Monday, April 30, 2012

Memory Matters

I arranged my poems for a third book of poetry at the same time I created the two books I published last Autumn, and I hated the arrangement. I found ways to avoid thinking about it, working on it, even acknowledging it existed. Love in Silhouette: Poems and Reflections in Silhouette: Poems, the first two books of poetry I arranged spoke to me, but the third one felt like leftovers.

No one loves leftovers. That's why they tend to linger in the refrigerator until weforce ourselves to eat them so as to not be wasteful or just throw them away because they're spoiled. Okay, someone is sure to say "What about chili? It's always better the second day." I will concede the point by being cliche. Chili is the exception that proves the rule. But as a general rule, leftovers aren't something we look forward to. The longer I thought about that book of poetry, the more I realized I couldn't publish leftovers.

I went back to the beginning and started looking through my poetry. A new meal started formulating. The more I looked, the more it looked like it had the poetential to be a gourmet meal. The more I read, the more a theme emerged. Memories leaped off the pages. Memories wove a story through the poems. The importance of memory in creating a life screamed at me.

I found myself excited about my third books of poetry again.

Memory matters. Memory reminds us who we are and allows us to grow. Memory grounds us to our lives and gives us stability. Memory allows us to reconnect after years apart. Memory feeds yesterday to today so that tomorrow receives nourishment and growth. Memory matters...

And, so my next book of poetry has found a theme and a title, Memory in Silhouette!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Putting in the Time

Time alone is not something to celebrate....

Putting in the time doesn't equate to quality of life or happiness. Time is simply time, the passing of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decade, centuries... I've only recently come to realize this. I've always, like most people, celebrated making it through another whatever, but making it through isn't much to celebrate in most instances.

Time matters, but only if it is productive. Productive means different things given different situations. What I consider productive for my writing career isn't the same thing I consider productive for my relationships.

I've been thinking about time a lot lately. I've dedicated a lot of time to a lot of things that haven't necessarily been productive for the goals I've set, but they've kept me busy and given me a way to avoid things I didn't want to face. There are a lot of demands on the time we have, but time spent is not necessarily time spent well.

We celebrate the passsage of time as if time passing affects the quality of time allocated. Time passes whether it's happy time or sad time. We forget that sometimes. We stay miserable thinking that someday we'll have time to be happy. We remain stagnant thinking that someday we'll have time to pursue our dreams. We ignore those we love thinking that someday we'll have time to spend with them. We don't risk putting ourselves out there because we are waiting for just the right time. We shut ourselves off waiting for the someday to be happy when that someday should be today.

So many people I know work way too many hours at jobs they hate to pay for houses they don't have time to enjoy and trips they wish they could afford. Too many people stay in relationships that have already died because it's easier to stay than to take a risk pursuing the happiness they really want. Too many people pursue a career that has nothing to do with their bliss thinking that someday they'll have a chance to go after what they want. Way too often we spend way too much time putting in our time waiting on tomorrow for something.

Just putting in our time isn't going to do any of us any good. We have to see what we want and go for it. If we don't take those risks now, when are we going to take them? Someday is likely to be when we're sitting in the retirement home reminiscing about what we could've done if only we'd stopped thinking we would get to it someday. Someday is likely to be when we're on our deathbeds lamenting that we didn't take the risk when we were young enough to do it. Someday may never come.

If we find we're putting in our time and waiting on something to change, it may be us who needs to make the change happen. We grow complacent with life and decide that what we see is all we get. We stop trying to push forward, to dream, to achieve, to reach for something greater, to love with all our hearts, to seek out passion, to laugh, to smile, to care, to even desire. We get so caught up in the day to day that we forget time is passing by, and it's up to us to make every moment count. When we don't, we're the ones who lose.

We have a responsiblity to live our lives in a way that fulfills us without always waiting for someday to be happy. The decisions we must make to pursue lives worth living every day aren't always easy and sometimes may mean we make mistakes, but if we don't live our lives all we have is time passing. It will pass whether or not, we enjoy it.

