It was about no longer being the kind of person who takes what she can get, and finally becoming the kind of person who creates exactly what she wants.
When I wrote the below goals in my pen and paper journal a little over a year ago, I created a direction to drive my determination and follow through with a visual plan to write this book:
February 2, 2017
post to blog every two weeks
40 posts total
roughly 1,500 words each
100 minimun pages total of book
submit queries by april 2018
I am excited. I’m excited to do this–to achieve it. Because I’m going to do it. For myself, Mom, our family, my boys. And if it doesn’t happen, it’s because my doubts were greater than my belief.
I’m proud to tell you that I did each of those bullet points, even the last one: I’ve been submitting queries (just a few) since January, and even heard back from one agent. Even though it was a kind decline, I got an agent (in London, no less!) to read my “application,” which in the literary world, is a small accomplishment.
But during my silent months of March and April, of which have now created a gap in our conversations, I wrote to you several times and just felt flat, like there was nothing flowing through me, and nothing of importance to tell you. So I’d occasionally accept the idea of stopping this project. I was even beginning to feel content with that decision.
Usually an entry just spits out through the keyboard in one sitting. And then I’ll re-read and edit and proof over and over, until I feel it’s worthy of people like Jessie or Mrs. Treml or Grandma or friends on Facebook, to read and possibly learn something from.
I don’t know if I can blame this productivity drop on pregnancy quite exactly, but I can say that these past months have proven more difficult than while pregnant with Everett. I’m fine physically, and with the beginning spouts of morning sickness having surpassed (like nausea, wanting to vomit when I saw green vegetables, craving frozen pizza for breakfast), I thought I’d be back into feeling all vibrant without my monthly cycles. Because that’s at least how it worked with Everett.
At my first prenatal appointment with the Midwives, they asked the routine question of how I’d been feeling. And I couldn’t fake my response. I said, “Fine!” in that stupid, too high-pitched tone, knowing the expression on my face was probably silently pleading, help me.
I explained how I infamously have trouble before my menstrual cycle, and the midwife named Kara looked right at me and sweetly said, “Since pregnancy is basically like one big luteal phase, how do you do while pregnant?” And I thought, damn that luteal phase! Always getting me.
She suggested I see their on-site therapist when I come in every 4-6 weeks for the routine appointments, and I agreed, figuring it can’t hurt, and that it’s probably a good idea to stay on top of the whole depression question that’s been dangling in my mind.
A few weeks later, I was in the therapist’s office, listening to her talk with one ear and one eye, while watching Everett with the other observing set. He was touching everything from her coffee mug, yoga blocks and business cards, all while eating a messy peanut butter and jelly, intermittendly watching his favorite show “Tumble Leaf” on my iPhone.
Yes, I resorted to the effective method I used to scoff at: “screen time.” I realize that’s a term that wasn’t around when you were, but there are now portable digital devices that play unlimited content absolutely anywhere, including cartoons in a doctor’s office.
And while I instantly knew this therapist wasn’t “the one” for me, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity for some kind of help. So I later made the decision to call my previous therapist from post-college years, Dr. Jaffe.
Dr. Jaffe truly helped me save myself, in a time when I needed to decide if I was going to follow what was expected of me (continue with more school and/or start a career), or if I was going to keep supporting myself with teaching yoga, in the hopes that I’d be a stay at home mom eventually, with no debt or career to leave behind.
And she helped me know Chris was the man I was supposed to marry, something I’d known for years and years, but got scared to officially accept, because it meant closing a corner of my heart that I never wanted to shut.
So I saw Dr. Jaffe last week (without Everett), and I’m glad I did. It felt good and appropriate to catch-up, explaining how different this pregnancy feels, how I keep forgetting about it and then wondering if that’s normal, and how stuck I feel, creating a baby in the midst of miserable hormones, uninspired to keep writing to you.
Talking in a comfortable environment allowed me to empty out many tangled questions and fears, coincidentally preparing me for a great planned weekend away without Chris or Everett.
The next morning, Nana came around ten o’clock to watch Everett, so I could hit the road towards Annapolis, Maryland, to my girlfriend Olivia’s apartment. I was staying for a visit and the You Are a Badass book signing in Baltimore. It’s a book written by my literal idol of an author.
The entire car ride there, I kept seeing signs that made me feel like I was going towards something exciting–something that was going to help lift my spirits. I’d pass the 1111.1 mile marker, happening to catch its glance in a split second. Or I saw a big motor vehicle with the logo “Puma” painted across the side, which has been Chris’ nickname for me since college.
Once I arrived and settled into her artsy, independently decorated abode, Olivia and I went into the city for a delicious Thai dinner, and then walked into the John Carrol campus store to get a coffee at Starbucks. Apparently the University’s mascot is my special Blue Jay, which were displayed everywhere on t-shirts, mugs, posters, etc. I felt like I was in the right place, like everything was lining up for a fantastic evening.
Our Starbucks total came to $7.53. And when we had left her apartment earlier, Olivia’s car dashboard clock said 3:57. It’s the same consecutive odd numbers, flipped.
