I’m currently training to be an academic, halfway through my PhD. It’s hard work, made harder by the two chronic health conditions I have, one of which I’ve known about for years, and is well-managed with the help of my doctor (depression), and one I’ve just been diagnosed with, but have been affected by for years without knowing it (fibromyalgia).
I’ve been thinking of going part-time with my research for some time; the fibro diagnosis clinched it. Fibromyalgia isn’t a fatal condition, it doesn’t damage vital organs or shorten life expectancy, but periodic and ongoing pain, stiffness, fatigue and difficulties in concentrating and processing information are all barriers to engaging in full-time work, especially academic work.
These symptoms though are not, nor will I let them be, barriers to full-time engagement with life. In fact, fewer hours of intensive research work will give me more breathing space, more opportunity to continue inner work, to descend into a place of deep peace, and perhaps to develop my ministry further — perhaps even breaking even on it, instead of making a loss as I currently tend to, or (*gasp*) even making some income.
Inspiration and money
Like many creative, relationship-oriented, service-focused people, especially perhaps many women, I fight shy of putting myself out there, of even considering the possibility that I could support myself financially by sharing the heart of myself. Like many spiritual people of all genders I struggle with asking for payment for this heart-sharing, in whatever form the sharing may take: in my case, that could be spiritual counselling, ceremonies, poetry, healing, works of art or craft. Divine gifts and inspiration; surely it’s not right to ask for money for these?
While I respect and agree with this both intellectually and emotionally when it comes to teaching spirituality — particularly when bringing a person into one’s spiritual family — when it comes to the services I list above, my head, my heart and my gut do not agree, and I end up fighting myself.
Intellectually, I know there is nothing wrong with asking for payment for a skill or a talent which I have spent time, effort and often money on developing and nurturing in myself, so that what I offer to people is worth the giving. Both intellectually and emotionally, I struggle with the balance between valuing myself and what I offer, and making my work available to anyone who wants and needs it, whatever their economic situation.
In my gut, though, there is no such considered and balanced dialogue. In my gut, I back away from money as if it stings, as if it burns, as if it is a source and cause of shame and guilt, of fear and anger.
Clearly, this is not healthy!
Spiritual business support
As baby steps towards addressing this situation, I’ve been browsing a number of business coaching websites, particularly those focused towards artists and other creatives. I’ve browsed the sites of Carrie Wilkerson, Leonie Dawson and Tara Gentile, amongst others.
What I appreciate most about what I’ve found at their sites is what some might call their femininity. There’s no ‘you must do this!’, no ‘how to make mega-bucks right now!’, no ‘you can do it (and if you can’t you’re a failure!)’. Instead, I have found welcome, support, honour, humour and nurture. I’ve also appreciated what I would call their feminism: women putting their energy and enthusiasm and passion into supporting women.
I’ve bought and have begun reading Tara Gentile’s The Art of Earning: Because Making Money Should Be Beautiful, and when I get paid next, I’ll be trying out Leonie Dawson’s The Goddess Guide Book – Creativity, Soul & Business for Women. Part of me is sceptical, resistant. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Neptune and Saturn: dreams and limits
But in the meantime, I’m thinking about Neptune and Saturn, which in my astrological birthchart are directly opposed to one another – Neptune in Scorpio and Saturn in Taurus. Neptune is king of dreams, of oceanic connection and creativity; Saturn is king of time and of limitations, of practicalities and obstacles.
I’m thinking that I need to honour them both: my dreams, my connection, my creativity, but also the day to day limits of life – mortgage and bills and food and car repairs and schedules and deadlines. I’m thinking that I need to bring them to balance, to agreement; I need to marry them within myself, so their energies can work together to reach my goals.
I’m thinking that I deserve that. How about you?