I, for one, am tired of putting in my time waiting for someday to be excited about life. If I have to live it, I'm going to enjoy it. If I'm not enjoying it, I'm going to change it. I know life is full of the mundane and the necessary, but this also is our one and only opportunity to live it to its fullest.

When I'm enjoying life, I'm going to invite more of the joyful in. When life feels incredible and I'm surrounded by incredible people, I'm going to rejoice and stop looking for what might be better than that moment! Because that moment is the one I know for sure is mine to enjoy! Let's start now! Right this minute!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Okay, So Sometimes I Really Am a B****, What of It?

So you think when you call me a bitch, I'm going to curl up and cry for forgiveness? Yeah, right. Think again! As far back as I can remember I've been proud to be called a bitch. I realized early on that most of the time, this "insult" is hurled to make a woman back down when she stands up for herself or otherwise exhibits her strength and/or independence. I felt this way well before someone sent me one of those email chain jokes in the 1990s that defined bitch as a Babe In Total Control of Herself though I did love that email because it fit so well with what I already believed.

There is something to that if you think about it. Women who are considered bitches are usually strong, independent, and outspoken. They are often successful or at the very least confident in their achievements. So I've never been one to shrink away from the label though that probably lead to me hearing it that much more often. I'm not encouraging people to lob the word at others by means of insulting them. I'm just saying that the moment we take away someone's power to use the word bitch to control us, we change the connotation attached to the word. In doing so, we free ourselves.

Having said that, I can remember most of the times in my life I've been called a bitch. Okay, maybe not most because there have been a lot. There were some memorable ones though.

One of the most memorable made me laugh out loud and share it will all my friends. (Sorry, J, but, on the other hand, leaving it on my answering machine wasn't your wisest decision ever.) The guy I was dating responded to a jealous rant (yes, I freely admit it was a rant and a bit on the crazy side.) I left on his answering machine with an equally long rant which he ended by calling me a "Class A Bitch" (the only words I remember from the whole message). At the time, I took that as his confession that my jealous rant had a foundation in truth. (I found out later that it didn't, but, oh, well, we all make mistakes.) And, yeah, this whole thing essentially ended the relationship, but that's not the point. The point is that as much as I adore J (we are friends now), he, essentially, called me a bitch because I stood up for myself. Albeit, I am now embarrassed by my aggressive, unfair behavior. I could've chosen assertive fairness, but I wasn't in that kind of emotional place in those days. Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different if I'd handled that one moment differently. That sure sounds like a real "Class A Bitch", now doesn't it?

Shortly after I got married, my husband's best friend called me a bitch. I'm not sure the context anymore other than that I stood up for myself during a game we were playing. That time I did get mad. I wasn't mad so much that he called me a bitch but because my husband didn't stand up to his friend on my behalf. Funny thing about that is, if I'd still been single I would've stood up for myself no matter who it angered, but, somehow, I believed I'd lost that power just because I got married. Man, that's hard for me to reconcile in my own mind, so if it confuses you, that's understandable. I am over that now, believe me!

My Mom read my first novel, All She Ever Wanted , while it was still in manuscript form. Shortly after finishing it she called me to discuss it. During the conversation, she said "Victoria (the main character) is just like you. She's a real bitch." I took this as a compliment. What I heard was that Victoria was a strong, independent, ambitious woman who didn't let anyone stand in her way, which was essentially also stated during the conversation. And, I choose to continue believing that's what she meant with her bitch comment and don't care to know if she meant anything different.

Those are three times I remember being called a bitch that made me stop and think. There are many others, but the stories are all pretty much the same. I stood up for myself or someone I cared about, I did well at something when someone else didn't, I stood my ground about something I believed strongly, or I simply didn't behave as someone else expected/wanted. I've never been called a bitch when I capitulated or presented myself as weak. It's always been when I've shown my strength.

A word is just a word. It's how we use it and perceive it that gives it meaning, so this Babe in Total Control of Herself says if you can't handle my strength then call me a bitch, baby. I'm not saying I won't respond with words to put you in your place, but I am saying I won't allow you to silence me, weaken me, or otherwise cause me to capitulate by calling me a bitch.

