When I came up with the framework for What Makes You Come Alive, I was looking forward to an autumn filled with rock climbing and connecting with old friends. And then…my back, which had been sore for the entire summer, got worse. I stopped climbing, and tried a light jog. Only to wake up the next morning with sharp jabbing back pain as I tried to put on my pants. The diagnosis – a torn muscle. Not horrible or completely debilitating. But I’m out of rock climbing for six weeks, my three-day weekend road-trip became impossible, and work started picking up. Without my outlet for creative mind-body expression, without my social circle of friends from climbing, with pain in my back, with fatigue from several busy work-weeks in a row, I feel old and tired. Not alive. But cranky.
My mind follows my body. I’m a productive writer because I have a healthy body. I go to the gym nearly every day to clear my mind and let my subconscious work on problems for me. I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month. I’m still struggling to find a new way to balance stress and find physical relaxation.
A view of Bear Butte from the south. It gets its name from its resemblance to the form of a slumbering bear.
In early July, I visited my Mom and step-dad in South Dakota, where they spent this summer volunteering at Bear Butte State Park. Bear Butte and its staff left quite an impression on me.
As someone who has been pondering passion – how to find, follow, live, and sustain it – I came away from Bear Butte with the understanding that following a passion and sustaining it is difficult, sweaty, hard physical work mixed in with a lot of emotional labor. Most importantly, the staff at Bear Butte are not the ones calling what they do “following their passion,” or pontificating about whether or not they’re living the passionate life, whether or not they’ve found the thing they’re on this earth to do. More often than not, there are people out there, like the staff at Bear Butte State park, just doing the hard work under less than optimal circumstances, because the works needs to be done. Continue reading →
“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves…it can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
At the beginning of the year, I began to explore the topic of resistance. And since I found a name for this little gremlin, it’s been fairly relentless in its efforts to muck up my mojo and creativity, despite my attempts to go with the flow. I’ve embarked upon a number of creative pursuits, such as my improv theater class. I thought that practicing saying “yes…!” to scenes for eight weeks would help root out resistance. It worked. For a bit. Then class was over….and the many blog entries in my head about the experience failed to write themselves. Continue reading →
In the days leading up to my birthday last week, there was definitely an aura of funk in the air. That kind of funk born of the frustration that I mentioned in an earlier post that is so hazardous. Am I moving in the right direction? Am I doing the right things? Why can’t I get this blog going? Why can’t I seem to [insert measure of success here]? Seeds from an earlier blog entry “I have enough; I do enough; I am enough” lay like dust in my fallow blog.
The funk was so palpable, that a friend asked me if I had read The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. “Yes,” I immediately answered. Upon further discussion, I revealed that by “yes,” I had meant that I had read a few of Gretchen’s blog entries, but never the actual book. This scene unfolded much like it had the last time she asked me if I had read it, which explains the audible sigh and appearance of the book, as a gift, on my Kindle.
I’m feeling very sheepish because it’s been almost a month since my last post. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about. I have at least 70 different ideas for blog posts that are just dying to get out. It’s just that…well…my life has been so – awesome – in the past few weeks that I haven’t had a moment to write. I’m not bragging – I’m owning it, baby. I’ve had my fair share of suck, so this glory? It too, is all mine.
How do you celebrate? By being awesome. Not by being perfect. Two totally different things. The day’s motto is “No one’s perfect, but everyone can be awesome.”
You can declare yourself awesome, but it’s also nice to have that validation, like a colleague of mine did with a simple sheet of paper and a sharpie.
Best. Award. Ever.
If you’re concerned that you might not be awesome – Ha! Of course you are. Sometimes, it just takes practice.
Are you stuck and don’t know where to start? Practice by validating someone else’s awesomeness with a sheet of paper and a sharpie. Practice telling yourself that you’re awesome. This day is 100% made up, so start by pretending. (Sitting around in my jammies with the cats and a cup of coffee at 10am = awesome.) Then move to improvising. (Don’t have time for a blog post? Make one up on the fly = awesome.) See? Now you’re practicing!
I’ve got places to go, things to do, people’s awesomeness to affirm, so I’ll leave you with my favorite manifesto, and a plea for your comments to this blog on how you’ve celebrated this International Day of Awesomeness.
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle
In my previous post, I asked, Are You Resisting? My answer is yes. I am resisting clarifying my vision of my life, of this blog, of my work. So, I did what I do best when I’m resisting: read, research, and reflect. I used to call it procrastination, until I realized that my resistance usually means something. Sometimes it’s full of shit, but this time my pause meant that there was something to be figured out. Thus, a diversion on my path to clarify my vision for 2012: What is resistance all about? Continue reading →
If you’ve endeavored to sit down and figure out your New Year’s adventure, resolution, consecration, theme, grand scheme, take-over-the-world-and-take-no-prisoners plan, and you find – “Squirrel!” – yourself – “Oh, look, a new email.” – distracted – “hahahahaha, I love that video!” – perhaps you might – “this is stupid” – be facing – “I don’t need no stinking resolution” – a little resistance. Continue reading →
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
Speaking of Beautiful Questions, New Year’s Day has to be one of my favorite “beautiful question” kind-of-days. The start of a new year brings the opportunity for a fresh start, a time to regroup, set our intentions for the upcoming year. Since I’m also a procrastinator by nature, I’ll note that it’s perfectly ok to also leverage Chinese New Year, birthdays, anniversaries, or any other milestone to do this. But New Year’s Day is a freebie. The world has slowed down, so why not seize the moment for yourself to do the same? Continue reading →
A new friend of mine wrote a wonderful blog entry about asking beautiful questions. As a researcher and Professor of Sociology, questions are critically important in her field. The beautiful ones, she broke it down for us, will always lead to more questions.
“That is the beauty of such a question, it doesn’t stop. A beautiful question asks everyone who comes into contact with it to respond. Not everyone will respond of course, that’s free will. Beautiful questions don’t rest, but rather are generative. These are the questions that create more than they stay still. Beautiful questions inspire discussion, debate, engagement, inquiry and reflection.
“Beautiful questions are also really HARD.”
Tonight, about a week after being introduced to the concept of beautiful questions, another friend asked a group of us one of the most beautiful questions I’ve ever heard.
One of the things that I love about rock climbing, is that I can hold all other things constant and fight the good fight. There are a number of “good fights” in life, but I’m learning that the primary one is the struggle between my True Self and my Ego. When I’m on the wall – indoors or out, it’s just me trying to interact with an inanimate puzzle. I can forget about everything else in my life and practice working through my fears, my perceptions, my emotions. If you win that fight, you set yourself up with a personal power, a resilience, a method of renewing your enthusiasm to help you in any other endeavor you choose. Continue reading →