Tag Archives: go

At Sea

I can’t leave my house today because the road is closed. It feels like an at-sea day.  (Non-cruise-loving travelers, allow me to explain.) On cruises, the trip revolves around the places of port – the journey’s milestones where everyone on the boat files off, spends 8 hours stimulating the local economy, then clambers back on board in time to sleep and wake up somewhere else.  I’ve been on two cruises – lesbian cruises (which is a blog post for another day) – and to me the best days were the at-sea days.  The days between ports, when the boat was our unavoidable container and there was nowhere to go. (Would you hate being stuck on a boat with 2,000 lesbians?)

Knowing my options are limited is a great relief to my system. It’s getting the prix fixe dinner vs. the insurmountable 32 page book-of-a-menu at that Chinese place. No angsty deciding. No contending with constant imaginings of all the things I could be doing if I wasn’t here. So I’ve been counting down the hours today, not with “when can I leave?” but with “how many more do I get?”

I wish I could say I was rapidly spiritually evolving with this poignant reminder that accepting limitation is so freeing.  In reality, my distractions today have only downsized to the 10 million things I can/ need to do in my house.  What next?  Work?  Yoga?  Organize the scary cabinet?  Write the next great American novel?  Nap?  Make cookies?   Someone in me is hoping there’s someone else in me who’s in charge of these matters.  It’s a little disappointing then when I get the typical response: “uh….let’s check Facebook while we decide.” Irretrievable hours of my life later, I’m back at the beginning and I’m contemplating how social media has successfully replaced TV as my unconscious time-waster of choice.  (At least it’s interactive and about people I (usually) know and care about.)

What’s true is today has been exactly like most days.  I spend the bulk of it sitting and staring at a lit-up rectangle.  The sun comes and goes, and I’m alternately 1) doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself, 2) avoiding doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself or 3) thinking about the limitless array of things I’d do if only I didn’t have to house and feed myself.

At least I didn’t lose those five minutes toying with the notion of driving down to get my mail and a mocha, which is the other favorite thing I do to keep me from having to sit still.  And I’m seeing a little more clearly how often I scan for that delicious distraction that will keep me from focusing on my heart’s desire  – and ultimately, from the full measure of success and fulfillment that I know is available to me.

It’s November, and I decided at the beginning of the month to again attempt the ridiculous and totally do-able endeavor of writing 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo. It’s November 21st, and I’m at 5,348 words.  Another day of another year, and my prize is seeing how relentlessly I avoid doing what I want to do.

My house is littered with messages to remind and encourage me.  I get wonderful pep-talk emails twice a week.  I am haunted by self-help book titles, like Mary Goldenson’s It’s Time: No One is Coming to Save You.  I made a poster and stuck it on the wall by my bed that says in big letters: There Is No Time To Waste.

And.

I have apparently not seen what I do enough yet.  I have not felt unsatisfied enough yet to turn my seeing into change.  Getting to enough is key.  And remembering enough, even more so.  I don’t believe anymore that simple laziness is to blame for keeping our dreams out of reach.  It’s habits, usually super attractive, unconscious habits that strap us in the comfy chair, and desperation that pushes us out.  We only shift when we have to.

Of course, saving ourselves is ultimately up to us. But help is useful. Friends are good. I think we should start a friends-don’t-let-friends-get-complacent campaign.  I think we should make interventions a daily practice and the ultimate sign of friendship. Not interventions of shame but of the ultimate care – the care for our soul’s wellbeing. I think we should make explicit our real goals and ask our friends to help hold us accountable  – to check in on us, call us out and shine light on our excuses, even when we kick and scream (which we will.)

I don’t know how this would work.  Phone check-in’s? A website? Written contracts? Maybe I’m the only one who wants this.  Am I the only one?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.

As of four minutes ago, the road is officially open again, so you can come on over and brainstorm.  Maybe I’ll make cookies.