Just be aware of one thing. If you opt to call me a bitch, you'll likely then get to see just how much of a bitch I can really be.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fear of Success? Get Over It Already

When I read Johanna Garth's blog post,  What Do Writers Want?, and realized she was talking about her fear of failure, I was struck once again by how I fear success as much as, if not more than, I fear failure. I simply don't consider failure an option for the most part as long as I know I've given the best I've got to give. I commented on Johanna's page, but my comment didn't post for some reason. Perhaps that glitch was the universe telling me to pursue the idea formulating for my own blog post, so here it is.

I blogged earlier this year about embracing my own strength, Good Little Girls, Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Strength, and the fear of success goes right along with what I said then. Actually, in a way, that article addresses my fear of success. I guess I didn't quite get the message because a reminder arrived this week. (You may recall I recently wrote about the little nudges the universe sends us...)

I'm not exactly sure where my fear of success originated. I started my life striving for success and being proud of every achievement I accomplished. Somewhere along the way, I started to downplay my successes and make them less than they were. I didn't want to be a "show off" or to outshine those I cared about. It's not that I was self-effacing necessarily. It was more a matter of not wanting to be seen as arrogant.

I've spent a lot of time the past few days trying to figure out how my fear of success developed. I remembered a lot of little comments from loved ones that may have contributed. There were definitely times in my life when I was encouraged to do less than my best, to not boast about my achievements, to not "show off" when I knew how to do something, to not speak my mind, to be weaker than I was, and to hide my intelligence or knowledge all in the name of not making someone else, often that someone else being male, feel bad. At the same time, a need to be perfect was instilled in me. Perhaps all of that contributed to my fear of success.

It happened so slowly I didn't even notice it for a long time. By the time I did, it had become a way of life.

Several months ago, as a friend and I talked, I admitted that I thought I'd been subconsciously sabotaging my own success. Apparently, she'd already noticed this because she sighed and said something to the effect of "I'm glad you see it." My mouth dropped open. Looking back, I think, subconsciously, I'd hoped she would disagree with me.

Shortly after the abovementioned conversation, I spoke with another friend about the progress I was making on my first book of poetry, Love in Silhouette: Poems. I voiced some concerns about how the book would be received. He said something to the effect of "Just publishing it is an accomplishment." I blinked back tears because I honestly wanted to argue with him. If I saw completing the book as an accomplishment, that was kind of like admitting success. He reminded me, without even knowing it, that for months I'd been finding reasons to not complete the book because I feared success as much as I feared failure. I faced that fear and released that book and another book of poetry. Whether they turn out to be financial successes or failures, well, as my friend reminded me, the very fact that I wrote and published them is a success.

And, I need to learn to celebrate my little successes instead of fearing the big success that hasn't even happened yet. Because, as much as I hate to admit it, I'm always afraid my success will make someone think I'm acting like a "show off" or a "know it all" or some other term often used to diminish the success of others.

Whether one has a fear of success or a fear of failure, the result is the same. Work is delayed, minimized, and hidden from the public. If I put my work out there and it's successful, what happens to all those relationships where I've minimized my success to make those people feel better about themselves? Geez, that's lame, lame lame. If those people genuinely care about me, they want me to succeed. They will be happy about my success.

In a way, this line of thinking isn't even fair. I assume, somehow, someone else will see my success as minimizing theirs yet I am always happy for my friends' successes even if they have nothing to do with me and I never take it as a statement about my own work. I should assume that my friends are, and will be, as happy for my success as I am for theirs and will see that my success doesn't make a statement about their work.

Wouldn't the world be a better place if we could all always be as happy for another's success as we are for our own? 

Time to face that fear of success... The best way I know how to do it? Publish another book of poetry and finish writing the other projects I'm working on including my book on gratitude... The book of poetry is coming soon! And, the other projects are in the works! So stay tuned for more information.

So what about you? Do you fear success or failure more? Why?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Annual Bad Day Revisited

Two years ago, I wrote about my annual bad day. I hoped it would fade into the background. This year marks twenty-two years since the event that changed who I was forever. And, my annual bad day looms in front of me once again.

