I’ve had this sentence bumping into my brain sides for the last week:
You love this, lady, so why you stressin’? The voice is a woman’s – the voice of my inner ‘me’. It happens to have a slight sassy, southern accent, hence the droppin’ the ‘g’ on the last word.
So, I’ve spent hours and hours prepping for this weekend’s Erotic Writing Workshop and next week’s Love Poetry class that starts on Monday evenings and goes for the next five weeks.
I’ve been reading pages and pages of love poetry – few things in life are better than love poetry! Having to choose poets and their poetry was difficult – I wanted to choose it all! In any case, it has been a lot of work getting these writing events ready.
‘Ready’ on my terms…which means I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure I’m doing a good job, making good choices, trying to think about the writers and if they’ll love what I love…if they’ll be inspired and want to write…and love as a theme – that’s, like, HUGE – because love is, like, why I exist! Why I started Gertrude’s…why I do everything! The pressure is on…
I found myself feeling sick. My ulcerative colitis was rearing (lol – that wasn’t an intended pun, but(t) it sure is funny now that I see it) her head. I had to nap one night. Take a gravol because my tummy was nervous another night.
How can I feel such intense bodily stress when I’m doing what I love – and all for love?!
I’ve been reading and writing my whole life.
I’ve been teaching for years and years.
I’ve been loving my whole life.
How can I feel stress when I put all of these loves together?
Honeys…if only I knew…
Is the stress coming from insecurities?
Is the stress coming from high expectations?
Is the stress coming from control issues?
Probably could answer ‘yes’ to all of the above.
But…why? Why do our brains and bodies reach beyond feelings of joy and love when we’re doing things that create joy and love in the world?
I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘work’. About how our lives are built around ‘work’ – and that the we’ve created a society that puts it first – with making money as the main reason – and how time is wrapped around a ‘work week’…and how for awhile now I’ve felt like I don’t fit into this system. But I also think about how difficult it was for me to let myself be a ‘mom’ and accept that ‘staying at home’ and not ‘working’ – even though it was the hardest job ever (!) – made me feel all kinds of inadequate and less-than because I wasn’t in the workforce making money and helping our family in that regard. How I felt guilty and useless…for being ‘useless’ – as someone who wasn’t ‘working’ – even though I was!
I don’t want to engage too much on this issue of being a ‘stay-at-home’ anything and how ‘less’ it can be deemed in our society. (Though I hope to blog about it soon!) What work means and how it makes us feel is a state of mind. It shouldn’t matter whether we make money ‘working’ or not. What should matter is that we’re doing something that brings us joy and that betters the planet and humanity in some way. All jobs can have this depth to it, I believe this. And we are each ‘called’ to do all the different ‘jobs’ and ‘work’ that need to exist for humanity to function. Haven’t you ever thought about the phenomenon that there are humans doing all sorts of jobs because they know it’s their purpose? They’re driven to dig graves or fold clothes or bake cookies or fly planes? Because they want to? Not everyone works at a job only for the money. And if they do…I hope that they are doing what the love at some point during their days.
My point is that when we consciously choose to make what we love our ‘work’ – and maybe we make money doing it or maybe we don’t – and maybe we don’t feel invigorated or don’t feel filled with joy every second of every hour that we’re doing this work – how do we teach ourselves (our bodies and minds and spirits) to remember that love is motivating us?
For me…I hear that voice in my head reminding me: You love this, lady! Keep up the good work! Or any voice that positively reminds me that I’ve consciously chosen to be a writer and a teacher and a reader because I LOVE it and because I want to share this love. It’s the voice of my ‘purpose’. It’s the voice of the dreams coming true. It’s the warmth in my chest area and the goosebumps that rise on my skin.
I hear that voice – and I listen to it. Then I breathe. Then I write in my journal or I write to you.
Or – I don’t listen. And I feel less-than and my confidence flies out the window like a panicked bee. Then my body tells me I need to stop and remember.
Either way – something inside me reminds me: YOU LOVE THIS.
I love love. ! I love reading and writing about it. And now, I’ve created two writing events that are all for love. And I get to share this love with other writers. That makes me feel better. That helps the joy bubble up.
So…if this happens to you…and you’re sitting in your office or you’re driving in your car or you’re doing groceries or laundry and wondering ‘what the heck am I stressing about’? Find the positive voices in your head and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Remember what you created as the ‘work’ part of your life. If the positive voices just aren’t there…then think about what you love and do it. It doesn’t have to be your ‘job’…maybe it starts as that one small thing you do for a short time a couple days a week…doesn’t matter. Think about love and think about the joy of giving it and receiving it – in whatever shape or form that takes.
What if instead of asking each other ‘what’s your job? what do you do for work?’ we ask each other ‘what do you love and how often are you doing it?’. Instead of asking, how much money do you make, ask how much love do you give?
It’s not naive. It’s a way of thinking. And it’s what’s helping me live this dream of being a writer and a teacher.
Stress stresses me out! This body isn’t made for stress. I hope to learn how to breathe stress out of my body and mind so I can do what I love with the people I love – authentically and with joy. It takes practice and I’m failing very well a lot of the time…but change is possible.