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Filed under invitations, lisa goettel, writing

All Roads Lead to Rome (and Here)

I’m enjoying, or not, depending on the moment, a stunning lack of focus lately.  I’m feeling oh so resistant to making any choice that could limit my options.  I want it all.  And I’m discovering the irony in this… that this mentality keeps me from fully picking, doing or enjoying anything, really.

I’m reminded as I write this of a pep-talk note we got from author Janet Fitch during NaNoWriMo.  I’m going to go right now to look it up…  Here’s part of a story she shared with us about a huge writer’s block she ran into around Chapter 8 in her book White Oleander

“I just couldn’t decide what to do next.  I’d try this, try that, but each time I’d get stuck. The character would put her toe in and pull it out again. No, not that. Should  I just bag it? Write a different book? Go to law school? Watch reruns of Hogan’s Heroes? I was absolutely blocked at the crossroads.

Luckily I was seeing an amazing therapist at the time. I explained I was afraid that if I chose route 6, then I would be eliminating all the other possible routes. What if route 15 was better? Or 3 1/2 ? So I hedged. I couldn’t commit. I was stuck. And she gave me the piece of advice which has saved my writing life over and over again, and I will give it to you, absolutely free of charge. She said, ‘I know it feels like you have all these options and when you make a decision, you lose a world of possibilities. But the reality is, until you make a decision, you have nothing at all.'”

(Sigh.)

That’s it exactly.  Forget writer’s block.  I’m having people’s block.  (For the record, the word I really wanted to use was LIVEr’s block, as in one who lives.)

I see how this plays out in my day-to-day… because it does, alot. I’m a toe-dipper.  Which becomes a thin-spreader – or a spreader thinner… which leads to a bad case of overwhelm.  Or I become a masterful avoider.  Lying in bed for hours, dreamily playing out loads of reckless fantasies for my life in my head, but really I’m just lying in bed.  I’m a dreamer, avoider, procrastinator… which, by the way, also leads to a bad case of overwhelm.

IT’S TIME, Lisa. Time to step up and step out. Take the non-habitual road.  Pick something, and DO. You know creativity thrives in limitation, so create a framework.  Follow one of those lists you love making so much.  GO. Be in the world.  (This is being said by my loudspeaker voice.  Do you have this voice? The one that comes in behind your left ear and gives you the firm and clear answer to any question?)

Janet Finch advises fellow blocked writers to pick something that will make trouble for their character.  She writes, “Find the thing (your character) loves most and take it away from him. Find the thing he fears  and shove him shoulder deep into it. Find the person who is absolutely worst for him and have him delivered into that character’s hands. Have him make a choice which is absolutely wrong.”

This excites me. Anyone else up for getting into a little trouble?

Oh, and a framework.  I do love frameworks.  I found this on the blog of a friend of a friend.  Wanna play? Copy the bold and fill it in.  Ten minutes or less.

*i am annoyed by slow drivers who won’t pull over on the highway.
*i want it all.
*i have six billion ideas.
*i miss cuddling.
*i fear I won’t be able to say no if I say yes.
*i hear the furnace clicking, the solar batteries charging and the wind.
*i search for some imagined “right way”.
*i wonder what will happen if I just say, “screw it.”
*i regret not having more skill and self-awareness in my past relationships.
*i love big.
*i forgive you, if you were that slow driver on the highway.
*i ache for no-holds-barred connection.
*i always make my bed.
*i try to eat well and do yoga every day.
*i seem unapproachable when I’m being shy.
*i know this.
*i feel like walking to the beach today.
*i dance around my house naked.
*i dream of being independently wealthy. But
*i give all my money away when I have it.
*i listen carefully to everything you’re not saying.
*i sing all the time.
*i laugh till I cry sometimes.  I love that.
*i can’t believe it’s noon already.
*i write because I have to.
*i cry at every single therapy session. It’s annoying.
*i sleep like a rock.
*i am really happy about that.
*i see the sun!
*i need to clean the house.
*i should forever banish the word should from my vocabulary.

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Filed under invitations, life, lisa goettel, writing