The Trick To Winning

Have you heard the old adage, "slow and steady wins the race"? This idea contradicts many a modern mindset. We like to do things quick and effectively. We like maximum productivity. I know I do. Yet parenthood often takes us on the scenic route. Winding, yet beautiful. I write stories by stealing bits of time through out the day. A few minutes of peace at the keyboard during nap time. A line in my notebook at the library, crouched on a tiny chair, my knees knocked against the toddler table. Occasionally I will carve out enough space to find the flow and discover a new arc to the story line. This so-called flow state is what fiction writers live for. This is how we get our stuff done. I dare to believe that if it weren't for the flow, novels would not get written. But when you're a full-time mother, the flow state will inevitably be interrupted by a child waking or a school pick-up or a sibling battle.

Generally, I close my notebook or my computer and I am unsatisfied. As if I haven't gotten enough done. As if I am never getting enough done.

This belief no longer serves me. I am ready to replace it with something new.

The truth of the matter, anyways, is that I do get stuff done. I have improved my writing by writing and editing and reading and writing more. I will continue to work on my craft until the time comes to publish a novel. And when I look back on these years rich with uncertainty and sweet babies, I will regret none of it. The universe gives me exactly what I need, when I need it, whether it's motivation or ambition or support or chaos or a fire under my ass or a book deal.

I think the trick is to be satisfied, even fulfilled, by little bits of progress. They add up. There is no race. The only competition is with the person in the mirror. If you never give up, you have already won.

This is day 9 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 feedburner.


Life And Death Transformation

On the evening of Mother's Day, complex emotions and utter exhaustion induced sleeplessness, my head buzzing with metaphysical possibilities. I'd just finished reading "After This: When Life Is Over, Where Do We Go?" by Claire Bidwell Smith, the pages containing a litany of profound revelations about death and the afterlife. Claire helped me excavate a knowingness from deep within: there is no such thing as death, not in the sense that our souls leave these bodies and we cease to exist. Death is a transformation. There is consciousness after death, even if it looks and feels different than we look and feel while animating a human body.

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Take A Step; Learn A Word

"Each life is a language no one knows. With every heartbreak, discovery, and unexpected moment of joy, with every lift of music that touches us where we didn't think we could be touched, with every experience, another letter in our alphabet is decoded. Take a step; learn a word. Feel a feeling; decode a sign. Accept a truth; translate a piece of the mystery written in your heart. Before we live what's next, it always seems like there is some answer we need to arrive at. But daring to enter, we are humbled to discover, again and again, that the act of living itself unravels both the answer and the question. When we watch, we remain riddles to be solved. When we enter, we become songs to be sung.

When life feels far off, remember that a flute is just something hard with holes until it's played. So, too, the heart. As matches are just sticks until lit, as ice is not quenching until thawed, questions and problems remain obstacles until lived. In this way, the life of every soul waits like sheet music to be played. What good are we if never played?

Only when life moves through do holes become openings."

- Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Today marks my six month anniversary in San Francisco. So it was only fitting that I came across this gorgeous passage.

By taking a step out of my home state, I have decoded another letter in my alphabet. And with it, I've had my fiction published and discovered a platform for my poetry and found a growing artist community of moms.

As for my family--Giovanna has had the opportunity to attend preschool in the California forest, forging a unique spiritual relationship with nature that will stick with her forever. Emile has gotten to travel on an airplane by himself at frequent intervals, allowing him to show responsibility and practice precocious independence. James continues to move forward in his career as a professional creative. And Skyla, baby Skyla, she gets to soak up all this good sunshine and ocean air, the excitement of San Francisco as it comes through her mama and daddy and siblings and self.

By leaving Seattle, we have ripped holes in our lives. Never again will my children and I feel entirely at home, but we have something else. We have San Francisco--and when the storied winds of this city blow through our holes, I hear music.

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




I Am Enough


"He's always thinking about how to change things. He's never satisfied with the way they are." Samuel smiled at him. "They say man lived in trees one time. Somebody had to get dissatisfied with a high limb or your feet would not be touching flat ground now."

- John Steinbeck's East of Eden

I'm reading "East of Eden" because I saw it on someone's Facebook list of 10 books that changed their life. I don't remember who. Thank you whomever you are.

When I first read this passage, I thought Yeah! This is how we make the world a better place! By never being satisfied. And we can and we do. Like a certain preschool teacher mentioned on our march for Martin Luther King Jr last week, he made the world a better place for us. She said to the children, Someday your face will be up on a sign. Because you're going to make the world better, too.


 When I saw a little girl kiss the head of her walking partner (a much smaller girl in the younger class) like a doting mother, I knew this teacher was right. These kids have hearts big enough to cradle the universe. The sky's the limit for them. For all of us.

But the more I considered this sentiment, the more it troubled me. If we are never satisfied, how can we enjoy our lives? There is no destination to reach but death. All we have is now, the journey. We are alive. Can we feel gratitude for what we have while still wanting more?

I think the answer lies in seeking balance, recognizing how far we've come while acknowledging how far we still have to go.

For example, in the context of Martin Luther King Jr's cause, schools are no longer segregated legally but they are anyways because of economic and racial privileges.

Personally, as a writer, I am more likely to start a new project rather than work on the third drafts and query letters of the novels I've already written. If I am "never" satisfied with my work then how can I share it? I believe in my stories, but do I believe in my ability to tell them?

As a wife and mother, my patience has grown though I still speak sharply and my presence has improved though I still get lost in my to do list and my iPhone and my thoughts. I am trying to be better while also celebrating my progress.

I believe I will always be a work in progress, which is both daunting and exciting. For better and for worse I expect a lot from myself and from others and from this human experience. But it's tiring, this dissatisfaction. I seek the balance of knowing that despite my yearnings to evolve, I am good enough just as I am. Not at some point in the future. But today.

I write enough, I work enough, I blog enough, I exercise enough, I smile enough, I laugh enough, I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.