I remember back in grad school when I’d have a ton of reading to do for a class, and I’d pick up a book at Chapters that I’d been eyeing for weeks. I’d take 10 minutes, read a page or two, then leave it to collect dust on my nightstand. For a while it would make me feel better, sitting there reminding me that I liked to read, escaping into a book, and feeding my soul. Slowly though, it would begin to look like clutter, as I realized I wasn’t going to make time to read for pleasure at all. How could I? I’d been avoiding tackling the pile of articles sitting on my desk, and so reading something just because I wanted to really was NOT an option. If you’re gonna read, read the work, I’d silently lecture myself. Don’t waste time reading something that doesn’t serve you. Ha! How crazy to see these words on the screen, slapping me hard in the face, as though I hadn’t written them myself. I’m the friggin How of Happy lady. I teach people how to put their joy first, making all the things that need doing more manageable, yet I couldn’t, and sometimes still can’t, see the point of doing something purely for pleasure, when there are other things that need doing. How can you forget what you already know? With me, it’s not so much forgetting, as it is selectively remembering. You see, there are two levels of avoidance. Procrastination is when we avoid the work, and replace it with something we’d rather do. The second, more destructive level, and one that I am intimately familiar with, is when we are truly stuck, and end up avoiding the work, AND the pleasure, depriving ourselves from feeling good, and blocking our innate ability to get unstuck.
A while back, I decided finally to write my story. Our story. The story that lives and breathes within me, and that has already been written in so many ways, needing only to be scribed. I began collecting pieces of data, and sorting through stuff that I had, that I knew I wanted to include in my book. I met with a mentor, a best selling author, turned friend, to discuss how she might help me on my book writing journey. For the first time, I publicly announced that I was going to write a book. It felt so good, real, and right. I believed that making my commitment known would be like putting it out there into the universe, activating the law of attraction, and lending energy to this deep wish I’d held onto for so long. Well, that’s not quite how it turned out.… It made my book homework, and my blog that dusty thing that sits on my nightstand. The result? I avoided both entirely.
This morning, in my stuckness, I opened a message from Carolyn, the mentor, turned friend. She was congratulating me on some recent press, speaking events, and workshops I’d done. I replied that yes, my “side-hustle” was picking up steam, but now the task was to figure how to make time for writing amidst the success. “You’ll know when the time is right, she replied, “It’s all unfolding exactly as it should. Could be you have other writing to do first to support the side hustle…” I didn’t understand right away what she meant. I launched into my grad school analogy of skipping blog writing out of guilt of not doing my book writing homework. She suggested I write it all down. My frustrations, how I was feeling, encouraging me to write for me. She challenged me to set a goal of just 10 minutes of writing a day, to get back into the flow, and to reconnect with my joy. “Find your WHY. The HOW will find you”, she said. She reminded me of my deep desire to connect, and how impactful some of my work had been, telling me I’d inspired her with my words! Her encouragement came at the perfect time, and felt like a great big hug.
So here I sit, writing this article, determined to give my mentor’s advise a try . I set the timer on my phone, committing to just 10 minutes. “Reconnect with your why Shannon”, I whispered to myself. The timer rings, and I keep writing, and writing… With every click of the keys, I come alive. I cannot avoid the things that make me happy, or only make space for them when all the other boxes are checked. In just 10 minutes I am reminded of all of this. Reminded that I write to feel good, and that when I feel bad, this is my answer. This is what makes me come alive.