Pregnancy + Writing Don’t Mix

Well my brain has picked up and moved out. Beyond getting through the regular motions of my day there is nothing going on upstairs right now… I’ve gotten sick of staring down blank pages and empty computer screens.  By the time I muster up the mental power needed to put a few words down I’m so exhausted with the effort that my pregnant body shuts down and instanap.  I fall asleep with my laptop balancing on my belly. I’m trying to accept that it’s where I’m at today, as hard as it is.

While I wait for my mind and my ability to write anything at all to come back at least I get to look at cute baby stuff.  That helps a bit.

Bunny Lovie

Bunny Lovie

This stuffed bunny has a nice story.  When my mom was pregnant with me she bought a stuffed animal the very day she heard my heartbeat.  She had a funny feeling about the bear when she saw him sitting on the shelf at the toy store.  On her way home, she couldn’t even tuck him all the way in the shopping bag.  She left his head peeking out.  Mr. Bear became my most beloved toy when I was young. Of all the stuffed animals I had I picked him out especially.

Back to this little bunny… My mom bought him at a bookstore over the summer on a whim.  When she saw him she had the same funny feeling she had when she first saw Mr. Bear.  She decided she had to buy the rabbit for her future grandchild.  My husband and I hadn’t mentioned that we were even thinking about having a baby.  My dad of course told her it was crazy and that she shouldn’t pressure us into having kids and so on.  But she bought the bunny, vowing she’d stash him away for whenever we did decide to have a baby.  It turns out that I was five weeks pregnant the day she bought him.  My mom’s intuition is uncanny.

Things that come in size tiny are also pretty adorable. It’s still hard to imagine that we will be putting these little booties on teeny feet that are already growing.

Booties

Booties

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!)

Showing Up for Yourself

Bloom (C) Open Hearted All Rights Reserved

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

I’m so not in the mood to write anything at all right now.  Pretty ironic since I want to write about the importance of showing up for yourself.  I got a very nice reminder about how achieving your dreams is really up to you, it’s not magic. It came in the form of a post from Positively Present.  (It’s hard not to link to that blog in every single post I write…)

I find myself feeling envious when I watch other people quit their day jobs, to pursue full-time writing, or land an amazing book deal.  I get this strange feeling that there’s not enough room for me to be successful, that there are “enough” writers out there already.  I’m not sure where that feeling comes from. I know truthfully that the idea is just plain silly.  There’s plenty of room for me to succeed too, if I really work hard at it.

If I show up for myself, then my dreams are in my reach.  Making it real, making it happen is up to me.  The universe will meet me halfway, but I need to figure out how to get across my half.

Part of it is moving out of my comfort zone.  When people ask me what I do, for example, I’ll try owning that I am a writer.  I’m also incredibly fearful about sharing my work with other people, making up any excuse to revise to avoid showing it.  I’m afraid of sending it out into the world, with my name attached to it.   To tackle that fear, I’ve outlined some baby steps for submitting my work over the next month. Taking new risks will help get me there.  Starting this blog and keeping it up has been one of those risks that feels pretty good on the other side.

Expecting more from myself is another thing I’m working on.  I’m possibly the world’s best procrastinator.  I can come up with an excuse for anything.  I’ve started trying to develop new habits with Creative Recovery.  Through the process I’m hoping to remove some the of creative blocks I’ve developed.

Most importantly I’m trying to shift my attitude.  When I procrastinate I can get stuck in this self-defeating cycle.  Say I’m watching TV instead of writing.  When I realize I should be writing, this super negative, critical voice comes up.  It points out that I’m lazy, and worthless, making me.  I feel more depressed, and get more and more stuck on the couch.  I’m trying to change my attitude. When I realize I’m berating myself, I’m trying to shift to a more gentle, nurturing, encouraging voice.   That’s the only thing that really gets me off the couch.

Reminding myself that my dreams are important, and that the little things I do add up puts those dreams back in reach again.  I owe it myself to honor those hopes, wishes and desires.  Well here I am showing up today.

Side note: The quote above might seem a little out of place.  I included it though because this whole process of showing up, feels a little like blooming.

Creative Recovery: Day 0

Via

I’m going into creative rehab today.  Creative recovery is a term that I read about in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a brilliant book about uncovering your creativity and artistic inspiration.  One part of her introduction really hooked me, and I thought, “Oh god that’s me too.”  It was in the introduction. She hints at her issues with alcoholism.  What I understood from her writing was that she came to a point where she had to make a choice between alcohol and art.  She realized the two couldn’t coexist.

At the time I read that, I felt like I wasn’t really ready to make a change.  I wasn’t convinced that I needed to.  Sitting where I am today I feel like it’s time.  I choose writing.  I choose my art.  I choose the difficulty and discomfort of facing and sorting through my raw feelings.  I’ve written before about how I tend to run from difficult emotions afraid that they’ll gobble me up.  I run, by self-soothing with food, wine and TV, numbing out from the world around me.  You cannot selectively numb, as I’ve learned from Brene Brown. If you numb the bad, you numb the good.  When I finally drag myself to my desk to write, I’m left with nothing inside to write from.

I have this great habit of getting all excited to start a new program, or lifestyle, or endeavor, and never make it through dinner of the same day.  Posting here, is way of holding myself accountable.  Though no one’s watching, I’ll feel like someone’s watching.  A nice kick in the pants to stick to somtehing for once.  I’m trying to go day by day and leave it at that.

