Dog looking out at Mississippi River

How does one get unstuck? You know, that kind of stuck where you can’t seem to carve out enough time (or what you believe is enough time) to do a decent job at something so you do nothing.

We’ve all seen the articles that tell us that we DO have enough time if something is REALLY important to us. Often what we say we value is not backed up by how we actually spend our time.

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dog being fully present in the snow

“Behind the facade of the familiar, strange things await us.” ~ John O’Donohue

Over my Christmas break, I did a year-end ritual that I found in the book “The Not So Big Life” by Sarah Susanka. There were twenty-eight questions to help me dig away at what went on over the past year, plus three questions about the future. It took me about eight hours to ponder and answer all the prompts.

The intention of the exercise wasn’t to create goals or resolutions for 2017. It was more like recording what felt right and what felt wrong about 2016 — what patterns I felt stuck in that I’d like to watch out for and change, and what habits I’d rather have instead.

Now, after all that work, I’ve put everything I wrote away. Next year at this same time, I’ll go through the entire ritual of answering the questions all over again. And at that time, I’ll look at what I wrote this year and see if any of the things I hoped for or planned to change have in some way progressed, been fully realized or been forgotten about.

Mississippi River overflow

As Susanka explains it, the idea is just to plant the seed in the subconscious and let that part of my brain work on it. Of course things don’t happen if you don’t do anything at all. In “The Not So Big Life,” the reader is told that they need to create a good environment for the seeds to grow in:

  • Good Soil – slow down a bit
  • Water – be fully present in your life
  • Sun – regular meditation to open yourself up to discovering who and what you truly are

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dog

dog

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog. I needed some clearing and gathering time. And time to determine what to clear and what to gather.

This has required a great deal of thinking — thinking while I’m driving (distracted driver), thinking while I’m walking the dogs, and thinking while I’m trying desperately to get some sleep.

It has taken some wandering, experimenting, and hibernating time as well.

In September, I received an email from Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, which was the prompt that started me on this journey. Elizabeth facilitates a writer’s group that meets once a month. It’s different than most writer’s groups as we don’t read each other’s work or do critiques, instead we talk about the sorts of questions that a writer might ponder.

Elizabeth’s email prompted the group to think about the word “play” in relationship to writing.

Play?

As I thought about this word, the words that popped into my mind were free, light, uninhibited, unworried about outcome, adaptable, unrestricted.

And I realized how little time I spend in the state these words bring to mind.

fat bike

I work hard to get from point A to point B. The goal is usually for me to become an expert on something or at least good at it. I want whatever it is to become something that comes naturally, that flows and is no longer difficult for me. If I can’t reach that point of flow or at least reach the point where I no longer feel self-conscious about my lack of skills, I will often decide that it wasn’t that important anyway and quit to move on to another it.

During our discussion about playing, some of the writers used the example of music and how you gain muscle memory where you no longer have to think about the notes and which fingers go where. Instead you play freely, taking the energy you put into learning the music itself and putting it towards infusing feeling and personality into the piece. By doing so, you make a song that has been played by millions of musicians into your own unique creation.

And that is how I’d like to think about life.

walk in the woods

I think that playing freely and making my own unique creation means that I need to make some changes. Like…

  1. On the days when no one seems to value or appreciate me or my unique creation, that it doesn’t mean I, as a human being, have no value. More than likely, the people who don’t appreciate my Maeryness don’t see any value in the things I’m good at. They may not even see those things are even there. I think (I hope) this just means my real life is somewhere else.
  2. Believing that I am more than the things that don’t come naturally to me. I want to quit striving to mold myself into something I don’t even want to be.
  3. For my own sanity and well being, I want to play around with the things that I enjoy and I feel good about. If I feel the need to define myself (which is limiting and I should stop it), but if I must, define myself by those things.
  4. I am the person who alone has lived my life and knows the lessons it has taught me. I would have preferred to be oblivious of some things, but life has granted me a certain set of wisdoms whether I want them or not. I am a conglomeration of what I have lived and I’m tired of trying to pretend that I am something else because something else has been seen by me as being better than what I am. It’s time to find value in the tools I’ve been given and stop looking for the ones I don’t have.

I’ve been trying to remember what it was like to be a kid — to remember what I played at and imagined and loved. I want to see if the things I started out loving provide clues to how to bring those playful feelings (free, light, uninhibited, unworried about outcome, adaptable, unrestricted) back into my way too serious life.

And so I’m returning. Slowly. But playfully.

bicycling in woods

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