When writer’s block gets you

I recently read that when you have writer’s block, one of the best things to do is write anyway. So that’s what I’m going to do right now. Write anyway. What I am going to write may not be something particularly mind blowing or interesting. It may, as a matter of fact, just be the ramblings of a person desperate to get beyond the feeling that I need to write something mind blowing or interesting. Honestly, that’s exactly what it is. 

I spend a lot of time trying to be the best I can be at whatever it is I’m doing. I don’t compare myself to other people. I just go about any task or chore with the mindset that I’m going to do it amazingly…well, as amazingly as only I can. There are some things, admittedly, that I am not amazing at. I am not amazing at walking without tripping. I probably trip once a day. I’m kind of clumsy, what can I say? But that’s beside the point. Whenever I write I always think that it HAS TO BE GREAT. I have to write in such a way that whoever is reading whatever I wrote will automatically FALL IN LOVE with my writing and want to read more. Interestingly enough, this kind of thought process can be utterly paralyzing. I have struggled with this for weeks now. My desire to write something awesome has prevented me from writing at all because who out there in the world wants to write something that sucks balls? I certainly don’t, but here I am now, writing something that probably sucks big hairy balls in an effort just to write at all. I’m trying to get over that paralyzing fear. I’m writing whatever you’d like to call THIS in an effort leave the expectations I have of myself and my fear of how others might judge it behind me. I had a goal at the start of this blog to publish at least one time a week. But the only thing I’ve done exceptionally well since starting this blog is master the art of avoidance. That tends to be my way of dealing with things I find unpleasant in general. Putting away laundry, going to the dentist, going to the grocery store… these are things I find extremely unpleasant and annoying and so I generally put them off as long as I possibly can…writing is NOT something I find unpleasant. I love to write and I love the feeling I have when I’ve put my pen to paper (or my fingers to keyboard) and created. I love the art of creation and watching how words paint pictures in my mind, bring back memories of tastes and touch and smell and joy and sorrow and light and dark…it’s a beautiful, wonderful thing! I just hate feeling like I have to be an awesome writer to write. That is unpleasant. It’s also an unfair expectation to have of myself and I realize this. 

On a different, but similar, note, when I was trying to come up with a name for my blog and I was wracking my brain trying to think, think, THINK of something original that would encompass everything I wanted my blog to be, I had the thought of an illness I suffered last year. I still have no idea what was wrong with me but on the way home from work one night in October, I started having excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. I thought maybe I had appendicitis and so did my mother (yes, I called my mom) and so I drove myself to the hospital. It’s a good thing because by the time I got there I felt like I was going to pass the hell out from the pain. At any rate, after many initial tests the doctor still couldn’t pinpoint exactly what my problem was, so I was admitted and the ordered more tests and most terribly, a colonoscopy. You would think that the colonoscopy part of the procedure would be the worst. But no. If you think that you would be wrong. The worst part is the stuff they give you to drink to clean out your colon prior to the procedure. It’s god-awful, and without getting too graphic let’s just say it makes you go to the bathroom and go to the bathroom and go to the bathroom some MORE until when you do go to the bathroom nothing comes out but water. Oh, and did I mention it also makes you really, really nauseous? Good times. Anyway, the whole process was terrible BUT in the end I found out I was OK (just some tweaks to my diet to help my system out) and of course, that was a great thing. My point is that sometimes, in order to see that everything’s OK, you have to go through some things to get to that clarity. And my clarity for what my blog would be named…GOLIFELY…was born out of exactly that…GOING.

I’m glad that I sat here and tapped this out. It may not be great, or even good, but it’s a reminder of my beginnings. It’s also proof that simply GOING (or in this case, just writing) is absolutely the best cure for writers block. 

When the tears fall…ask yourself why

Schools are closed and the office is closed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m home with my kids, and when I woke up with them this morning, the first thing I did was ask them “Do you know why you are home from school today?” Of course they gave the right answer. They’ve been learning as much as a 3, 6 and 12 year old can over the last week about Martin Luther King and his legacy at school. I wanted to start the day with a lesson on the truly backbreaking and often dehumanizing work Dr. King and all who struggled and fought for Civil Rights in this country endured. I began by telling them a little bit about how not so long ago, people were separated in this country because of the color of their skin; that they could only live in certain places, go to certain schools, eat at certain restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised to see them all really listening. It was quite a moment for me.

I talked to them about standing up for what is right, about Dr. King’s stance on non-violence, and about the ugly reality of racism, hatred and segregation. How people faced dogs, fire hoses, being spit on, beaten, battered, all because they believed that everyone, no matter what the color of their skin, deserved to be treated equally. As I was speaking about the bravery of the people who had endured so much, I could feel my throat tightening, my chest hurting…and I began to cry. I struggled through, talking more about Dr. King’s legacy and how it lives on today through us, and about how we should always feel gratitude to those people who fought and died for what is, by it’s very essence, truth. We are different, that is true. But we are all human and no one, no matter how many letters they have behind their name has ever been able to define race in a way that denies that fact.

