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Your days are your life

As of one week ago, many of the ideas I’ve had around a certain topic have finally fallen into clarity. It feels like I am on the brink of uncovering my life’s work, the thing that I am really here to say. The problem is: I’m terrified of this possibility.

Every time I sit down to brainstorm, ideas, stories, connections flow out of me with ease. It’s the deepest state of flow I’ve ever experienced. I seemingly ‘fall into’ the work.

Once I pull myself out of the flow and get some healthy distance, the ideas seem far away and vague. Then I sit down with them and am again fully immersed.

I can see that the fruits of this flow state are important. Something wishes to come through me, I am just having fear and doubt around being the right person for the job.

My biggest fear, however, is that I will procrastinate and fear-away this gift. Suddenly I will look up and be 70 years old and never have found the courage to bring it to life.

In an attempt to make peace with this crippling fear, I am here writing to you about it. Seeing my fear on the page makes it feel less catastrophic, it loses some of its power. I can see that it’s a wicker fence, not a wall. I can see through it, it’s not finite.

 

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a reminder to keep going

It’s 2:21 on a sunny Friday afternoon and I have accomplished exactly NOTHING. I woke up by immediately getting on my phone to check email and everything has been downhill from there. I’ll get to the importance of how we start our days in a later post, because I want to address something else today:

How do you keep going on a project when you have no momentum?

As a writer and solopreneur, this is an ever-present conundrum in my life.

There is no team that I fear letting down, no boss, no deadline, it’s just me. I let myself off the hook pretty easily (especially when the temperature is over 75) and at the end of the day, I feel bad and frustrated because I wasted precious time NOT doing my work.

It’s impossible to gain momentum and be successful and make money if you don’t do your work.

Doing the work is what separates those shiny ‘success stories’ from everyone else. They were able to push through the doubt, procrastination, and boredom and just keep going.

So, here’s why I’m going to keep going today, here’s what I want for my future:

  • To be a full time writer and storytelling coach
  • To make enough money to do the things I want to do with my life
  • To speak in front of crowds and lead writing retreats and travel the world
  • To make a difference for people and the way that they relate to their lives and their stories

Today I’m writing what I need to hear in hopes that maybe you need to hear it too:

That project that you love, keep going with it. Make small steps everyday, your future self will thank you.

 

the importance of ritual

This morning I woke up at 9:45 am, brushed my teeth, made myself a cup of tea, and sat down in my ‘writing corner’ to write for an hour.

I do this every single day except Sundays.

When I am planning my days I almost never schedule something for myself between the hours of 10 and 11 am.

I don’t always have the luxury of waking up at 9:45 or being at home in my own space, but I always have my computer or a notebook and am writing when the clock turns 10.

This is a ritual that has been part of my life (in varying degrees) for a decade. I can feel the impact when I neglect my writing time or schedule something over it.

It is in this hour that I build my creativity, trust, and self respect. It tethers me to myself and my true purpose.

I could be a construction worker, airline pilot, plumber, lawyer, or bus driver, but I would still be a writer. It’s my lifeline, my solace, the reason I do my life.

This morning I’m contemplating the importance of ritual and how it has the power to infuse our lives with meaning, reverence, and intention.

Growing up, church was where I experienced ritual. Every Sunday, we would get dressed up, go to church, go to Sunday school, and have lunch with a neighboring family. As I got older, church lost its pull and I was left without the ritual I had come to know so well.

Part of the reason I struggled so much in college was the absence of the family rituals I had become so accustomed to. The Sunday church experience, the morning breakfasts, the dinnertime conversation prompts, the cleaning days – all gone. I didn’t know myself well enough to know that I needed to create new ones. That creating them would help me survive.


Ritual comes in all shapes and sizes. For many, morning coffee is a ritual, a signal to body and mind that it’s time to begin the day. For others, it’s running or making breakfast.

Rituals ground us to our life and give texture to our days.

I think that ritual is a profound act of self care, something we do just for ourselves because it’s important to us.

Rituals do not have to be elaborate, they only require attention. They offer an invitation to be present with your life.

If you’re looking to add a little ritual to your life, here are some ideas for even the busiest of humans:

  • Read before bed
  • Close your eyes and feel the warm water on your hands as you wash the dishes
  • Say a prayer
  • Make yourself a meal or a beverage
  • Designate a corner of your house to creativity, enter the space with intention (lighting a candle, burning incense, opening the window, turning on music)
  • Make pancakes for your family on Sunday mornings
  •  Go running at sunset
  • Walk around the block for you go to work
  • Set up your workspace for the day with your computer, coffee, snacks, a notebook
  • Kiss your child/partner/cat before heading out the door
  • Take out your contacts, wash your face, brush your teeth, apply lotion in whatever order you like
  • Designate 1-3 hours on Sunday to self-care. You can do whatever you feel like during this time. You can go to church, take a yoga class, go for a hike, make yourself a meal, take a nap.
  • When you get into your car, take a deep breath before starting the ignition
  • Buy flowers every week and arrange them around your home
  • Use essential oils in your bath or shower
  • Apply lotion to your hands slowly and lovingly
  • Designate 5-60 minutes to your creativity – paint, write, sing, cook. Add this time to your daily calendar. Do not schedule over it.

