Potential Energy

I’ve lost my way. I’m like a little girl out in a misty forest full of strange sounds and prickly bushes. I came here looking for something, but when the fear grabbed hold of me, I got disoriented and turned around. I’ve been wandering around looking for my destination, but all I’ve found is muddy holes, impassable creeks and a big patch of poison ivy. My clothes are tattered and my legs and face are covered in scratches. I haven’t given up though, and I know there is a way out of this tangled mess.

Once a week I am joined here in the forest of my life by Andrea Mauer, my wonderful and talented life coach. She takes my hand and walks the twisting paths with me. I show her the paths I tried and she helps me see where I went wrong. She points out the similarity between these paths and the ones I’ve already taken that led to impasses. She saves me from going down paths she is already familiar with or that she points out are rife with obstacles before I get too far along. Every once in a while she invites another wise person to join us in our search for my destination.

Andrea introduced me to Amy Oscar’s blog several months ago. Amy describes herself as a Soul Caller, an intuitive, a life coach and a teacher. Amy is deeply spiritual and connected to the Spirit World in a way that few people I know are. Like me, she believes in angels. But Amy has a connection to angels like no one I’ve ever met. You can read more about her here.

Recently, Amy invited readers to join her in a month long Writing Circle. I’ve joined in the hopes that her connectedness to the Spirit World and a connection to the other writers participating will help me find my way out of this dark forest of self-doubt, fear and resistance, to reconnect to my purpose in life and bring me to that place where my writing is full of inspiration and passion.

Yesterday’s prompt spoke to me and the eloquence with which Amy writes was inspiring. She wrote:

There is a place between here and there, between mystery and science, between staying and leaving, between choice and becoming: a place where most of us do not want to stay very long. We want to name and explain everything. We want to understand, to know – so we can put things in their places.

And yet, sitting in this space of not yet, of “I don’t know,” can be the most powerful place of all. For it is here, having departed the familiar and not yet arrived at the ‘who knows where,’ that anything is possible.

Not knowing is something I’ve never been comfortable with. It’s the reason I went into the sciences where the security of a “right” answer gave me something to hang on to and I did so for dear life. As a child, my greatest rewards – praise, love and attention – came from “knowing.” Naturally, it took me almost forty years to get more comfortable in the grey areas of life. The one area I was still severely challenged in was the realm of relationships.

I’m a serial monogamist – my whole adult life I’ve been in and out of relationships, but have been in them more than out. I moved in with my boyfriend when I was 18. I’ve been in a committed relationship for 21 of the 25 years that followed. I was 32 the first time I lived on my own for any considerable amount of time. I’ve been so uncomfortable with those in-between times that they have typically been filled with anxiety, depression and serial obsessions with first one man and then the next and the next, until something sticks and I’m back in a long-term relationship.

Not this time.

I find myself in that in between place now, the place Inyala Vanzant calls “the meantime,” that time between staying and leaving, between the choice I made and becoming whatever it is I will become. This time there is a difference though. I am still not completely comfortable here, but I notice I am more at ease than ever before. Anxiety is an occasional visitor rather than taking up residence in my soul. Andrea’s coaching has been invaluable in helping me find this place of acceptance and calm. When we started working together, I was already walking a path that hugged a jagged cliff-face overlooking a bottomless pit. She talked me off the cliff step by vertigo-inducing step, gently helping me figure out I was once again on the path to self-destructive relationship behavior, and then helped me figure out where to put my feet.

This is my chance to change the pattern of making choices that are not in my best interest and to stop hitting my head on the relationship brick wall. This time I am going to get quiet, turn inward and listen to my soul more. This time I’m going to take care of me more and worry about who “he” might be less. This time I’m not going to let myself fall head over heels in lust with someone I barely know. This time I think some “dating” and getting to know the person before I move in with him sounds like a good idea.

Perhaps more importantly, this time I’m not going to sweat the alone time. I’m going to use this time to work on me and my writing. When so many of my friends are juggling full-time jobs and kids, I am in the envious position of having only myself to worry about (six dogs and Felipe the caretaker hardly rate in comparison to 9-5 and a family).

Like Amy says, it is from this place that anything is possible. There is an energy in these in between times that is palpable – the potential energy of possibility, like a seed on the forest floor waiting for an opening in the canopy so it can to burst forth and grow. And so, I will be here waiting for the sunlight while I connect and create – me, myself, my soul.

Potty Training

Shit or get off the pot.

