Tag Archives: Growth

Winding Down

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I am sad to say that my summer break is almost over. This summer went by faster than any summer in my memory. It was good in many respects, but I am sad to say goodbye to the luxury of time. Recently, I went swimming and had the whole pool to myself. I floated for a long time, and then finished one of my favorite summer books in the sun. 

This summer was busier than I really wanted it to be, and I’m going to have to be cognizant of scheduling less next year. I taught and volunteered. I spent time with people I love. I got a new tattoo. I took lots of naps. I finalized two short stories and submitted them to contests. I ate good food and did a lot of dancing and yoga. I organized my bedroom and bathroom. I was able to slow down. 

I am excited to see students and staff I care about, but am sad to let go of the ease in my days. So often during the school year, I run too hard and over schedule and it leads me to exhaustion. I am hoping to be able to hold on to some of these summer practices, as I move into the coming months. 

There are things that I wanted to accomplish that didn’t happen too.  I wanted to write more and finish a novel this summer. I wanted to complete more short stories and re-organize my whole house. I wanted to find more freelance writing opportunities and make more money. It is easy to berate myself for the things I did not accomplish. Yet I’ve learned it doesn’t serve me to focus on those things. At one point, as I was complaining about not getting more writing finished, a close friend said, “You chose to work and volunteer this summer, so you didn’t have enough time to finish that. You’ll still get it done, just not before you head back to work. ” 

That should have been obvious to me, but it took someone else pointing out that certain choices, made other intentions difficult. And there wasn’t any reason to judge those choices or intentions. When I am honest, I didn’t finish the novel, but I did fix a lot of plot holes and I am in a better position to finish it now. 

I also have continued to build a yoga practice over the summer. I am coming to the mat for exercise, yes, but I also come to the mat to breathe and become more centered. The yoga challenges me and supports me mentally and physically. I still have a long way to go, but I am finding solace in the strength and flexibility I am building. I have come to crave the time spent there, to turn off my brain and slow down. Perhaps yoga is another way of bringing my slowness and intention of summer into my daily life during the busy school year. 

I often feel that my new years observation and reflection revolve around the school year beginning. I think a lot of teachers feel the same. I have been thinking in the past week of all the things I want to do during the year, but in the last couple of days, I have been rethinking building any more “shoulds” into my life. Yes, I want to write more and I am the kind of person who always is loooking for ways to learn and grow, however, this year I want to continue to cultivate a blend of presence and stillness. That means I want to write as often as possible because it’s a part of me and I feel better when I’m doing it. It means that I might also take a nap instead of writing one day because that’s what I need more. I am also going to try my best to continue to let go of my judgment as to what constitutes a good, productive day. 

My personal life is also changing and in anticipation of these changes, I am choosing to build more freedom into my life. A schedule is helpful, but sometimes I get too many things on the calendar and don’t have the freedom to just be spontaneous. I hope I can change that this year. 

Here’s to a beautiful summer that went by too fast. Here’s to a new school year and a continued commitment to whatever feels best to me in the moment. 

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. 

That Which is Hidden

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It’s liberating to dig deep to find what is hidden. Scary, because you don’t know what you’re going to uncover, but exciting at the same time. I am learning this in my personal life, creative life and especially in my writing. I think I have been frightened to dig deep in my writing because I was afraid of what darkness I would uncover. How could I share such things? What would my parents think?

Over the last two years, I’ve worked really hard with the help of an amazing therapist to process my feelings in the present and work through the past. I’ve learned how to not tuck these dark emotions away and just feel them. It was very hard, it still is honestly, but it also has gotten easier to let myself go there. Anger and shame have been especially hard to process because they were emotions that I had become especially good at hiding away.

I know I am a healthier human now that I’ve learned how to be present with all my emotions. I know I will be a better writer as well. I can still worry about what other people might think of these new stories, but I am willing to deal with those feelings as they arise. I believe in these stories and the human beauty I might find when I pull back the layers and start to really dig.

What are you afraid of uncovering in your own work?

Don’t Be Afraid…

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Up until recently the only prose I’ve ever really written and shared was intended for younger audiences. A couple of years ago, a handful of my works in progress started to take a darker turn and I was afraid to follow my characters into the proverbial forest. I was frightened by what my imagination was capable of. This was the same reason I have avoided horror films and books for most of my life…my imagination made them much scarier once I was at home, alone, in the dark.

Knowing this, one of my best friends sent me an incredible article from Poet’s and Writer’s about earning your violence in art. It gave me a new perspective but I was still too frightened to try. Last summer I devoured Gillian Flynn books. I couldn’t get enough. They were brilliant, dark and violent. I love the Hunger Games series which is also very violent. The violence was not gratuitous. It helped move the story forward and as hard as it was to read, it belonged on the page. I started to understand what the article was really saying, but was I ready to go to that place?

