Running away from myself…

I’ve gotten really good at running lately. You wouldn’t know it from looking at my thighs, but my monkey mind takes off running like a bear is chasing it every time I have an hour to sit down and write a few pages for my memoir. And I see the most amazing things…like the black mildew in corners of the shower that I didn’t notice yesterday. Just a sec, I gotta go get the bleach spray bottle.

Then I have to go pee and notice the toilet hasn’t been scrubbed since last week when company was coming over. Where did that fine layer of hair and dirt come from on the floor? Ok, the broom will take care of that. Opening the laundry area doors to get the broom reminds me to start a load of wash so I can hang it to dry while the sun is still out. I’m thirsty and go into the kitchen to make a glass of iced tea. A little caffeine will help get me going on this writing project. Damn, I forgot about those dishes from last night. No worries, they can wait while I make a pot of popcorn ‘cause now I’m a little hungry.

I grab the step stool to reach the vegetable oil from the top cabinet shelf and feel nasty grime over the door pull. Grease spatters from the stovetop below are covered with dust up here. It’s really gross. I need to grab the bottle of 409. Wait, is that good for painted surfaces? I should use the other cleaner under the sink in the guest bathroom. The cat comes out of the litter box as I get there and the stink reminds me to clean out his litter box. Ya know, the toilet in here needs scrubbing too. I finish and as I’m washing my hands, I see the soap container is nearly empty. I need to start a grocery list so I won’t forget it next time. What else do we need from the store?

I open the fridge and a funky smell wafts past. Where is that coming from? Veggie drawer is the likely culprit. Sure enough, the kale I should have used in my super green smoothie a few days ago has reached the slime stage. Into the compost bucket…that is now full. I take the compost bucket out back and see I forgot to deep water the tomatoes this morning. It’s been a couple days. And the basil is looking a little peaked too. But oh, there’s a lovely green dragonfly. I run inside to grab my camera. After taking a few shots, I’m getting warm, so I head back inside to get that iced tea and bring it out to the back yard. Think I’ll just put my feet up for a few minutes. I can’t remember what I was going to do anyway.

While I write this to make fun of myself, it’s all too real. There are scenes that I have tried to write lately only to get one sentence down and then I find a wall blocking my way. J says it’s because there’s something deep there I haven’t dealt with yet. Mind you, these are events from more than 20 years ago that I’m trying to write. While some of that time comes out of me in waves, this experience apparently won’t be so easy. 

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A wee bit of frisson…

Something clicked today…a wee bit of frisson. Not the hair rising on the back of my neck kind, but the crackling of neurons making a brief spark of connection—the spark I’ve been missing lately. The click came while reading Leo Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits. He created a new word, Joyfear, to describe “a mixture of intense joy and intense fear into one ball of powerful emotions that both lift me up and make me see things clearly when I hadn’t before.”

He writes that every single defining moment of his life has been filled with Joyfear. And then, this is what really hit me in the gut…he writes: “Having only joy is great. Having only fear sucks. But having both … that’s life-defining.” Ok, I’m posting that one above my desk. Leo, you really need to make bumper stickers, frig magnets, the works with that line…I LOVE IT! He goes on to finish with this: “Do not shy away from Joyfear. Seek it out. Recognize it when you happen upon it. Joyfear will change your life, and you’ll never forget the moment you find it.”

The round-about way I found Leo’s post today (from chookooloonks) reminded me of the little circle of connection I found last year after reading a small article in the local paper that referred to Chris Guillebeau’s book, The Art of Nonconformity. I looked it up, found his blog and somehow from there found Karen Walrond’s chookooloonks blog (writer, photographer extraordinaire and the author of Beauty of Different.) Through her I found Susannah Conway’s site and blog. Susannah was participating in Reverb 10 and I checked that out. Reverb is an online project that provides prompts for writers—exactly the boost I needed. So I took the plunge to start a blog as a way to share my posts with other writers following Reverb 10. See what a little searching on the internet will get you?!

Starting this blog was a major moment of Joyfear…but it has been so rewarding. I may not have many readers yet, but I’ve made life-affirming connections with a small handful of people…the kind of connections that make me feel less alone when I am struggling to make sense of where I should be and what I should be doing in this world. I don’t know that Karen, Susannah, Leo or Chris will ever read this, but THANK YOU.

You’ve encouraged me to try new things, to examine my life with renewed vision and to share that journey with others. And maybe someone has stumbled across this post looking for direction, for that ah-hah moment of connection, for the courage to step beyond a comfort zone into a Joyfear moment.

Definitely felt a frisson while shooting in a storm at Mono Lake a few years back!

I first heard the word frisson at the Book Passage Travel Writer’s Conference in 2007 and it has stuck with me every since. From the Old French fricon: a brief moment of excitement; a shudder of emotion, thrill. When I’ve been at a loss for words before finding this one, I’ve simply expressed those moments as: “I feel so alive!” I can’t expect to feel this intensity all the time. (And yet I want to—the term adrenaline junkie comes to mind.) When was the last time you experienced Joyfear or frisson?

Got my mojo workin’!

Dec. 13, Reverb 10—Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (prompt author: Scott Belsky)

For the past couple of months, I’ve been saying I need to get back into a writing practice—whether it is 10 minutes daily or a bit longer several times a week. I would write occasionally, but not pieces I would share in my writer’s group. I would go empty-handed, embarrassed, but not feeling very inspired to get off my ass and do much about it. My mojo had evaporated. Until about a week ago while searching online for some writing and photo inspiration, when I stumbled across Karen Walrond’s site and blog, which then pointed me toward the reverb 10 project.

Just what I needed! Daily writing prompts in my inbox to make me think deeply, reflect and then take action. So I created a blog to start responding to the prompts and putting my writing out there, even if only for two friends who will read it or just myself. So by creating the blog, I am making my aspiration of writing more frequently come to fruition. To continue past this project, I will find another source of prompts for those days that I struggle with finding a topic on my own. Adios excuses! Hello writing mojo!

 

Getting out of my comfort zone aka “rut”!

Why wait for the New Year to start with a resolution to reinvigorate my writing habits? I’ve been in a rut for a bit. Excuses abound—full-time job, moving to a new house, kids…you name it. Enough already. I stumbled upon a great idea to get me back on track—Reverb 10, an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Participants receive a new writing prompt daily via e-mail. OK, so I didn’t see this on Dec. 1st when all the fun began, but I’m jumping in now and will try to get caught up on past prompts. (This is also a way to keep me accountable to my writing group!)

Eleanor Roosevelt: “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

Ok, Eleanor, here it goes…