Today’s Journey Note

300 Steps to the Top of the North Tower, Chartres Cathedral, France

 

Everyone should have a friend like Jack Barnard who can tell you “That’s bullshit.” when it is.

Jack’s my writing coach.  And now for the second time in five years he’s called me out, pointed out, in his inimitable way that I am trying to play it safe, that I am fooling myself.

I had just given him my writing schedule for the upcoming week and committed to a minimum of fifteen hours of writing.  We talked about how this is establishing a priority for my writing.

I said…

“But if I tell people I can’t do something because I’m writing, then they’ll ask what I’m writing.  I don’t want to tell them I’m writing a book.

So, I’ll just say, ‘I’m writing.’”

That’s what provoked the “That’s bullshit!”

Actually, I’ve just looked again at my notes from our conversation.  To be precise, Jack said, “That’s massive bullshit!”

Massive…that’s a whole heck of a lot of bullshit!

I knew immediately that was the truth.  Truth with a capital “T” as he often says.  It’s true that I’m scared to tell people I’m writing a book.  Oh yes, me, the coach, who tells everyone else to go for it.

Scared.

It sets up the possibility of all sorts of potential bad stuff…failure, for one.  Failing to finish…failing to write a good book…failing to meet expectations…I could go on and on.

Why not just be quiet about it…then if it doesn’t happen no one need know?  I can just be

… writing.

“Sorry, Jane, I can’t see you today.  I’m writing.”

“Oh, that’s interesting, Susanna.  What are you writing?”

 “Oh, nothing.  I’m just writing.”

He wasn’t letting me get away with it…

“You have to claim it!  When you do this you let the book know you’re committed.  This is what has surfaced for you…what you are writing.  This is your Self wanting a voice and you say, ‘I’m just writing?  You are honoring your Self by writing this book!  I want you to tell everyone you are writing a book!”

I know this!  This is what I tell everyone I coach.  If it comes up for you, honor it…listen, respect it!  Particularly when you’ve asked for it, as I have!  I have intentionally given myself time for introspection and then not to acknowledge what comes up!?

Instead, I’m playing it safe, staying in my comfort zone.  Telling the world that I am doing this ups the ante considerably.  Yikes.

But this is what heroines do, right?  They leave the comfort zone or what we call “ordinary life” and they set out into the unknown.  They leap right off the cliff (or walk the 300 steps to the top of the north tower at Chartres even though they’re afraid of heights!)….and they face their fear.  And they trust that it’ll be OK because they are listening to their wise inner voice.

So…

This is my leap.  My leap is telling you…

I’m writing a book.

Yowzer.

Thanks, Jack.

p.s. I wrote this post last night.  This morning I read that the great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney’s, last words, minutes before he passed on, were “Noli timere.”  Do not be afraid.

Thanks, Seamus.

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Today’s Journey Note

It’s been three months since my decision to give in to my inner call to slow down, drop out and be still.  It has not been easy.

There’s the constant pull of the world…

Hey, could you do this…be on this committee…organize this?

The interminable inner questioning and second-guessing…

What are you doing, Susanna?  Is this smart?

And that dear, inner critic…

You are going to ruin your career!  You need to stay visible!

But the more I let myself “be”, the more I realized that there was no way (at least for me) to see the possibilities when immersed in all the stuff I was doing. Somehow I had to get myself apart, away, separated from it all…so I could see.

And I was immersed.

My visual… I’m on a stage and I’m one of those “plate-spinning people.”  I had lots of plates spinning.

I gave myself permission to let go of some of those “spinning plates.”

And things did go quiet.  It was good.  I’ve had times before when at the “quiet point” panic and anxiety would set in and I’d jump back in and get more plates.

Somehow, this time I trusted.  I had faith in myself. The intelligence was there inside of me that would inform me what was next when the time was right.  I knew that if I found myself in the “I have to figure out what’s next” mode then I was in the old trap, again.  “Figuring it out” was the wrong mindset.  Whatever was next would organically unfold…when it was time.

It may be time.  Things are beginning to bubble up.  I’m reminding myself to go slow and make sure this is from an inner not an outer pull.

And then there are the plates…which ones do I really want to spin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Journey Note

There’s a storm coming our way, here on the east coast…on the edge of the Atlantic.  You’re seeing the view from the end of my driveway.  I’m looking over at neighbor, Bill’s, barn.  He’s wintering in Georgia.  Yes, that’s a morning moon in the eastern sky, a sky that has a tint of that “red sky in the morning sailors take warning.”

But here’s looking a bit to the left…it gets more dramatic.

