Yesterday, I started a new writing class. To say there was anxiety would be a massive understatement. The focus of the course is primarily to strengthen fiction writing skills and I haven’t put forth consistent effort in this area in over a year.
In the two hours of class, I was reminded just how vulnerable I feel creating a story and not solely relying on details from my life. I felt the pain of stumbling and not trusting myself as I wrote. Even when I read aloud, I cringed. That normally doesn’t happen to me. I know it was just one class but it was rough.
But I can’t help but think “rough” is what I need. I am scared of my upcoming critique on the 2-3 pages I am sending but that’s ok. It will have to be. If it all felt easy or natural, how would I grow? How would I know if going forward with this novel even makes sense for me?
Another thought occurred to me: Ever since I started “The Artist’s Way”, I have pushed myself to do more like attending my first Mindful Mornings lecture, signing up for belly dance class, joined a fitness accountability group and of course, attend this writing class.
Last week, I finally took a step I have been meaning to take for months. Well, maybe for years. I signed up for belly dance class. It’s been years since I was in class. Afro-Caribbean dance class is still something I intend to come back to now and again but I have been yearning to go back to be apart of something that speaks to my femininity.
For the last couple of years, I have watched my sister bloom and thrive with pole fitness. It always reminds me of the confidence I built when I was dancing to belly dance videos or with other women in class. It reminds me of how much I love sisterhood.
That kind of sisterhood is something I think will only enhance the quality of this quest for health. I am definitely ready to see if what I think may be true.
After a visit from family this past weekend, I took a drive and decided to visit an independent bookstore I’ve never been to before. I viewed it as my artist date for this past week. I have never been afraid to go places by myself but being intentional about it felt somehow different.
Setting the intention to go somewhere I’ve never been by myself, even if it was something as familiar to me as a bookstore took a little nudging. But I took my time, sat on a wooden bench and pored over my selections.
Most importantly, I let go and my afternoon was my own. Typically, Saturdays revolve around on catching up on home organization, running errands and spending time with Hubby. When I left the family breakfast to go to the bookstore (and get my brows done), I’d like to think I made inner artist smile.
I honored my time for myself and that is more than enough for me.
I think it’s fitting that today is the start of a new year because I devote Tuesdays to all aspects of health. Although I decided to ramp up my efforts at the end of November, like most people the holidays got to me and it is definitely time to recommit. I didn’t stop moving but the raw foods did take a backseat for a couple of weeks.
I began looking for a reset. A lot of people fast, diet and make all sorts of resolutions and promises on New Year’s Day. All I want to do is commit to more raw food. I can’t forget (nor do I want to forget) the way I felt throughout July when I was raw vegan for 30 days. It wasn’t just the increased energy. Anxiety and fatigue seemed like states of being that could never be attributed to me.
So my reset is to cling to what I know: walking, being a high raw vegan embracing juices and smoothies, yoga, dance classes, massages, prayer, therapy and letting go of fears and mindsets that no longer serve me.
Spending time with my family has proved to be a form of self-care and self-awareness. I love being with them but I now realize how much it takes out of me to engage with people I love, especially after having a rough couple of weeks (and who am I kidding–months). I wanted to be there for all of it but I found myself crashing pretty hard in the evenings. I even dealt with feelings of guilt for not being able to put on a more exuberant and fresh face but everyone understood.
Artist’s Way update: I didn’t really start The Artist’s Way but I read the Foreward and the Introduction. I also started writing my morning pages which is supposed to be 3 pages of stream of consciousness journaling with no expectations attached. I plan on diving into the first chapter tomorrow. Just like previous journaling practice, I feel more centered after doing it. It’s as if my brain believes it has accomplished a great feat first thing in the morning.
I was looking forward to seeing if morning pages would affect my anxiety level throughout the day. I can confidently say I was calmer right after but since I wasn’t in my usual environment, it is hard to gauge if it made much of a difference after that.
Today, I wrote and prayed and walked and worked and trusted.
Trusted that I left on my heart and my most hopeful, erratic, loving thoughts on the page.
For years, friends have been telling me to read “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. And every time, I said I would check it out.
A couple of weeks ago, a lovely co-worker advised me to read it and I suddenly knew I had to order it. I had one of those moments where I was tired of saying to myself: ” I really should do it one day.”
I started reading it the other day and it shows promise. I can’t wait to see how inspired I will be after the 12-week program is over. I know it will extend beyond inspiration because my understanding is that plenty of action will be taken to cultivate consistent creative work, from stream of consciousness journaling to solo outings.