Daily Creative Recovery:

  • Morning Pages (See Julia Cameron’s book for this one)
  • Healthy Diet (Sugar, Caffeine, Gluten, Alchol, Dairy Free)
  • Enough Sleep
  • Fresh Air
  • Excercise
  • Open Hearted Post

Removing some of the crutches I cling to, a glass of wine, comfort eating, and so forth, I take away the layer I normally use to cover over whatever I’m feeling or thinking.  This is an experiment in learning to live without those buffers.  At the very least I hope I get a better understanding of myself.  I also hope my health and energy levels improve.  Most importantly though, when I sit down to write I want to know that I’m doing all I can, working my ass off to haul up my own star. (Have to thank APW for that little gem of wisdom.)

Overflow

Self-indulgent overflow of any and all feelings follows below, woah boy.

I feel so hopeless sometimes. Like there’s nothing, nothing I can do to make myself feel better.  I numb, and I numb, and I numb, and I know I should stop.  But I’m more afraid of what will happen if I stop numbing.  What feelings are laying in wait for me to swallow me whole.

I just feel sad and tearful and I can’t think of any reason why.   I’m lonely a bit for a friend, a girl friend.  I still don’t really have any in this city.  I’m also so stuck with my writing.  My dream is to become a full time writer, and part of me knows I’ve got what it takes, but the other part is stuck.  I get so frustrated.   I wonder why the hell do I think I could be successful? I wonder why the hell I think I should be successful if I can’t even get my ass off the couch, and write a few sentences.   And I know in my heart the truth is that I won’t achieve my dreams if I don’t try to.  But I’m so paralyzed right now.

I’m afraid I’ll finish this book that I’m writing and it will be crap.  I’m afraid that I’ll never find anyone who will want to publish it.  I’m afraid the book publishing industry is falling apart so there will never be any space for me to succeed anyway.  I’m afraid that even if it’s published I don’t have the marketing platform to sell any copies.  I’m afraid I will fail in full force.  I’m afraid I will burst the bubble on my own dream, realize I can’t really make it happen after I’ve tried.  That I’ll be stuck forever in a corporate job, doing what “responsible” people do. Then I’m afraid that having any of these fears means that I don’t believe in myself.  How are you supposed to succeed when you don’t believe in yourself?

One glass of wine and I stopped tonight. I really, really wanted that second drink. I wanted to numb out and check out and not deal with anything.  But then all of the sudden the desire to feel something, anything was greater than my urge for a drink.  And I made a cup of tea.  I’ve been having that second drink for weeks.  So whatever I’m feeling hasn’t caught up with me.  The tears are coming and I’m not sure entirely why.

I’m just afraid that I won’t be able to make any of my dreams come true.  That I don’t deserve any of them. I used to feel that way about finding someone who would love me for all of me.  But if I look now, I see that I have a wonderful husband, who loves me and see me for all of me.  He believes in me more than I do sometimes, and inspires me.  He comes home and comforts me and helps me see the light again.

I feel some hope, because I’m sitting here feeling these feelings tonight.  I’ve spilled them out there.   With love, I learned a lot about needing to love myself before I found someone who loves me they I deserve to be loved.  So I’m going through a growing stage with writing I guess.  I trust that I’m where I need to be right now.  I will still show up though.  If I show up and do my best for the day, that’s all I can ask. At the end of it all, I love writing and if I follow that nudge of intuition I can’t fail.  I can only grow.

Funny how those feelings of doubt and despair, when I finally open them up, and named them, they move right through me.  All it took was the end of this post to get them all down.  I still have those fears and doubts but they’re not holding me hostage anymore.  I will need to relearn this lesson over and over and over, but when you acknowledge the feelings they loosen their grip on you.  Thank God for that!

A Weekend in a Dream

View from the Cabin

A few weekends ago I had a chance to live a weekend from my dream life, the life I would lead if I had no responsibilities and could do as my heart desired each moment of the day.  Ahh I wish.

I work for an environmental organization that helps protect beautiful open spaces.  My husband and I got to spend a weekend at a cabin on one of those preserves, on the coast of Northern California.  It was built in the 1950s or 1960 by a man who was a sailor and then later a writer.

Chunked into the side of a cliff, the little place is surrounded on three sides by oceans views.  It was simply stunning.  The cabin was pretty much a wooden shack, with two walls of plexiglass windows. We had the bare necessities to get by over the weekend, galley kitchen, closet bathroom, fireplace and cot.  That was all we needed.

The sun was shining, it was warm for February and the whole place was simply gorgeous.  H and I couldn’t stop smiling at each other, we were so overcome with giddiness. “This is ours, for the whole weekend?”

The original owner’s presence was definitely there.  His books lined the bookshelves, not a splinter had been changed since he built the place.  It was a nice feeling, not a sinister one.  Kind of like a pushy notion to remember that life is short.  (He died suddenly in his sixties while working on what he felt would be his best book.)  I stayed up late that night scribbing away in my notebook, writing more than I had in the past two months combined.  It was magic.  All of the sudden it felt like my dreams were in reach again. That yes, if I actually did something, made some moevement towards what I wanted, it was possible.

It’s amazing what a change in your every day scenery can do.  If only I could live in the cabin every day… I’m trying to find little ways to recapture some of that joy and freedom I felt – taking a walk outside in the sun, trying to notice small details around me and be very present.  It’s tough to get back to the grind of everyday and maintain any of that creativity.  It was a kick in the pants reminding me that I need to take action, do something. Intention is great and all, but you’ve got to make a move towards what you want.