It’s fun being up with you so early, sharing what I see.  I find, in my “racheted down” life since closing some doors and being less busy, that I’m drawn to my camera, to images…to nature and noticing.  (Here’s a link to my last newsletter which explains more about the “racheting down.”)

So, after feeding the dogs, but before feeding the sheep and chickens, out I went, camera in hand, throwing my jacket on over my bathrobe, replacing slippers with boots in order to see more of what I had glimpsed from the window…a tinge of red sky and a curve of moon.

Now, back inside for coffee…the sheep and chickens can wait a few more minutes.

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Today’s Journey Note

You know by now that I’m in transition, that I’m having to let go of things in order to make room for what’s coming.  So, it was quite synchronistic to have this conversation with my daughter last week.  We were talking about some major challenges she’s been through lately…one involving a relationship and she said,

“I was wondering why it was so hard for me to meet someone, then I got to thinking that there is no way the Universe would send someone into my life at this point.  Until I shut the doors on my old relationship, cut the chains, basically, the Universe would not open a door to a new life.”

She’s not only beautiful, but also wise. (No, I’m not biased at all!)

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Today’s Journey Note

snowlines

 

“with age and experience…growth becomes a conscious, recognized process.  Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for; for it is in those periods that we realize we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all possibility, a new level of experience is about to be revealed.”

~ Alice Walker

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Today’s Journey Note

It is snowing here, again, in Maine…a beautiful, soft snow.

I’m thinking about the year ending and I’m counting my blessings.  There have been a huge amount of them, like spotting this crazy-red cardinal on top of my snow covered hydrangea.

You’re a blessing, too.

Have a very happy end of the year!

 

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Today’s Journey Note

I’ll bet there are some of you like me, trying to preserve the quiet of this special time before the changing of the year…trying to retain some of the mystery of it all.

This quote helps me:  “Sacred times are not necessarily extraordinary fairy-tale moments or spectacular altered states of consciousness.  They are not given only to special people; they are not unusual.  You live them every moment, even right now as you read this…”~ Christopher Hill, Holidays and Holy Nights

May you experience many sacred times…may you live them every moment.

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Today’s Journey Note

A practice of gratitude…

I am not a disciplined person.  I have tried things (a meditation practice, journaling…) and enjoyed them and dropped them.  Some I have stuck with longer than others and others I stop, but then pick up again.  Surprisingly, with this track record, there is one practice I began, way back on January 27, 2005, and it hasn’t stopped.

I have a daily practice of gratitude.

It looks like this.  I get into bed at night and find my latest Gratitude Journal.  This is a little book, with tiny pages, which is all I need to make a short list, before I go to sleep, of what I’m grateful for in that moment.  When I first started I thought, I just have to find 5 things I’m grateful for, so I didn’t need much space.

That has changed.  Some nights I’m filling several pages.  You see, gratitude has a way of building on itself, blossoming beyond all preconceived limits.  Some nights it spirals totally out of control I have so much to be grateful for – which I do.

Often I’m just listing names…all the people in my life…you, for one.  Then, there are the “small things”…hearing the rain or the crickets outside my window; having a warm bed to sleep in; the dog snoring in his bed; the sickle moon over the bay across the street…  Believe me, I could go on and on.

Why did this practice stick?

It changed my life so why would I stop it?  Appreciating what’s good as a core practice in life changes everything.  When bad things happen, and they do, they rest upon this vast underlying foundation of immense gratitude.  It makes a big difference as nothing appears quite as unsurmountable when you’re aware of how much you do have. When you spend time contemplating that gratitude (EVEN FOR A MERE 5 MINUTES A NIGHT), it shifts your inner and outer landscape, your perspective of things.

Life becomes so good.

I highly recommend finding a small page and numbering 1-5 and seeing what comes to the surface for you.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Today’s Journey Note

Woman Reading 1970 by Will Barnett

The artist, Will Barnett, died today.  Here’s what his friend, Ira Goldberg, executive director of the Arts Students League of New York, said about him:

“Will got to the place where every artist aspires to get to…He got to a point where there was very little in the way of thought process.  He was basically a conduit, when there is nothing to prove, there is no pretext, there is no pretencse.  Whatever comes off the brush, it is right because there is a sense that there is no barrier between the artist and the art.”

I think a lot of people aspire to get to that place, not only artists.  I aspire to get to that place.  It’s where the ego isn’t getting in the way and the flow just flows.

 

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Today’s Journey Note

“November comes

And November goes,

With the last red berries

And the first white snows.

 

With night coming early,

And dawn coming late,

And ice in the bucket

And frost by the gate.

 

The fires burn

And the kettles sing,

And earth sinks to rest

Until next spring.”

 

– ClydeWatson”

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