Tag Archives: Writing

The I-don’t-wannas

When I was a kid I was in a lot of activities. I mean, I tried a lot of things: Ice skating, ballet, softball, saxophone, guitar, cheerleading, etc. Not one of those things stuck. I wish that at least the guitar would have. The things that I ended up kind of settling into in jr. high and high school were writing, visual art, choir, and a little flirtation with theater (I was part of the drama society but was only in two productions in high school. I couldn’t be bothered with all that rehearsal time!). So basically, the only activities I did as I got a little older were the things that came naturally to me. I can write (so I’ve been told!), I can draw reasonably and am good with colors/arrangements, and I can sing. Those are the things I could do as a child without any lessons or a lot of practice. They are also the same things that I love today.

The problem with having only done things that come naturally to me is that I never really learned to practice. After two or three sessions in a given activity, I would usually decide that I must not like it because I wasn’t enjoying the practice. I still wish that my parents would have made me stay in one of those things…dance or guitar or something. I don’t blame them, though. How would they know? Neither of them was ever able to be in any activities growing up, and by the time they were 21 they had a kid and had thrown personal development out the window in favor of getting by. They had no idea what a big deal it is to learn how to practice! Oh, actually, my mom did make me stay in softball for eight years because she thought I needed to do something less sedentary (I did – I was chubby!). That didn’t really help me though, because the ultimate truth is that even after practicing enough to be O.K. at it, I hated softball.

Knowing how to practice would have been a great skill to have in college. I majored in writing and minored in art, which was pretty much best-case scenario for me, but I squandered the opportunity. Here I was paying all this money to learn the practice of writing, the practice of visual art, but I didn’t have the patience or understanding to practice there. I took all the time that I had to really sink into the things that I love and used it to party like a rock-star. I could have just split the time I spent partying in half, still had plenty of time to party, and have learned earlier and easier what it takes to be successful in the areas where I dream of success. I didn’t develop as a writer or an artist because I didn’t have balance; a theme that would continue through the rest of my twenties.

All that aside, this isn’t a post about broken dreams; it’s a post about hope. Several times over the years David and I have talked about how both of us are resistant to just doing things, even when we enjoy them. We call the feeling that we have about showing up to practice “the I-don’t-wannas.” An example is that I have really had to talk myself into going to yoga for the first two months, even though I liked it once I was there. Something has happened in the last month that has opened a door for me: I have actually begun to want to go to yoga. It’s the first time I’ve actually stayed with something long enough to want to practice and improve.  Suddenly a light-bulb lit up: the same thing will probably apply with writing and art. Even though my skills are rusty, and I’m frustrated with it, if I just make to time to practice, and just do it whether I want to or not, I will probably eventually start to enjoy the practice.

“Learn to love the process” is said so often it has become a cliché, but apparently I still had to go and learn it the hard way!

What has been your experience with practice, or with “enjoying the process”?  Has it been hard for you? Or does practice come naturally?

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A Time of Preparation

Although I frequently allude to spirituality here, it’s pretty rare for me to talk much about religion. Overall, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not big on organized religion at all. I’m not into dogma; though I believe religion can do very good things for people, I don’t think that any particular religion has the golden key to “salvation.”  That being said, I have no problem still self-identifying as what is perceived to be one of the most dogmatic faiths around: Catholic. There’s some further clarification in this post, if you care to know more about my perspective on the topic!

Anyhow, today is Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. Lent is a 6 week time of preparation before Easter (the resurrection of Christ, and for a lot of Christians and our not-so-subtly-hidden pagan histories, the official start of spring). It is meant to be a time of contemplation, and a time of penitence. I am fine with contemplation part, but penitence (which essentially means deep remorse and shame for what a rotten person you are) doesn’t really jive with me so much. Personally I feel like Jesus would be more down with me spending this preparation time getting ready to be a better person than beating the crap out of myself. So, contemplation of where I’ve gone wrong and where I can improve is fine.  Self-punishment: not so much.

