Today you looked at the calendar and thought of how Time continues its march. You felt a little teary, a little disappointed, because you felt you haven’t made any visible progress. You’re still in the same day job, still living with your parents, still (wisely) saving your money, and still in your hometown. Your mind started taking you down that well-worn path of castigating yourself for all you have not done, but, unlike such occasions in the past, you stopped. You took a few breaths, you wrote it out in you morning pages, and you turned around, climbing back up the trail toward self-love and self-acceptance, and decided to employ patience.
Self, that is progress.
You’re not standing still. You’re not stuck. It’s just that your growth and forward motion are internal right now, rather than external. In fact, I think the internal growth and forward movement must happen before the external growth and forward movement. Why? Because the internal growth and movement will make space for Courage to come in, and Courage has to come before the external growth and movement, because you won’t–as you should know by now–make any external changes, especially not the sweeping sort you think you need, until you possess enough courage to outweigh your fears.
So, while you wait for the internal shifting to do its work, while you wait for Courage to come, I have a few suggestions for things to do in the meantime…
First, remember that the things you love to do most are portable, not location dependent. You can write, take photographs, paint, draw, collage, sing, dance, practice yoga, read, meditate, pray, listen to music, watch movies, and study world religions/spirituality in any city or town, large or small, on any continent.
Directly relating to the first, is this: start doing those things regularly instead of waiting to be in your imagined “perfect place.” Write whatever you feel moved to write. Just take one of the ideas you’ve had recently and tell the story! Worry about whether it’s a short story, novella, or novel later. Worry about whether it’s any good later. Write in your paper journal. Blog. Go on photo walks like you used to. Maybe drive to a neighboring town to go on a photo walk, just so you have some new things to photograph. Get one of those canvases out of the closet, the dropcloth and your paints and play! Don’t think about whether it’s any good. Start taking a day and one or two evenings offline every week to read books or do whatever else strikes your fancy that is not dependent upon the internet. These are just a few suggestions.
Even if you had moved to your “perfect place” by now, at this point you would still have to have a day job, and you would be responsible for all the household chores, plus you’d probably have a longer commute, so take this opportunity of having more free time and less responsibility to grow in your areas of interest and art forms. Yup. I said it, even though it’s probably not something you want to hear. See previous paragraph for actionable steps.
Clear that clutter you’ve got hanging around. Who wants to move junk from one place to another, possibly cross-country? Not you! Plus, with more openness in your physical space, you may find more openness in your mind, body, and spirit as well. (You know it’s starting to stress you out, starting to make you feel like you’re buried in “stuff.”) Maybe all that clutter has, whether you’re conscious of it or not, deterred you from moving on. Packing and unpacking is a formidable beast, after all, so the less of it to be done the better!
Two words to go at the top of your daily to-do list: spiritual practice. Just do it. Breathe through stressful or anxious times. Meditate. Gratitude journal. Read something spiritually nourishing. Experiment with different forms of prayer. Where do you think Courage is ultimately going to come from? Not your scared little ego, that’s for sure. Your recent habit of beginning the day by meditating is a good start.
Do not listen to the vitriol of the Negative Nellies around you. Their raining on your parade has little to do with you and more to do with the their own issues. Counteract them with contact and conversations with supportive people, like your friends and Flockmates.
Every day do something just for pure enjoyment. Lie in bed, close your eyes, and listen to some music. Phone a friend and talk about everything and nothing. Go pick up a coloring book or print some coloring sheets off the internet and color. (It’s just as fun now as it was when you were a kid.) Watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory on DVD when you’re in need of laughs. Savor a piece of chocolate. Just do something fun. A daily dose of fun will help you deal with the less-than-wonderful parts of the day.
Leave work at work. Once you get in the car and head home, the work day is over. Whatever happened or didn’t happen, let it go. Don’t start griping about it the minute you get in the door. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow. And, yes, continue to guard your lunch hour whenever possible. You need that break. Use part of it to breathe, to stretch, and check in with yourself.
Move your body and eat foods that are good for you. A healthy, happy body is always a good thing, wherever you are. Practice yoga asanas. Go for walks. Get over your fear of seeing your thighs in a bathing suit and go up to the lake and swim some Saturday morning it isn’t storming. (It’s less crowded in the morning.) Don’t overdose on sweets or fatty foods, as they only serve to make your stomach hurt shortly after eating and, in the long run, contribute to those hereditary health problems you want to avoid.
Finally, do not lose heart or hope. Trust your intuition, and trust that things will unfold as they are supposed to. You will reach your goals. Attaining them may simply be on a different timetable or in another place than you had planned.