This year I tried to pretend it wasn't approaching, but I failed. Even when I try to forget, my body reminds me. In the days preceding my annual bad day, my skin grows more sensitive, my muscles tense, sleep is elusive and then all-consuming, my brain replays images in my dreams, and my focus suffers.

Emotionally, I become more sensitive. I feel things more intensely. My feelings are hurt more easily. I become a bit melancholy. I struggle to not feel overwhelmed by the sense of betrayal, or at least the memories of the sense of betrayal. It all floods back, and I am filled with anger, sadness, and even regret even though I know I am well over blaming myself for someone else's actions.

Meditation, yoga, and focusing on gratitude fail to give me complete relief from the physical or the emotional effects, but they do help me get through the days. The only thing that relieves the effects of my annual bad day is time.

Perhaps if I didn't have an innate urge to fight my annual bad day every year, I could find a way to get through it easier. Accepting it might make it go easier on me, but it's not in my nature to not fight against things that I don't like. So, I don't expect to embrace the idea of just accepting that this day is forever going to be my annual bad day. I don't want to accept it. That feels like giving up hope, and I don't give up hope. Someday my annual bad day will just be another day of the year... It may not happen until after I'm dead, but someday it will be.

No one but me remembers my annual bad day not even those closest to me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a heartbreaking thing. If they remembered, they might ask me about it. On the other hand, if they remembered, they might do something nice for me. But, I don't risk it. In all honesty, I'm not even sure that someone doing something nice for me would be a good thing. I've talked before about how doing something fun felt like celebrating something that shouldn't be celebrated, so a part of me feels like someone doing something nice for me on that day would feel the same way. It's convoluted, but isn't that what annual bad days are - convulated remembrances of the worst things that happen in our lives driving us to rethink who we were and who we are.

Yet this year feels different somehow. I can't force myself to go numb. I've written poems that are more detailed than ever. I released poems addressing it in Reflections in Silhouette: Poems. Still, in some ways, I feel more alone than ever. Years ago I closed, locked, padlocked, deadbolted, broke the key in the lock and concreted in the emotions I didn't want to feel. I welcomed and embraced the numbness for a long time. It was oddly comforting at first. Yet, when I let my guard down, when I was alone, the emotions would trickle under the door and through the keyhole.

At some point I stopped hiding from my emotions. I unlocked that door and then blew it off its hinges. I started feeling again. I started remembering again.A lot of the things I thought I resolved years ago started surfacing. So this year as my annual bad day approaches I find myself wishing I could return to numbness...

No matter how deeply I've buried what happened, it always bleeds in to my work. The experience, the emotions, the memories, and the results all find their way into the words that make up my body of writing. Poems, novels, short stories, etc. all echo tones of the lessons learned as well as the feelings of victimization and survivorship. Weakness and strength, pain and triumph, friendship and betrayal, love and hate all weave together to inform my writing as I work through my demons. I only hope they also enrich my writing in order to help other people.

So, even as I see my annual bad day approaching, I struggle to find a way to take the negative effects on me and turn them into something someone else can find comfort and inspiration in. If you have an anuual bad day, please know many of us do for a variety of reasons. We, like you, just tend to keep quiet about them. We all try to leave the past in the past where it belongs no matter how much it bleeds into our current days even if only in the lessons we've learned...

While I don't think I'll ever be grateful for my annual bad day or the event that created it, I can, most days, find it in my heart to be grateful for the lessons I learned about myself and others from the experience. I hope, if you have an annual bad day, you can someday reach that point, too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Little Slights, Inconveniences, & Boundaries: Building Healthy and Equal Relationships

There are times in life when we have to face hard truths. These are truths about what we first see as something outside ourselves. Then realize it's something we've played a hand in. (Yes, for those of you wondering, this is the post I've been struggling to write.)

