Inspiration for the long haul: drawing from our inner ‘chutzpah’

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Grain by grain, a loaf;
stone by stone, a castle.
~ Yugoslavian proverb

My emotional barometer oftentimes resembles the ups and downs of a roller coaster. Maybe that’s why I associate life—and its proverbial thrill ride—to the popular amusement attraction. For example, between the peaks and valleys, I’m traveling high on the adrenaline that fuels my passion for the written word—whether I’m composing an interview for a commercial trade publication or crafting a two-sentence writing workshop assignment. Yet, on the opposite spectrum, my stomach drops as I’m awash with tremendous feelings of guilt and derision—berating myself for the time I’m wasting on the pursuit of “pipe dreams.” Thankfully, however, each of us possesses a middle ground—a place in which we can draw from our inner “chutzpah,” to keep on keeping on, rather than plunge into the depths of limiting beliefs and doubts. But it begins, first, by reminding ourselves why we chose our path.

How do you stay inspired for the long haul?

Image courtesy of everydayplus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Muscle mix up: how to avoid plateaus

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In “Flexing our muscles: use ‘em or lose ‘em,” I talk about unworked muscles and how they lose their strength, and may even atrophy over time. This means any type of muscle—our brains, physical bodies, creative outlets. Which brings me to the concept of “muscle memory” (according to Wiki): that with practice, the execution of a motor task becomes smoother and the muscle activity necessary to the task is performed without conscious effort. However, on that note, it’s also important to practice something called “muscle mix up.” This means to change a routine by stimulating different muscle groups in order to avoid a plateau and/or boredom of any activity in which we’re engaged. Whether it’s hitting the gym vs. the mat or reading vs. Sudoku, or painting vs. pottery or writing a Haiku vs. a screenplay, I believe that stretching our potential challenges us to achieve greater benefits. And we might just find a new passion while we’re at it.

How do you practice muscle mix up?

Image courtesy of toonsteb at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What matters is the doing: replacing fear with freedom

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Deadlines. Some people flourish under these heavy-handed task masters. Others freeze. I dwell somewhere within the pages of both extremes, depending on the hour. Most recently, under deadline for a 20-page submission earmarked for critique at an upcoming writers’ retreat, I struggled. With doubts, fears, frustrations. I hollered self-recriminations like “fraud” and “you suck” into the recesses of my monkey mind. I contemplated canceling my reservation. But, in the end, my goal was to write. And I did. My goal was to make deadline. And I did. And, for the most part, I had fun. Except when I didn’t. In my experience, I can attest to the truth that I am my own worst critic. Even though, I know my submission lacked passion. It lacked voice. But here’s what I learned: It doesn’t matter how I feel about doing something. What matters is the doing. And I did. In spite of fears and doubts and jitters. Which leads to freedom. Because I survived.

What are you afraid of?

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Visualize it to become it

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I teeter on the edge—close to abandoning my passion once again. But in the quiet of morning—that fuzzy space when daybreak balances in the silence—my husband’s body presses against mine, his arm draped over me. Sheets askew, strips of sunlight strain to penetrate the shutter seams. And his mouth brushes my hair as he speaks: I haven’t seen you write lately. It isn’t how these words string together to form meaning. It’s what he doesn’t say: I notice you; there’s something missing. As I often do with my hopes—my feelings—I tamp them down; the ashes turn cold from neglect. Yet even though I pretend I’m okay, that I’m happy, soon the need to seek solitude and inspiration along the mountain trails will become a tangible draw. But it’s now that I see a glimmer among the dust motes: the spark of resolve as it ignites. I visualize myself as a successful writer. A published novelist. I’m back.

What do you need to visualize?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Are you doing what you’re supposed to do or what you want to do—or both?

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Recently I texted my big sister and dumped a “woe is me” montage on her. I suck as a writer. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m champing at the bit. Her response: Breathe and pray—the words a balm to my spirit. Oh dear heart, if you, too, are a person who strives, strives and strives some more, it’s okay (normal even) if you don’t know where you’re going. Just breathe and pray. And ask yourself if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do or what you want to do. Because, as my sister reminded me, these might not be one and the same. You have been created to do magnificent things. But what you think is your passion might only be the tip of the iceberg. Already eight days into NaNoWriMo and, truthfully, I need to regroup. To breathe, pray and search my soul. To discover what will truly make me happy and then do that.

Are you doing what truly makes you happy?

Photo source: http://www.framesandfreckles.com.

