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Resonance

I resonate.

Arms spread wide I catch the wind and welcome it into my trembling bones like an endless echoing gong.

I am, in an infinite instant — stretched — larger than I know. I am spread across the moment that lingers between one breath’s finish and a fresh inhale.

I am breathless, thoughtless, open. I am lost and have never been more found; caught here, on the stillness of a half-forgotten heartbeat.

 

I resonate and I am lost.

I breathe and I am found.

 

 

The agony of anticipation

It’s in. It’s done. I press “Submit’ or “Publish” or “Send”.

Suddenly all those moments of effort and labor are gone. Their results ent off, winging their way as photons streaming through fiber optic cables.

Except for the times they are gone as pages printed, folded, and neatly tucked away into the corners of gentle envelopes.

But in the moments after I press “Send” or hear the mailman fetch the letter from the box — that is the moment when doubt creeps in and I suddenly find myself transported back hours, back to staring down the blank page once more, frantically re-working my awkward phrases and crippled sums in a desperate bid to reassure myself that the clamouring questions can be answered.

What if I didn’t do it right? What if it’s not good enough? What if no one likes it? What if Everybody hates me forever?

I know my fears are hyperbolic and inflated and I despise them for their groundlessness even as I feel myself succumbing to their trembling hysteria.

I lose myself for a moment or two — I stumble and fall into the trap even as I see it looming. For a moment, a minute, my ravening mind turns in on itself in a whirlwind of self-flagellation.

How dare I send my heart out into the world, dressed only in it’s glorious frailty and imperfection? How dare I raze the walls of my sovereign shelter and invite chaos into the breach? How dare I flay truth from the bones of my dignity and bare my breast to the world?

How dare I dare to make this inglorious leap into the unknown?

But just as the pressure builds to the point where I cannot bear the weight of my own self-recrimination, where I can feel faith in my actions crumbling, where I long to press rewind (I’m so sorry. Please just let me take it back.).

At that moment Reason steps in.

Reason brings logic and perspective back to table and points out that nothing irreparable has been risked. Reason knows that failure will not be the end of any part of who I am.

Reason understands that inviting risk is as important and inevitable as breathing.

Fear is not assuaged but Reason persists and ultimately Fear subsides, curls up somewhere in the back of my mind — unconvinced and ready with a scathing I told you so.

And so we continue, Fear, and Reason, and I. As we run, trip past “Send”, and leap once more into the deep.


Is “Everybody” out to get you? Or is it just yourself?

I face down the “Send” button on my email daily. I publish on the blog.

Sending my work out into the world is something I struggle with daily. It’s a constant battle between me and my doubt — and my guess is that maybe it is for you too.

Martha Beck suggests that we carry around with us a notion of a generalized “Everybody” who exists to judge us. We notionally reference our Everybody when we say offhand things like “Everyone must think I’m a jerk” or “Everybody knows I’m an idiot now”. But the thing about our Everybodies is that (if they’re real at all) they’re made up of just a handful of people.

Try it out — next time you catch yourself having an “Everybody” thought — “Everybody thinks my writing is stupid” — try and figure out who exactly is “Everybody”. Has anyone told you directly that your writing is stupid? Try and think of a handful of people who you know for sure believe that about you. I usually can’t do it, but if I can I often find they’re not people whose opinions really matter. And so I try to ask myself if those opinions are really worth worrying about (after all, you get to pick your “Everybody”).

And if you have “Everybody will…” thoughts (“Everybody will think my writing is stupid if I share it”), I think it’s useful to realize that those are fear thoughts. It’s a kind of sloppy shorthand for “I’m afraid everybody will think my writing is stupid” and in that case it’s usually the fear you need to address — and again your Everybody may be helpful: do you know people who already don’t think your writing is stupid? Why not try letting them be your Everybody for now? (“What does Everybody think? They think my writing is great!”)

 

I’d love to hear from you! What do you do when the doubts creep in?

And, as always, if you liked this piece — please share!

 

A meditation

This week I’m happy to share with you a prose-poem I wrote on the things that get in the way of writing — enjoy!      
-Jessica


 

There’s a warm cup of tea on my desk and I finally can feel my fingers for the first time in hours as the warmth of liquid comfort creeps through my veins and slips hurriedly out into my extremities. My fingers sit on my keys and I wait.

Inhale.

I wait for the muse or my soul or whatever it is you want to call the first stirrings of inspiration. The flutter of here and now and this and why don’t you start here, with this beginning — with this warm cup of tea and my fingers, their skin overly dried and roughening but still a little soft from the water of dish-washing and counter-scrubbing, still noticing the ache between my shoulders after what feels like a cathedral of floor-sweeping.

Exhale.

The silence creeps in and I don’t know what to say. Inspiration refuses to budge and I can feel lists upon lists, quivering in the back of my mind. Reminding me that I forgot the stretch of counter with the toaster, that I haven’t touched the crumbs that have collected on the kitchen table, that the dust bunnies beneath my dresser just keep growing. There’s a thousand and one things that I still need to get to.

Inhale.

I keep my fingers on the keys. It’s a kind of rule these days. Fingers on keys is safe.

When I was little and just learning how to type they used to call these the home keys — asdf jkl; — the place your fingers rest in the moments between typing. The place from which all typing begins.

These days I find myself more familiar with the home keys than I have ever been as I sit, fingers on keyboard, and wage a war with myself over my own right to write.

Exhale.

The thing about stories is they speak to us. As readers and as writers, stories bloom in our mind and they teach us something about the kind of people we are — about the kind of people we wish to become.

