What Does It Feel Like To Be You?

Do you ever wonder what it would feel like if you led a different life? If you wore different kinds of shoes and had a different head of hair and took different pictures with your iPhone. You might live in another house with another set of kids and another set of problems.

The green-eyed monster knows where I live and sometimes she visits me. I see your Instagram feed and I read your blogs and I see the colors in your home. And I'm jealous. Not because I don't love my life, but because I love your life, too.

I want my life but I want it to have elements of your life. I want to travel to exotic locations and eat pretty food and connect with cool people. I want to exist in an artist's haze where every moment feeds my art and my art feeds my family.

But I have no choice. I can only be me. And so I am the best me I can be. I don't lose myself in your life anymore. (Ok, sometimes.) I don't want what you have. (Ok, sometimes.) I want what I have. (Always.)

Sometimes, when I open my eyes really wide and I see the pure white walls of my home and the miniature people who run away from and back to me and the light that filters through the windows into our protected pocket of earth, I remember what it was like to be a child. Those moments are fleeting and untenable and perfect.

We were born perfect, but when we grow up, we forget. We forget that even the struggle exists for us.

I want to see the universe through your eyes, but I will settle on seeing the universe through my eyes--opened just a bit wider than yesterday.

This is day 2 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feed burner.

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Where are your holes?

"And the child brings again a fresh quality to life. Every child is primitive, a barbarian; now the mother has to civilize. Every child is a barbarian, remember; he is animal, wild. And the mother has to give him culture, has to teach him the ways of life, the ways of man. It is a great work. You have to remember that – that your work has not finished, it has started. Take it joyously!" - Osho

I started thinking about intentions. It seems we can boil our multitude of motivations down to a few key intentions. The deeper I go, the more I recognize my desire to help other people. Not because I think I have some kind of special authority or knowledge, but because I do not. My struggle is precisely the point. My struggle exists so that I can write my way through it. By writing my way through it, I can help other people.

Maybe. If I can get out of my own way.

The more we get out of our way, the more people we teach. We each of us have our own methods of teaching, our own things we feel called to teach, and practice, so that others will learn by example. A lawyer is under oath to practice the law so that she may lead her clients to follow the law. An accountant helps people to manage their money. A salesman educates his customers about the value of his product. A barista in a coffee shop is there to make sure you enjoy your coffee, and your morning too.

The lessons can be both subtle and glaring. They come through only when the teacher believes in the importance of what she's teaching.

I've grown tired of the cliche that motherhood is hard. Hard doesn't even begin to describe it. Hard is a ten mile run or a job interview or a bad date.

I like Osho's description better. It is great work.

Motherhood runs a long, winding gamut. I can only speak from my position on it. So let's be clear on who I am: I am a full-time mother, that's 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have a growing career, but not a paying job. My husband, the money-maker, often travels and I am left to parent alone. I have two children at home all day but for the 9 hours per week of preschool for the five year-old. On some occasions, I have a third glorious child. I always have several bodies to care for--to clothe, feed, bathe and love--though my husband eagerly shares in this work when he is home.

I am endlessly vying for time to write sentences, fragments of sentences, poems, blog posts, essays, short stories and entire novels.

Even on the days that I do almost everything right for them and for me, I still often feel that something is missing. Something I don't notice until I get to the end of the night and it's not there. In its place is a hole. I think this is why so many binge eaters tend to consume their calories at night. They try to fill the voids with food in their attempt to become whole.

When I run into troubles with my family, I start looking for the triggers. Some of them are easy to find, but many are not. Maybe she's not getting enough social stimulation or he's coping with the changes. Maybe she's teething or she's not eating enough whole foods. Maybe he's under a lot of pressure or she feels unseen.

Today my girls and I exercised and we went on adventures and we connected with other parents and kids. Today we cooked and cleaned and walked and read books and played.

Today I disciplined. Today I tried again to teach my little animals the ways of the world--the importance of bathing after you blow out of a diaper and apologizing when you cave to the compulsion of stealing.

Today I spoke to strangers. Today I corresponded with friends. Today I posted lines from a poem to Instagram in an effort to connect with other poetry lovers.

But when I got to the end of the day, I felt a deep well of sadness rise in me. Beyond my duties as a mother, I struggled to see my worth as a human.

That's when I started thinking about intentions, and how I can help other people. Which brought me here. Back to my words.

Where are your holes and how can you fill them?

Since I do not have a paying job, my holes often exist in my net worth, in my isolation, in my writing career. Writing novels is a huge risk. There are no guarantees. Many artists, particularly women artists, have to work extra hard to be seen.

Part of filling my holes is sharing and connecting with my blog readers.

Part of filling my holes is writing as much as humanly possible.

Part of filling my holes is reading as much as humanly possible.

Where are your holes and how can you fill them?

As always, I am available via email, lucymiller7 [at] gmail [dot] com, and I love hearing from you.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Taking Risks

I think maybe the important thing for writers is just to keep writing even if they don't at first think they have anything to say. Only because it's cathartic. It brings a unique satisfaction. If my brain is a leaky tire, then words are my oxygen.

I've long wondered what this blog would become should I make it a daily practice rather than an occasional one.

(I hate blogging about blogging but I'm going to follow this train of thought anyways.)

It could become a collection of boring thoughts that don't make sense. It could become a compelling journal about an ordinary middle class American life. It could become an ode to mothering or writing or San Francisco. It could be good practice for finding my voice. It could be all of these and none of these depending on the day.

But I haven't taken the leap because I don't know if I want to expose that much of myself. Which reminds me of this poignant quote by my current favorite artist of my generation, Lena Dunham:

Shame is the emotion that makes us feel most isolated from each other, and the most isolated from ourselves. It’s deeply important to try to rid ourselves of it. Exorcising your demons is a gift that you can give to other people, I think. It’s what makes our art not totally self-indulgent nonsense.

