On Writing / Writing Life

Some truths toward the light.

Oracle Card # 49 – The Observer

“It is an advantageous time for you to get some distance from what you’re doing and see your work and your projects from a different perspective. The trick is to connect to the essence of your goals and aspirations while letting the form and timing be dictated by Spirit. You may be too personally attached to an outcome and unable to see the miracle because it’s not turning out exactly as you planned. Trust Spirit. The perfect version of your abundance is right in front of you. Remain neutral and curious, and watch the miracle unfold.”

TRUTH: I haven’t pulled an oracle/angel card in weeks because I’ve been too distracted scared to see their messages – and choose to heed them or not. Even having the choice to not heed them was too much.

TRUTH: I think it’s the warmth of the sun blanketing my skin that gave me the extra push I needed to pull a card. It wasn’t premeditated.I didn’t think: I need to focus and ask for guidance on this subject. I’ve been doing a heck of good job avoiding that. Instead, I felt the spring-like wind push over my face, let the sun warm me – and started shuffling the deck.

TRUTH: Though I’ve been taking medicine to help the pain in my torn-up knee, I haven’t been taking the medicine I need for my soul.

“It is an advantageous time for you to get some distance from what you’re doing and see your work and your projects from a different perspective.”

TRUTH: Since September I’ve been looking at spaces in which to start Gertrude’s Writing Room – a smaller version of my mega-dream, Gertrude’s Literary Cafe. I’ve met with small business centre gurus. I’ve met with entrepreneurs. I’ve started a business plan. I’d decided that I was ready to take the risk, find a place to live my dream for a creative writing space for this city, for me, for my friends, and for all those wanting/needed a space to write. Twice, I almost signed a lease on a space. Both times…I didn’t.

TRUTH: My whole life I’ve been busy. Busy being a part of a team, a part of a club, a part of a group. Busy leading or creating or acting or exercising or pushing myself to stay connected with my community. Busy sometimes felt like a dirty word. It angered me when someone said: I know you’re busy, but… Like busy is a disease that makes me ‘unable’ – yet, there was always a ‘but’ followed by a request. Sometimes, the word helped me escape things, people, plans….I’d say it’s a very good example of a double-edged sword. But when I’m holding the sword – and quite frankly – not very good at using it as balancing tool but rather a weapon on myself – ‘busy’ became a self-created, self-motivated, seemingly biologically natural habit that to be anything but busy simply felt (feels) ‘wrong’ or ‘not me’.  How do I ‘unteach’ myself a way of being that I’ve been since I was a child?

TRUTH: As much as there is pure and utter magic I feel at the events I’m a part of, especially if I’m organizing them, there is also a quiet sadness stream flowing in my soul that gurgles up and fills this deep well of envy within me. Envy.

“ENVY:a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.”

I know this is not who I am. But it is. And it’s a lens. And I feel as though it’s been a part of my eyesight since I was a child. Once again, so entrenched and real-feeing that maybe I’ve only ever really felt truly fulfilled on one or two occasions related to my creative writing work. It’s like there’s this disconnect that creates a bubble around me – and even though I know in my brain that my life is grand…there is mixed within my blood a poisonous envy that renders me less.

TRUTH: I have self-worth issues so deep that I’ve built a life of busy-ness to protect my self from really feeling naturally, biologically good.

There are glimpses of this need to burst through and break this way of being. Some of my (best, I believe) poetry is written from this nook in my soul that knows its strength. It’s pure, unabashed, empowered self-love-strength. I’ve talked about this power in workshops. I’ve written about it in my journals. I’ve even started a non-fiction book (The Original Stories) about the connection between the voices in our heads and the choices we make – and how everything we do is rooted in stories. Stories we’ve been telling ourselves since we were able to speak to ourselves. Stories that tell us we’re no good, or not good enough or we’d be better if…you know, the place where envy gurgles.

TRUTH: I need to get some distance from what I’ve been doing and look at my work and my projects differently. I had a long, hard, snot-dripping cry this weekend while talking with the hubby. He knows me so well. He let me yell and feel shitty and be envious. He took notes. And he held me. (Not at the same time, silly.) And even then – deep in the sloppiest of cries, I felt guilty, not good enough to even be feeling how I was feeling because, well, how dare I deal with the real shit underneath. With the cocoon of a person hanging very precariously from a tired tree branch – waiting for her transformation. Her metamorphosis.

