Take a Breath

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Happy Summer! It has been hot here in Colorado, but nothing compared to some other states! I have been on summer break for a couple weeks and I wish I could slow down summer. Time off always seems to fly by! Every year I  find myself making big plans for productivity and projects as the school year is winding down, and inevitably, I neglect to schedule rest. My body had some plans of its own and I am proud of myself for listening and slowing down this year without judgement or criticism.

I don’t seem to be able to sleep in anymore, which is sad, but it has actually been nice getting up early in the day, even if I am moving at a slower pace. I have found myself being a bit lonely lately too, which makes the quiet difficult. That said, the quiet is what I have been craving. I used to ignore my self care in a reckless fashion, and now that I’m invested in my health (mental, physical, spiritual etc.) I know that when my body talks, I need to listen. 

I have made some goals for the summer, but have given myself some wiggle room for those days when the thing I need to accomplish the most is rest. I have been outlining and organizing my wip in Scrivener. I’ve been journaling. I’ve been napping. I started teaching this week and the structure of seeing kids again has been nice. It is only half days, a couple days a week, but I think I am enjoying it because I have gotten some rest and quiet. 

I also started a new tattoo about a week ago. It is healing nicely, but because of the location of the tattoo, I haven’t worked out in a week. I realized yesterday that the lack of exercise was negatively affecting my mood. Today I was planning on meeting a friend at a coffee shop. She had a conflict, so I sipped my iced Americano and worked on my book. I came home and danced and did some yoga. It felt really good to move again. To breathe in that particular way that clears my head and centers me back in my body. 

There will definitely be adventures this summer. I have already had the chance to do some really fun things with friends. I will go to the mountains and kayak and float in a hot spring. I will continue to work on this story. I will rest. I will breathe. 

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For What it’s Worth

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you would have noticed that I have had trouble getting back into a writing groove since The Christmas Child was published. I have had some false starts and some deep dry periods. I don’t know if it’s fair to say I’ve been blocked because I think about writing all the time – I just haven’t gotten many words on the page. 

Things are changing. I have some major writing momentum right now and it feels great. I am flooded with ideas and edits and images. Over spring break, I took some quiet time to go inside and practice some necessary self-care. I worked most of the week on an application for a content writer position for an online magazine I really respect and believe in. It felt like a long shot, but I thought it might be good for my inner writer to work through this and write the two samples they requested for the application. It felt good to find my writer voice again. It felt great to edit and fine tune every paragraph and sentence. It was difficult to write with such extreme honesty and vulnerability, but it shook something loose.

Surprisingly, it opened the floodgates for my fiction as well. I started to work through the details of a short story project I’ve been sitting on for a couple years. I felt renewed enthusiasm for my wip and have a plan for finishing this draft. In this environment of self-care, I’ve been able to drown out a lot of noise. I think some of these ideas just needed a safe space available so they could show up. 

This last week I learned I made it to the second round and they published one of my submissions. I was so proud to see my article on their website, next to articles that inspire and move and challenge me. My excitement only grew when I was met with such support and love from the people in my life. On Saturday, I learned that I got the position and will be signing on for six months, with an option to extend my contract after that. It still doesn’t really feel real as I write that. I have been published before, but never on this scale. I am beyond honored and grateful to join them and add to their work. 

When I let people know, I was overwhelmed by their excitement, joy, encouragement and validation of the worth of my writing and my worth as a writer. I was worried that my work might not be up to par, but these people never doubted it. I even received a handful of comments about how they were happy to see this organization was seeing what they already knew. 

It occurred to me that a lot of the “stuck” energy I have been feeling over the last couple of years has been about not feeling worthy or good enough. I wrote this one thing I was proud of, but could I write something else that was good? I clearly had other stories to tell, but could I get out of my own way to tell them? The answer was no for a long time. That answer has started to change. 

I’m still an equal mix of excitement and nerves. I am empowered and feeling very humbled all at once.  Hearing kind words and support of my worth is helpful, but I am starting to feel my own worth as a writer again as well. I am looking forward to seeing what this next chapter has in store. 

