To write a book takes a lot of love toward ourselves and the world. Even though there is a limitless amount of love available, we need to do what it takes to tap into this love and accompanying energy. That's because with any meaningful project comes resistance.
Resistance arrives along side something that you want to bring to the light, to life. This new life, this book or other creative project or action must push itself through the dark soil of doubt and fear. Push itself through the damp aloneness and make the choice to trust that there is light there, if I just keep moving my life forward.
Push through the belief of insignificance.
Resistance is a Trickster. She arrives with all her baggage, all her hindrances and patterns. But she is only present when there is something worthwhile wanting to get to the light. The bigger the resistance, the more tricky she is, and, the more meaningful the action. She's actually the soil for our intentions, dreams and projects.
Resistance can come to as us as patterns like the one of us getting into other’s business rather than attending to our own life. ("Oh I have to focus on this, instead of my book.")
Resistance can come as fear of success, or failure, or fear of mistakes or that someone won’t like what we write or do. ("I don't think I can actually pull this off. And if I do, who cares about what I have to say?")
Resistance comes in the form of laziness, giving into patterns, over eating or drinking, watching one too many reruns. ("I deserve to just let everything go, life is hard." "I will maybe get to this later.")
When understood as a friend we discover the Trickster Resistance brings with her the need to get to work. She insists that we bring to the world our gifts. The gifts we inherited at birth. Remember, the greater the gift, the stronger the resistance. And, a warning here. Resistance doesn't just go away. Ever. She is that soil to push through every time you are about to give up to doubt, or give into patterns.
Consider your dreams and intentions. Consider what is bothering you now about the conditions of the world. Consider the projects you've started. Consider your inherent gifts. Notice the flavors of resistance that surround them. Understand them as the soil of your project and ideas. Love yourself enough to push through the fear, aloneness, darkness and doubt.
Now get to work.
Want some help moving through resistance? Sign up for my personal MENTORSHIP PROGRAM FOR WRITERS: HERE.
My first book was published in 1989 by Doubleday. I went on to self-publish this book and to write 10 more books. All my books have been published through traditional publishing houses. All my manuscripts had beta readers. Just this past few months I have had 4 of my writers become authors. One writer got accepted by a publisher on her 2nd submission! She had beta readers. She had me as her mentor.
In this 7 month program, you will have 5 beta readers dedicated to you and your manuscript. We will meet once a month and twice in April. One month will be dedicated to you and your manuscript and publication journey.
The journey begins Friday October 6th, 2023. Find out more or register HERE
"Women’s curiosity was given negative connotation, whereas men were called investigative. Women were called nosy, whereas men were called inquiring. In reality, the trivialization of women’s curiosity so that it seems like nothing more than an irksome snooping denies women’s insight, hunches, and intuitions. It denies all her senses. It attempts to attack her fundamental power.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes
My dog Lulu does not like to be leashed. She will however go for long walks with me, leashed, as the alternative to no walk. We make it to the dog park at least twice a week, so she can run free of restraint. Off leash she greets and plays with other dogs and chases her nose out beyond my view.
I'm going for an analogy here.
Where in your life do you feel leashed and unable to follow your nose, your curiosities and longings? Write about that.
These leashed places are not safe. What would we do and experience differently, what would we pursue or chase, unleashed? Explore this.
When was a time you escaped or slipped out of a leash and chased an idea till you caught it? Write about that.
When we are discouraged to doubt authority or break the rules we stop following our noses. We hesitate to explore out beyond the tug of a leash. When we can't move our awareness and explorations out beyond what we have been instructed to see or experience, we are not really truly seeing what is possible.
To be curious is to explore, to explore is to discover.
Instead of doubting yourself, doubt what you are being told.
The old myths and propaganda around doubt and curiosity—such that curiosity killed the cat and that it will get you in a heap of trouble—is a myth intended to control the congregation and keep naughty kids (and adults) in line. Propaganda and dogma's purpose is to make you unwilling to challenge what you are told or question authority. Rules set up so that you must follow them to get the prize makes you an acolyte, not a leader. In his seventh-century commentary on Aryadeva’s Four Hundred [Verses] on the Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas, Chandrakirti tells the story of a ship’s captain captured by an ogress.