The answer was no, since it has been another year of procrastination. However, I have recently been inundated with a dozen of new short story ideas that feature darker and more subversive subject matter. I’m still a little hesitant, but the stories are winning out. I am more interested these days in the dynamics of family, sexual identity and the vast spectrum of good vs. bad in characters and human beings in general. I am also writing again. I wrote three scenes for a short story I have been revising for a couple of years and I wrote 500 words for a new short today.

I’m learning in my personal and creative life to be more brave. The imagined outcome is riddled with anxiety, fear and doubt yet, if I get out of my own way and try…it’s typically not bad at all.

I know I will come to a scene that will push my limits again, but I’m encouraged that now I won’t be afraid to follow those characters where they lead me, no matter how dark or dire. I’m excited to grow in this way.

Bloom

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Today has been a day that has felt like taking a long, deep breath. I have been experiencing some extreme stress the last couple of weeks and today was a welcome calm. I slept well, did yoga and wrote on the patio in the sun.

I also signed up for a flash fiction contest. I participated a couple of years ago and scrambled to get the first story submitted in, under the 48 hour deadline.  It needed to be less than 1,000 words, any genre, set in a butcher shop and include the image of a block of ice. I received great feedback and was moved onto the next round. However, the next story elements I received were hard to wrap my brain around. Same word count, but it needed to be set on the roof of a building in the horror genre and the object needed to be a wheel chair.

The only story idea I got was very dark in nature and I was too frightened to attempt to even write it. I bowed out of the contest. Over the past two years I have read articles about earning violence in storytelling and am being led to write much more “adult” content than I am used to. I’m planning on exploring that more in blogs the next few days.

It feels good to be writing again. Better than good. It feels like exhaling and coming home. I know that I feel grounded as a person when I am doing certain things that uplift my spirit. Writing is an important part of that.

Traveling Alone

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I haven’t been here in a very long time…sorry! I have been busy in teacher land, avoiding my writing blog and my writing in general. Same old stuff, but now I am on summer break and I just enrolled in an awesome writing conference that I am super jazzed about.

I have been sleepy –  really sleepy. I think my body is adjusting to not being on a dead run and I am processing my first year of teaching. It was a lot of work, but very rewarding.

I have recommitted to my Morning Pages and have been writting upon waking all this week. It is a nice brain drain and I know it is a healthy part of my writing life that I am ready to get back in place this summer.

I am also working on myself some more and that has been enlightening and terrifying all at once. It’s giving me lots of fodder for future writing as well.

I have been traveling alone for a while, figuratively and literally. Writers can be lone wolves or singular travelers wandering down a windy road. I definitely fall into this writer stereotype.  I don’t think that traveling alone is a bad thing, but it is another way that I isolate and avoid intimacy. Enrolling in this writing workshop is a step out of my comfort zone, but I believe that reaching out to other writers will be good for me.

As one of my favorite K T Tunstall songs  Heal Over says – Everybody sails alone, but we can travel side by side. This resonates with me right now. I am scared to put myself out there, per usual, but I am excited to be pushed this summer with my writing and personally.

I will also be writing and blogging much more. I am not going to promise anything, because those promises have been empty in the past. However, I am planning to do many healthy things for myself this summer and that includes writing.

Here’s to not having a bed time, being pushed out of my box, and feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Talk soon

Evolution Of A Flower

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And then the day came
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom.

Anais Nin

I’ve always loved this quote. I found it in the classic book by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way. I remember how it made me cry because the quote described exactly how I felt. I typed it up in a fancy font and put it on my cubicle so I could remember that I was not a corporate robot – I was an artist.

It still amazes me that even though I first read it almost seven years ago, it still applies. The thing is, I’m still growing as an artist. I am so much further than I was sitting in that cubicle, yet I’m still blossoming. I hope to be blossoming for a long time.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. I’m always researching…trying to learn more. Learning about other writers and their experiences shows me that I’m not alone. There are others out there…somewhere. It must be my inner Sociologist. I observe and apply what I can. I connect the dots and step back to see the picture.

Doing what you love is risky business. You need a thick skin and practice at mending broken hearts. I remember how scared I was to submit to agents. It’s still scary, but each submission is a battle wound. Eventually, the scar tissue builds up enough that I can put the envelope in the mail or send the email without feeling nauseous. Even though rejections are never welcome, you learn from them. You get better. Even if it isn’t obvious from the outside, you grow and shift and evolve. I know that every day, every word, every action leads me in the right direction. Even if I can only manage to write a sentence, it still counts.

It’s unlikely that writing and being an artist will ever be a walk in the park. The blossoming process won’t ever be easy. You finally finish your book and you manage to find a publisher, then your world shifts and you have to work through months of edits. Or you have to battle your stage fright to go on  a book tour and find your audience. You have the perfect idea, but every time you sit down to write the words refuse to come. You write the best story of your life and the critique group rips it apart. There are challenges at every turn.

The sky will darken and the wind will blow. You might not see how you’ll ever survive. But you commit to the process and trust that you’ll eventually bloom again and have your moment in the sun. The truth is once you start to blossom it’s hard to go back to a bud – no matter how much you wish you could. You might as well keep growing and see what happens.