The Fear of Being Seen

Perhaps you want something, but when it comes down to actually making this thing happen, you fear what you want. This fear disallows it from happening. Sometimes consciously, mostly unconsciously. When I owned Herbal Philosophy Teas, a home-based business in which I mixed locally-sourced organic herbs into medicinal teas, I grew to dread big orders. Though I was excited each time I added a new spa to my client list, I accepted the order with a certain unease. More hours spent in the office, away from my husband, away from my children, away from my blog, away from my manuscript in process. The money was nice, but most of the dollars would go back into the business.

Looking back on this discreet form of self-sabotage, I wonder how I lasted as long as I did under that business model. Hindsight is 20/20, no? I should have hired a co-packer from the beginning to mix the teas, no matter the investment. Alas, my first business proved a tremendous learning experience, not only as an entrepreneur, but as an herbalist and a human trying to sell something. It turns out you don't have to only believe in what you're selling, you have to believe in your credibility to sell it, you have to be willing to charge money for it, and you have to focus on it.

Since I started this blog, it has never been a significant focus. I have called it a hobby, a creative outlet, a labor of love, but never a business. I am not sure what the future holds for this blog. But I do know that I want to grow the readership, and in order to do this, I have to let go of a deep-seated fear of sharing my heart and being seen in all my wounded glory.

I heal by writing my way through struggle. Perhaps my struggles are somehow related to your struggles and we can work through them together. I feel intense pain in the world, I see so much brokenness. Rampant racism and sexism and materialism and depression and anxiety and dis-ease and the list goes on. And on. But change happens on an individual level before it becomes systemic. By changing ourselves, we change the world.

My greatest motivator is the notion that what I write here can help other people. In order to help other people, I must be honest. I must share what's on my heart in order to tap into the collective consciousness.

Naturally, we have inhibitions that protect us from over sharing. I fear being seen, I value my privacy. I have written a number of blogs I have never published and I have drafted many Facebook posts I have never posted. But let's be real here. Growing this blog readership will not turn me into a celebrity. I choose exactly how much I want to reveal. I am in control. I am learning how to love myself enough to see the value in my imperfections.

I struggle like everybody, but I am also lucky, and I am obliged to effect change using this platform because I feel called to do so. Even my marriage is a privilege. As good partnerships tend to do, it grants me support of my goals and strengthens my weak spots: if my husband, who knows my foibles better than anybody, loves me and respects me in spite of these fatal flaws, then maybe you can, too.

This is day 1 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I'm glad you're coming 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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Powerful Beyond Measure

When Simone, a dear reader, sent me an email to offer support and wisdom for my recent interstate move, she said, "no need to control or fix or worry. All needs are met, and they always have been." I knew I wanted to hear more so I asked if she would share her story about moving across the country and how it changed her. Here it is. Enjoy. My plan was simple, move to Los Angeles, spread my professional wings a little further than I was able to in Philadelphia and then, perhaps move back to the east coast.

The first 6 months here, I unraveled, and my plan disappeared.

I became a person I didn’t recognize, like or want to be around.  I was shedding, crying, self-loathing and withdrawing from all the parts of myself I thought I knew and recognized.

2 months into my move, I became introverted and disillusioned. The expectations I had for myself were unrealistic and full of ego.  In Philadelphia, I wore a lot of hats, accomplished some pretty hefty goals and had a lot of titles. I had a BA in journalism from Temple University and an MS in arts administration from Drexel University.  My resume was 3 pages full of outlined experiences, and I cared a great deal about those achievements. They validated me, boosted my courage, and gave me a fantastic sense of self-esteem. Or so I thought.

By month 3, I had been on quite a few interviews, with no call back.  I didn’t understand. I had all the experience, qualified – many times over qualified and nobody wanted me. I was quickly learning that all that used to matter, didn’t matter anymore. What was wrong with me? Was I not enough? What was going to be my fall back plan? I had no job. No real sense of how to get around LA without a GPS (which depressed me) and no creative outlet. I was stuck. It was hard for me to see outside of the cloud I had created for myself. I was drowning in doubt, worrying about going back to Philly and what that would look like and what others would think.

I didn’t recognize myself and had no idea who I was turning into…

I desperately needed an answer, a sign a reminder, warning – something! I wasn’t at all sympathetic to the person I was becoming. I was used to always falling on my feet, while lining things up so that if plan A didn’t work, there was always plan B. I was used to being in control.

Little did I realize, I was that sign I was asking for.

After drowning myself in job applications and interviews, I welcomed any distraction.  I do not remember quite how I stumbled upon the author Marianne Williamson, but I will forever be grateful that I did. The first book I read by her was A Return to Love and digested it within a few days. I was new to the idea of speaking to the Universe, meditation or envisioning how I wanted to feel out of life, rather than what I wanted to happen or do in life. (That’s an important difference)

So, I called out. ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ It felt weird, and I was resistant. I struggled with releasing control and believing that all my needs would be met, without a tangible plan. That knowing (of the unknown) scared me, but I was willing to try.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” –M. Williamson

Was this true? Could I have been afraid of all that was waiting for me to experience? The thought of me being fearful of success or that my wildest dreams and ideas could actually manifest was silly to me.

Me?

Truth is; I was. The Universe gave me exactly what I needed. I needed to sit down and be with myself. Take a real good, long look at who I was, in that present moment. Forget goals, ideas, or dreams. I was a control freak, a perfectionist, and I felt like the world owed me because of the work I put in – I had a huge ego. With so many thoughts flooding my mind, I began to journal more frequently and meditate which became a beautiful distraction.  My thoughts changed from why I moved to LA and what I wanted to accomplish to who I wanted to become and what I wanted my life to mean.

I was here.

I was talented enough. I was experienced enough. I was opening my mind to possibility and definitely not afraid to learn what I didn’t already know.  I stopped rejecting what wasn’t about my life and became more open to what was happening and good about my life. I was exactly where I needed to be. I began to simply enjoy and look forward to every day.

I changed my attitude and approach.

I released the need to control or even worry about what direction I should take. I began to carve out time for reading, writing, job searching, discovering LA, talking to family and friends without shame or embarrassment and that became my routine.

I landed a job by month 6.

Did I particularly enjoy my emotional rollercoaster? No. But, I saw it through. Our truth can knock us down, but it is our willing heart that will always be ready to jump right back in! The question is; will you follow?

“Much of our anxiety and stress comes when we’re focused on fear and disconnected from the voice of our inner guide.” –Gabrielle Bernstein

dawn

"When life descends into the pit I must become my own candle willingly burning myself to light up the darkness around me" – Alice Walker

i'm a wildflower. constantly unfolding, learning, experiencing, and loving...in los angeles. - Simone

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Have you been scared of your own beauty? Have you struggled to follow your heart? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. 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.

Thank you for your beautiful words, Simone!

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.