Being Productive {isn’t the same as being busy}

Being Productive {isn’t the same as being busy}

Busy people aren’t more important than people who have a relaxed approach to their work. This is a surface view of the world. It’s a distorted picture.

Busy is an emotional state. It is a buffer between your soul and all challengers. It’s a thick, fuzzy blanket keeping you safe from woes. It holds you separate from the parts of your life that flounder. Listen carefully. You’ll hear voices, faded from calling to you.

A bored mind will latch on to distraction. Distraction offers a lifeline to avoid sinking into discomfort. That’s how the body works. Pain tells you when to stop doing the thing you are doing. Stop it right now! Discomfort is like that. It signals there is something deeper going on that needs your attention. Were you to turn towards the discomfort and apparent boredom, the discussion you would begin with yourself would be anything but boring. The key is discovering ways to begin those conversations. There is more than one to be had. Taking personal responsibility and the ability to say no are learned skills. How much practise have you had?

Any distraction is a behaviour of your mind. Things don’t distract you. Devices that stream the internet to you whenever you want a fix, included. Being distracted is a way of organising your life so that you don’t have to be responsible to yourself. It’s insidious; you are going to believe it almost every time. Your distraction has been personalised over a lifetime and knows you on intimate levels. Distraction has access to a library of stories that you don’t share with anyone. It has a front row seat to every nanosecond of the show. It has the ability to replay, on ultra slow motion, the parts you try to ignore. Making distraction your best friend might be the best thing you ever do to support your productivity.

Creative work may look inefficient on the surface, and that could be true. Measuring the progress of your creative work requires you to define what your goal is. You need to understand why it’s important to you. Your why is the bedrock of your work. If you’re attempting to anchor your creative endeavours to shifting sands and whimsical notions, they’ll always be works in progress. Know what success looks like for you. Celebrate when you achieve it. Does your why motivate you to dig into the guts of your work? Does it inspire you to explore and learn, and play as you do so? Ask yourself some honest questions; answer them just as honestly. You have all this power. Use it!

Over the coming weeks, I’ll tease apart these ideas about productivity. Next week I’ll be talking about making friends with your distraction.

See you on Tuesday, lovelies.

Do you feel like a fake?

Do you feel like a fake?

The flow of my life since becoming an indie author has been clean, clear, and exhilarating.

Consequently, my heels are digging in.

Their current attempt to slow my momentum is not as enthusiastic as previous episodes have been. Those older ones used to throw me right over the guardrail and into the bushes.

I’ve been working for a year to create a wide base from which my publishing house, Goddess Kindled Universe, can continue to grow. Though, it would not be a lie to say I’ve been building up a store of knowledge with which to achieve it, my whole life.

Has it really only been one year?

Spring is around the corner, crocuses are spearing into the world, and ancient oak trees are swelling with new buds. They never wonder if it’s time to move through the cycle, or what’s holding them back from taking the next step.

Here is a selection of the old soundtracks that have sparked up in my mind this week:

“Worthwhile things don’t come this easily.”
“You don’t earn enough money.”
“Your work’s not as good as you think it is.”
“You need to learn more about that before you can write about it.”

All of these ties keep looping over my psyche, feels like my body, too, trying to stop me from going too far. All the old ways that I’ve kept myself safe from potential failure. But, who knows if I would have failed, or not. Maybe. My heart is thumping at the thought of failure, but there is curiosity and excitement inside the beats, now.

I’m forty-four; maybe I’ve lived enough life to do the scary things, regardless.

Some of the scary things:
The last few chapters of my first novel’s first draft are staring at me.
I’m sitting on the advisory board of an editing company I truly admire.
I’m moderating the Studio space of The Creativist Club with Orna Ross, and about to go through the entire process of creativism with her, live recorded for her podcast, The Go Creative! Show.

That last one is terrifying, because it will plunge me into the middle of all the concepts I have around “financial”. Raw and vulnerable teaching moments? Tick!

I asked my girlfriend why I keep hesitating, even though I’m exactly where I wanted to be (and more quickly than I imagined was possible). Her answer?

“You think you don’t know enough.”

And, as simple as that — with soft words, spoken kindly. I started breathing, again.

Being vulnerable

Being vulnerable

I’m sporting a lovely new cold sore on my top lip. It was shocked into existence this afternoon by a few happenings:

#1 – I realised I might have made a fool of myself.

#2 – Someone I admire requested me to dive deeper into myself and then write about it.

#3 – One day in the not too distant future, I will be talking to a possibly world-wide audience about what I wrote in item #2.

I’ve been tapping all afternoon to stop the cold sore going ballistic. It’s working, thankfully. The self inquiry woven into the tapping eventually brought me to one pattern in particular, which I have never before been able to vocalise.

Context: tapping – EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques (one of the therapies I used with clients of my healing practise).

The reason I struggle with untangling this pattern is, it is a paradox. I worry I won’t get what I deserve; but, I worry I won’t deserve what I get. At least, I can see the circle, now. Time to tilt it on it’s axis and spin that sucker into a spiral, then jump on for the ride and trust there is no knobbly banister-type stopper at the end of the slide, waiting to goose me.

My life is a series of magical moments. I write magical realism, because it is the way I see the world. Connections and threads, and sometimes, a bannister too shiny and inviting not to straddle.

Being real

Being real

There is an old pattern circling the drain of my psyche. It is the gross wad of hair we will affectionately call, Knotty. Knotty reminds me that I am shy and insecure. And, certainly not good enough to do the thing I want to do.

Danger! Danger!