I think I'm ready to experiment. I learned this year that change is good. 2015 is around the corner, I'll be 30 soon. I feel like shaking things up. In truth, I'm bored more often than I'm not. Maybe because I've been playing it too safe.

Instead of wasting time on the how, I'm going to leave it at the intention: I intend to take more risks. I intend to blog more frequently. I intend to publish more work. I intend to make new friends.

Perhaps this could be the year..

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To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

The difference between burnout and resistance

After yesterday's post about resistance, Wendy asked some questions that got me thinking:

Here's the question I've been struggling with though - how do you know the difference between burn out because you've been doing too much for too long and resistance? I think there is a difference, but I think the first can very easily turn into the second without you noticing as you begin to recover. How do you know when it's time to kick yourself in the can again?

Using this blog as an example, sometimes I neglect it because life gets in the way and generally I don't feel bad about this. This is not a for-profit blog. I need breaks. Breaks are human.

But I've seen it happen again and again, when I take a break I lose momentum. I turn inwards and I forget how to hit Publish.

If I'm writing in my journal instead, I tell myself it's all the same.

If I'm working on a novel, I tell myself my time is better spent.

If my kids are out of school, I tell myself I don't have time.

Time seems to be the #1 reason resistance has given me.

But time is a man-made construct, we can manipulate it however we want.

Maybe the trick is spending less much on each blog post. Blogging, for me, is less like a craft and more like a hobby, a ritual, even a memory bank. Spending too much time on pointless tweaks and self-sensoring leads to burnout and then resistance.

Still, I do think breaks are good and often very much needed. Like I said, when you pick up again you may be further along than where you left off.

Here's another example: I was working on a novel and I had 91k words when I stopped writing. This was months ago, January or February. I got stuck and then I had another baby. But then the other day, without warning, the ending came to me. I wasn't thinking about the story, I had no plans to continue it. I had all but scrapped those 91k words. Was it resistance that kept me from excavating this story, or was it burnout?

Maybe burnout lurks when we're spending too much time editing and not enough time creating. Maybe burnout arrives when we're forcing ourselves to finish something that's not working. Maybe burnout happens for a reason.

But there's no good reason behind resistance. There's nothing behind resistance but fear.

I knew I had to come back to blogging because I felt resistance towards it. Like I posted yesterday on Facebook, Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art: "Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there's tremendous love there too." Blogging is fun for me. I'm a thinker and a writer and I enjoy thinking and writing and discoursing about personal growth and the human experience. I lead a rich life of motherhood and mindfulness and I feel compelled to revel in these experiences, and remember them and share them. Maybe by examining my own mind, body and spirit, I can inspire other people to do the same.

It's a blurry line between taking a break and succumbing to resistance, but in general, I think breaks are short and resistance is long. Breaks feel deserved. Like the couch after a long day or a protein shake after a tough work out. Resistance feels heavy. Like clutter or debt or a grudge. Burnout happens because we've been at it, resistance keeps us from going at it.

Resistance comes when I take "it"/life/myself too seriously. Expectations erase joy, and in turn, creativity.

Has your burnout become resistance? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Have you heard of resistance?

Have you heard of resistance? Resistance is the force that stops us from doing what we want to be doing.

The force that feeds fundamentalism, addiction, hate and depression. A proliferating fungus, a tumor of stagnant energy, a cloud that suffocates our brains and chases our hearts every time we so much as think about doing it. Whatever "it" is.

Maybe the resistance comes in the form of silence. Maybe in the form of distraction. Maybe you don't use your voice even though you've found it. Maybe you don't ask for help even when you know who to ask. Maybe you type the words but you never send, or never post. Maybe you have a demanding day job or children at home and you never make the time.

No one is going to give you the time. You have to take it. If you feel in the seat of your soul that there is something you need to be doing whether it be swimming daily or playing team sports or writing a story or painting a picture or traveling the world--and you're not doing it--you have succumbed to resistance.

Sometimes we bury our desires under so many layers of ego and opinion and appearance, that we forget what they are. But we can't ignore the tug at our hearts.

Something's missing.

Society, loved ones, corporations, jobs, bosses, other people, they usually have ideas on what we should be doing. Where we should live. How we should live. People are quick to speak, declaring what is best for us, what we need, what we don't need. They believe themselves the authority and because they don't have ill intentions, because they probably love us, we might think to listen.

But the only person who knows what's best for you is you. Only you know where the resistance hides, and what it's hiding.

When I saw the Dalai Lama speak, a man asked him a tough question. The Dalai Lama responded, "I don't know." His audience of thousands waited patiently for him to continue. He did not. He demonstrated that it's okay not knowing. We don't need to pretend we are authorities. We don't need to know everything. We can feel our way through darkness when we don't know the way. We can cast aside our egos and revel in the mystery.

I enjoy growing older because I feel as if I am growing into myself. Growing stronger into myself. So that when someone tells me what to do, I know that I don't have to listen. When someone says something about me or makes a judgment either implicit or explicit, I don't have to believe them.

They don't know me, not all of me. I know me. And I know resistance. And I know that when the resistance builds up like plaque on dirty teeth or toxins in the blood that the only cure is not a deep cleaning nor a drastic detox, but time. And when I grow bored of whatever it is that's scaring me from blogging or writing or submitting, whether it be exposure or self-doubt or judgment, I can start again and be further along than where I left off. Because overcoming resistance is a story in and of itself. 

"Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there's tremendous love there too. If you didn't love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn't feel anything. The opposite of love isn't hate; it's indifference."

-- from the book that inspired today's blog: "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield

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To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.