I’m pretty sure I was all of three the first time I heard these timeless words fly off the tongue of my mother’s friend Shirley. She’s always had a way with words. Now that she’s retired, you’re more likely to hear Shirl-ol-girl holler “The door is not an asshole, it doesn’t close by itself” after one of the army of children running wild through her house.

But shit or get off the pot I must.

If you’ve known me for any length of time then you know that I am not the best manager of time. In fact, there are some of you who have learned to knock fifteen minutes off the real time an event starts if you want me to arrive on time. My sweetheart has learned that brow beating me has an almost negligible effect and that he’s better off just going and sitting in the car, because I will show up, eventually.  He is fond of saying, when I start to twitch in the seat next to him when he takes off at the pace of a snail on ludes, “You cannot invent time dear. We will get there when we get there.” He has great distaste for rushing and refuses to do so. Has that changed my ability to get in the car with enough time to get where we need to be? Not at all.

To add insult to injury, I’m also a virtual award winning procrastinator.  If there is something else that can be done when I should be writing, I’ll do it. And let’s face it, there are a lot of things I can do instead of writing. In fact, as I whined about my inability to make time for writing, my sweetheart pointed out for the umpteenth time today that I have an embarrassment of choices.

He said, “Imagine a huge parking lot and put all the people of the world in it. I’m willing to bet every single one of them would kill to be in your position.”

And he’s right, Goddamn it, he’s right.

Every day upon rising I have a multitude of choices of what I will do that day. Every single day, almost without exception. I get to decide if I’ll go surfing, do yoga, sit and sip tea while I pet the dogs, meditate, walk the dogs on the beach, go kitesurfing, sweep the floors, go visit friends, go to town (that one’s almost never the choice), lay in the sun and read, sit on the couch and read, watch a movie, work in the garden, bake or plan a nice dinner, partake of Facebook or email a friend. And it kind of makes my head hurt when I realize there are other choices beyond those that I don’t usually even think of.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have responsibilities, things I must do, but in the grand scheme of things they pale in the face of the nine-to-five-plus-kids life that most people live. And I never have to do anything. The most pressing thing on my plate right now is to call the fumigator because we have a termite infestation in the kitchen cupboard that is getting out of hand. But honestly, it’s been getting out of hand for months. I’ve been able to ignore it until now. So ya, time, I got more time than a Swiss watch maker.

Given all these choices, I’m having a little trouble getting after it as far as writing my book goes or publishing on this blog for that matter. I just realized that “work on my book” did not even make the list of choices I penned above. That was unintentional and probably not the greatest indication of how high on my list of priorities writing usually is. Well, that’s going to change.

I here do declare and solemnly swear that I have committed to doing two things in order to make writing a higher priority in my life.

1)    Andrea Maurer’s 90-Day Power Play
Andrea is an aspiring life coach and a talented writer among other things. She recently took the bull by the horns in her own pursuit of self-fulfillment and is offering a 90-day coaching program to give 10 people the skills to realize their goals. Due to factors outside my control, I am not one of the official “10,” however I am reading along as time permits and doing the exercises she recommends (for the most part).

Recognizing that everyone, even ridiculously lucky people with tons of time and choices, has trouble with time management, Andrea has recommended that we keep a time journal.  That we record minute by minute how we spend (or waste away) our valuable time. I started mine mid-day yesterday and it’s already ringing some bells for me. The detailed results following a full week of journaling will be reported in an upcoming blog. I may even turn it into an excel file and run some statistics on it (except that might take too much of my oh so valuable TIME).

2)    ECL 134 W
In a fit of “I’ve-got-to-do-something-to-get-off-my-ass-and-start-writing-regularly” that occurred some time in February, I signed up for Creative Non-Fiction: A Plan for Success, a Stanford University online course that starts this coming Monday. The great thing about this course? I will be working on my WIP as part of the course work. And it says right in the course description, “this course is designed to…establish writing habits that will sustain us to completion.” You’re singing my tune baby!

I’m committed. Well, almost 100% (the drop deadline for the course is April 7) and the next 10 weeks are gonna see a lot more writing action from this aspiring author. 

I think a few questions I have are going to be answered during this period. Can I do it and still have it all? (By “all” I mean write AND do yoga, surf, kite surf somewhat regularly, keep the house respectably clean, the dogs walked and fed, myself bathed and fed something other than microwavable popcorn.) Can I maintain balance, contentment and my sanity in the face of the demands of being a writer? Am I committed enough to being a writer to make the necessary choices?

Time will tell.