Next Thursday, I will post an update on how my first official week went. My hope is I will start to see small changes that will encourage habits I will keep for years to come.
Over the past few weeks, I have thought a lot about what I need to do to feel better, to be a better writer, wife and self-care practitioner. I have gotten massages, journaled, spent less time on the phone, gone to church, a yoga class, went to an awesome lecture about laughter yoga, prayed, walked many miles, spoke to a counselor, stepped back on the scale without fear, showed up to doctor’s appointments and lunch with a friend, reached out to friends, listened to inspiring podcasts and powerhouse sermons and even started to accept the reality that it may take all of that to feel completely like myself or who I am growing to be.
Something else was brought to my attention. While I am doing all of these things to reclaim Kristina, I might also need to let up on pressuring myself to do everything right now, as if I am trying to hurry up and solve “anxiety.”
I speak and write and try with varying success to think positively but I also have to do all of that with more patience. There is no snap of the fingers when it comes to “process.” There is forwards and backwards, trial and error and an understanding that it never really ends.
So here I am. Embracing process, trying not to be in a hurry and forgiving myself for the times I have and inevitably will, not treat myself with Grace and Love.
I know to become a better writer, I must read. I used to swallow books whole the moment I got them, as if I was almost racing myself to see how fast I could finish before devouring the next. Over the last couple of years, I noticed I have slowed down considerably, reading more about books I should read rather than actually reading them. I have written more than I ever have but have also read the least.
This morning, I was reading the last of “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. It dawned on me how much I missed quiet time where I flew through chapters, uninterrupted. It conjured memories of paydays when I lived alone. I would pick up a decadent meal and at least two books from a nearby bookstore and enjoy a night to myself, indulging in flavorful treats and becoming addicted to new characters.
As part of my self-care, I pledge to revisit that part of myself more often. The woman who takes an afternoon to get lost in another writer’s creation, another writer’s world.
I owe it to myself right now and the writer I will grow to be.
This last weekend, I took time to take care of me. My body told me before I did which is something I do not care to repeat. When I had a bout with panic attacks last spring, I thought I had it all figured out. To some degree, my self-care did get better with the reintroduction of more raw foods, etc. but I let my stress with Hubby’s newer health challenges completely rock my foundation a few months ago. Anything besides going to work, preparing for and being in Alabama at the workshop and going to doctor appointments felt like above and beyond what I could handle.
But I was wrong. I had a moment when panic set in and woke me right out of my sleep. The thing is I told myself that I would be fine and it would pass. I was right. It did. I told myself everything I should to calm myself down. I prayed for peace. But I also realized, at 2:00am that if I am not doing anything but telling myself the right things, it will never be enough and I could only look forward to more sleep-interrupted nights.
At that very moment, I decided to implement change. I knew when the weekend hit, I wouldn’t compromise myself any longer. I made a therapy appointment, got a massage on Saturday, went to church Sunday morning and Body Positive Yoga class for women on Sunday afternoon. I am going back next weekend, too.
My body screamed at me and the only way to roar back is take care of myself before I stopped showing up for my husband and my own pursuits.
I was wrestling with the idea of incorporating a lot more raw meals at the new year. On Saturday night, I asked myself why I was waiting. So I began Sunday.
There were a couple of surprises. I had a little emotional release during my massage and although yoga was incredible, I felt a bit of panic I prayed through. These surprises showed me how deep seated the need for self-care is and how I’ve been neglecting it.
As I am writing this, I honestly don’t feel 100% like me but I feel closer. And maybe the “me” I don’t feel right now is not what I will end up being anyway. Maybe these challenges and me addressing them head-on are supposed to birth something new.
I not only like the sound of that, I need the sound of that.
These past 30 days have unveiled so much! I am certain I want to post twice a week: Tuesdays and Thursdays. My Tuesday posts will be health related–be it physical, spiritual, plant-based, mental or financial health. My Thursday posts will be writing related. I would like to devote that day to my work, featuring other writers and storytellers and general career and reading updates.
About halfway through this bloglikecrazy challenge, I felt the topics and the flow came easier than last year. I didn’t struggle the same way. There were only a couple of days where I felt like I had nothing to share but when I focused, the frustration disappeared.
If you ever feel like the writing process is stale, I encourage you to challenge yourself to bloglikecrazy or develop a plan of your own.