When I started this blog, I promised myself, and you, my readers, that I would be honest about my journey. I promised I would share the good and the bad, the ups and downs, the highs and lows, because that's what a spiritual journey is all about: the roller coaster ride between the times when everything is going well (and sometimes even better than expected), and faith and trust are high, and the times when everything is shot to hell and we're in the pits of despair and can't seem to find the tunnel, let alone the light at the end of the tunnel, and we're doubting everything, ourselves and God included.
These last eight months since I've moved to Nashville have been tough. I don't know what I expected when I made the move, but I didn't expect that it would be this challenging. I didn't expect that at this point in my journey I would be contemplating leaving it all behind and taking on a 'normal' nine to five job like most of the people around me.
Yep, that's my dirty little secret. I've been thinking about quitting. I've been doubting myself, my gifts, my Divine connection and purpose. I've been questioning it all. The thought has even come to me that maybe I'm a fake, a fraud, maybe I've only been imagining that the work I've been doing has been of benefit to others. Maybe somehow I've pulled the wool over every one's eyes, including my own, and the reality is, it's time to face the truth and get a 'real' job!
Am I scared of moving forward? Well, given the nature of my thoughts, I'd have to answer that with a giant "YES!" Although I've taken leaps of faith in the past with very positive results, this time the size of the leap seems larger, and my faith seems too small to get me through.
So maybe that's why this morning, even though I was in the middle of my spiritual practice, I answered the phone when it rang and God gave me a reason to remember another big leap of faith I took and how it all worked out.
The call was from a fellow Reiki master who was asking me how I decided to start taking an 'offering from the heart' as payment for my Reiki sessions rather than charging a set fee. In answer to his question, I told him "The Sock Story," as I call it.
At the end of 2006, I decided to raise my rate for an individual Reiki session from $100 to $125. All the various holistic practitioners I was using for my own healing were raising their rates, and since I hadn't raised my own since 2004, it seemed like the right thing to do.
I sent out an email letting everyone know that beginning in January 2007, my rate would go up to $125. I also said that if folks wanted to buy gift certificates at the current rate of $100, I would honor those after the rate increase, so they could save a little money.
January first came and I put the new rates into effect. At the end of January, I had to have some minor surgery on my foot, and during the long weekend off, I was doing a more lengthy spiritual practice when I heard that little voice in my head, my God voice, say, "You know, you went the wrong way with that fee increase."
"What do you mean?" I asked. It repeated, "You went the wrong way." and then added, "The people who need you most can't afford that fee." "But you know I always make allowances." I responded. "But the people who really need you are too proud to let you know they can't afford you. They simply won't call. You need to start charging 'an offering from the heart.'" it replied.
"What does that mean?" I asked, my heart nearly beating out of my chest. "It means that at the end of the session, you ask them to sit quietly, place their focus on their hearts, and ask God what they should offer for what they received."
I began to argue, "I can't do that. I'm already draining my retirement fund to keep things going as it is. If I do this, I won't make enough to pay my bills. People won't give me enough. They don't recognize the value. They won't listen, or they'll say they don't hear anything."
And I heard, "If you do this for me, I'll take care of you." "What does that mean?" I asked. "Well, for one thing, you won't have to pay for advertising anymore! (God does have a sense of humor!) Once people find out what you're doing, they'll spread the word and everyone will want to come."
This is crazy, I thought, but how do you argue with God? So I said, "Okay, I'll start it on Valentine's Day." (Pretty appropriate, don't you think, asking for 'an offering from the heart' on Valentine's Day? I thought so, and besides that, it gave me two weeks to get used to the idea, or talk myself out of it!) But The Voice said, "No, you'll start it on Tuesday when you go back to the office."
I drove myself crazy all weekend thinking about that conversation and what was going to happen, part of me wondering if I'd imagined it, but then realizing there was no way in the world I would tell myself to do something like that. It had to be real. And if I believed it was real, how could I say no to God?
So Tuesday morning I went into the office and was just finishing up the email to let my clients know about the change, when my first client showed up at the door. As I was heading to the door to let her in, I was telling myself that since the email hadn't yet gone out, I was still going to charge her the $125. No sooner did I think the thought, when I heard The Voice say, "No, you'll make it an offering from the heart."
