Horsies with a Dash of Life Lessons Thrown In

My favorite boy

Nerd Alert: maybe it was the post about not having friends, or that I like organizing for fun… Well if neither of those tipped you off to the fact that I’m a huge dork, this will seal the deal. I love horses. I mean love, really, really, love horses and here is a giant picture to prove it. It’s an expensive addiction. My sane and wonderful husband is the only thing keeping me from selling all of my possessions and buying my favorite old boy Archie (pictured above) and living out of his stall, because I can’t afford my own home.

When you ride you form a connection between horse and rider, and it’s one of the most amazing feelings on the planet. I also discovered in the last year that riding is a direct metaphor for whatever else is happening in my life. It happens to a degree that is totally startling. During one horseback riding lesson I was petrified, so scared of doing the course set by my instructor that I totally botched it. On my second go around I focused on one thing I needed to improve instead of my fear. By making that subtle change and shifting my attention I went around and had a flawless round. Obvious lesson – when you let fear take over you fail, but if you can concentrate on the task at hand or some small part of it that doesn’t scare you quite so much you can overcome the fear and do a pretty damn good job.

Archie was out for a few months, a little sore and not able to work. He’s feeling much better and I’m so thrilled he’s back. We had one of the best rides of my life last Sunday. I’ll keep hoarding my pennies to keep riding as long as I can. It’s the best investment in my happiness I can think of. What’s yours?

Heart Heroes: Find Your Inner Two Year Old

I think we should all tap into our inner two year old a little more often…  Just watch and I think you’ll agree.  Look at his face – you know he’s totally thinking “it’s go time.”

Seriously though. It feels really good to say screw it every once in a while and dance the jive no matter who’s watching.

I found this little gem thanks to Roots of She.

Alchemy: The Art & Craft of Writing

I wish I’d been able to think up a title like Alchemy: The Art & Craft of Writing. Such a perfect description for writing. No that wasn’t me though, it was the amazing Jenna at The World Cellar.

About two years ago I finally gave myself permission to follow one of my lifelong dreams – to write fiction.  Getting there was a long, arduous process.  Filled with tears and doubts, but then finally joy.  Once I was writing again it felt so good to remember how to use my imagination, to remember that I do have a voice, and that I do have stories to tell.

One of the things I struggle with the most is letting my own authentic voice come through onto the page. I took Jenna’s Daily Alchemy course with 30 days of writing prompts, and made a huge break through at the end of last year.  Her prompts pushed me to write about new ideas, to play with words, and approach my writing in different ways.  The exercises freed up my voice, and it’s been invaluable.

She has a few writing courses coming up and I wanted to share them.  I really can’t recommend them enough!  (Alchemy is starting April 2!)

Finding My Tribe

Admission: I have no good friends.  It would be great if you could just, you know, pretend to be surprised about this fact.

I had a pity party for myself on my birthday a few weeks ago about this very thing.  My husband might describe it a touch less gently as complete and total nuclear meltdown.  All this clearing out stuff I talked about though, it’s led to more doing.

After I cried my eyes out, I asked myself what I should do about making friends.  Instead of Facebooking, I texted an acquaintance to get sushi out of the blue.  I set up a dinner with some women who seemed pretty wonderful that I’m taking a Hebrew class with.  I was shocked at how easy it was and that everyone responded really enthusiastically.  Everything I was afraid of – that no one would respond, that people would think it was a stupid idea… none of it happened. (You may have this unnerving sense that you’re all of the sudden reading the blog of a 12 year old girl.. Rest assured, still me.  My social skills, however, have not evolved past sixth grade.)

I put myself out on a limb, exposed myself, and felt all vulnerable and all that yuckiness.  But that discomfort was all worth it.  It led to a few really fun nights.  Taking small steps, doing little things, ended up making me feel so much better.  I remembered that I had the ability to change my circumstances again.  It was awesome.

What do I want?  I want a tribe of women. A group of women who know me, who see me, who I feel comfortable with.  Real friends, who really love me, who help hold each other up. I’m working my way there step by step.

Update: I also started reading MWF seeks BFF to get a little more perspective on this whole making friends thing and I’m pretty excited about it so far! Will post a review when I’m done.

Decluttering, Or Easing Into Action

I’ve been hit by spring cleaning. Well, that’s actually a lie.  I’m a complete and total freak and love spring cleaning.