The ogress warns the captain never even to look, let alone venture, to the south of her island. This admonition arouses his doubt and uncertainty about what he is being told. He becomes curious, so, one day he evades her watchful eyes and steals away to explore. There in the south, he finds the king of horses, Balahaka, who will carry you away across the ocean to safety on the other shore if you hold on to even one hair of his mane. And so the captain escaped from the island on which he had been held prisoner.
Such doubt is a perfect navigational tool, a way to ignite a sacred curiosity that leads to other possibilities. This doubt gets us to question, study, and investigate what we are told. We also question the appearance of phenomena and are not as easily fooled. When we listen to our doubts in this way we won’t be so easily controlled or imprisoned by others’ views. We will discover truth for ourselves and adventure out beyond the comfort zone of dogma put out by others.
Besides, one person’s religious experience or antidote could be another’s imprisonment or poison. Write about that.
Don’t spend your life on someone else’s island. Question everything of significance. Let all admonitions arouse in you a sacred curiosity of doubt. Follow your doubt (your curiosity) to the other side of things. Don’t be leashed by others’ beliefs or desires—break away.
"You can’t sit around and wait for somebody to say who you are. You need to write it and paint it and do it."— Faith Ringgold
"What do you see on the screen that may help you with your question?" –An Apple technician helping me navigate my new computer.
This advice above was so simple and yet so clever! If only we could just let go of our resistances, breathe and find our answer in what's in front of us. In therapy I have often heard someone's solution in their questions. Resistance to what is in front of us is, I think, a universal experience. Steven Pressfield writes in his book, The War of Art how resistance is a sure sign that something is important to you. In fact, he emphasizes the bigger the resistance the more valuable the project.“The more important a call or action to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
So, are all my resistances because the pursuit is part of my soul's evolution? Or is it something else? (Hint: it's something else).
Turns out resistance isn't only attached to meaningful pursuits. Being afraid you won't be able to accomplish the thing you want or need to accomplish, is a sure way to get you to do everything BUT that one thing. This flavor of resistance can come up in more mundane yet uncomfortable tasks like figuring out something on the computer. Recently, I avoided even trying to fix something technical. First I attempted to get someone else to figure it out and fix it. That didn't work. So I sat down and thought, I can do this. If I just stick with it I can l figure it out. Just don't give up. This project was not part of my soul's evolution. And, it's something that needed to be fixed. I decided to stay with it until I figured it out. In this case it took 6 hours sans human support (Google hasn't any human support). What relief and pride I felt when I figured it out on my own and fixed the problem.
How does this work in our spiritual and creative life? What about (not) writing my novel? Is my resistance to finishing the final draft all about resisting what is meaningful to me?
Turns out, no.
I am simply afraid I can't do the work. I am afraid that I won't really be able to figure out how to write a good (or great) novel. That's it really. That's my demon here. Afraid I won't be able to accomplish a well-drafted book. So, now that I know the truth, that I am not resisting writing my novel because it is such an important soulful pursuit (though it may be that too), no, I am simply afraid I won't be able to actually do the work that it will take. So,
What if I were to approach the novel like I did my computer problem? Just stick with it, figure things out as I go? Ask myself what the computer tech asked me: What in front of me can help me accomplish what I want?
That's my plan.
Each day I will spend at least 15 golden minutes sitting with my novel, using all that I have in front of me to work with. I have many novelists before me to learn from, I have my story, my protagonist and antagonists, along with my 100,000 written words.
I am going to show up for the work and see what happens. What can happen.
This persistence instead of avoidance arrived as a gift from my recent meditation practices. 15 months ago I started the Anapanasati practice of meditation. I almost missed out on this opportunity by backing out of a retreat at the last minute. Then with a poke from the teacher I saw a pattern of not following through, not showing up. So every morning since (I've missed only 6 or7 days), I have sat for an hour of meditation practice. Just showed up. The benefits, though mostly subtle, are nothing less than miraculous for me.