Recently, I wrote a post about getting nudges to keep going as I wrote draft after draft of this post - all discarded. Then I read a blog post about doing what one loves by Steven Cox. Shortly after that, I was inspired to write my own post about doing what one loves and then to go read one I wrote last year, also inspired by Steve, about surrounding one's self with incredible people. It was my incredible people post that got me back on track. As I read through it, I teared up. See, I'd been trying to write about how people I considered (still consider) incredible had let me down recently. It's not that I want to hurt these people or draw attention to them. It's that I want to encourage people to take note when someone lets you down that it truly is okay to talk to them about it. Yet, I had yet to take that step myself.

In a way, the ideas behind my epiphany and the truth it lead me to had been bleeding into my work for months in little hints as aside comments and generic observations. I just hadn't recognized them as part of my own life. I guess I wasn't ready for that yet.

See, here's the thing. We all let little things slide, as we should, for friends and family. The problem comes in when those little things slide to the point of becoming habitual or painful.

A friend says she'll call on a certain day but doesn't and doesn't bother to text or email or otherwise let you know that plans changed. You turned down, unbeknownst to your friend, an invitation to do something or talk to someone else because you had already commited to your friend. You don't say anything to said friend, but you're hurt. It's not so much the missed conversation, though you were looking forward to it, as the lack of consideration for your time. And then it happens again and again and again and... (and possibly with more than one friend)

A family member says they'll be home at six, so you set aside what you're working on and start dinner even though you're making great progress on your project. Said family member doesn't show up until eight and doesn't bother to call about the delay. You bite your tongue as family member breezes in and says a cheery hello. All you mention is that you're sorry dinner is cold. Wait a minute, you're sorry... (Yes, this is commonly the female in the house. Apologizing for something that isn't her fault seems to be a female affliction.) Are you kidding me?  And then it happens again and again and again and...

You call a friend in need of a sympathetic ear, but said friend gives an excuse that sounds pretty lame and says they can't be there for you right then. You say you understand and sign off feeling like your problems are inconvenient for your friend. You say nothing to your friend but you remember this next time you want to call her or the next time she calls and you listen to her gripes as you deal with an issue of your own unbeknownst to your friend because you've said nothing. Still, you ask yourself, how many times have I been there when she needed me and it really wasn't convenient for me? And, you can't help but remember she didn't return the favor when you really needed her. Still, you say nothing. And then it happens again and again and again... (and perhaps with more than one friend.)

Someone promises to do something for you on a certain day. The end of the day comes and you realize the person isn't going to do it. When you ask about it, there's no apology or even acknowledgement a promise has been broken. You basically get a "so what" attitude from the person. It's a small thing, so you don't want to overreact. Then you realize that the person not keeping his/her word is going to mess up your schedule. As you go about doing the thing the person promised to do, your mind wanders to all those times this person has done the same thing. The numbers begin to add up, and you feel seriously hurt. Still, you say nothing. It's such a little thing and you don't want to fight over something so small.

What dawns on you as your mind wanders is that it's not just this one person, it's most of the people in your life. You have become someone that people don't show consideration because you let all the little things slide. Then the little slides become habitual and the big slides begin because you've never said. "Hey, what happened the other day? You were supposed to call. I turned down an invitation, so we could talk." or "When you're late it messes up my schedule. I was in the middle of something important when you called. I dropped it to fix dinner." or "You know the other day when I called you to talk. It was really important to me, and it hurt my feelings that you couldn't be there for me. I have often set aside what I'm doing to be there for you. I don't want you to feel bad about that. It was my choice, but I just thought maybe you should know." or "When you don't do what you say you will do, it makes me feel like you don't respect me or care about me. Maybe you didn't realize that. I know it's a little thing, but I need to feel like I can count on you to keep your word."

We all slip up from time to time, and that's what forgiveness is for. It's when those slip ups become a way of life, and we feel exhausted from trying to keep all our promises and feel like no one bothers to keep theirs to us that things become unequal in a relationship. Somehow we've come to believe that if we give everything to everyone around us, they will give it back to us. That's what the law of attraction seems to say, but sometimes that just isn't true. People may not even realize they've begun to disrespect us with these kind of little slights that are so commonplace in our world these days, but when people know what our boundaries are, those who genuinely want to be part of our lives will respect them. Those who don't respect them, likely don't deserve a place in our lives anyway.