When I feel overwhelmed about making any change in my life or taking action (sensing a theme here?) sometimes the only thing I can do is unclutter.  It seems like the most manageable task.  Something I can actually tackle.  So far I’ve got my inbox done – deleting most of the email subscriptions I signed up for.  Instead of being inspired by the content flowing to my finger tips each day I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it.  I’m a bit obsessive compulsive and have to read every email I get.  Turns out it was making me a whole lot less productive…  Instead of an inspiration it was distraction.  I also deactivated my Facebook account.  (I don’t think we need any explanation on that one.  Though be warned it makes it a whole lot harder for friends to remember your birthdays.)

I also have a penchant for self -help books. It *might* be an addiction of sort.  I know I’ve hit my limits when I can’t access any original thoughts in my brain.  Instead all I have access to are euphemisms, famous quotes, mantras, affirmations, metaphors, meditations, breathing exercises.  They all get jumbled around together and turn into useless garbage, blundering around my head.  I piled up the towers of books to give away and held on only to those few gems I couldn’t live without.  Simplify.  Focus. Calm.  I’m already feeling so much better.  I have space in my head for my own thoughts.  I have moments on the train when I can let my imagination wander, keeping my cell phone in my purse instead of my hand.  This space always feels so good.

I’ve been talking about needing to take action, do something.  Fear has been holding me up.  I have to say decluttering is about the best first step you can take for any creative endeavor.  With the space I found in my head, my home, my heart, I left room for my intuition.  The funny thing is the action became more effortless.  Suddenly the next steps are right there in front of me.  I have to say, I’m really, really excited about most of them.  Guess what?  With enthusiasm, comes ease.

The magic spell:

Decluttering leads to space, which leads to calm, which lets intuition speak up, and voila.  The path is illuminated.

I love the saying “do without doing and everything gets done.” I guess some of those quotes are permanently programmed into my mind regardless of whether or not I kept the book it came from.  This is a good one though.

I have more decluttering on the agenda for the next few weeks – bookshelves, kitchen, bedroom, living room, study.  Here we go!

Getting It Done…

Go get shit done.” I should have this tatooed on my forehead.  I have such a hard time with just doing things.  I ponder, question, analyze, over analyze, reevaluate, think some more, and I’m lucky if I actually make one change or do one thing.  It’s a pretty good flipping day when I get anything done.  This quality has some advantages. I’m usually pretty prepared, have a back-up plan (or twelve), and really know all of  my options.  I mean really know them.

More often than not, I get paralyzed in thinking and never actually get to the doing part.  It’s a really big problem. So the post I linked to was a much needed kick in the pants.  Time for the doing of things… I’m clearing out some space, and instead of spending so much time and energy figuring out what I want to do, just winging it.  (I’m such a rebel, I know!)

I’m not talking about being aggressive or forceful with myself.  The truth is, if I stop and listen to my intuition for a minute, I know what needs to happen next.  Whether it’s with writing or improving my marriage or friendships, I know what to do.  When I let the self-doubt come in the procrastination takes hold.

Less (over) thinking, more doing.  Go do something.  Whether it’s attacking the pile of dishes in the sink, or finishing up a chapter in your novel. Do it, now.

Book Heart: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog on My Book Shelf

I read lots, and lots, and lots of books. Every once in a while I come across a book that sticks with me. I mark pages and write down quotes of scenes or passages or dialogue I want to remember. I realized there’s a common theme running through most of these pieces I’m drawn to. It’s usually an example of a fictional character learning to be themselves, coming in to their own, or accepting some part of themselves. It’s typically all about being open-hearted. Today is the first of the what will hopefully be many Book Heart columns.

Book Heart: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

By Muriel Barbery

I picked up and put down this book maybe five times over that many years. For whatever reason, whenever I did my annual paring down of the overflowing bookshelves, I held on to it. Something about the cover, the person who’d recommended it to me… I just wasn’t ready to let it go. I’m so glad I didn’t.

It turned out to be one of those books that makes you want to sop up every last word and phrase.  The plot revolves around the lives of two unexpected friends: Renee an apartment building “concierge” in France and Paloma a young girl who lives in the building.  Neither believes that there’s  a place in the world for their real self.  They construct a whole facade trying to get by as the people they believe they’re supposed to be.  Slowly the real hearts break through, and it’s quite a joy to witness.  Enjoy!