Since I’m not into penitence, I haven’t really given anything up for Lent since I moved out of my parents’ house.  Even when I did live at home, my parents weren’t that big on it either. We did not eat meat on Fridays during Lent, but that was about it. However, this year it has dawned on me, in relation to Lent, that giving things up doesn’t necessarily have to be self-punishment. It can be an exercise in contemplation and preparation as well. Duh. Fasting has been used in all sorts of spiritual practices for a billion years.

Accordingly, I have chosen this time to do an elimination diet. This means that I am giving up a lot of stuff. However, rather than punishing myself, I look at this as a a time to face some demons (physical addictions as well as emotional struggles) and come out with better clarity of mind and vitality of spirit. Seems like a perfect Lenten practice for me!

I will be posting about the diet, and lots of other wellness-related things, in more detail on my BRAND NEW health and wellness blog, The Cranky Hippie (more tomorrow about the decision to start a new blog on top of this one that I haven’t been consistent with)!

Finally, on top of the elimination diet and being a more consistent blogger, I might try to delve back into The Artist’s Way as a means to kind of jump-start my spirit/intellect a bit.The hubby and I have made a point of keeping our social calendars pretty clear during this time so we can rest and have down time to recharge our batteries for spring. But I will have to see how I’m feeling with the other changes.  Elimination diets (also somewhat of a “cleanse”) can be kind of difficult and draining at times, so I want to be sure to not press myself too hard. We’ll see how it goes!

Creating a Life

Lately I’ve been focusing a lot on food and health on this blog, but that is not the only fish I’ve got to fry! What of my art goals for 2010? Well, I have not resumed The Artist’s Way. I have not joined a writer’s group, and I have not started guitar lessons (yet). However, I don’t feel like I’m suffering for lack of creative outlets.

I haven’t started doing the creative endeavors that I set out to do this year because I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve been busy in a good way. For one thing, I have been doing a lot of editing lately. As David has been working on getting marketing materials together for his massage practice, and cover letters together for job applications, I’ve been busy helping him to craft messages that are good representations of him and what he believes in. I’ve also been asked to look at several cover letters for friends recently, which is fun for me. Editing is something that I’m good at, and it feels good to use something I’m good at to help people out. Many people may not realize that editing is actually quite creative. It’s a real creative challenge to take something that somebody else has written and tweak it to suit his or her audience while still retaining his or her “voice.”

Editing aside, I have also been learning HTML. The main reason that I set out to learn it is for career development. Many writing positions are now web-based. Even though I already know how to use several web editors, most web-based positions require at least a basic HTML knowledge. The second reason for learning it is that I am slowly but surely building a (very basic) website for David’s practice. I know that there are a lot of cheap services that we could use to create a website for him; we may still use one of them to build something fancier. But right now it’s good for me to have a specific project as I’m learning. It helps reinforce the knowledge. I have been finding the project very inspiring.

I haven’t put a whole lot of action into creating a career path for myself recently. At least not directly (above and beyond HTML!). But I have been working on it; at the very least I’ve been working on it at an emotional and intellectual level. This kind of thing takes a lot of thought; a lot of working through issues that I didn’t know I had. It takes up a lot of head space.

Another piece of the puzzle is trying to whip my body back into shape. I won’t hover on this topic very much right now, since I already do a lot of that on this blog, but attempting to re-create one’s body is actually very creative. So much creativity and interest goes into pouring over recipes, making food choices, designing meal plans, choosing exercise routines, and cooking. It’s much more artistic than I have ever thought it could be.

Finally, though it hasn’t been reflected much yet in the consistency of my posts, this blog has also been enormously inspiring for me. For one thing, it has brought me back to the page. It has got me writing (in public – yikes!) after a long absense of the will to write. It has me feeling exploratory, and really thinking about what it is that I want to write. There are trillions of topics to pursue, and just simply writing about my own journey through “getting my act together” has really been helping me to figure out what my secondary passions (after words) are.

