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I met my husband on my 24th birthday. I threw him a 30th birthday party the following month just after we started dating. Eight months later, I learned the truth when I looked at his license and the math didn’t add up. The guy I had fallen for wasn’t really 30, he was 32 (!!!) and worried a 24-year old might not have given him a chance. My husband hates this story, and will probably be annoyed for it being told (again) (online) but it’s a story that belongs to both of us now. The reason I’m sharing it is because I’m having some deja vu with my 30-day blog affair. Today marks the big 3-0 (versus 31)! Last night I was feeling like I failed my own 30-day challenge after not blogging on day 28. Maybe that’s why there were 31 days this month: an opportunity to still hit 30 even with one miss. (Or maybe I just don’t count to 30 so well?) In any case, we celebrate birthdays in our house with a big old ? on the cake instead of numbered candles.

Now that this journey is complete; I want to share some thoughts if you are considering blogging more consistently or taking part in any 30-day challenge:

1. Blogger’s block can feel real, but it is somewhat of a myth. I frequently don’t know what I’ll write about when I sit down to write. I worry what I’m sharing might have no significance. However, it’s really resistance rearing its ugly head (read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
if you are looking to tackle creative resistance rather than living in procrastination). There is always something to say. I would put pressure on my blog posts to be the most meaningful thing I’d have to say all week – month – longer (which is an easy way to fall out of love with blogging). It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on a blog post. Imagine thinking you could never speak unless your words were always perfectly articulated and quotable. I would probably be mute. How scary would that be to utter a sound? As a speech pathologist this analogy hits home. It’s okay that a post might not be eloquent or what you want etched on your tombstone. Just writing and posting on a daily basis will change your relationship with blogging.

2. I chose 30-days of blogging because I wanted to have a relationship with my blog again. It felt like a long lost friend after going over a month without posting. I knew I wanted to hold onto it, but my writing felt awkward and forced. There was too much time between posts to just throw out a casual thought or bedtime haiku without it feeling disjointed. After my first week blogging, I found a rhythm. After the second week, it no longer felt like a long-lost friend, but a close confidant. Ideally, I would like to post 1-2 times a week now, but I’m not sure if that will feel too distant initially. I may experiment for a little bit, just like Goldilocks (I use fairy tale analogies frequently with a preschooler at home): too hard, too soft, just right. My blog became home again. It was no longer an afterthought, instead it was front and center. When I knew I had some heavily scheduled days, I wrote an extra post preparing myself for the near future. An editorial calendar for the blog started to sound ideal versus restricting. We shall see.

3. I began to see some themes taking place over the course of this month. Some of the things I blogged about frequently were: breathing room and undoing. This topic just won’t leave me, so more to come…

4. The best part about committing to any journey for 30-days is you take your word seriously. Your intentions become real. You feel on-fire moving through your day. More to come on this as I have a special interview with a friend who coaches others through mental and physical 30 day challenges. She gave me a pep-talk in the beginning of my 30-day blog affair with the advice to just take on this one thing (rather than trying to do 10 things and once). Keep it simple. And to just do it!

5. Any writer will tell you they love acknowledgement for their writing. Comments and followers are great. The more the merrier! I will not pretend to say this doesn’t matter. But writing consistently had me care less about what others thought, obsessing over stats, etc. and just get to work.  This was good for my writing soul. Anyone who wants more blog followers, just write more regularly!

6. I don’t consider myself to be a poet. I surprised myself this month with my Bedtime Haiku post when I didn’t have the energy to write much or for too long. (I loved it, and may bring this in more often. Stay tuned…) I could do this every day for a month (so don’t tempt me, you know that could happen!)

So tonight I’m signing off with Blogging Haiku:

Choose Your Own Journey

Is a blogging home for me

A full heart tonight5734_1193154504068_8116_n

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Yesterday would have been the 28th day of my blog affair. But last night I wasn’t feeling it. I was wiped out and fell asleep beside my son before 9 pm.

