The Beauty of Retreat

Often times, retreat signifies defeat in battle or the act of moving back or withdrawing.  How can that be good? Where is the beauty in it? It’s admitting failure and running away with your tail tucked between your legs, well by my understanding.  But during my recovery from oral surgery (which was quite traumatic) these last few weeks, I struggled immensely to pick back my routine up of writing every day, posting a few times a week.  An internal battle raged within me, my inner critical voice loudly proclaiming victory as I preferred to recuperate rather than half *** some writing just for the sake of writing.  Admittedly the times I tried, I didn’t feel the familiar rush of sensation normally felt when I sat to write.  Dry spell? Lack of inspiration? A trip to the dreaded land of writer’s block? For days, I had not a one inkling of an answer.  For weeks, I’ve gotten back into full swing at my day job yet unable to find the courage to clock into my real passions after hours.  My inner critic continued to scold and mock me, whispering how worthless and phony of a creative being I am.  My dreams, colorless, haunted me because they provided no inspirational outlet.  My thoughts, empty and focused mostly on the pain in my mouth and on the right side of my face, frightened and confused me.  I threw many questions before God (and myself) at odd hours when pain would jolt and awaken me.  Was what I labeled as passion really just a need to perform, to please? I obsessed over every single detail.  As a writer, obsessing over minor details can be beneficial but in real life, this can be downright detrimental.  Obsession of every single detail can led to compulsion which can in turn lead to a torturous thought life.  Again, all which kinda sorta assist me when I’m creating stories and characters (maybe those are my real muses) but can lead to a life of pure insanity.  One night, I realized my need to control was in cahoots with detail obsession AND that I was unnecessarily carrying this ginormous load on my tiny little shoulders.  It was in that moment, I made the decision to retreat.  Not in the way of the more common meaning but to surrender my obsession and control issues about my writing career to God. To trust the process, this beautiful, confusing-at-times, wonderful, satisfying path I am currently walking on.  That I will reach my destination as long as I continue to do my part and leave the detail obsession and need to control in the hands of the Creator (higher power, Universe, etc). Exhale. Let go. And that is where I found the beauty in retreat.

Monday Inspiration: Diana Vreeland

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“Vogue always did stand for people’s lives. I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.”—Diana Vreeland

 

Anna Wintour’s predecessor knew a thing or two about life, fashion and living.  Responsible for taking Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue into mainstream publication and popularizing the circulation of the fashion magazine across the globe, Vreeland was known for fearlessly speaking her unedited thoughts aloud.  What I really admire about her, though, is her zest for living.  Instead of complaining about the wrongs in life, she set out to create the life she wanted to live.  Vreeland spent every moment of the day living, not over analyzing or allowing fear to keep her from taking in each moment with a fresh perspective.  She saw the challenges of life and business as opportunities to express her best and most highest self.  At times, her solutions were received well and highly praised and at other times she fell flat on her face.  But she wasn’t afraid of the fall nor did she allow the possibility of falling keep her from trying.  This is true inspiration to me.  To live life in such a way that you are fully present and grateful in each moment.  Allowing these to open the door to your passions and creativity.  Then maybe we won’t despise Mondays so much but instead see the day as a new possibility for a new beginning to a new creative moment.  Mondays? Yes, I’m starting to look forward to it just a wee bit more…

 

Happy Monday Everyone!

P.S. If you are a fan of fashion and Vreeland, check out the documentary, The Eye has to Travel!

Who invited Timidity to the party?

Timidity is defined as lacking in self-assurance; courage; bravery; easily alarmed.

     Every writer has a distinct voice.  It is nothing short of a miraculous journey in finding that unique voice.  And if a writer desires the profession, he/she must learn and recognize it.  It has taken me a thousand light years, first to accept the call of writer and more years to physically “do the work.”  Life is beautiful in such a way that when we’ve crossed a finish line victoriously only to look up and see another starting line.  I must ask for forgiveness from those that have always supported and encouraged me and to those who’ve decided to take this ride along with me.  You see, I’ve found my voice.  My writing voice.  I accept it probably isn’t the standard-journalistic-school-taught voice.  But it is me, divinely ME.  The ability to weave a  picture sequence in a reader’s mind through words only is what I am capable of, can do almost effortlessly.  Yep, that’s me.  But I realize I am yet using said writer’s voice in a timid manner.  Imagine holding a megaphone up to my mouthpiece ready to grab the attention of a crowded noisy room but only being able to whisper the words. Or running away from the boogey man on a treadmill.  Accomplishing the task, but in such a meager way, my soul senses the inaccuracy.  Not that I seek attention.  My search is for authenticity and I  am learning to care less and less about approval.  And at the seat of authenticity is BRAVERY (refer back to the definition above), the ability to be present, heard, and self approved.  There is no middle scope between the giants of FEAR and AUTHENTICITY, no gray area.  And though I am beginning to feel like I’m conquering the fear of allowing my voice to be heard, somewhere along the way I’ve invited TIMIDITY to the party.

              Self: What shall I write today? Shall I free hand? Work on a few short stories? Self goes about busing herself to write.  Self is elated. 

TIMIDITY: You may write, in fact, I am almost sure you will however you will do it quietly, not ruffle any feathers and pay attention to the critics!

Self then finds herself in a corner with pen and pad in reach but aimlessly staring at nothing.  NOTHING. INACTION. EMPTY PAPER.  UNTOUCHED PEN. PROCRASTATION. ANOTHER DAY.