So here late in life I have learned better how to simply show up. Or, how to show up better. Be consistent and persistent with what wants and can unfold. I can learn to write a great novel, if I just keep showing up. I can learn how to fix computer problems if I just stay put and look at the screen and ask, "What do you see on the screen that may help you with your question?" (And yes, reaching out for live support when it's necessary and available).
One more mention and then back to my novel (well, after a good walk with my dog). I have found that what helps me to show up is knowing how and when to let go. (And what to let go of). In every creative and spiritual success there is a letting go.
Until next time, Write about what you keep avoiding. Make a list. What happens when you simply show up and do the work? Write about that. How did it feel when you figured something out for yourself? Write about that.
"Letting go is a natural ability. It is not something new or foreign. It is not an esoteric teaching or somebody else’s idea or a belief system. We are merely utilizing our own inner nature to get freer and happier."
–Hawkins, David R.. Letting Go
“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.”
Nothing so hardens the heart of man as a barren familiarity with sacred things.
J. C. Ryle
When objects become too familiar they lose their sacredness on us. They do not lose their inheritance of beauty and story, we simply miss seeing it. To perceive sacredness, we must see, as Black Elk says, in a sacred manner. When we see in this manner, we also experience that which connects everything to everything else. There is a wholeness to our observations and experiences.
I finished my death cleanse. Hundreds of books along with other objects of affection went on to new lives elsewhere. Most gifted, some recycled, a few tossed out. One antique typewriter sold to someone who collects them. I like the spaciousness. I don't miss anything. I have kept some objects sitting out as friends, companions on my journey. There’s my many bear fetishes from trips with my daughter that act like a bookmark to these memories. These fetishes hold a sacredness, a beauty that I more easily enjoy now because they stand out.
What do your objects say about you? What is the story of a cherished object? Explore that, write about that.
How did this object come to be? Write about that.
What do you remember truly seeing today? Write about what happened and what you saw.
"It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man’s hand and the wisdom in a tree’s root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name." –Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea, taken from (a most wonderful book) Tao te Ching: Power for the Peaceful – by Lao Tzu (Author), Marc Mullinax
When we are habitual in our seeing of something we don't actually notice it. To explore something, to be curious about that thing you encounter, is to connect with it. To connect with one object in a true way is to connect with the story of that object. And all the stories connected to that story.
Everything has a story.
Our words too as objects may become too familiar, habitual. Conscious writing, whether it be for our personal explorations or for others to read, means we give purposeful attention to what we are writing about. If I am writing about hope, for example, what images, words and objects will bring hope alive within me and my readers? What details of emotions or symbols describe hope?
What is an object of hope, that expresses or reveals hope for you? Write about that.
Recall finding hope during a difficult time. Does an object of significance stand out? Remember that; Write about that.
Objects certainly hold metaphorical symbology in our writing, they may also have personality and deliver a message.
Christine DeSmet , a writing coach and author of several fiction mentions how objects play a central role in scenes and story. “Often, an object in any story becomes a spotlight for both the character and reader. The object draws our attention and we know it's important somehow. Objects lead the reader to a surprise or understanding that is deeper than life without the object. Effective writers choose objects carefully because they carry meanings such as hope, love, despair, loss, or happiness, to name a few examples. When a writer has trouble creating a character or finding depth, one question to ask is this: What does the character collect? Collections of objects say a lot about humans. The collection might be what's in your junk drawer in the kitchen, or what you have inside a valuable case in a prized spot in a family room or den. We all collect objects at some time or other in our lives because the objects signify something important about time, place, purpose, people, and our emotions connected to any of those aspects.” –Christine DeSmet, author and writing coach, was the director of the popular Write-by-the-Lake Writer's Workshop & Retreat, offered through University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies. She can be reached HERE.
What do you collect? Write a story about that. Or, do these objects seem to find and collect you?) Write about that.
For quite awhile now I described myself as being on a bridge from what my life was to what lies ahead. A few weeks ago I shared in a clearness committee session that I see a full and active life behind me. Then, when I looked ahead I saw only a long clear path through a vast blue emptiness. I decided to be at the center of this overpass with consciousness, curiosity and kindness.