My client was the CFO (chief financial officer) for a large company, and when I told her of the change, she looked at me in shock and almost shouted, "That's no f'ing way to run a business. You can't do that!" I looked at her, pointed upward and said quietly, "But I'm not running the business."
After her session, as she was digging in her purse to find her checkbook, she asked me what she owed me. I told her I couldn't give her an answer to that, that she would have to decide for herself. She became irate, and said "I can't do this. I need to have boundaries. You need to tell me." When I refused, she angrily told me I was lucky she knew what I normally charged, forcefully wrote out her check, folded it in half, shoved it into my hand and walked out the door without another word, obviously distressed. When I unfolded the check, I discovered she had paid me $25 more than what I normally would have charged! I was dumbfounded.
My next client that day had a gift certificate, so I didn't have to worry about telling her about the new pricing. After her session was over, she reached into her purse for the gift certificate, and when she handed it to me, also gave me cash. When I reminded her that the session was covered by the certificate, she replied, "I know. But when I was leaving the house, God told me I needed to give you money too." And then she picked up a plastic grocery bag that was sitting beside her on the couch, and said, "And I'm supposed to give you this too."
Opening the bag, she pulled out two pairs of brand new socks, one light gray and the other a light teal color. Holding one pair in each hand, she studied them for a moment, and then extended the light teal pair and said, "I think these are the ones you're supposed to have." As I reached for the socks, I began to cry.
In December I had gone Christmas shopping at Costco, and picked out a three-pack of these fluffy aloe-infused socks to give to my son's girlfriend, Tiffany, for Christmas. She was always complaining about cold feet. And since my feet were always cold, and the socks were so pretty, I decided to buy a three-pack for myself. The only problem was, when I got to the checkout, I didn't have enough money and had to put my three-pack back.
Tiffany was thrilled with the socks, and all I heard during my visit each time she put a new pair on, was how soft and warm they were. I was berating myself for not having been able to buy any for me, and went back to Costco after Christmas to remedy that. Of course, by that time, Costco was out of them. I was really disappointed.
The three-pack of socks that I had to put back that day, contained three different colors of socks: pink, light gray, and light teal. Out of the three colors, the light teal was my favorite!
As I touched the pair of light teal socks my client held out to me, the exact same socks that had been in that pack I'd had to put back, in my head I heard The Voice say, "If I can give you the exact pair of socks you want to warm your feet, how can you doubt that I will take care of you?"
I continued to accept an offering from the heart for my healing work until I closed my office in Pittsburgh in 2012. Interestingly enough, once I began that practice, I never had to take another penny out of my retirement monies.
The money didn't always come in in the way I might have expected, and it didn't always come in from my clients for my work. When I had my hip replaced in 2007, an old friend who had been out of my life for over fifteen years, offered me a $6,000 loan with no interest and no time frame for repayment to help me cover my expenses.
Once it came in the form of a gift from my mom, and once it was a no-interest-for-a-year cash advance check from a credit card company. And in 2010, when I had my knee replaced, it came in bits and pieces in myriad get well cards from my friends, clients, and students!
It really doesn't matter how it came, it only matters that it did. And although I'm telling you it came from my clients, a friend, the credit card company, my mom, and all those wonderful folks who sent me those get well cards, they were really only the messengers. Truth is, God was taking care of me just the way He promised that He would.
And if He made that promise to me in 2007,and did what He said He would do, and I'm still doing His work in the way that I feel I'm being guided to, there's no reason to think that He'd break that promise just because it's 2014 and I'm doing the work differently. I just have to remember that promise and continue to trust.
So I'm not quitting. You won't be seeing my resume on Monster.com or find me reading the want ads in my local paper. I'm sticking it out and moving forward, and when I get big time scared again, because I'm human and I know I will, or I begin to doubt just how powerful He is and how much He cares, I'm going to log onto my blog and read this post again.... and again, and again and again, as many times as it takes. But what I'm not going to do is quit!