Spring in my Step

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It has been feeling like spring and I am loving it. We are getting down to the last couple of months of school, my birthday is coming up, and it’s warm and sunny. I have had a hard couple of months. Lots of stress has taken its toll, and I am finding myself in desperate need of a reset.

I have been seeing a therapist again and I am very grateful for the support and perspective she brings to my life. We have been talking about ways to get energy in, instead of having all my energy drained out. Upon reflection, I’ve decided to take a month to really concentrate on self-care and do what I can to fill my cup.

I had a hard time embracing the idea of self-care when I was introduced to it. As a people pleaser, type A person, the idea of down time seemed ridiculous. As a recovering people pleaser, I’ve learned over the years that time to rest is almost more important than the work I do. I’ve learned that I need to listen to my body, my energy, my spirit, my heart and take time when it is asking me to. Even though I have learned this, but I am not always good about slowing down.

That said, this thirty-day reboot is an opportunity to do just that. Take a break. Do things that are good for me. Do things that fill me up. Be around people who support me, where I am right now…not people who drag me down or expect me to give my all and not give me anything back. I’m reading some books, doing a yoga practice everyday, trying to create a bedtime ritual that promotes true rest and writing.

Yep, I said it. Writing is a big part of self-care for me. I ignore that fact from time to time, but I feel more grounded and stable as a human when I’m writing regularly. I have recently started working on a freelance content writing portfolio with a graphic designer and I applied to an online magazine I really admire and respect.

For a couple of weeks I was really stuck. Paralyzed by a fear of not being good enough and daunted by the task of writing the samples and resume. However, I jumped in over Spring Break and worked really hard to finish my submission on time. Writing vulnerable and honest essays about my life and editing them over a week, opened up a door in my heart that I hadn’t realized was closed.

Now I’m getting a rush of ideas and am feeling excited to be writing again. It’s hard sometimes to come to a blank page, but so is trying harder yoga sequences when I’m still a beginner. Not quitting and doing my best is really invigorating.

I am excited to see what these thirty days of reflection, intention and rest bring. I am only four days in, but I’m already feeling a difference.

Evolution 

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Welcome to the fallout. Welcome to resistance. The tension is here. The tension is here. Between who you are and who you could be. Between how it is and how it should be…Switchfoot

I recently went through some of the old CD’s in my car. Yes…I still listen to CD’s in the car, don’t judge! I found one from six or seven years ago and as much as I enjoyed going back in time with those songs, I also was humbled by a profound realization. Every single song on that mix was about me being lost…the lyrics were about owning who you are, finding love, finding your voice, loving your life, becoming the person you were meant to be. 

Growth happens over time and so gradually, that it feels subtle to the person experiencing it, most of the time. Yet, listening to those songs again, was a huge reminder of how far I’ve come. I am not perfect. Far from it, in fact, but I have worked hard to slay most of those dragons. I will always love the songs on that mix, but they are no longer my anthems. They are memories. They aren’t me anymore. 

I used so much energy not being good enough for so many years, it’s a wonder I accomplished anything. It has been difficult to see that I was the one blocking my path forward in many instances, but it felt incredible to listen to those songs and know that I have changed that. Stress and the unknown always make me want to sabatage again, but I’ve learned to see those triggers for what they are and I have strategies to avoid those old pitfalls. 

I am still learning and growing, I don’t think that will ever change. According to the dictionary, evolution is a gradual development, especially from something simple to more complex. I still have areas to develop, that’s for certain. I’m still learning to balance my work life and my artistic leanings. I’m still learning balance in romantic and family relationships. I’m still learning who I am as a writer and performer. However, none of that discounts how far I’ve come already. 

Maybe redemption has stories to tell. Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell. Where can you run to escape from yourself? Where you gonna go? Where you gonna go? Salvation is here. I dare you to move. 

Dinner is Served

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I  love to cook. This has always been the case, but it was very difficult to cook for one for many years. It took a while to figure it out. I also have two major food allergies that make it difficult to eat out and be satisfied. I can modify just about anything, but if I want it, I have to figure out how to make it happen in my own kitchen. This could have been very challenging, but it’s actually been a positive thing. I had to learn how to cook again and it has opened me up to another form of creativity.