Defeating the demons: pressing in to get your head (and heart) unstuck

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In my recent post, “Make peace with the past…” I contemplate the choice to salvage the Someday mentality [“Someday my dreams will come true, I’ll accomplish X, Y and Z or fill-in-the-blank”]—or to let go of the one-sided dreams. You know the type—where the outcome centers on circumstances beyond your control. Today, I’m at a crossroads as I fight a few familiar demons: rehashing old habits, rethinking past choices, dwelling on the old. Yet the only way to reclaim my reality is to dig deeper, to press in to those areas which best define me: my passion and my purpose. To pursue, with greater intent, life’s simple pleasures and the transformative power of prayer, the mindful practice of gratitude and self-compassion. And to finally release those things which I cannot change in order to appreciate the life that’s smack dab in front of me. Not a million miles away. Not within the pages of a fairytale. But here, and now.

How do you defeat the demons?

Image source: askideas.com.

Hang in there: finding solace amidst the fallout

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It’s okay if you fall down and lose your spark.
Just make sure that when you get back up,
you rise as the whole damn fire. ~ Colette Werden

The physiological responses that accompany love and heartache can be similar. For example, a new relationship often triggers the pulse to race, or butterflies to replace hunger pangs. Heartache, too, can cause the heartbeat to fluctuate, or a loss of appetite. I find myself seized by the latter illustration—tears swift to dampen my lashes, my belly hollow. During a recent trip, I picked up a silver kitty pendant that hangs onto the delicate chain by its front legs—a twofold reminder: that life is fragile, and to ‘hang in there.’ On the heels of my post, ‘Letting go…,’ I wear this talisman for solace, of sorts, amidst the fallout of a severed friendship. My spark(le) may have dimmed, but soon I will fan the flames and ignite my passion ablaze.

Where do you find solace within the heartache?

Photo source: sanctuaryspring.com.

Club 50: it just keeps getting better (wear the tiara)

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My daughter called me the other day and said she’d read an article that seemed like something I’d write: “50 Life Lessons Written by a 50-Year-Old Woman.” I wish I could say I had penned it because it was that good. And perfect. The cool thing is, I’ve already discovered most of these lessons and apply the majority in my own life. There are others I plan to put into practice, and even more that I’d like to add: 51) Pamper yourself often: buy the flowers, new dress or new shoes; splurge on a fresh “do” or mani and pedi. 52) Find something you’re wildly passionate about and pursue it, fearlessly. Or reignite an old passion, boldly. 53) Love others and love yourself; be kind always. 54) Cultivate a healthy body image. But my all-time favorite is the author’s closing tip: wear a tiara whenever you want to (and not just on your birthday). I think this might be my life’s new motto.

What is your life’s motto?

No pain, no gain

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no-pain-no-gain

 

Business travel and other commitments kept me away from the hot room for days. I told a friend I looked forward to the simultaneous pleasure and pain of that evening’s practice. Not entirely familiar with Bikram yoga, he asked why I do it if it causes me pain. When I last hiked, my aching body rebelled as the wind sliced through five layers. When I write, oftentimes it’s with my own blood. So, why do we endure the physical and/or emotional pain that may accompany a strong passion(s) we entertain? Sometimes there is pain in the midst of transformation and healing. Of course, there is the adrenaline high that pushes many of us beyond our comfort zones. For me, I do what I do to face a challenge, to squeeze out every last drop of living in a particular moment. To come out a better, more complete version of me. And sometimes that might mean a skinned knee in the process.

Why do you do what you do?

Staying power: what it is and where it comes from

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staying-power

While nursing a reflective mood recently, I scrolled upon these Facebook gems:

Burning desire to be or do something gives us staying power—a reason to get up every morning or to pick ourselves up and start in again after a disappointment. ~ Marsha Sinetar

True strength doesn’t come from loving yourself when you have your sh*t together, true strength comes when you can stand courageously in your darkest, messiest and weakest moments and still find the strength to love yourself beyond all circumstance and definition. ~ Jannine Murray

Give. But don’t allow yourself to be used. Love. But don’t allow your heart to be abused. Trust. But don’t be naive. Listen. But don’t lose your own voice. ~ Anonymous

I’ve been a little naïve, used, my heart abused. I’ve forgotten how to love myself, and I’m searching for the voice I’ve lost. But my passions afford me strength, staying power—disappointment after disappointment—because I have a reason to rise every day and begin anew.

What gives you staying power?

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

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