How does ritual show up in your life? Have you been neglecting yours?

Surviving Separation: F@#K! Where did all my money go?

Separation is brutal no matter what, but having to add the government into the mix makes everything so much more unpleasant.

In the grand scheme of things, my divorce has been mild in comparison to the horror stories I’ve heard. To start, we never had kids or bought a home together. These two things alone take the separation from a 10 to about a 5 on the Richter scale of emotional upheaval.

The thing that no one really tells you about divorce is this: You will lose WAY more money than you ever planned for or expected.

So many things add up in the aftermath of divorce. There are mediator/lawyer fees, relocation costs, and court fees and that’s before you even get to the brutality of asset allocation. Then, once you have hashed out all of the legal bullshit, you still have to deal with the psychological effects. You’ll need to add therapy, a gym membership, highlights, alcohol (if you’re into that), and a copious amount of Kindle downloads with titles like ‘The Optimists Guide to Divorce’.

It’s not pretty.

I thought I was doing OK financially. I didn’t have any extra money, that’s not what I’m talking about, but I was scraping enough together each month to cover my expenses and still buy groceries.

Then taxes happened.

We filed for divorce 2 months before tax season and decided to file jointly for one last year. What I didn’t realize was that my husband’s salary bumped us into a higher tax bracket and I ended up owing nearly double what I had planned for.

Sitting here writing this, I have exactly $738 in my bank account.

I am a writer without a steady income stream. Fuckity fuck fuck.

Here’s what I want you to take from this: When you’re the one walking away from a marriage, you will be tempted to try to pay off your guilt. This doesn’t work. It doesn’t go away no matter how much money you throw his or her way. All it does is put you in financial ruin. You will end up guilt ridden AND broke.

Please know that, over time, you will find little ways to forgive yourself and those tiny acts of forgiveness will add up to something resembling self love.

Don’t give away more than you should just because you’re guilty. Give yourself a foundation to actually live the life you’re fighting for.

Your happiness ripples much farther than your ruin.

 

 

the way of water

It’s never a good sign when you start the day at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. and your outfit includes long underwear under your yoga pants.

Yes, today is the day that I rafted the Rio Grande ‘Box’ with my Dad and one of his closest friends.

Well, technically, we couldn’t raft the actual ‘Box’ because there wasn’t enough water but we froze our asses off in level 2-4 rapids anyway.

I wasn’t looking forward to this trip. I was tired and mid-divorce/new relationship and worried about money because #taxes.

We looked like little blue smurfs as we waddled through the mud and into our boat. The second we sat down, the wind started blowing, effectively freezing the tears and snot to our faces.

I braced myself for the brutal 5 hours that awaited me.

Justine, our guide, pushed us off and we began to float.

Miraculously, fifteen minutes later, the wind went back to where it came from and the sun appeared from behind a cloud.

The only sound was the rippling water beneath us.

My whole body relaxed as though it hadn’t taken a breath in months. I looked around, surprised to find that my thoughts had calmed with the wind.

As we glided along, I realized how much my life had fallen out of ‘flow’ (there’s nothing like moving water to show you this).

I had spent the last few months trying to stand up in the river of my life. I was fighting, bracing myself for endless battle. All the effort was fruitless and wasted on a current that would never stop as long as I was alive.

‘Paddles ready! Here comes a level 4!’

The rapids tossed us every which way, we careened violently into sharp rocks, our socks soaked through in minutes.

All I felt was calm. I felt powerful and in control. A balance of effort and surrender.

The river calmed once again, we could hear the birds.

This is life, I thought to myself.

 

8. Love and distance

Distance does funny things to relationships, especially new ones.

I have spent a total of one week away over the last two weeks and the contrast is wildly obvious.

When face to face, G is talkative, affectionate, inquisitive. But when I leave town or he does, it’s different.

When traveling, I’ve found that I am more playful and conversational on text or phone, it helps me feel connected to him.

The problem is that I don’t hear from him for hours. He doesn’t ask me questions about my day and he is rarely the first to start a conversation in the morning. This became blatantly obvious to me today.

We shared a phone call in which I asked him questions about his day. He would tell me something then….. silence. I would ask him another question, he would tell me something then…. silence. There wasn’t one question for me. No invitation to talk about what was taking place in my corner of the world at all. I eventually said I had to go.

I hate feeling dejected and resentful but I do and I don’t know how to bring it to his attention.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite Nayyirah Waheed poems:

i am mine.

before i am ever anyone else’s.

-in

Am I feeling like this because too much of my emotional well-being is dependent on the actions of someone outside of myself?

 

6. Telling friends

Yesterday, Gavin called one of his closest friends to give him the good news about our new relationship.

His friend jumped around excitedly exclaiming ‘Yes, yes, yes!’

Yesterday, I met up with one of my closest friends to give her the good news about our new relationship.

She half smiled at me and said, “Oh, that’s nice.”