I have been listening to podcasts recently as I cook dinner. One  in particular has been incredibly juicy. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Her book of the same title came into my life at a critical time and it has helped me dispel some of the myths I had held about myself and my ability to create. The most recent episode really hit me, as did the episode with Neil Gaiman. These podcasts have quite literally been food for my soul.

The podcast I listened to tonight spoke of many important things, but most importantly for my journey, was the concept of showing up before you’re ready. Knowing that you are never going to truly be ready, but here is the Universe offering you an invitation anyway. I cried as I sautated my Brussels sprouts, hearing my thoughts and feelings expressed through another woman’s voice. I think this is why I create. To find meaning and find myself in others. It helps me feel connected to something bigger than I am. It helps me makes sense of the world, when it is so often senseless.

My life has been topsy-turvy the last few months. I made a major change for my good, but I am not someone who handles change well. Even when it is what is best for me. Creative endeavors ground me. They lead me home and I discovered later than I care to admit, that when life feels overwhelming, the best thing I can do is create. I might never write the great American novel or headline Red Rocks (although  I’m still working on making those things happen) but I can make dinner. I can take ingredients and use my magic to create something special and delicious. I am going to continue trying to find meaning. I’m going to start accepting that invitation.

Hello Autumn

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Today is the first day of fall. I realize that I haven’t written here in a really long time. I think of it often, like a childhood friend. However, that was not enough to get me here. Many things have contributed to this, but I am starting to get my sea legs again and felt compelled to write today. Autumn is so yummy. I have written about it here almost every year. I have written a song about it. I take dozens of pictures every year. The weather cools to a perfect degree. The light is spectacular all day and the world perks up with deep hues on every leaf. 

It also signals an internal change. I go inside and reflect. I take stock of the year, the previous seasons, and think of the trials and the triumphs. I remember that soon the world around will get darker and cold. Maybe this is why fall is so beautiful. To remind us that not every moment can be bold and colorful, there has to be reserve and stillness for balance. 

I have been slowly making my way back to a writing practice. I am making real head way with a book that has been haunting me for years. I am doing yoga and dancing and meditating. I have been okay with saying no, when it needs to be said. I changed jobs. I planned to move, only to learn it was best to stay put. I went on an amazing adventure with one of my best friends, and got to see some things I had been dreaming to experience since I was a little girl. I promise to write about it soon. 

Autumn teaches me important lessons. It has ushered in new love, and guided me back to my heart time and time again. It is magic and I’m exited to see what it has to show me this year. 

Fertile Soil

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Black and White Garden 2015

Black and White Garden 2015

It’s hard to believe that I have to go back to school in less than a month. This summer has been filled with storms (literal and metaphysical), rest, reflection and growth. I planted an epic patio garden that has flourished from all the rain, I suspect. I have been reorganizing my house all summer. It has been waiting for me for quite some time. It feels wonderful to get things in order.

I know why it’s taken me so long to actually tackle this project. Most of this “stuff” has a great deal of emotional weight and shame attached to it. It also helped that I could shove all of it up in the loft of my apartment, and conveniently forget it was there. I have planned to deal with it for the past two summers, and couldn’t. My procrastination reached rock star level.

I think the possibility of moving in the fall shook me into action. I will not take all this with me somewhere else. I think enough time has passed and I have changed enough, that it is finally possible for me to edit and organize with more distance, less sentimentality and actually move on.

It hasn’t been much fun, but growth rarely is. I will say that I feel lighter when I complete a task and that feeling is leading me to continue and finish – finally. It reminds me of a WIP I have been avoiding as well. I discovered recently that most of what I’ve already written needs to be thrown out. I haven’t been able to get momentum and start back up again with it, but I think that getting my physical world in order is helping my creative world as well. I’ve been brainstorming and plotting. Mulling over changes and character motivation. My imagination is free to roam, now that there isn’t so much clutter.

It seems ridiculous to be sad that I only have 27 more days left of freedom this summer, but I plan to get this organization done and then spend some time among my plants, blossoming.