I've been reorganizing. And as with everything, it always seems to happen on multiple levels...
I'm going through the summer clothes, and snuggling up to each item to see if it still Sparks Joy:
I pull out the winter clothes and sigh a little, with summer so far behind us and the holidays approaching, and before we know it, the Wheel turns and we begin again at month one. A new year: one of the greatest indicators of time passing. A year. What has come, what has gone, what has changed, what stays the same, and where are we going?
And those eternal repeating questions...still, that always help me to evaluate and course-correct:
- who are you?
- what do you want?
- what are you waiting for?
(from Ana J Awakens)
End-of-year is always like this for me. A great turning in and slowing down. Cozy. Insightful. Deeper. Poignant. Slower. Trusting the darker seasons and what they show us, which is always some facet of ourselves, really. It's a time of taking stock and reflecting back and making adjustments and plans for the seasons to come.
I continued rummaging, rearranging, and it seems that there is always more to toss out...
"Have I seen this, even looked at it this year? No. I haven't. Do I need it? No, I don't. Why is it stuffed in this random drawer? Does it bring me joy...?"
Absolutely not. It was a bunch of random allen keys from old Ikea furniture in a paper bag. Why...
I made some good headway but I got distracted quickly, as I jumped onto my laptop to order some book event signage for upcoming commitments. I wanted to make sure I got the order in before I forgot to do it, altogether. Mom-brain is real.
I started to go through old files, wanting to sort and delete those, as well. And I came across something that I had entirely forgotten about...I had deleted it from everywhere, actually. And well, out of sight, out of mind. But the original still remained at the bottom of a collection of old quote pictures, from my first book, and well-meant but terrible selfie-moments (which won't ever be shared):
...and this is the part that gave me pause:
"Working hard with the fire of a greater purpose in your belly comes...when it comes. Sometimes a few rounds of self-love and compassion come first. We must heal first, before we can help. We must get through the shadow work and let our pain teach us..."
I laughed, and trembled a bit as I read it... (do you know that tremble? That gaze upward, or outward, or a headshake in disbelief...when you see the puzzle pieces from a higher vantage point? And you know. You remember, and wow, you just know. Again. How connected it all is and how there are no accidents. Your path is your path.)
See, it's powerful for me, because shadow work is exactly what came next. Inspired by a random poem I wrote, in quiet rebellion to a subdued life, and the journey began from there. I was led, step by step, by forces greater than me, in ways I'll never be able to quite explain. And I hadn't thought about that booklet at all, it was out of my mind. But I wrote it all down, didn't I? And those words etched into time-space and started a motion that I wouldn't be able to stop, it seemed.
On CPW: I had been meeting with women's groups for a while, after I wrote Ana J Awakens, and it was going great. Until I was challenged. A new face, from another town, came by and met us all. She came with two other women - she was from the Meetup crowd, rather than the local crowd. I welcomed them all. We had fun and I pretty much like everybody, anyway, unless they really push it. But this particular woman raised my hackles.
I had thrown caution to wind to dive in to this new idea that I had... Confident Passionate Woman (CPW). A brand, for empowering women through books, podcasts, interviews, articles, content, workshops, the works. Confidence and passion; things we all seek and strive to carry with us daily. And I claimed these things, these ideas, as a mission. They were what I craved most, what I thought other women craved most, and so I sought to investigate their essence and meaning, in a deeper way, as I do all things. And I shared what I was learning, as I went. Our most successful event sold out to capacity, just about, as I led them on a guided meditation, did a tarot card reading, and we dove in to the depths, within this sacred container, talking about visions and dreams and some sweet catharsis. Space, sacred space, held for each other. There was presence, there was peace, there was transformation, there was magic. There were new networks being born, ideas manifesting, connections being made, and I loved every minute, it reminded me of all the sister circles of my twenties.