I thought to myself: “It’s okay, just post something in the morning. Besides, you really don’t have anything to say tonight and you would be forcing it. Nobody is going to miss you! (Really).” That was the mistaken voice of reason. It was really my voice of mediocrity, and I’m frustrated it won out. When I chose to begin a blog affair last month, I made it easy to show up; a post could be a picture, a poem, or a quote instead of feeling like it had to be the most meaningful thing I ever wrote.

I almost posted a picture last night. How easy it could have been to do this:

Beach Day!

Beach Day!

Or this…

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Or even this…

Making Mandalas - Inspiration from paintings (or I could so make this)

Making Mandalas – Inspiration from paintings (or I could so make this)

I may sound hard on myself, but it’s not about the post. It’s about the meaning behind the post. I am proud of just showing up here every day. It has not been easy. I had to find time to blog on some full days. I changed my writing area from a desk in the living room, to a desk in my bedroom so I could write while my son took hour long baths. Despite his temporarily pruny fingers and toes, my blogging became an affair of the heart. I started to fall in love with my blog again. I began to think about it, rather than feeling guilty for not thinking about it. I began to write faster, and get out of my head, releasing the need for approval and feelings of judgment, because I didn’t have the time. I was off to the next post.

And every time I sat down to write, I’d think I have absolutely nothing worth writing about (and even more prevalent: people are getting so SICK of me writing this much, just stop already).

There are many creative lessons I’m taking from this journey. There is magic when I show up, especially in the face of resistance. There is inspiration in committing to something. I am seeing common themes with undoing which is so needed in my life right now, along with the biggest message in the book I’m writing. I’ve regained integrity by doing what I said I’d do (with the exception of last night where I lost a piece of my own integrity too). As writers, we can re-purpose writing! So much of what’s been posted would have probably died in my draft box if I was not looking for something to share.

So for the next two nights, I’m getting back on the horse again. There is an even bigger lesson from last night which I’m still sitting with this evening. We never get the day back. Things become too much to make up the next day, which is why procrastination gets heavier.

We always get to choose again.

 

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I am re-purposing today. I wrote the passage below 4 months ago: (9/25/13), just before leaving New Jersey and my job. I write to remember where I am and make sense of it all. It helps me recognize where I am in the present moment, reminding me of where I want to go. Writing is my GPS for intentional living.

Last night I remembered why I like being a speech-language pathologist watching some local therapists run a Hanen program. This was my love over the past 9 years, but I let my programs go after motherhood. I couldn’t find the time with babies of my own, balancing full-time work, adjusting to a less-full time schedule, moving, and figuring out how many hats I could wear (writer, mama, coach, speech-language pathologist) without looking like this:

caps for sale

Could I still wear them all? Did I need to give any up to excel at the others? Was wearing all of my hats causing me to move at a slower pace with this balancing act?

I spoke with my virtual writing group this morning. We spoke of white space and empty vessels. I  require breathing room in order to clear my plate before starting a new dish.

Where do I find joy? How am I recreating myself post motherhood (with two children now in tow?). 

Here is a snippet of my journey 4-months ago in the midst of my biggest transition yet…

I am leaving in three weeks. 

My 26-year-old self returned to New Jersey as a new speech-language-pathologist coming into the profession idealistically bright-eyed, determined to change the world of communication disorders. I am returning to California a 36-year-old mother of two, only wanting to leave the world a more compassionate place.

I am in transition again. I am transitioning from speech therapy to coaching. I am honoring the journey of the last decade.

I am grateful for the Hanen program, making me a better therapist. I stepped into coaching and teaching. I was so scared and so called.

Then there is Mom’s chemo. I am leaving, and my mom is a few weeks into chemo. When I returned a decade before, she did not have ovarian cancer. I had not had a mastectomy, or known I had the BRCA gene. Ignorance was bliss. We are the same, and changed in an instant. Life is fleeting. There are no guarantees. Precious time is slipping away.

I feel called to work with groups. I want others to know we are not alone. We have a story to tell, and we have companions on this journey. We are held. We hold. We are all interconnected.

