have chosen to homeschool my child.

I have chosen to move my mother, who has dementia, to an assisted living facility that is five minutes from my home, and to be actively involved in her care.

I have chosen a career in the arts, which means I make very little money for a very large commitment of time, energy, and emotion.

There are new risks I want to take, and I’m looking forward to the time when life feels safe and boring again so that I can shake things up with an exciting new venture. But now is the time to hunker down and deal with the risky choices I’ve already made.

My next blog date is my fiftieth birthday. If there’s any risk I need to take at this stage of my life, it may be the risk of slowing down, dropping more balls, and letting them roll away. I simply want to love my husband, my mother, my daughter and my siblings. I want to be grateful for this amazing life we have with each other before it slips away.

If there’s any risk I need to take right now, it’s the risk of admitting that I am not in charge. Life is too big for me to hold in my glove. I’m part of a team, and it’s okay to let other people catch the ball sometimes. That’s how the game is played.

This post originally appeared True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to a raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She is now posting her insightful thoughts on her own blog here.

Getting Up Early v. Being Up Early

The former, I hate. The latter, I love!

How can I be so adamantly sure?

Because five out of the last seven days, I have gotten up between 2:30 and 3:30 in the morning. In the past, even the mere thought of doing this would send me into fits of laughter and/or tears. But what started as a difficult necessity – taking care of an old dog who can’t “hold” it through the night – has become a sheer pleasure.

Now don’t get me wrong. As I said, I hate getting up and always have. In fact, as I write this, I’m thinking that when my mother reads it, she’ll probably not believe me or she’ll think I have been taken over by aliens. I’ve never been easy to coax out of bed. Leaving the layers of the warm, cozy covers and turning on the light, always too bright in the dark, can be a stark and cruel way to wake up.

But being up? That’s a different story.

Right now, as I sit in my sun room with, ironically, the darkness of the morning’s wee hours all around me, the only lights my lamp and laptop, I am relishing the experience. There’s a sense of time standing still, as though I have all the time in the world, and I feel a freedom and a permission to do whatever I want. There’s an often unfamiliar focus I feel, allowing me to be “all in” while doing whatever I want to do, and without the distractions that inevitably come when working during the day. There’s also a nearly tangible peace that comes from simply sitting here, hearing the crickets and the occasional night birds “doing their thing,” being themselves out loud, encouraging me to do the same. And it feels as though they are the my bridge, connecting me with the whole wide world. Sweet.

Who would’ve thunk it?

As a coach, it’s common for me to work with my clients on their perspectives. I know that changing the way we view something and choosing the meaning we give it, can completely transform our experience of it. And this brings me to a question – a coaching question – for myself.

What if I chose to have the same perspectives during the day as I do here in the middle of the night? Perspectives such as:

  • There is enough time for me to do everything I want to do;
  • I have permission to do anything I want to do;
  • I can focus, and being “all in” helps me do that;
  • I can set boundaries that keep me from being distracted; and
  • I can choose to be aware of the peace that comes from “doing my thing,” thus contributing to the rich and complex tapestry that is our world.

Yes. Viewing my day through any one of these lenses could change quite a lot. But working with all of them could transform my world!

My Sweet Old Man, Dogberry

My Sweet Old Man, Dogberry

So, as difficult as it is for me to get up, whether for Dogberry (pictured here) or for me, I will continue to do it, even if just a few times a week, so that I can have the opportunity to be up.

And I’ll begin right away working those perspective into my daily life… as soon as the sun rises.

PS What about you, my lovely? How could you see your day differently and change your / our world?