Seems like every time I turn around, someone I know is going through something big:
… Friends with cancer.
… My father facing health challenges.
… A neighbor’s house catching on fire.
… My cousin’s husband dying.
… Even my own roll-over car accident a few years back now.
The circle of those affected feels like it’s getting closer to me, like a tightening loop.
And it’s got me to thinking…
…Is there anything I’m not paying attention to that I want to be?
Am I going to wait for my next wake-up call, or what if I just paid attention now?
Change the rules that keep you in the dark.
Last night, we saw The Croods. I loved the message at the end: “We changed the rules that kept us in the dark.” (I love that they really spelled it out; it’s a kid’s movie after all.)
And that got me to thinking even more.
How am I keeping myself in the dark, operating out of fear rather than reaching out for tomorrow? Or living for today for that matter?
As writers and creatives, one of the biggest challenges we face every day is our fear. No wonder we act like we’re confronting our own mortality. On some level we are.
But I don’t like this question.
I’ve never liked how people say, “If you knew were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?”
Maybe there’s something too cynical about me to fully appreciate that question, but there are things I commit to doing on a regular basis that I’m darn sure I wouldn’t do if I knew I’d be dying tomorrow, but I can’t live like that on an ongoing basis. Things like exercising and flossing and making sure my kid’s lunch is made, that yeah, I don’t think I’d pay attention to if the world was going to end.
On the other hand, I’m okay with it in the big picture.
But what about the big picture of our lives? I’m down with looking at that and making sure that what we’re doing matches with where we want to be now and where we want to end up.
It wasn’t too long ago that I got the message, “Write like your life depends on it.”
And I’m writing every day now, which is a heck of a lot more than I was doing at the time. Which was rarely, if at all.
But am I writing like my life depends on it?
So am I going to wait for the next cosmic two-by-four, or am I going to do something about it?
Well, you already know the answer, right?
Saturday I got out a pad of paper and started redesigning my schedule to put the focus on more writing. It’s not quite where I want it to be, so I’m going to do some more work on it today. And then I’m going to begin the process of shifting my schedule more and more in that direction. It’s okay with me if it takes a little while to shift; it’s a kind of gradual herding things into the right corrals. But it works.
The other persistent message that I simply have to do something about is FUN.
I’m good at working hard, you probably know that about me by now.
And I’m fairly good at really luxuriating when I give myself the chance. (I just love taking days off and putting my feet up and watching movies and eating great food and treats.)
But I just don’t give myself the chance very often.
I come from a long line of self-sacrificers and workaholics and the buck is going to have to stop here, now.
The funny thing is, I’m still not sure what I truly want it to look like, this fun thing. Writing is fun, but it’s also work.
I think it’s more about lightness of spirit and regular adventures. I hesitate to schedule time for fun. But I also used to hesitate to schedule time for writing, and look where that got me!
What if fun was worth making time for?
That sounds like a ridiculous question even as I write it.
But sometimes my brain needs an excuse to think of things in a new way.
Being appreciative and being present.
And last, I think my perhaps my biggest one, is about appreciation and presence. I’m so good at appreciating things in other people, but not so good at appreciating them in my own life. This is huge, and hard to admit. I’ve got more work to do here.
My recent tech shabbats have shown me about the power of being present and not checked out into my own little world. So I’m getting there. And there’s more. There always is.
What about you?
If this was your wake-up call, what would it be?
What is the voice of your spirit asking you to pay attention to right now?
What have you been neglecting but you know, deep down, you want to attend to?
If the Universe was going to give you a whack upside the head with a cosmic two-by-four, what would it be trying to tell you?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments. Anything you’re tolerating? Ignoring? Things you know you want to do but aren’t? What if you chose to tackle them head-on? I’m sure I’ve got a few more of them. Seems like it’s time for an inventory.
~> Monday, April 8th. Through April 8th, my OnDemand webinar, “10 Practical Tips for More Consistent Productive Writing“* with the Writer’s Store is on sale. Use the code ONDEMAND413 at checkout to save 50%.
~> Thursday, April 18th. Register by April 18th for the next session of my Writer’s Circle (starts April 22nd). Build a solid habit of daily writing and finish all your writing projects: http://JustDoTheWriting.com.
~> Writing. I’ve finished my read-through of Progeny and now I’m starting in on the editing and polishing in earnest. I’m also beginning to outline my next project, tentatively called Do Over, which will be a sweet little time travel romance. Can’t you just see it already?
~> Unplugging. Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Join me!
~> Reading. Finished How to Train Your Dragon: How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse* with my son. Now we’ve started in on A Boy and His Bot* by Daniel H. Wilson. I also finished Crucible of Gold* by Naomi Novik (loved it!) and then plowed through a re-read of Do The Work* by Steven Pressfield in one afternoon. Next up is finishing Adventures in the Screen Trade* by William Goldman and then tackling Making a Literary Life* by Carolyn See. Or maybe the other way around. I never do like rules. :)
Thanks for reading.