I wanted to hold my families who wondered if their children would ever talk. My energy held them for so long: after the long evaluations when I’d see suspect Autism, after realizing a child might be deaf, I held their fears close. I wanted to hold all of these families until it became too much, and I felt myself going numb. I felt myself shutting down. There was no room to hold anything anymore. I was ready to throw my hands up in the air and let it all go.

I adored my Hanen families. I loved them for showing up. They had babysitters. They were committed. They were my reason for staying.

They inspired me to teach other professionals, they believed this work had value. I felt aligned with my vision. I felt the call to teach. I stepped into the role even when I felt too small and overwhelmed by life. I taught big workshops then went to the doctor the next day for another biopsy for a suspicious malignancy. My love of this work kept me from losing my mind on the journey. I gave a workshop to a group of 100 teachers when I was 37 weeks pregnant with Evan, scared I might give birth, wondering if the teachers were taking bets on when I would pop. I left for my maternity leave feeling complete.

The system has changed. Billing, logistics, more paperwork, liability, proposed budget cuts. I want to escape it all. I feel constricted yearning for expansion.

Since becoming a mom, I don’t want to be a super-SLP. I just want to be a place of compassion. “You are doing all right. This his hard. I hear you sister. I am not the expert on potty training – my son has taken over a year, and you have no idea how much I bribed him. It is hair-pulling work.”

I bring forth my gifts by writing to understand them. I want to show others I struggle. I am far from perfect, or even good enough on my best days. But I am enough. I don’t need to over-do to prove it to myself and win the busy-game. I am taking a time out. I don’t want to be too busy anymore. I’m not too busy.

I am leaving because it is time.

My family calls me. A next chapter calls me. I am freaking out (scared) and taking a huge leap of faith (called).

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Last week while writing and working on this post at the coffee house, I heard eavesdropped during a coaching session next to me. The coach was working with a client, but his words were for me too; especially about resistance, over-achieving/over-ambition, goal setting, procrastination, and working under pressure. (Point of reference: I am writing this post at 11:00 pm on Sunday evening, when I’d love to write my posts first thing in the morning to beat Resistance down and get on with my day, rather than growing tired from procrastination).

A rebel knows how to use resistance as a convincing tool.”

Over-achieving and over-ambition comes from a place of insecurity. It’s not sustainable.

So my recommendation for goals: write down your list of what you need to accomplish. Keep it simple. Keep it short. Don’t try to over-accomplish all at once. 

I crave procrastination to force me into feeling a sense of pressure. Pressure forces me to overcompensate.

Fix it with a ritual. Every day I sit down and I do this amount of work…

Always include the most important thing in your days…

Procrastination with pressure creates a narrow amount of room for production. You have to fit enough through a narrow hole.

This conversation was like an essay from the War of Art battling insidious resistance as it creeps in to kill dreams. God I love this book – and think every essay applies to me, (and to anyone else who’s ever been up to the work of making their dreams a reality).

Go introduce yourself….

It’s time to get to work.

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I have a virtual writing group with some lovely women. We haven’t connected (as an entire group) in 9-months, but will be coming together again this week. The last time we spoke was weeks after my second baby arrived, (in the early morning hours since I am on PST). As much as I loved my writing tribe, it became a struggle for me to show up with life changing and adjusting to new babyhood.

I’m learning that’s the period of my life right now. Just when I think I have a new routine down, everything changes in an instant.

photo 3 (3)

The last time our group spoke, I wanted to be writing more. However, I was also aware of how I sabotaged my maternity leave with my son feeling like I wasn’t doing “enough” creatively. I could barely write. I actually had carpal tunnel during that time which made the physical aspect of writing as difficult as the mental, wondering how creative mothers did anything? During my early days of new motherhood, I expected to write a book. I imagined my maternity leave to be a sabbatical, rather than recognizing what it was; the time to birth myself as a mother and connect with my new baby, adjusting in our cocoon before figuring out the realities of who we were as we entered the world together.

“I want to write about this time and capture it all,” I told the group. One woman pointed out as writers we live twice. There is a period for sensualizing and there is a period for synthesizing. New babyhood was purely sensual. “Notice the moonlight while you feed your baby girl. Take in her smell and the feeling of her body as she is nuzzled on your shoulder.”