When the lesson was over, I began to reflect. Why was I crying? I cried because I want to be that brave. I want to be that strong…to sit in the face of hatred and anger and know that I am on the side of justice. I am humbled at the bravery of all those men and women. I am humbled by their grit, their honor, and their knowledge deep in their hearts and minds that they were struggling for something bigger than themselves…

I am humbled by the knowledge that they weren’t afraid to die.

I will end this with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King. It’s a reminder to me to always speak. I do, for the most part. It’s time to make my voice louder. Time to do more. Remember:

Image

Fear, the other F word

One of the things I’ve been pondering lately is the role fear plays in my life, and how it affects the decisions I make, especially the decisions that are life changing. I was scrolling Pinterest a few days ago and I saw this quote:

Image

Everything? Really? Because there are some things that I want that have absolutely nothing to do with being afraid. For example, I would like the laundry to magically wash, dry, fold and put itself away without ANY effort on my part. Laundry is exhausting! And it’s NEVER done. I have no fear of laundry, unless of course, I haven’t been able to get to it in over a week and I know that the mountain of clothes gathered in the laundry room will be damn near insurmountable!

I realize that I have taken the quote out of context but I do it to show how silly some of the quotes we take to heart and use to guide our lives can be. Is the quote important, sure. Should it be a guidepost for some of the struggles we face in our lives, sure. Does it apply to every aspect of our lives, no. My point in all of this is that there has to be some line, some balance, some critical thought so that we can apply this wisdom to our lives in a way that makes sense and is actionable. I see a lot of quotes pinned on Pinterest. I am guilty of pinning a number of quotes that I read and think “Wow, so true!” and then never really think about again. I am almost positive the majority of chronic quote pinners are guilty of the same. But, back to fear.

I thought I’d try to take this quote and make it actionable by applying it to some of the concrete life decisions I am faced with over the coming months. One is applying for a position at my job that requires me to speak in front of a room full of strangers. I HATE public speaking and I am sure that places me squarely on the bell curve of the majority of people reading this. I am no outlier when it comes to speaking in front of people I don’t know. I’d rather not. But the fact is, I have a dream I’d like to see come true (a higher paying job with unlimited potential), and speaking in front of strangers is a stepping stone toward that dream. I’m scared shitless to be honest. But I did it.  I applied to the position because in this case, something I want (not everything because my laundry still lies waiting for ME in the laundry room) IS on the other side of fear. And in all honesty, if I let fear continue to guide the decisions I make, well, I’m fucked. You can only move forward if you push through your fear. Words of wisdom made actionable. That’s how life changes.

Make me proud

I’ve been running for about 2 years now, and average about 3 and a half miles per run on any given day. Today I started training for a half marathon I am running this May, and as I was on the treadmill trying to push through my first wall (for me, I always hit the first wall after the first mile; for some reason, my legs get heavy and just don’t want to “go” anymore) a certain song came on. I told myself right then “just get through the song and you’ll be OK”. So I did. I dug in and I ran for the entire song, listening to the notes, the lyrics, and pushing through the wall. When the song was over, guess what? I was OK, just like I told myself. Best of all, another song came on, and I dug in again and again. One song at a time…

I realized this concept can be applied to any situation that requires movement. Choose a song, and do a chosen activity for just as long as the song plays. As you become better able to cope with the aerobic demands of say, walking for one song, then move up to two, then three songs and more. If organizing is your goal, begin with one task (cleaning out a junk drawer for example) and work for just one song. Then another, then another. Choose music you love. Music that motivates you and makes you want to get up and MOVE. That’s an important part of the process. I don’t think playing R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” is my thing in terms of motivation, but it might be for you, and if it is, then get up and MOVE to it. 

I plan to continue to use this idea to just push through with a song during my training. I’m taking note of the artists, lyrics and sounds that increase my motivation and give me the fire I need to push through when I hit a wall. Today at the gym, that song I mentioned, the one I heard through my headphones as I struggled just after the one mile mark, was Make Me Proud by Drake. Listening to some (definitely not all, because well, damn…) of the lyrics, reminded me of the things I have done that I am proud of. I’ve set lots of goals and made lots of plans in my life. I failed at some, but hey, I have also succeeded at MANY. I am proud of my accomplishments. And I will continue to work to “make me proud” as life goes on. Half-marathon, here I come, and cheesy as it may be, I’m gonna KILL it, one song at a time!