METAMORPHOSIS: any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.

I get why there are books written on this subject – scientific and otherwise. My brain is telling me I’m late for this game…my heart is telling my brain to shut it. The spirit is telling me: you’re right on time, sweetie.

This past summer, I took a hiatus. I did different. I wasn’t busy with events. I wasn’t planning anything other than meals and maps. I read. I wrote. I ate. I spent time with my family – and was there. Alive. Differently. I tried it one, but surely I couldn’t continue this way of being into the fall. With school beginning again. With the season for readings and book launches and class lectures.

And so my story goes: Vanessa, you are a planner. You are an organizer. You make things happen. You are good, very good, at busy – so be busy! You know how to do this. And, mostly, you feel really good. Except underneath. Where the envy lives. Where your self-worth train choo-choos right out of your station leaving a trail of stinky sobs behind it.

What is this different perspective?

It’s internal. It’s inside-out. It’s me feeling differently. It’s me talking to myself differently. It’s me feeling totally and completely – not me – for long enough to revise and rewrite a new story about my work, my projects, my self worth. Of course, all of which are interconnected.

TRUTH: This tear in my knee muscle is a perfect metaphor for this tear in my life. I wrote about this in my TedX speech. The fact that an emotional and/or physical trigger will force you to pay attention to the story(ies) in your head that are motivating poor choices or hindering your happiness. My body is telling me I need to stop, re-assess. Pay attention differently. I wasn’t paying attention to the wet deck. I wasn’t paying attention to my footing. Oh, the metaphors in this one. Even when I fell, I didn’t cry or believe that it was truly a significant injury. I thought about ballet. I thought about driving. I thought about how I needed to be okay so I could keep things the same.

The trick is to connect to the essence of your goals and aspirations while letting the form and timing be dictated by Spirit.

TRUTH: I’m not by any means or in any way communicating that I’ve never or never feel joy or happiness. I feel it everyday, and I feel it abundantly – for my kids, for the hubby, for my friends, for you dear readers. And it is genuine. And it is real and deep, and this love is what keeps me going. But when it comes to my ‘me’ – to my relationship with myself – it’s a very different story.

What are the essences of my goals and aspirations? Immediately the answer to this shows up in my brain in neon lights: LOVE. Everything is about and for love. It is my essence. My goals concerning my writing life though…how I feel about my self as a writer – not a mother, not a wife, not a lover, not a friend – but as a writer – which is in my essence and is at the core of who I am – I fight with. I fight with form and time. I am impatient. I am envious. And, I know Spirit (love/god/God you choose) has my back…but do I really trust her? I have to work very hard to trust her because it doesn’t feel natural. It feels like I have to give up….control. I have to give up self-protection.

You may be too personally attached to an outcome and unable to see the miracle because it’s not turning out exactly as you planned. Trust Spirit.

TRUTH: I crave recognition from the people who have never given it to me. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how often incredible people I know and love tell me they love and support my writing life/work/words. Sometimes their compliments and love is impenetrable. Because I let it be. Because it doesn’t feel right to receive it and let it permeate. I have taught myself to become extremely attached to outcomes: ex. get my book reviewed in Quill & Quire, get short-listed for a poetry award, get accepted to do a residency…Some of the outcomes are specifically attached to people. I won’t name names, but certainly, there is a list of people who I’ve told myself ‘If this person reads my work and responds – then I’ve made it’. Add to this my envious nature…and the way I constantly compare myself to the poets around me…who I follow on-line, who I subscribe to, who I read and support and share. I tell myself, my name isn’t on that list, my painting isn’t on that wall – that means I’m not good enough.