 Forgive me, Provocateurs, for allowing timidity to seep through my fingers and paralyze my thoughts.  Forgive me for all of the days I allowed timidity to rob me of expressive musings and funny antidotes.  Short stories.  Fashion exposes.  NOVELS. Forgive me for not remembering I am always a student. You have my deepest, most sincerest apologies.

Today I take back my courage and foresight and press toward the mark.  Today I jerk the welcome mat right from under stupid TIMIDITY and close the door in its face. Screw timidity.  I am here, loud and present with my distinctive voice.

 

Xo

 

P.S. Happy Birthday Grandma! Mrs. Irene Fontenot Arvie, we miss you!

Inside of a Box

Conformity:

An act of conforming; to behave in a way that is accepted by most people; to do what other people do

Color inside of the lines.  Jump on the bandwagon.  Go by the book.  Play the game.  Obey the rules. Follow the crowd.  Toe the line.  Roll with the punches. Run with the pack.  Don’t make waves.  Don’t rock the boat.

We learn to conform at a young age.  We are taught to silence our unpopular thoughts and beliefs and adapt to the pack.  We are taught not to seek new ways of doing life.  What arises from learning to live in such a tiny oxygen deprived box is a shell of a person.  A walking zombie.  Someone who has learned to just go through the motions.  Live life on everyone else’s terms and expectations. Wave the white flag, surrender.

That was me.  Years and years of wearing a mask, hiding my true self, fearful of consequences, criticism and opinions.  Downplaying my passions, dreams, aspirations…afraid of disappointing “them” (can anyone tell me who these people are?)..withering away on the inside.  I had learned to restrict myself, restrain myself in hopes of pleasing the invisible judgmental group of people that resided in my head who-always-got-it-right (how I hated those people!).  I had learned to dismiss the few compliments and encouraging words I received about my creative skills when I allowed a small peek inside of my private world.  A pre-recorded repetitious record of negative thoughts would play in my subconscious anytime I felt a jolt of freedom, or joy, or smidgen of happiness.

Change, real-life-shifting-courage-needed-change, cannot occur without a catalyst.  Catalysts precipitate change and can be disguised in an array of costumes…a job loss, death of a loved one or pet, the end of a relationship, financial difficulty… which may lead you to do quite a bit of soul searching and look for some significance, some meaning in your life.  You will question everything…God (or whatever higher power you believe in) and everyone.  You will, at times, question your own sanity and rational thinking.  And all that you are made of will want to quit. Give up…die…remain a zombie because well, it’s just easier.  The thing is you can’t quit because change is occurring.  You have to keep going, keep fighting, and keep pushing.  You owe this to yourself, your authentic self.  Understand you are slowly being released from your prison.  It just doesn’t feel like it because you are in the process of change.  Yes, it is a process.  But it is manageable and purposeful.  And necessary.  Teach yourself to remove the periods placed in your life and instead insert commas.  A period signifies the finality of a thing while a comma suggests there is more to expect because it will get better.  Vow to continue living and allow yourself the room and self compassion to experience the fullness of change.

What makes me so qualified to speak on this? Because I, like you, was once a rider on the transition rollercoaster (I still am).  And like the Phoenix that rises from burnt ashes, I have been revived.  The fire didn’t consume me…it was never meant to…its purpose was to give birth to the powerfully free creature that is me.  Your Phoenix experience awaits you, what will you do with it?

Pieces of Me

Be You. Two simple little words with profound meaning. For me, those two words represent freedom. Up until the last year or so, I wasn’t basking in the glorious freedom of just being me that I am now. By all outside appearances, I was a woman pursuing my dream career whilst working a regular paying 9-5 gig. By outside appearances it would seem I led a well-balanced life, with meaningful relationships, spiritually growing in my relationship with God and group of supportive friends. The reality was on the inside, in my secret cave (my apartment) I was silently mourning. You see, I was trying to be the person I thought my family wanted me to be, whom my co-workers and friends sought me out to be. I wasn’t abused or depressed (well maybe I was depressed). I was just unhappy. And I did various activities (shopping online, watching endless TV, eating unhealthy junk food) that helped me “zone out”/mask my true feelings and I was doing nothing to further my budding writing career or improve my life. In other words, I had learned to keep the wound covered up, never allowing air to bring healing to the infection or ever addressing the cause of it.  I had lived this way for years and though I knew it wasn’t healthy, I continued in my dysfunction.

One night while sitting watching the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts (yes, I’m guilty I had never seen it) combined with these life defining questions I could no longer cover up finally combusted as all of these thoughts started pouring out of me within the first 30 minutes. I realized, in that insignificant moment (but tremendously significant), I wasn’t whole. There were pieces of me floating everywhere. One piece my family knew and loved. Another piece went to a job every day. Yet another piece went out for sushi with friends. Who am I? And why am I in pieces? I was asking God and I was demanding answers! Soul searching, prayer, meditation, journaling for months and investigative research brought the realization that I was living out life as a carbon copy of who I was really created to be. Perfectly perfected on the outside but inside crumbling to pieces, giving those pieces away, never fully engaging in life and relationships. I couldn’t live that way any longer. I wouldn’t, I wanted,  no needed to be whole. I realized I would never be able to embrace what I am called to be in this life in broken pieces. Tear filled nights with intensive writing, early morning conversations with God gave birth to the woman I am today. Not perfect, no but whole. Learning every day I no longer need anyone’s permission to just BE. Me. Perfectly imperfect in my beautiful skin.  The more I embrace me, the more I reach my highest, most authentic self.  And there is no happier state to find yourself in.  I’ve chosen to just BE, will you join me?