When I was little I didn’t dream of writing. Or maybe by the time I did it was already too late. I think that by the time I dreamed of writing I’d already learned that writing isn’t a “real” job and that I shouldn’t bother to try. I’m doing my best to unlearn that thought now, facing it down every day as I sit — fingers poised on keys that are ever so slowly starting to feel like home.

Inhale.

I think that’s all it is really, in the end. Coming home to ourselves over and over and over. Showing up. We’ve all become so busy that it’s nearly impossible anymore to find the time: time to breathe, time to sit, time to rest, time to sleep.

It’s even more impossible to find the time to write.

Because writing is like fighting demons and the moment you sit down the thing that comes up is resistance and — even though the desire to write has been niggling all day as you bought the groceries and did the laundry and cooked and then cleaned up from cooking — as soon as you hit the chair and find your fingers waiting on their favorite keys the only thing you can think about is the laundry that still needs folding, and whether you should check on the crock pot, and haven’t you been meaning to vaccum for weeks?

Exhale.

The trick is not to do it. The trick is to keep your fingers there, in the home position that’s starting to feel less like a home and more like a prison the longer you wait — as the clamour of all these other things (useful things…) you could be doing just keeps getting louder. And louder.

And the thing I think it’s important to know is that you have to just keep sitting.

Inhale.

Every moment is a choice. And in this moment I choose to come home to my writing.

Exhale.

 

Now I’d love to hear from you! What gets in the way of the important things you’ve been meaning to do?

If making time for the stuff that matters is something you struggle with. Here are a few resources you might want to check out on why it helps to do the important things before the urgent ones (hint: your email is urgent, but not important!).

And if you liked this piece, please share!

 

A poem for beginnings

Welcome to 2015! I’ve been sheltered away in my dreaming cave for the past few days, thinking about what I want my 2015 to hold. And, naturally, I want the coming year to hold many things, some of them more probable than others, but most of all I want 2015 to hold time and space for writing. And, of course, to get to share that writing with you. 🙂

Here’s my wish for you (and me!) in the new year

 

MAY WE

 

In honor of this wish, I’ve written a poem. Happy (somewhat belated) New Year, everyone!

 

A poem for beginnings

I begin.

I begin with a breath, with a cough, with a scream.

I begin cold and naked and shivering, thrust into a future I could never have dreamed of.

As a child I began to babble, to crawl, to stand.

As a child I first lay and then sat and then danced on my tippy toes, held securely in my father’s hands.

As a child I dared to stand alone and I crowed with achievement.

As a child I stood and then fell and I wailed to have failed so unexpectedly.

I grew taller and I hit the ground harder whenever I first leapt and then fell.

I collected small failures in the shape of bumps and bruises from where my growing edges had knocked against door jambs and chair backs and counter corners.

I collected larger failures in the shape of cracked teeth and sprained ankles and near-misses with cars.

As a child I was small and fragile and I didn’t always understand that life could be dangerous.

But I knew that falling was a necessary part of standing and that a few bumps and bruises were survivable.

As a child I knew how to cry and wipe my tears and stand back up again.

As a teenager I learned a different kind of lesson.

A lesson about not-crying and not-falling and not-trying.

A lesson about grades and how sometimes just trying isn’t good enough.

A lesson about the importance of being right instead of being brave.

I learned that doing it differently is dangerous and that to be myself was both risky and dangerous.

I learned that different was often lonely and my heart ached with the weight of that realization, of that emptiness.

I learned that most of the time people look without seeing and that when people looked at me they saw not-me but rather my list of achievements, of accomplishments, of activities.

I learned to let these things define me, until I became not-me, until I became them-instead.

And so I buried that little girl with her daring and her dreams and her failing and I learned to do what other people expected.

I learned to be bland. I learned to be boring.

I learned to be invisible.

And so I’ve come to here, to this moment, with a blank page before me and a brand new beginning and the only thing I know is that I’ve never been more scared of falling.

I’ve never been more scared of failing.

I’ve never been more scared of becoming, once more, that little girl.

The one who dared to dream of the impossible

The one who wasn’t afraid to fall down, cry, and still keep on trying.

 

What are your dreams for 2015? Let me know in the comments below!

When I look back, I see

When I look back the images that I see are of me, a little girl cast adrift in a sea that is vaster than her own imagination. I see myself in math class, attempting to hold within the circle of my skull the number of drops of water in the ocean.

I see infinity and zero superimposed such that infinity is nothing more than two zeros. I see infinity in the Ouroboros – and I struggle to reach my own tail – to become at once infinite and still nothing more than two zeros.infinity symbol

Two zeros side-by-side, like breasts, the pendulous sort I never grew. The sort of breasts I dreamed of as a little girl when I lay in bed at night and felt the tenderness of blossoms on my chest.

Two zeros side-by-side like me, a small zero tucked away in the larger cavern of my mother’s womb, sharing life-blood and oxygen back and forth between our two connected destinies. A moment in the infinite re-production of life stretching back through untold generations of mother giving birth to mother and to mother.

When I look back I see the moments in which I dared not stretch to my full height for fear of being too tall and I see the moments in which I sang oh-so-quietly for fear of being off-key.

I see the moments of lack and they are, each and every one, met by an equal moment of grace: the afternoon I spent at the beach not-thinking, just waiting for my heartbeat to synchronize with the rhythm of the tide.

I see sun drenched days spent on beaches with friends, with family. I see rocks that begged to be climbed until I could stand atop them like a god and know that I was just as infinite as our ever-expanding universe.

When I look back, I see everything.

I’d love to hear from you! What do you see when you look back? Let me know in the comments.