I just found some notes reminding me of this conversation in an old journal. We spoke of re-purposing material and looking through what we had for multiple uses. I am tired tonight, and had a few ideas of what I might like to blog about, without the creative mojo needed to push me through. (All I wanted to do was post a picture of our new family member – our goldfish Mr. Goofbot).

photo 2 (6) photo 4 (2) photo 1 (6)

Instead something drew me back to an old journal for ideas and I found musings which may be composted and re-purposed accordingly. I love the metaphor of re-purposing not only for writing, but for life. And so tonight, before going to bed with the word and thoughts lingering in my mind, I’m considering what may be cultivated tomorrow…

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When I go to the coffee shop I feel like a real writer. I dress up. I take off my mom yoga/running uniform and put on the jeans (who am I kidding they are not technically jeans with a button and fly, but really post-baby jeggings), a blouse, my brown boots, and a colorful beaded necklace since I don’t have a 10-month old who will tug on it today.

Here at the coffee shop, I am in the company of writers (and coaches from their conversations – but this is a blog post for tomorrow. The coach next to me just asked the question: “What stories, beliefs, and decisions no longer represent who I am?” This could have been my blog post from yesterday).

As I show up regularly, I’m seeing familiar faces. I’m a natural observer like my baby girl, constantly taking in the world to make sure we are not missing out on anything. I don’t only look, but I listen too (okay, I’m totally eavesdropping today, that’s how I realized a coaching conversation was going on next to me). Dialogue is my background music when I’m writing. I discover synchronicity in others’ conversations which parallel my writing circumlocutions.

My word of the day is CIRCUMLOCUTION: cir·cum·lo·cu·tion  (sûr′kəm-lō-kyo̅o̅′shən)

n.

1. The use of unnecessarily wordy and indirect language.
2. Evasion in speech or writing.
3. A roundabout expression.

Circumlocution is a word thrown around in speech therapy. “Eliminating circumlocution in 4 out of 5 conversations” might be a goal for a patient with a right-hemisphere stroke or a school-aged child with word-finding issues speaking in nondescript “this” and “that” language. (Which makes me wonder: is my right hemisphere intact since I tend to do this so easily?) I circumlocuted in my writing, eavesdropping more than 20% of the time, especially when writing close to my heart.

“They come wanting to hear something important and interesting,” the older man says to the woman next to me who is giving a workshop later that evening. “What we give them is more amorphous.”

I think the word AMORPHOUS might relate to my circumlocutions in some way. I scribble down the words he speaks in between hugging the woman goodbye.

AMORPHOUS a·mor·phous  (ə-môr′fəs)

adj.

1. Lacking definite form; shapeless. See Synonyms at shapeless.
2. Of no particular type; anomalous.
3. Lacking organization; formless.
4. Lacking distinct crystalline structure.
My writing now feels amorphous and full of circumlocutions. I’ve been writing for the past 3 hours, which seems to be my limit when my brain becomes mushy. I begin with the notes in my journals, re-working my first chapter, outlining future chapters as I see how a sentence or thought might better carry a theme.  I’m constantly adding and revising the story. The more I show up here, at my table in the coffee shop, the more I see the connections (or my circumlocutions) becoming less amorphous.I think it’s okay that I don’t know right now. There is still more to uncover. Writing this book is more like an archaeological dig finding meaning in the amorphisms. I told former writing groups my book was written already, it just needs to be formatted. I give structure to my circumlocutions – making them less amorphous.

I am interrupted by a woman staring at me and I meet her gaze. Another circumlocution.

“I’m amazed at how you can type and not even look at what you’re doing,” she says to me.

I have heard this before. I take my typing skills for granted. I probably push 70 wpm, out-typing some court reporters. It’s a talent I rarely acknowledge and doesn’t garner attention because I mostly do it alone (except in coffee shops when I’m transcribing conversations next to me). I like being a fast-typer. It comes with the practice of writing.

