Follow Your Writing Bliss

 

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“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work it is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we invest this energy. Memories, thought, and feeling are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under our control, to do with as we please; hence, attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”

 From Flow: THe Psychology of Optimal Experience  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  

 

“Keep your eye on the prize.”

I think of that line from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every time I realize that I have wandered away from my writing path. I usually get a feeling of uneasiness that something is just not right. It happens when I think I need to commit to projects that do not serve me any longer or when I think I should do something that does not fill me with joy.  Goals that were once important to me but not anymore. That is when I need to keep my eye on what is important for me at this moment in my life.

Time is limited. The days, weeks, months and years fly by.  I need to always be conscious of living my most creative life as I define it, not by what others tell me I should be doing. 

When I focus my energy on what I want to be and where I want to be, I know I am on my true path because it fills me with joy.

But how easy it is to chase that squirrel around and around in the backyard.   I know, I’ve watched my dog.   

And myself.

Energy flows where attention goes.

The Big White Open Page

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”  -Barbara Kingsolver

 

I just joined a health club and today I went in to do some of the things the personal trainer suggested. I told myself I didn’t need to do it all. I just needed to show up and do what I could.

Baby steps.

I got to the club early feeling a little out of place thinking everyone will be watching me.  The woman behind the desk took my photo because  I was new.  There were a few earlier risers there this morning. I knew they were regulars. They had their club designed workout clothes, sweaty towels, their wireless headphones. I was a newbie. I forgot my headphones and towel. I was still trying to figure out the equipment and how to lock my locker.   

But that’s ok.   Because I showed up. I know what I need to do.

With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) coming up in November, I am in challenge mode. But it’s important for me to remember that I am not in competition with anyone. No one likes to be a beginner and with writing it feels like that almost all the time.  I am facing that bright white sheet of paper each time I sit down to write. How I get myself there is the trick. (Just like the health club). 

This year NaNoWriMo may be a good way to challenge myself and to recognize I am not alone in this journey.  But whatever I do or don’t do daily should never be because I am trying to compete with someone else.  

This writing thing.   I do it for me.

 

 

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Well, I lie A lot

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I am having a trip down memory lane today. I am watching one of my favorite shows from childhood, “High Chaparral,” an old time television western. One of the characters, Buck Cannon played by Cameron Mitchell, says after breaking a deal he made with an outlaw, 

“Well, I lie a lot.”

Today is 4th of July and I promised myself that my time would  be spent on my creative projects. And I have a free day to do this.

After the show, I realized how Buck’s words resonated with me.  

How often do I lie?   I lie a lot. I lie a lot to myself. I promise myself I will do the activities that I love. I will make time for them.  Then something else interrupts me and I make a liar of myself.

But not today, I will be true to myself. 

I will write.

Check back with me for how I do.

Being Mindful. Being Present

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Rene Magritte —The False Mirror

 

Dr. Henry Emmons, a psychiatrist,  spoke at a conference I attended last week.  He ended his talk telling the audience what the secret was to happiness and longevity.

 He said, “Be mindful of the present moment.”

Mindfulness feeds into our everyday life and especially into writing.

Creator of the Mindfulness Based-Stress Reduction Program (MSBR), Jon Kabit-Zinn, said, “Writing can be an incredible mindfulness practice.”

My best writing sessions are when I am present with pen and paper in hand. I am centered and open as I write.

But when I ramp up my brain about other random things like, “don’t forget to do this or that, and don’t forget about that thing.” Then my brain starts to overload. It is like  hot oil shooting out of a pan. It has nowhere to go except all over the stove, the floor, and my arm. 

OUCH!  And Damnit! 

We don’t need to be jumping around like Mexican jumping beans with our distracted thoughts corrupting our writing time.  Or acting like my dog, Bailey, chasing every squirrel she sees or doesn’t see because she’s so programmed to just go when she hears the word, Squirrel!  

That’s kind of like our mind.

 And there are a lot of squirrels (aka distractions-checking email, googling information, answering a text) taking our attention.

When I practice settling into this moment. My mind slows down. 

I smell the lilacs outside my window.

I see the animal figures in the clouds.

It calms my heart. I can see the way into my imagination and get into the task of what I am writing.

And that is all that matters.

Writing about your life can be enjoyable and bring a deep satisfaction.  When I  experience life  in the present and take the time to write about it, life becomes fuller and I become more creative. 

