Being Brave

I’m going to do a very brave thing today.

It probably seems tiny and that’s because it is, relatively. It might even seem ridiculous, and I’m willing to say it is, in its own way. It’s also one of the bravest things I’ll have done for some time, and things being ridiculous and also brave don’t have to contradict each other.

I am going to a yoga class.

Here are some facts about me: in high school I was the kid casually strolling to the back of the line for everything, encouraging my competitive classmates to go ahead and budge me and walking myself into dodgeballs laying on the ground – “OH NO I GUESS I’M OUT.” For several years I was very sick and lived under the constant threat of my body putting itself into convulsions at any moment. Historically, my relationship with my body has been fraught with rough patches and I’ve always believed myself to be just not “coordinated/athletic/strong/skilled/good.”

I’ve challenged that belief many times the last couple years. I started running, before remembering I loathe it. I walked instead, then did Pilates, then joined a gym. Now I regularly lift weights and do cardio, and have done a few different challenges. On Saturday I did my first barbell workout. I still can’t walk.

Today I go to yoga. Because the only way to find out who you are and what you’re capable of is to try. You can live out of old beliefs, accepting old labels and encasing yourself in an outdated identity that may never have been true in the first place. I don’t judge you if you do, that’s what I lived out of for many years and still do in other areas. But while acquiring that identity might not have been your choice, living on with it, unchallenged, day after day, is.

Maybe your old identity is about your writing, your art, your organization skills, your ability to make friends or fall in love, your ability to lead, or something else. Maybe you’re comfortable with it, maybe not. Just remember, you don’t have to own labels you’ve been given if you didn’t choose them or they don’t fit you anymore. And while challenging them is scary- what if I fail? What if I *am* the thing I don’t want to be? What if I can’t change? – repeated challenges allow you to create your own identity and own only labels that are useful, meaningful, and valuable to you.

You can do this.

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Saying No A Lot

Last night I got home at 9:15 and after talking to my parents for twenty minutes I had less than an hour before I wanted to be in bed.

I also had eleven things left to check off on my habit tracker.

The odds, as they say, were not in my favor.

I had to do a quick triage, deciding which habits I think are pretty well-formed and which could be skipped for a night, which ones my mind and body didn’t need as much as others, and which could be done at alternative times. Essentially I was removing everything but the essentials- not bad things, just things that weren’t good ENOUGH to make the cut in that moment.

This is how we revise a book. We’re not necessarily removing BAD things (hopefully you did that the first round or two because if you’re like me you’re probably on round eleventeen). We’re removing good, even GREAT things, that just don’t belong. Seeking the essential and giving up the rest.

Sometimes the simplest and most peaceful (not easiest. Just simplest.) path to a lean, rich, page-turning draft is to say no to good so you can say yes only to the best.

Something New

I started a bullet journal for 2019, and so far it’s both one of the hardest and coolest things I’ve tried. I’ve never considered myself artistic- whatsoever, zero percent, definitely not- but I do like lettering and making words look pretty. I know, everyone is extremely shocked right now.

My bullet journal is definitely not the prettiest one you’ll ever see. My lack of skill shows, and so does my lack of confidence. Most things in my journal are ideas from someone else, not originals. A lot of my letters are wobbly and weirdly formed, most of my spreads are decided crooked.

I’m fascinated by mistakes in life and mistakes as a writer. With books, when I realize I’m off track or plotted wrong or wrote five thousand words in the wrong direction, I’m quick to be hard on myself. Sometimes I consider scrapping the project, or writing altogether. I often feel like I should quit, that I’ll never be able to write a good book when all my words look like *this*, or that I was fooling myself to think I could write a book in the first place.

I never feel that about my bullet journal. I don’t like mistakes and imperfections, but I assume they’re part of the process and bound to happen because that’s part of new and different. What I hope to do, as 2019 begins, is help myself transfer this acceptance of imperfection to writing. We will always make mistakes, in every area of life. We can hate them and even ourselves, or we can accept their presence and maintain the lightness of mind to repair them.

Hello 2019!

After an impressive 1.75 year hiatus, I think I’m back to blogging! Do people even blog anymore? Probably not. I don’t know. I still like to read them?

Either way it works out, because I’ve always liked vintage things.

I have no idea what I’ll write about. Probably how writing books seems to somehow be getting HARDER with every project instead of easier, but then magic sweeps through and keeps you hooked on the practice. Maybe I’ll tell you about how I’m scared I’ll never be able to write a sentence that feels in my chest like the white-gold sun on a frozen winter morning in a warm house. Maybe we’ll discuss how gummi bears are clearly the best snack while writing, or how bullet journaling is my new obsession and I now own the entire pen section at Target. So many exciting possibilities.

I hope some of you guys are still out there to hang out with me and talk words, snacks, obsessions, light. Let me know if you want me to post about anything in particular and while you’re at it, tell me in the comments below what your writing or reading goal for 2019 is.

Here’s to a new year of adventure and grace!