Sometimes you really have to step away from the people in your life to see this. You have to look at where you are, what you're giving to others, and what you're getting out of your relationships. It's not about keeping score. It's about making sure everyone's needs are respected and met in a relationship. It's easy in any relationship to fall into the habit of not being considerate and respectful because intimacy and unconditional love give us a break when we make a mistake, as they should. But, we should also be cognizant of our mistakes and have the courage to say "Sorry, I screwed up this time."

On the other hand, when we feel others aren't treating us the way we deserve to be treated, we need to take a step back, assess the situation, and determine our role in the problem before we address it with those we love. Then we can discuss it with fairness and a move toward growing closer rather than attacking. We may find the problem lies within ourselves, or we may find a problem in the relationship that either can or can't be fixed. Either way we need to be prepared to deal with it rather than allow it to fester between us building a wall that eventually becomes impenetrable. When we set clear but reasonably flexible boundaries in our relationships, people know how we wish to be treated.

Sometimes we realize that we've stopped setting boundaries with those we love because we want to be reliable, dependable, and/or loved. We don't call people on the little slights because we don't want to seem petty, mean, or unfair. Yet, we're not being treated fairly because we allow people to get away with not treating us with the respect we deserve. Some of you may remember a post I did a few years ago about setting boundaries, Setting Rules, Boundaries, & Limitations: A Tribute to TJ. Sometimes, I must admit, I need a reminder of how important it is to set our boundaries in relationships without building walls that shut the entire world out.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Focus on What You Love to Create Change

I've talked several times about the importance and benefits of focusing on doing what one loves. As a writer, I am lucky I get to spend my days playing with words. I love writing. I love playing with words. I love creating works that affect people's lives.

Recently, I read a blog post, Make a Shift - Spend More Time on Things You Love, by Steven Cox about doing what one loves. Steve includes a really cool visual representation on his page that shows how most of our lives are lived and how we should strive to live our lives focusing on doing the things we love. Go ahead and take a look, just don't forget to come back. (Some of you may remember me mentioning Steve last year in a blog post, Embracing the Incredible.)

As someone who spends my day doing what I love, I sometimes forget how disheartening it can feel to spend one's day focused on things one hates. I have occasional moments in life like this. Cleaning house, particularly toilets, doing the taxes, and filing are among chores I don't particularly enjoy doing. Still, when they're done I always feel better. And, I always have something to look forward to when I'm working on these projects I don't enjoy because I get to spend the majoity of my time focused on something I love doing.

I started thinking about people I know who don't do what they love. They spend their days doing what they have to do to get by. Some of them started out doing what they love, but life took them in other directions or their passions changed. Those people are always struggling to find the good in life. They tend to be negative and pessimistic. They rarely have much to give other people and may even become drains on their current relationships. They are searching so hard for something to fill the empty spaces, they can't even see it when something good comes their way.

I have been guilty of this at times in my life, so I recognize it. I found what I love to do though, and I do it, so I tend to push people to find what they love and go after it. People who are focused on doing things they hate can't even see the possibilities inherent in life to pursue their dreams. They become trapped by the potential pitfalls and obstacles without ever taking a step forward. Again, I recognize this because I've been guilty of it.

People who spend their days doing what they love are more interesting and fun than people whose days are focused on doing things they hate. They tend to have more positive attitudes drawing people to them and attracting success.

When my days are filled with things I don't particularly enjoy doing, I try finding something I can feel grateful for in the midst of all the hated chores. Sometimes it's something as simple as the dishes I'm washing or clean sheets. Sometimes it's something more substantial like a tax refund or discovering money I didn't know a stock had earned. And, always, there's the reward that as soon as I'm done with the chore I don't enjoy I can return to working on what I love doing.