Then Roe VS Wade was overturned.
Being undecided now felt inconvenient and ill-timed. To remain mindfully on the bridge, waiting to see what might appear was no longer the best use of my life energy. This news of Roe versus Wade being overturned, although anticipated, ignited an urgency in me to take action. Specific action that would be of service at this difficult juncture in our shared story. A difficult juncture that has no clear or present end.
This call to action to be of service in a specific way was, as it turns out, what I have always been here to do.
Just like you I hold gifts, interests and ideas that are inherent. Being kind to a stranger, being generous when you have little or a lot to share, finishing that collection of poems, speaking an endangered language, writing letters, restoring prairies, rescuing stray cats, reaching out, finishing that space in your home to create art -- all are ways to do the work in the world we are meant to do. When we open our hearts and listen (sometimes with a help of others), we find that what we love has always loved us and is ready to be expressed through us. Sometimes this something is a surprising stranger, sometimes this something is an old welcomed friend. There is nothing to figure out, or force, or to chase down. And waiting on the bridge watching the world pass below me, is not the needed response at this time either.
Adding to the sanity of the world, healing from what harms us, bringing forth the beauty for others to enjoy, has always been about opening up from within. Then once we open to that idea or quality or project and it is revealed to us, we must keep a strong connection to our inner resource so we can continue to do our beauty-work in the world (and not be destroyed or stopped).
It's that simple. Listen to that inner teacher; act on what she reveals.
To make the simple easy we need just a few things to get from here, to there.
Learn to listen. Spend time in the natural world. Read poetry. Meditate and contemplate. Have a regular practice of contemplation. Journal. Take the inner journey through the labyrinth. Have ways to explore your inner landscape with a keen and compassionate ear. Write a letter to your self from your Inner Teacher, have the letter start: Dear (your name), This is what I want you to know. Repeat that line instead of stopping to think. Keep moving the pen until you fill up one page (or more). Something will come and it's okay (and quite poetic) if it is between many lines of this is what I want you to know.
Work with what you have and who you already are. Play with the choices you have already made. Explore them more deeply. Practice painting or writing. What keeps returning to you? Write about that. Dogs that need rescuing? Stray children who need respite care? Smooth broken glass that wants to be part of a mosaic? Your grandchildren? A lyric for a song? A desire to help save sea turtles? Making jam to sell at a local market?
Your life up to now holds everything you need to discover what's next. Be who you already are.
Gather together. Gather to do the inner work and to play, to explore, to discover and to celebrate. When we gather together in safe, dynamic circles we discover how to best express and manifest in the world. My upcoming Yearlong circle: World into Word & Action applies wisdom from my pervious books and work, from clearness committee explorations to decades of working with people in transformative circles. This yearlong adventure is a way for you to open up to your inner teacher and to discover what you need to know now to move forward.
This was what struck me from within when hearing the news about Roe vs Wade. I was called to offer another yearlong circle to help others cross their bridge, to move through fear, to get out of your own way. My call to action is to help you listen for and respond to your inner knowings and callings.
Be more deeply engaged in the world with me and 12 other journeyers. Open up more to your inherent wisdom with a circle of friends. It's time to share your gift, finish that project, discover further your personal creative intentions and to fulfill them. To further become who you already and truly are. Anyone who knows that this is the place for you but lacks financial resources will not be turned away. People in transition, people healing from trauma, those of you who are on the front lines, those who cannot pay in full or lack funds, there is a place for you here. Contact me for your free 20-minute zoom consultation: HERE.
The journey together starts October, 2022. Click HERE for more information.
Where do you want to be in a year from now? Write about that.
Today, I face forward on the bridge where people of various genders and shapes, familiar and unknown trees, creatures of all kinds are ready to greet me and to start up a new dance. A dance of engagement and lasting beauty.
A final helpful note. There is no way for this to lead me astray. I can't be disappointed or felt I made a mistake if no one shows up for this great plan of mine. What I know, with utter certainty, is that to listen and act on this choice will lead me to exactly where I need to be; where I can best serve others and dance.