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On Inspiration

I feel the churning in the root of my belly. It’s here! The impetus, the call, the wave. Ride it!

I get my laptop and put fingers to keys and, oh wait, the blanket on my lap isn’t quite right, let me just take a minute to adjust it. Okay, here I go…oh wait, the dog wants out. Okay, now I’ll…no, the laptop table is kinda wonky, so I’d better get that situated…

Inspiration is finicky. At least mine is. As beautiful and necessary as it is, it is unfortunately tied to parts of me that have…moods. And those moods are tied to feelings. And the feelings are tied to experiences. As much as I try to make it about the Rah Rah and the You Go Girl, it always comes back to that. How do I feel right now? And for me specifically, what does my inspiration trigger in me?

So much. Oh, so much. When I feel inspired I feel hope, and possibility, and freedom, and expansiveness. All the yummy, wind beneath my wings, falling in love feelings. But wouldn’tcha know, for me, having experienced some trauma in my life, many of my most significant highs were stolen by crushing blows. So alongside the “falling in love” feelings lurk the “aaaand then I got dumped” feelings. The feelings of rejection, unworthiness, and having the rug pulled out from under me are usually there, somewhere, ready to remind me of the times that inspiration hasn’t worked to my advantage.

The question then becomes, now what? Those feelings would be super stoked if I never changed, never grew, never took the risk to fulfill my dreams. But in order to move forward, some sort of action needs to be taken, a CHOICE must be made. I could stay stuck behind the triggers, or I could address them. Yes, I get that. But how? How does one just undo the Stuck and do the scary thing?

Lately, one of my favorite quotes is, “You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it is better to listen to what it has to say,” (from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho). For me, that is how. I listen.

I have tried to not listen, believe me. Boy have I tried. But it never really works out. The thing I’m trying to ignore gets bigger, and louder, and more difficult. I get cranky, to say the least, and I hate being cranky. I start snapping at the kids and eating foods that don’t quite suit me. Yes, listening is better. I might not like what I hear, but at least I feel heard. Like a child, pulling at my skirt trying to tell me she’s hungry, or scared, or sad…she ain’t goin’ anywhere until I look her in the eyes and sincerely ask her what she needs.

It then becomes about giving her what she needs. That is a very deep topic, of which I will most likely be writing about ad nauseum in the future, so for now I will say this: on the whole, I have come to understand that in order to let me move forward, she needs to feel safe. If she (I) feel safe, I can navigate the barrage of emotions that come to call when I am on the precipice of change.

To help me do it, the navigation, I have employed the strategy of personifying the feelings that are making themselves known. I treat them like friends who have come to protect me when they believe I’m about to harm myself in some devilish and unsavory way, like starting a blog that who knows who can see. “What are ya, nuts? You might as well stand in the parking lot of Walmart with a bullhorn, shouting your latest thoughts on the price of gas these days!”

To which I respond, “Oh, there you are! My old friend, fear. Thank you for coming out to save me today! I appreciate you.” I could go on forever. I really could. For now I will just say that when I first started writing for others to see (and many, many times after that), I learned that in order to get my fingers to actually move on the keys I needed to first check in with her to see how she was doing. And then I start The Dance.

And it is a dance. A homing in and fine tuning of give and take, just as in any relationship, with the goal being that at the end of the song you have both gotten some of what you need. Over the years I have improved my dancing skills, and have developed a formula that helps me stay inside my comfort zone AND move forward at the same time:

First, I help my friends (me) feel heard and understood, without judgement. “Ah, you’re scared. This IS scary, because inspiration has gone bad before, yes. I hear that. You are not making this up in your head. I’m sorry those bad things happened.” Instead of pulling away, I lean into it and nourish the part of me that, for darn good reason, wants to run for the hills.

When does that end, though, and the movement begin? When is it time to summon the…whatever it is (strength? courage? wisdom? insanity?) to take action and not get stuck in the emotions? Personally, I find safety in One Step at a Time. With writing, as the example, I would say to myself that all I needed to do was write. That’s it. Nothing had to come of it, nobody ever needed to see it if I didn’t want them to.

“Ahhh…okay! I can do that!” And the inspiration spark was ignited, because I felt safe to take the next step. So I would get a cup of tea, light a candle, rally the cat for moral support, and…begin.

I call that my Yes. The place where the door opens and I’m allowed in. Then I follow it, to the next step, and the next step, and so on…until I have overcome the scary thing and accomplished the goal! Rah Rah! You Go Girl!

And, so it goes. On many levels, under any circumstance, the process is the same. The fine tuning of listening, honoring, and action. It sounds like a lot of work, all this pesky monitoring, but really it’s SO much easier than running. I don’t know about you, but I find the running, and the hiding, simply exhausting. It’s hard work to keep pushing that little girl away, to listen to her fussing, feel her tugging, pulling me back as I’m trying to move forward.

The thing about this dance, though, is that everyone is unique. The basis of this work isn’t that everyone listen and then take a step that is the recipe of tea and a candle. It’s that they listen, period. And then figure out what their formula is. Take the time to check in, honor your process and lean in to it, exploring what you need, what your triggers are, where your lines are, and what within that helps you feel ready to move forward. No one can answer those questions for you, or assign a process to them. But, you can love yourself to safety, and move forward from there.

So here’s to leaning in…and making your dreams come true.

And, oy, the price of gas these days!

Thanks for listening. My next gig will be in the lot at the Safeway on 9th 😉.

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