I was preparing work for an residency application recently. To do so, I gathered up some of my journals and spent time walking myself down memory lane. I leafed through pages of drafts of poems, words and phrases I couldn’t let go of, entries simply dedicated to gratitude interspersed with prayers asking God to save me in the midst of my most trying periods of anxiety and short stories created in my evening writing classes.
As I read, I realized I was going through more than whatever poured from me at the time, more than memories.
I was going through evidence.
Evidence that proved I didn’t want to keep it bottled up inside. Evidence that I have been broken, grateful, loving, miserable, joyous, creative, funny, scared, unapologetic, selfish, giving, a conduit for characters I didn’t know needed to exist, lazy, sexy, prideful, hard-working.
Evidence that proved I was a writer.
Evidence that proved I. WAS. HERE.
When I think about my writing class these past couple of weeks, one thing comes to mind: I was set free. I was understandbly attached to writing my novel, whether it was random paragraphs, potential scenes or referring back to my synopsis hoping to be inspired to go the distance. I was forcing myself to think of fiction in only one way. I trapped myself without even realizing it.
Since taking this fiction writing course, I have heeded my teacher’s advice to play. The last two stories I wrote had a possible salacious betrayal and one was written from the perspective of a ghost. I know I didn’t need permission to set myself free but it worked. I have a couple of months after this class ends to keep pushing myself and I look forward to it. I look forward to the release of expectation and the freedom it will undoubtedly bring.
Yesterday, I had my second session of belly dance. There was slight progress from last week. I was more open to slowing down and I felt a bit more in sync with my body as I practiced more movement. Last week, I wrote I wasn’t sure if I would ever perform. While this remains to be seen, I actually imagined it for a moment during class last night.
There is still a part of me that winces at the thought of baring arms, psoriasis plaques and all for complete strangers to see. I think the real fear lies in not just strangers seeing, it’s strangers gawking. I don’t have that problem at the pool or beach but no one is there to see me perform. We are all there to be guided by a teacher.
So what this class could provide (besides fun and connection with other women) is the opportunity to take an axe to those specific fears. I don’t know when I will be ready but I am sure I am willing.
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.
Wish me luck as I move forward with this 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.
I have been thinking about what should be next in plant-based journey. I have thought about cutting out wheat, oil and finally going ahead and removing all soy-based products from my diet. It would be hard for me to stop myself from feasting on the chicken-fried tofu from Whole Foods but of course, I would survive. I can’t help but feel like there is something I am missing and something I am moving towards. In terms of what I am missing, I am missing consistent discipline with everything to be truthful. I have been able to maintain my blogging schedule, met my E-Book publication goal and will start working back on my novel and another project soon. However, when it comes to my self-care I am definitely slipping. I have not focused on doing both. I have thought about it but I would be a liar if I said I have taken consistent action. I’ve been missing dance class which I love and have been snacking late for no reason whatsoever. I wrote a piece about being scared to be empty in one of my writing classes. I could mull over the reasons why or try to develop an origin story for this fear but I would rather funnel that energy into moving, getting to bed early and forming new habits. I am moving towards a new me that is healthy and for the first time, is starting to see animals. I mean, really value them. I even told hubby I wanted to visit an animal sanctuary. For those who don’t know me, this has NEVER been me. I have never owned a pet or particularly cared to pet an animal. It was not for me or to ever be for me but eating this way has changed me. I find myself more curious than I have ever been. I don’t know where this newfound curiosity will take me but I am willing to follow along.
A important part of this blog is to focus on my wellness journey. My healing from it all-the weight, the PCOS, the psoriasis, etc..I know I don’t write enough or almost at all about it. I post what I cook on Mondays but not much else. I think I want Thursdays to be a wellness update.
I am not sure if I will include pounds lost or skin cleared but it will be real and it will be here.
Today, I thought a lot about promises kept. On my last post of 2017, I made several goals for 2018. Two of the goals were to complete an E-Book and to take writing classes. Although I have many more goals to reach and even more to make as the year unfolds, I realized I achieved both of those goals. I just came back from the last session of Life in 10 Minutes and I released my first E-Book last week. I am happy I didn’t wait to schedule an appointment with a coach to help me organize and provide a calendar for writing or try to put off taking class for later. I believe I would have done both at a later time but I didn’t want to kick it down the road or just assume everything “would work out.” I have been down that road many, many times before.
Tonight after class, I knew I would be back for another session soon. My teacher passed out Valentine’s candies and Dream Big was printed on one of the hearts, faded but definitely still visible.
I don’t think I should be looking for signs in candy but it made me smile nonetheless.
I have pretty much been in work mode all day and next level tired the whole time. Hubby is still sick but he has his moments when he is walking around so I remain grateful–a bit frustrated but grateful nonetheless. Part of me wishes I went to writing class tonight instead of giving into the weariness and the work.
So where does that leave me besides committed to the work? It leaves me proud that my weariness comes from work and challenges me to push through finalizing my project and keeping to my schedule posting here.
It also reminds me that if I could go back to even 2 years ago and ask if I would rather be living that life, the answer is an emphatic “No.” Being too scared or lazy or a combination of both to take classes, seek coaching, blog, attend conferences and write even when my lids and heart are heavy is nothing I want to run back to. Don’t misunderstand me. I harbor no ill will against who I used to be.
I just wanted her to grow.
It’s our third day in Carlsbad, CA. A part of me would rather just sun myself at the pool or the beach but another part of me is glad to be sitting here writing. I know it’s because I am proving that no matter where I am, I am making posting here a priority. When you are on vacation, staring lazily at water and palm trees, the last thing you may feel like doing is whipping out a computer. But I know how committed I am to this process. I want to write through anything anywhere. I want to live up to my own expectations.
I am not sure if there is any other time in my life that I would have been able to truthfully write this but the time is now. Maybe this is what it is like to fall in love with what you’re pursuing. In my marriage, we would do anything to keep growing together. That’s part of the allure of travel. There’s a shared experience, a treasure of memory that no one can take from us.
With writing, there is a similarity. I am invested in my growth. I want to keep my schedule. Keep my word. I look forward to witnessing the fruits of my labor. There is a willingness to keep trying new things like adding Meatless Mondays or taking classes.
I don’t want to get out. I want to work through it all. Fail forward. Leave excuses behind.
So no matter how gracefully the fronds of the tree sway or the heat threatens to wilt my will to keep my commitment going this week. I won’t give in.
It is my priority.
One of my writing goals for 2018 was to take writing classes again, whether it be a one-day workshop or a 6-week course. I almost didn’t start the year with a class but decided at the last minute that it should be a priority right at the beginning of the year. What makes it even more special is that it is Life in 10 Minutes again. I took a couple of sessions last year. It was my first writing class outside of school. I remember feeling so shy and unsure of myself. At the time, I was also in the throes of deciding whether or not I wanted to continue with graduate school (currently thanking God I made the right choice not to do so). This class did two things for me: It made me take a hard look at what I really wanted for my future AND it confused me.
Why the confusion one may ask?
After cracking my shell open and reading words aloud I wouldn’t have dared just a few months before, I thought it was time to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be. It seems silly now. But I thought I was this woman trying to finish a novel and anything else was superfluous. I had to confront all of the many colors, shades and textures of who I am as a writer.
I have just come back from the first session tonight. Even with all of the new faces and voices, the feeling is the same. We read our confessions, our musings, our wishes, our regrets, our stories, our characters out loud in communion with one another. We share our art. We share our lives.
It was like I never left.