I learned that setting an intention is powerful. I Did. Not. Miss. A. Day.
I learned that I love writing poetry and taking photos. It’s a great pairing, like making my brain sing in harmony. Even if I left the poem to the end of the day (as I did on most days), I genuinely looked forward to writing almost every day.
I learned — or rather, re-learned — that setting a limit can be incredibly freeing. These were not verses I was to polish, or workshop. They were just what I had to put out there with whatever was available to meet that day, in that moment.
I learned that even if people don’t post comments, my writing and posting does inspire conversation and connection in real life. This is part of why I do it, along with the fact that it keeps me sane.
I learned that paring down, looking, and pulling out only one strand is powerful. But what appears to be one strand may, in fact, be connected to a whole cobweb. Once those fibers have all been pulled away from the sides, what remains is open and fresh.
Whether that metaphor is mixed or effective doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I’ve walked through some kind of tunnel and emerged ready to be a writer. The novel that beamed itself down into my brain back in June as I drove along the Potomac has been patient enough. Since the month ended, I’ve carved out one blissful afternoon-into-evening of child-free writing and gotten a likely two more mini-retreats on the books for December and January. The daily poems were contained in time, but the novel needs a wide open expanse for me to really gain momentum, to create the wide vision that can eventually be sustained by support shorter bursts.
It worked to write the poems at night since I set a limit of 30 minutes (and since I could never seem to front-load or get ahead to switch to a morning posting routine), but by the end of the month, I was ready to be done. For my health, tired adrenals and all, it’s become clear to me that going to bed by 10:30 at the latest, and 9:15 at the ideal, is like money in the bank.
So I determined that once the month was over, I would switch gears and target a 9:30 bedtime, except for nights I have to tutor, and early wake-ups. If I get to bed by 10, I can easily get up before 6 a.m., which gives me time to do some yoga, deep breathing and to attend to whatever emails I didn’t address the night before. Eventually, I expect to include writing time in these sacred hours.
It’s been amazing. I love being up at 5:30 a.m. in a dark, quiet house. A few of the days this week, I’ve actually gotten up at 4:30 when our son got up to pee or came into our bed and I was just ready to be done with sleep. Because I went to bed early enough — and because I am blessedly no longer nursing a baby during the night — I can wake then and be grateful for the extra time in the day without later feeling tired. It is such a gift to have a quiet start and to await my children and husband awaking not with dread for lost time but with eagerness because, well, it’s just time.
It’s also helped to know that tomorrow I would need to be up at 4:15 to catch a 5:30 train to New York to make it to the rescheduled from-the-hurricane Open House at Random House. Setting the intention makes all the difference. How appropriate that now The Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg is now on the speaker list!
I’ve so enjoyed the benefits of breath and centering in the mornings and also the Emotional Freedom Technique that took me from a very frustrated to an absolutely joyful and grateful place before sunrise a week ago. I had to write a piece on it to share with others. Check out my article at the Communities@WashingtonTimes.com: “Ten tips for a healthy, holistic holiday.”
In days to come, I might elaborate here on the blog on some of the specifics of how these techniques have made a difference for me, but at least the suggestions are now out there, and I hope they will benefit others.
Joy to the world!
See the last poem and links to the others here.