It was a super dream to be invited to do a TedX – and you know what – it was a terrible experience for me. Not because of the system but because of me (more on this in another post…gosh). Because of what I did to my self. This shows that even given the chance – I can still pull an inner-sabotage because of how attached I am to the outcome, which in the case of TedX was: make yourself into a TedX speaker so you can be like all the other amazing TedX speakers not be you on the TedX stage because you are obviously not good enough. There’s a major difference – even though on the outside I still look like me…and may sound like me, but not really. It is truly incredible and fascinating how we can trick ourselves into thinking we’re living out a new story, when in fact, we are deeply entrenched in an old story that continues to hold negative power.

…exactly as I planned. This part of the sentence is synonymous with ‘be in control’. And here’s what blows my own mind: I don’t feel like I need to always be in control. I really don’t…and yet, my actions when it comes to certain areas in my life, especially my work, there it is: this inner need to be in control. To have a goal. Create a path to get there. To not deviate from that path. To tell myself that certain people and occurrences need to be on that path in order for me to reach the desired outcome – that, my dears, must look and feel and be a very specific way. If all of the boxes on my ‘reach-this-outcome’ path are not checked – then, well, I’ve failed.

In a sense, I’m blinding myself. The glasses I’m wearing are not just rose-coloured, but they’ve got images on them – face of people, specific words, awards, money – and these are mashing together and blinding me to the miracle that is the process – and the people and the reality of what is actually right here in front of and inside of me. 

Trust the spirit. Trust that I am good enough. This is a whole new country. I’m an immigrant in my own skin.

The perfect version of your abundance is right in front of you. Remain neutral and curious, and watch the miracle unfold.

TRUTH: I’ve just spent the last hour writing this. Typing on a laptop that is mine. Sitting at a dining room table as my kids worked together to follow a recipe for foamy slime using an iPad. We are together in a home we own. Our two dogs are nestled together in a deep-love sleep. My belly is full from a dinner of meatballs, rice and gravy – and six double-stuffed Oreos dipped in milk. All this is right in front of me, inside me, around me. We are safe. We are loved. I have created a life in which I don’t have to worry about anything but loving my family and friends. And my self in a way that doesn’t feel malignant.

If I do less in the domain of creating these unattainable outcomes – what happens? If I do less – less readings, less events, less spending of energy and time and money – what will happen to me? What does it feel like to not be busy in a way that pushes me away from dealing with my challenges of self-worth? What will writing a poem feel like if I write it because I am compelled to – for me. What will I feel like if I’m writing my Hangman novel because it feels purely good to be telling the story – not because I want an agent to love it and get me a giant book deal? I think the most difficult part of this de-busy-ing will be letting go of outcomes. Even seeing the words typed on the screen brings a bit of heat to my throat. No, it’s not the six Oreos.

Certainly, I must ask myself what is the point of this blog itself? It is writing, so it counts. But why am I writing? Is there an outcome attached? Is there a specific person I’ve got in mind when I’m writing it?

Answers: I’m writing it because writing out my feelings has always been the way that I do, indeed, find myself. I was compelled to write it today. On this platform. The outcome is that I want it ‘out there’, outside of me. To some audience somewhere that I may or may not ever meet or communicate with. That doesn’t matter. Because making it matter changes everything. And I’ve been doing that – and I need to change the things that I’m telling myself matter. The specific person I’ve got in mind? Me…that shrunken and hunched part of me hiding in the corner. The one whose knee is torn. And other parts too.

You do you, Vanessa. I wrote that in my TedX speech too. I said it, but with no conviction. No inner belief. Because…well, who am I?

I heard a wonderful interview on Q (CBC) with Tom Power and Ed Sheeran. It was candid, honest and educational. After I thought: wow, I wish I was on Q and being interviewed with Tom Power about my poetry (oh, the envy monster was hard at work), I settled in and listened with curiosity. Ed said he writes all the time as a form of therapy – to get out his feelings and feel clean. Some songs, many, never see the bright lights of a stage tour or feel the waves of the radio. And he doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter. It’s about writing because he’s writer. And making music because that’s what he loves. It’s not about the fame or the money. At all.

My stories have endings with fame and fortune. It’s time to rewrite.

I’m scared.

My heart says I can do it. I’ve felt it before. I’ve lived it in small doses…but I’m scared anyway.

I’m scared of giving it up. The control. The desires. The envy. Because what will be left?

I hope…the light. The brilliant, soft, abundant light.

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