I am “mourning the loss” of my vocation. In August 2015, when I went on a weekend retreat with the Carmelite sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, I was told that I would not be accepted to their order, and that I have a “gift” for working with families and “helping them heal”. I was also told that I should consider a vocation to matrimony because “you’re full of life”. Which of course my sarcasm picked up on, later. I felt completely called to their order, made peace with the little things I disliked. I was in; so I thought.

Once I was denied entrance I did not have the chance to process the loss or to even consider what would be next for me. I had the financial concerns of not high enough income to meet my basic needs, leading to several job interviews, low-balled salary offers, and my employer giving me a raise 6 months after the fact. In short, financially, I had been living 10% below COLA. Which doesn’t sound like much until I compared my $47k (pre-tax) salary with my $51, 172 annual costs. These costs were not based off of going out every week, clubbing, none of that: oil changes, rent, LADWP, car insurance and loan, student loans, and health bills all added up to more that I could earn in a single year.

Last year’s ordeal ended with a raise just before the holidays, but not before I had learned to can jams and jellies for family and friends for Christmas – taking 10$ for food and $10 for supplies. My sister and her then-fiancé gifted my parents great things, I, jam. Beautiful Cran-raspberry jam. Anyone who returned the jars over time has gotten new jellies and jams: blueberry-Lemonade, watermelon, raspberry.

Fast forward to December 2016, I have my license, making me an LCSW. I hope to move at the end of my lease to a different area and cleaner, more spacious apartment. I will begin looking for new work. As usual, I’m making quilts and playing with my 2 hamsters in the evenings.  This fall I made apple-pomegranate jam. I enjoy it for giving treats, but not as a solitary Christmas gift which I was forced into last year.

Have a blessed Advent.

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