And then it happened: I was beginning to face the hard stuff that goes with a creative life. The blowback, the resistance, the doubts, the criticisms. The small-ness you can feel, in such a vast universe of somebodys and so much meaning and art and noise. And one night, I had my anxiety out and showing, for all to see. The free-spirited, soaring, inspired days were getting more heavy, as the realities of a big life change sunk in (read: divorce and custody arrangements). The first year is a daze, the next year is hell and a mini-death, and the third year you start to live again. Transformed. For me, at least. And this new woman, she stared into me, and said, with a snide laugh... "that doesn't sound very confident at all, you know...Ms. Confident Woman..." referring to something I said, that I can't remember, in my weak and anxiety-ridden state.
And I internalized it, so hard. I was already so shaky and pulled apart and unsure. She was right. And I sank. The floor got shaky. My heart dropped down so low, and I felt like a fraud. A failure. Weak and confused and lost, within myself. All around me, life was spinning, faster and faster, and I tried my best to adjust. To keep moving, to take it in stride, to not give up. But she was right. Things were getting more challenging and I was crumbling, visibly. That's when I disbanded the group. I hid away. I took down the blog, that was doing very, very well, as far as engagement and metrics go. Thousands of new readers per week, reading all about confidence and goals and dreams and belief in oneself. Empowered women, or women who wanted to be. Women who wanted to believe in themselves, trust themselves. Women who wanted to share their businesses or art, and shine and network. I loved doing it, but I let it fall apart. I deleted all traces of it, like it never happened. I was trying to build something that felt like a lie to me. I was a chaotic mess and it was transparent.
So, I trashed it all. All because of doubt.
I hadn't the strength and inner fortitude then, to stare my fears and insecurities down. I hadn't the self-talk and the tools and the mental resets and the strategies that I now have. I hadn't been to see my coaches and therapists and I hadn't begun my regular massage appointments...that I can't imagine living without now. I hadn't looked, learned, and accepted who I was becoming, with honesty and reverence for my emotional state. I held no space for my pain. I hadn't done my walking...yet. I have no idea whether I will return to this idea, to this brand, or not. I'm not sure if it was a passing stepping stone or an idea that needed maturation and finessing, toward something else. But I know that writing it then was an important part of my story.
Wild Horses and Mistakes was that long walk that I needed to take. Writing and living that book was my shadow work. My vision quest. My pilgrimage of faith. My book of shadows. It took me years. Years of inner work, therapy, travel, self-study, reading, workshops, and so many yoga classes. I had to face my own demons and doubts and fears, because they were blocking every single thing that I tried to do in my life. Just everything. And I am changed on the other side. I suppose that I've gone through my shadow work, as I let my pain teach me. Just as I had stated, so defiantly, when I put this first booklet together, about 4 years ago, There's the power of intention for you.
I know now that it actually takes great courage and strength to open up and share our insecurities and fallibilities, even an anxiety condition or two. That confidence is something that we earn, as we walk through hardship and challenge, and stand stronger on the other side. Confidence is a result, I think, not a natural trait. It's the reward we get, for facing our fears, for doing hard things, for following through. It's not knowing everything up front all the time, it's how we're armed with the faith that we'll figure it out, whatever it is. We think we need confidence to do something, when really, it's the doing that generates the confidence.
I also know that passion is a fire that fuels great work, the work that we're here to do. And I can always see clearly, now, how passion burns and lights up when I write and create and make real my thoughts, dreams, observations, and ideas - otherworldly or practical - with free-flowing abandon. Emotion, authenticity, and connection work in tandem with passion.
Creativity is a kind of magic that requires a great deal of passion and leads us down a path, a true path, that grows us, in the sweet soil of waiting confidence. If we're lucky. Turbulent? Yeah, for sure. And it's a long road, once you're open to living intentionally. We never get there, because the road is always changing, isn't it? But let us not be stagnant, let us ever and always evolve and wonder and dream.
On this path, if you're smart, you grow to love the walking. Learning. Creating, because you can't not. It's a sweet sort of masochism, walking the creative path.
But, worth it for who you get to be?
Mother. Librarian. Storyteller.