Sometimes when I read old journals and see that I have skimmed or neglected much of the detail around that time, I get a little sad. I may still have the memory but I neglected to write about it in the present moment. I skirted around it or did not take the time to see the details.  As if it was just not important enough. As if my life is boring.

Jon Kabit-Zinn also said, “When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.”

Being present is about taking notice of your life.

Today at work I watched construction workers tear apart the street below my office window. I felt like my 15 month old grandson watching these huge bulldozers doing amazing things.

When you write, there is no reason to hurry, and no other place you need to go. 

So feel the breeze on your face, float with the clouds above, and smell the lilacs. 

Be there and wherever you are  ….

Write!

 

DO IT. WRITE

906fddf4-abdf-49b4-a459-99dcc00f2138-e1534100557250.jpegI bought this button at a flea marked many years ago. I still like its simple message.

There is nothing special or elaborate about writing.  It doesn’t take any expensive equipment and it can be done almost anywhere.

Yet some days may go by and nothing will be written. Life will get in the way.  I think to myself I need to write about this when I have more time.  But if I am not careful it will fade away.

There have been times when I have looked back at my journals  for a specific event and found out sadly that I did not take the time to write about it in detail or even at all.

I think to myself, why didn’t I write about that?

My life is in the details of my everyday world.  I need to make space to write about it as much as I can.

No one will put that pen in my hand.  There is no ceremony or recognition banquet to go to after I take the time to write.  No one cares if I write or not.

But writing is important to me.

That’s why I keep this button.

Just do it.  Write.

Lake Moment

My accidents tend to happen when I am rushing or thinking about something in the future so I am not paying attention. Then silly things happen like I get my fingernail stuck in the underside of a bowl’s rim. If I don’t move slowly I’ll rip the nail across in a not so pretty and painful way. 

How did that happen?

When I’ve had this happen more than once, it makes me think.
Slow it down. Pay attention to this moment not some moment in the future. I’m not there yet.
“We’ll get there when we get there,” I hear these words in my head.
I was in Duluth last week with my sisters celebrating birthdays. On our last day on Friday morning, I took an early morning walk along the wonderful board walk. A beautiful day for a walk. A downtown clock chiming out 6 am. There was a blue sky and quiet and a 64 degree temperature. The lake at my side. There was plenty of time. No hurry. The last I heard we would be leaving at around 10 am.
My sisters back at the hotel not wanting to go for a stroll. Their minds on getting home. No longer was the location important. It was time to go home. No longer were they appreciating the remaining time they had at a place they wanted to be just a few hours before. 
So an hour later I get a call from my sister, ” Where are you? Better get back the bus is leaving. We’ve packed the car. I want to get back before rush hour.” 
It was only 7:30 am and they wanted to hit the road. But no they didn’t. They just wanted me back to the hotel. It was only a two hour ride home but suddenly it was time to rush. We did not have to be back until early afternoon. My sisters minds now focused on the future and on an eventual stop at a casino. We had plenty of time yet it was time to hurry. I was not getting ready like they thought I should.
And I was on Duluth time. Location, location, location. I would not be staying at this hotel in the future and we were right on the lake. It was a blessing to be there and I was still there. They were no longer on Duluth time. Their minds on Father’s Day plans on Sunday, on posting to Facebook on their iPad, watching tv, eating dinner at 6 pm. My sisters were thinking about their future and not the last few hours we had time to spend together in a beautiful place.
I was happy to have taken the walk. My sisters probably won’t regret not spending that valuable time outdoors like I did enjoying the scenery that one last time. I knew I would not have this incredible view tomorrow when I took my city walk. 
It made me aware of how much we all rush to get to the next place or the next event when we decide our vacation is officially over when it really isn’t – not quite yet. Rush to the next moment as if this moment is just not worth paying attention to. Did my walk interfere with their future plans? No. There was plenty of time to get home and to even stop at the casino. That was where their minds were then.
We all get caught up in the idea that there is always something better over the rainbow that we need to rush to it and forget to look at what is right out in front of us and what time there is left to enjoy it.
Soon I will hear my sisters say how fast that weekend went. How time just flew by. When I think back about that early morning walk, I will remember how time seemed to fall into a synchronized pace and how peaceful I felt. Maybe I was not able to slow down time, but I was present enough to enjoy it.