Thursday, February 26, 2009

Celebrate Your Life

I had the great good fortune to spend time with some dear friends in New York City this weekend--a trip that was good for my heart and soul. I laughed until my belly ached and my mascara smudged many times. We talked and talked and talked and talked, and a recurring theme was the idea that each of us should celebrate our lives.

So often I get messed up by looking at what other people have, and either wanting it for myself, or thinking that I should want it, or wondering why I don't want it, when really, if I can refocus on my own life and my own choices, I have so much to celebrate.

So today I celebrate the fact that I have Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on my book, to take care of myself, to refresh my creativity with artist dates, to catch up with friends, to cook, to read, to write letters and blog entries. I celebrate the fact that Carl and I just booked a trip to Puerto Rico, somewhere I've always wanted to go. I celebrate my ability to surf which is steadily improving, my improving fitness, the time and space I've given myself to write, my ever-improving manuscript. I celebrate my house, my job, my friends and family. I even celebrate the difficulties, through which I learn so much.

What in your life can you celebrate?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Standing at the Edge of the Unknown

I found out yesterday that it was pretty likely that my job would end on April 1. That, along with some other recent changes in my life have me feeling agitated. I’ve been trying to live with the agitation, to acknowledge it and accept it. They say acceptance leads to serenity, and they’re right. I just can’t always get there.

Speaking with a friend this morning about these changes he said that standing at the edge of the unknown is turbulent. He added that we make it worse for ourselves by imagining worst case scenarios—like I’ll never get another job I like, I’ll never finish the book, Carl and I will lose our house, etc etc. (Not that I’ve thought any of those things, but you know, one could.) My friend concluded by saying it would be better if we could look toward the unknown not with dread but with curiosity. After talking to him I thought maybe I can take it a step further and feel hope—hope that whatever comes after this job will be great, will be joyful, helpful, the thing that I need.

My current job turned out to be the thing that I needed, a thing that really helped me in many ways. It helped me make some money, feel some relief from financial worry. It helped me to get back into the workforce, to try a schedule where I had a job and had some responsibility while still working on the book. It allowed me to see lawyers in a positive light again. It may have even piqued my interest in doing legal work again. So if this job could do all this for me, what might another job do? Might it not be great? Be just the thing I need?

Maybe I can take it even one step further and try to be grateful for the unknown, for the new possibilities that shimmer just out of sight, and even for the turbulence, which at least isn’t boring. I am grateful that I no longer see my life stretching out ahead of me in a straight and predictable line. It’s good to have some mystery, some unknown. Isn’t that what keeps life interesting?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't Think, Just Do

The down side of my overactive imagination is that I can vividly imagine how hard things are going to be. For example, if I start thinking about going to the gym, I see myself changing clothes, getting in the car, suffering through a work out, coming home and showering, which when put all together in my mind seems like too much. Last week I heard someone say, "Don't think, just do," in reference to this very gym scenario. "Thinking is a trap," she said. "Just get your butt there." This is a smart person, a wise person, so this week, every time I got stuck thinking about going to the gym, I told myself, "don't think, just do." And it worked.

Drunk with success, I tried applying it to my writing. When I've found myself going down the mental road of "I don't want to write, I don't feel like it, I can't do it today, I don't know what to say, I don't know what to do next, I hate the stupid book, why did I ever begin this anyway, etc etc" I have told myself, "Don't think, just do." Here too, it works! The other morning I woke up and saw a piece of the manuscript on my night stand. I had never once tried to work on the book in bed, but I figured what the hell? Just do. So I started reading, and worked very happily for about an hour, lying in bed, in my pjs. What a gorgeous way to start my day.

This morning I woke up later than I wanted and didn't have time to do anything before I left for work. But I grabbed a few chapters and read them on the train. Snatching moments here or there to work on the book has been adding up to good work, good progress and good feelings. For the first time in awhile, I feel forward momentum again. Oh how I have missed you, forward momentum! Don't think, just do has spared me the agony that attends the procrastination. It has helped me get over that hump that feels insurmountable some days--the hump of beginning. Once I've begun I'm almost always happy, so why is it so hard to start? I don't know. But I'm going to use this trick for as long as it keeps working.