I feel fulfilled right now, with the creative end of my life. It’s a new revelation that simply creating my life can fulfill that creative urge within me. Therefore, I’m not going to come down too hard on myself for not hitting the specific goals that I set out for myself a month ago. I am excited to move on to learning new things, and creating new things. But right now my life seems pretty full!

The Connection

gala

Abby, Shannon, and me at the Gala, 11/2009

Over the last week I have been thinking a lot about how connected all of my big goals are with each other. Good health, strong spirituality, wealth, and a satisfying career are nodes on the same loop.

Good health is biggie. We’ve all heard the phrase “you haven’t got anything if you haven’t got your health.” This is true on so many levels. The first level is obvious: if you are sick in any way, you are not able to function to your highest potential. If you are tired, can’t breathe, are in pain, can’t move properly, etc., it is going to make it all the harder to reach any goal you set out for yourself. Obviously, people overcome all kinds of physical obstacles to achieve their dreams; but at this point in time I feel like if I have any control over the obstacles, it’s best to just remove them. I have enough “issues” to get over without adding physical problems to the pile! The more energy I have, the more I can devote to spirituality, career development, and wealth.

The second level is that physical issues feed into the psychological issues. If you don’t feel good, it affects your brain chemistry and how you perceive the world; which then affects your behaviors, which affect how others perceive you. The perception of others can affect a lot of things – from your personal relationships to your career. It’s all a self-fulfilling loop. Feeling bad begets feeling bad.

The next level is that your health affects your appearance, which also affects the perception of others. Let’s face it, as much as we all want to say appearance doesn’t matter, it absolutely does. Despite our advanced self-awareness and cognitive ability, it’s my opinion (based on some stuff that I have read that I am too lazy to go find for reference!) that humans still have some holdovers from “survival of the fittest.” Above and beyond obvious conscious biases (ie., if you look like a supermodel or an olympic athlete, chances are that people might be “drawn” to you!), if you’re not healthy, there are a million little subconscious ways that other people are going to know it and be subconsciously biased towards you. I think that is some of the basis for “gut feelings” about people. If you have the opportunity to remove biases that others might have towards you, it is only going to be helpful in developing the relationships that a person needs for a successful career, etc. In other words, I think that health touches every part of our lives.

The next part of the “loop” is money. I don’t think that a lot of money is necessary for good health. But I do see where the more money a person has, the more they can afford to spend on maintaining their health, and they will definitely be less stressed out without debt nagging at them. Furthermore, there’s the old adage, “it takes money to make money,” you need to spend money on education and/or on other resources and supplies in order to gain a successful career that will earn more money. More money can also mean more free time- which can lead to more time for spiritual practice.

Next we have career development. Having a fulfilling career leads to a better sense of confidence and well-being, which contributes to good health in all kinds of ways – higher levels of endorphins, lower levels of stress, etc. People tend to be more successful at things they are passionate about. Success leads to wealth. I also believe that having a vocation, or doing what you are “supposed” to do for a living, can be part of a spiritual path.

Finally, there is spirituality. Like health, I feel that spirituality touches every single part of our lives. Part of it is that I believe that we are each active participants in creating our own realities. Every thought that we have has the potential to be a “prayer”- we are constantly asking the universe, or God, or whatever your preferred title, for what we want via our thoughts and intentions. If you think negatively about your health, money, or career, your experience is going to be negative. If you think positively your experience will be positive. I believe in this both psychologically and physically (I put weight on the whole theory that thoughts have physical bearing). The more energy I can devote to training myself to live with intention, and gratitude for the life that I have at any given moment, the better off I feel that I will be.

So really, the main point that I am trying to make is that having a lot of goals doesn’t need to be overwhelming, because if you are working hard on one of them, it is also going to make a gain in the others. Everything is a big web, and when you make positive changes in one area of life, all areas will be positively affected. Personally, I feel really good about focusing most of my energy on good health right now. It seems like a strong cornerstone. But it’s been a nice side-effect of that focus to begin noticing other, seemingly unrelated changes!