All I know is that when I do what I love, life is better. When I don't, life is not quite as good. When I do what I love, I feel more positive and hopeful. When I don't, I feel like life isn't worth my time. Focusing most of one's time on what one loves doesn't mean life will be perfect, but perfection is overrated anyway. Focusing on what one loves provides hope when life doesn't feel fair. And, hope is often all one needs to move forward....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nudges From The Law of Attraction

All day yesterday I wrote, erased, rewrote, erased, and rewrote a blog post. I couldn't find the right words to say what I need to say.

After about the third draft, I opened an email from a friend that offered a sentiment that I needed to hear. As I read it and my response formulated in my head, I knew I couldn't give that response to my friend. It would be a lie, so I wrote the truth. As I stared at the truth in a single, short paragraph, I wondered if I could really share that truth with the world yet writing it directly to my friend in a private setting did help me solidify what I truly felt.

So I returned to working on the blog post. There is something in this I need to express. I wrote a poem about it last week and two yesterday. I focused on the blog post. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I erased and erased and erased. The words just wouldn't come together. Finally, at around one o'clock this morning, I gave up. Well, technically, I decided to take a break, sleep on it, and try again today.

I couldn't sleep, so I picked up Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer, a book on imagination and creativity and started reading where I last left off. Immediately, an answer screamed out at me. I didn't like the answer, but it still screamed at me. I couldn't write what I needed to write because I feared how others would perceive it. I read about how as we become adults our inner censors stifle creativity. We become concerned how our words will affect others. We become concerned about how we'll look. So we self-censor until creativity is stifled or nothing is produced, written in my case, at all.

The chapter also discussed how in our dreams, we are more like our child selves. Our true creativity shines making our dreams creative and fantastical. We get in touch with our uncensored thoughts, desires, and emotions in our dreams because the part of our brain that self-censors relaxes and allows us to process our thoughts and feelings in more creative ways. I nodded along to the book as I read. Anyone who has ever been struggling with a problem and dreamed a creative solution they never would've thought of consciously will understand this.

By the time I finished the chapter, I was too tired to write, but I thought about that chapter until I fell asleep. Fear was holding my words hostage.

Boy, did I ever dream last night! I had at least four vivid, colorful, exciting dreams. None of those dreams addressed my writing dilemma from yesterday, but they were definitely creative and fun dreams. And, yet, as I think about it, perhaps in a "think out of the box" kind of way maybe they did address my dilemma. They took me to a place where I felt free to express myself and had me expressing myself with someone who always inspires me. My guard came down, and I felt free to just be exactly who I wanted to be. And, in a roundabout way that goes to the heart of the fear stopping me from writing what I feel I need to write. I have a fear that once I express what I need to express, people I care deeply about are going to feel hurt and that's not my intention though I'm not sure how to avoid that happening.

I awoke this morning still unsure how to write the blog. I went through my morning routine. With my yoga done, I settled in to do my gratitude meditation. My thoughts kept going back to the blog post I feel compelled to write.I opened an email from Mama Gena addressing women's problem with making decisions... At the root of the problem - fear of making a mistake... And, that went directly to the heart of my dilemma yesterday as well. What if I'm wrong? What if I say what I have to say and then discover I've got it all wrong? But, even if that's true, then it's a misunderstanding that needs addressed. There are relationships on the line with this one. And, again, there is the fear. I hate disappointing people. I hate letting people down. And, again this goes to the very heart of the matter. Fear, fear, fear...

So, three things have lined up in the past twenty-eight hours to push me toward expressing my truth without fear. Just as in the weeks and months before the epiphany and the truth it lead to last week, many moments lined up to show me what I needed to recognize and address. I did nothing about it until I could no longer ignore it. Sometimes, this is what happens in life. When we don't get the message the first time, life keeps sending us the information. It's up to us to grab it and make it work.

And, even as I write this blog post about the law of attraction sending me what I need, I realize I'm using this post to avoid writing the blog post I feel compelled to write. So will I? Eventually. After all, if I don't address it, life will keep pushing it in my face... I just have to conquer that fear... Mama Gena's blog offers a hall pass for making mistakes. And, while that sounds wonderful in theory, if my blog post goes awry and damages friendships I value, that hall pass isn't going to mend those.  And, so I am back to my self-censor.  Fear, fear, fear...