Problem is, by the time I notice Knotty these days, I am already in the middle of doing the thing I am supposedly incapable of doing. Last night, I was actually finished doing the creative business thing (and being completely awesome and magical in the process) and had moved on to spooning a large helping of pumpkin curry into a bowl, before I noticed Knotty. I guess that is the definition of an ingrained pattern. Every time I look away, I forget it’s there.

Even so, the pattern tries with all its might to remind me what I am.

The thing is, I’m not shy and insecure. I seem to have been something else for quite some time, now. I am talking out loud to people I admire about my work and not feeling the need to pretend to be anything more (or less) than exactly what I am. I’m not vigilant for moments when I can casually allude to a mystery about myself that might lead the admired listener to believe I am interesting and capable.

I am using direct language, and finding it exhilarating.

Being real all the time is not a decision. It is my natural state of being. I am relaxed without that irritating grain of nausea in the back of my stomach, because at any moment someone is going to realise I am not good enough.

Holy crap!

I’ve passed through the magical green door that waits patiently in the most secret corners of the universe for unsuspecting voyagers. I didn’t even have to paint it black. (I’m pretty sure I’ve just mangled the meaning of that snippet of lyric and managed to either offend someone, or make them laugh.)

Disappearing

Disappearing

My instinct for self-protection is deep. It’s rooted in my childhood, maybe in past lives, or dream lives that recur. It is a dark entity disguised as safety.

I’ve been in a holding pattern. I almost gave up. Remember that, a few weeks ago? That was before I ran away from all the words that might give freedom to the scary feelings. Conveniently, I accidentally ingested gluten and was consequently out of action for a few days.

Then, a few more.

It didn’t seem possible that I had slipped so badly and eaten an amount to warrant this kind of physical distress. Then, I caught a cold. How extraordinarily convenient. Success coupled with someone questioning my process is all it takes for me to dissolve. Especially when that success is gaining momentum and I open up to the excitement and energy of the ride, only to slam into self-doubt in the form of a loved one who challenges my why.

If I were truly centred, and trusted my direction and motivation, this would not be an issue at all, would it? This pattern is old and worn, like a comfortable and stretched out knitted jumper. It has holes and a few patches, and it stretches right up over my head when I need to disappear.

The prospect of failure is terrifying.

Failure itself is not a huge deal. I’ve failed before and learned my most exciting lessons. If I try and fail all by myself, without anyone else knowing about it, I find it exhilarating and kind of trippy. Anticipating judgement should I fail, though, that is the corrosive agent.

Understand what I am saying. It is not the act of failure, nor the actual judgement of someone other than myself that is the instigating horror. Once those things have been enacted, they simply are. I can deal with that.

The thing that rots, that worms its way into my psyche, is already there inside the apple of my mind.

It is only ever me.

Half Strung Bow

Half Strung Bow

There were already strings in my bow when I became an indie author.

I’m not talking about having a bow, half strung. However, one with loose strings, frayed and flying from previous symphonic madness … probably, I was waving that like a flag as I staked my claim on this authoring path.

Regardless, I always have had and always will have a bow that is strung completely and perfectly. It must be so. I tend to get edgy when things don’t line up. Things like the edges of a book that I surreptitiously tap with gentle fingers until it is square with the corner of the table.

Like any accomplished reader of the score of life, I must restring my bow at the appropriate moments, and slather on the rosin at others.

I didn’t come to this career without foreknowledge. I bring with me a wealth of understanding and depth of self-knowing that serves my stories and characters more thoroughly than being able to spell complicated words.

Although, I generally manage to do that without hiccough (because I think it’s cool).

Point is, everyone has a path littered with shredded bits of bow trailing off behind them. There are even chips of wood and some completely shattered frames on mine.

That’s okay, find a likely looking tree beside the path, and get whittling! I only cut my fingers on very special occasions, and rarely on purpose, these days.

My release of limiting beliefs has unleashed an awesome fearlessness. It’s simultaneously bizarre and hilarious. I sit on my own shoulder, observing the wonderful madness of me, going ahead, and doing the work I feel drawn to create. And, I don’t care if nobody except me falls in love with the result.

Such daring. {My latest bit of daring.}

I read that last line and have to laugh with an unrestrained blatt of vocal eruption — it’s just so damn funny. Because, now, the daring doesn’t leave the cloying aftertaste of fear behind.

Self-sabotage

Self-sabotage

This week, I almost gave up.

Right in the middle of a writer’s high (that may or may not have been a little too much like mania to be entirely healthy), a nice big red button that had taken many years to fully develop burst out of an intimate conversation one afternoon and punched me right in the face.

It fucking well hurt!

But, it woke me up. The button was clearly labelled. There was no disguise or deception.

It tried to shimmer sideways and turn on its perception filters to throw me off. But, no. I see you now, you old pattern of sabotage. You will never be able to hide again.

I will write. Even though maybe everything I’m pouring my heart and soul into will come to nothing, which earns less than that. My worth is not determined by how much other people are willing to pay for it.

Not any more.

I will say my opinions right out loud, even though you may not agree with them. Maybe you will! The terrifying part is that I don’t know if you will or not. The part of my opinion I share has always been shaped that way. I have always sculpted it into an attractive form. My powers of seduction are considerable.

I will stick to my path, even though it veers off in a different direction to the one you deem proper. My effort is enough because I say so, not because you can see the point.

… It makes me smile when you do, though.

Big and toothy smiling that shows the discolouration of my capped front tooth. The one that I think ruins my smile, even though I’ve had decades to get used to it. Bet you didn’t smack yourself in the mouth with a cricket bat when you were seven.

Was it way back then that I choked off my voice? Clamped my lips closed to keep away the judgement?

This week, I didn’t give up. I thumped the hell out of that red button until it told the truth. Turns out, I installed it and made it bigger over the years.

Just me.