“The most valuable class I took in high school was my elective typing class.” This is meant to be a joke, but might not be for a writer.

I type without looking. I’m going for more than my 1000 words today. I’m recognizing the gift of structuring these amorphous circumlocutions and taking selfies while I do it.

photo 2 (3) photo 3 (1) photo 4 photo 5

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Is anyone else beating themselves up feeling like they have fallen off of a New Year’s resolution wagon (yet again) this year??? For 2014, I have some pretty big plans. In fact, some of them feel so big I have become extremely conscious of my time. For those of you who know me, I have a (past?) bad habit of over-committing to activities which are appealing in the moment (I see you nodding and chuckling!)

I have one of those: I am so sick of seeing this resolution that if it is on my list again next year I will totally chop off my hairYes, the kind of feeling I need to ignite my inner coach who gives me a kick in the pants, shouting: “Just stop whining about it already and DO it!!!!”

I’ve been quiet here on the blog. I’ve been writing elsewhere, and it feels like a secret love affair away from this more public place which is now visited by more people than just my mother.

So here it is: the resolution which will not be there again in 2015. I will write and FINISH my book about choosing my own journey with the BRCA gene. Whoa! I feel like I just got a load off my chest (pun intended) sharing that here.

I had an eye-opening experience when I spoke with my visionary Mastermind tribe earlier this month. I shared how I enjoy the clients I’m coaching. I shared my plans for group programs and retreats. I shared the speech opportunities which are appealing as my own boss. I shared my desire to facilitate a class at a local birth center. I shared how motherhood has its own pace currently having 2 days a week to make all this happen. And then I shared that always on the back burner, remains the book, and it doesn’t want to go away. When asked to choose my biggest dream for this year, it was seeing my (finished) book in my hands by next December.

It’s a messy, raw, and personal story. I don’t like who I am when the book begins. It sometimes gets to be too much, and I need to step away remembering there is something healing happening as I own all of my journey. It’s the story of the road I had to get through to come to this exact moment as I wrestle with my writing demons and decide to put my hands to the keyboard.

I am sick of my whining, and waiting until next year. The only way for me to relieve this discomfort is to write. (It’s obviously not going away without it). The story has been written and re-written for the past 4 years, but took a new format earlier this month. Some days it’s coming out like a spigot. Others, like I’m sponging up wet spots on the counter. But the story has a power of its own, coming so quickly my fast typing hands cramp after hours sitting at the neighborhood coffee shop. I move from chronos to kairos time, where it stands still and I find my subconscious totally entangled making connections I never saw before. I can’t consume enough caffeine to write long enough. Yes, it’s become a torrid affair ripping me away from my family where all I crave is time alone and time to write, but once I get it – I’m a better mom at the end of the day.

In committing to my love affair with this book, I wanted to be conscious about my time on this blog. And being away from this space for the past month has felt disconnected, like I was losing touch with a friend who I really love and adore. I WANT to step back into this relationship. And just like a relationship that’s been neglected, it seems a little bit awkward. I am tripping over my words and editing and re-writing more than I normally do. There are moments during the day when I’ve thought of posting, but have not been sure of what to say since too much time has passed. Yes, I’m seeing my blog as an abandoned old friend who needs a little love too.

The only way I know to unblock creatively myself is to show up with baby steps.

I read this post of Flora Bowley’s which is highlighted in Somerset Studio’s current issue about Falling in Love with Your Blog in 30 Days.

I totally agree. The only way I can re-commit to my blog is by treating it like a love affair (just call me a writing mistress). There will probably not be the same 1000 words going into my book – but maybe a picture, or a memory, or a conversation – just something to get the conversation started again.

So even though I am scared of this commitment, I have fallen flat with far too many 30 day challenges to count – I’m committing to post something every day until February 19th. Warning: it might be raw, and not well-edited, and most likely a little rambling – but it’ll be here.

I’m not ready to give up my blog because of my book. Call my poly-amorous with my writing – I just want to cultivate my current journey too while continuing to step back into the past, to remain conscious of the unfolding present moments too.

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