I know it’s so dumb! I know. But really, these are the little things that make life feel exciting to me–that make me feel like you and I can still connect, and that the timing in my life is always perfect. I get this trusting, reassuring rush, that lights up everything inside me, until I start to doubt it and think it’s silly to pay attention to things like numbers and birds and pumas.
We walked across the street to the book signing, located in a cute local bookshop, and found seats. There was the perfect amount of people–not too crowded, but not like no one cared to show up. And books were neatly shelved on all the walls around us, creating a cozy and inspiring environment that I was thankful to be in.
When Jen Sincero came through the entrance door, I stared and stared like she was the most famous person in the world, not “just” a best-selling author. I was giddy, and Olivia and I kept making little gossip comments like, She’s so tall! I love her shirt. Oh my God.
Hearing her speak in person took everything I ever read and blew it up into big-sized pieces, ones that I was eating by the mouthful, while my inner voice was saying, you can do this…you can do this…you will write your book! I could feel how sure I was, that being published could and would be done.
It felt like the energetic boost I’d been needing lately.
She was telling her story about being broke and wanting so desperately to be rich and “stop sucking,” and explained how excruciating it feels to know you’re not living up to your true potential. And it was like ding ding ding!
That’s what has hurt the most during these last few months: the knowing of how wonderful this book could be, if I only believed and continued to believe in it and myself.
I would keep making excuses to stop writing, as I have in the past, but these ones felt truly legitimate. I told myself that I’ve accomplished my dream already, of being a mom and having a happy home and family. Which is entirely true. But it’s not “all.”
In the back of my (now signed!) copy of You Are a Badass, a long long time ago, I wrote in pink permanent pen:
I will have a beautiful home
All of my many children will be healthy
My writing will become something meaningful
I will always believe in myself and LOVE WHO I AM
And lately in this pregnancy slump, if I settled into the thought that I’ve already met my goals, I could convince myself of being content. But denying myself the ability to grow, especially when I can see and feel and imagine how good it will feel to rise further towards the sun, has now become more difficult than staying put and settling back down into familiar soil.
By avoiding the pain and fear we are afraid of, we create it and stay in it, because moving forward involves too much risk and judgement and unknown and “work.”
I seemed to have still been under the impression that I could choose to stay comfortable and just be happy with the beautiful life I have now, even if I never became a writer.
Because I have a great home. I have a healthy child, with one on the way. I am married to my best friend. That’s enough, right?
Of course it is. But not when I can feel down into the deepest parts of me, what it will feel like to get published, to get paid the amounted check that sits pinned to my vision board, and to start building the house we imagine, on the property we dream of, with a plethora of kids and animals frolicking around.
Like Jen said, it feels excruciating to ignore that inner voice. And until I heard her say that, my inner voice was being squashed with reason and responsibility and perspective and “reality.”
The smallest crack of doubt will shatter my desire to move forward, something that has happened over and over again through this writing journey. As soon as I get something accomplished, like finishing my proposal, I get comfortable and content with “enoughness,” conceiving up unlimited reasons why it’s time to dust my fingers free and stop writing.
I submitted a god damn query letter–something that last February I was setting as one of my bullet point goals–and then just quit, settling into that okay I did it, I’m done now, because continuing on meant more rejection, more belief, more unknown.
I don’t know how many more times I’m going to get dragged down by doubt. It may be something I’m always going to fight against, or maybe by the grace of all that is holy, this shift is permanent.
I even almost persuaded myself to not drive to Maryland. That voice was saying, you don’t have to leave and drive four hours, when’s the last time you even drove that far by yourself?
Me, getting scared to drive to another state. This is the girl who took trains and boats around Amsterdam solo, almost too merrily stoned and not an ounce less scared, to read the transporting tickets that would get her safely back home to London.
I convince myself out of the things that will help me, without even realizing that by doing so, I’m sabotaging my growth.
One last thing I want to share with you.
While driving to Maryland, I was listening to a random Esther Hicks YouTube video. This woman speaks about energy and attraction and thought–all that fun stuff I love telling you about, and her books and lectures have taught me an incredible amount since I found them.
But as I navigated the highway, trying safely to hear the GPS and good ol’ Esther, I happened to catch her say: Anytime you feel negative emotion, it’s because you’re going against the person you’re becoming.
It was another ding ding ding!
We are all constantly becoming, a very part of this beautiful forward flow of energy that creates the world around us. And when we go against the current, when we deny that inner voice inside and stay safe, choosing a career because our parents say so, or wussing and excusing ourselves out of a needed weekend away from family, it hurts. It muddles our light and we feel terrible, stuck in the trying circle of convincing ourselves, it was the right choice….it was the smart choice…I didn’t need to go anyways, etc.
I don’t want to go against who I’m becoming anymore. I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to be a wimp. I don’t want to stay put. I don’t want to settle in familiarity, even though I am a creature that thrives on comfort and things staying the same.
Because I can’t. It’s come to hurt too much, like I’ll burst if I don’t naturally allow myself to bloom.
And my true eventual hope is that someday somebody will read this journal of my becoming, knowing that they can grow towards the light, too.