two strokes ahead of time: where i’d rather be

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One of my biggest hurdles and life lessons has been learning how to stay in the present moment. It’s something I struggle with every day and have to work with differently each time the thought comes. I’m not where I want to be. I haven’t achieved what I wish I had. I should be somewhere better by now. I should be more.

I think we all cross these moments of anxiety, of our ego’s talk taking over our frame of thought completely. How do we step back into where we are? How do we get out of that never-ending belief that we aren’t enough right now?

In terms of writing, I made a decision not long after I completed the first draft of my novel and was led to the big move across the country. I made the decision that if I wanted to be in the right place, I had to put all my energy into this move. Into finding an apartment, researching neighborhoods, inspecting the details of who I needed to contact, what changes I needed to make. For the past few months, this big transition has been my sole focus while my book’s progress had to be put on pause.

Now that I’ve settled in, I find my inspiration at a high peak which should be exciting. But instead, it’s just led to this trickling thought of where my draft would be if I had worked on it this whole time. If I hadn’t put it on pause completely so that I could use my energy on moving. How far would that girl have come with her writing? Am I a failure as a writer for making that decision? Could I have just used 50% of my energy on the move and 50% on editing?

Though the inspiration should be exhilarating, it just brings me back to this belief that I’ve fallen behind. But then I ask myself, who am I competing with? What am I racing for?

I’ve worked so hard on this book and I know I’ll continue to make it better with each draft, but the other part of me just wants to get it out there to the public. I want to show you guys this project I’ve been working on for so long. I want to introduce you to my characters. I want you to see all the research I’ve done for it. I want you to know the people I interviewed who played a big role in making this happen. Except it’s still in the works and I still feel behind where I’d like to be.

When I fall into this pattern of feeling behind myself, I have some tools I use now that help. One is blogging, the other journaling, meditating, listing my gratitude, yin yoga or just sitting down and listening to music. All of that helps, but they are also all practices of mine. To slowly get myself back into the present, I have to practise these things every day, utilizing whichever feels right at a certain time.

What I’ve found is that when my scattered mind takes over, it’s usually because I haven’t given enough space for my body to have some control, too. And the great part about bodies is that they usually know what they need. The hard part is learning to listen.

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not everyone is as lucky as a writer

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Getting my hair done is one of the most therapeutic things for me. Not only because of the obvious: that afterward, I’m always left feeling more confident and peppy, but the process itself is soothing for me. I think one of the most important things for me is finding the right hair dresser, someone who genuinely enjoys her work and one I can have a good, honest, and friendly relationship with.

The process of getting my hair done takes three hours minimum, so it may sound pretty obvious that I want to like whoever I’m spending time with. The woman I go to is an expert and lover of colour. You know, I used to walk into any hair salon and have an itinerary of how things are going to go and what I wanted the outcome to be. I always left disappointed but too afraid to say anything that might hurt their feelings. And then something changed these past couple of years when I realized that just like I want freedom with my craft of writing, why wouldn’t anyone else want it with their passion?

About a year ago, when I was searching for a new hair dresser and finally found one, I walked in telling her an idea I had and then said, “But do whatever you think is best. Have fun and just play. Hair always grows back anyway.”

I think that was the moment of liberation that my hair stylist needed. Sometimes when working in any field for so long, you start adhering to the demands. I mean, you can’t exactly say no to a customer when they tell you they want something. It’s their hair. It’s their body. And you are the one doing the service.

So I wanted to try it out. This thing where I let go of my need to control and let her just have fun with my hair; do whatever she wanted with it – with the exclusion of dying it pink….you gotta draw the line somewhere.

She kept checking in with me, asking if it were okay if she were to cut it shorter, dye it darker, maybe do a balayage. I just smiled and told her to do whatever she thought would look best.

And then her shoulders loosened their grip. Her fingers mangled themselves into my hair, brushing the roots to lift them. When I tried talking to her, I realized that she didn’t respond which was concerning until I looked at her face. She was in the zone.

If you’re a creative person, you know the zone. We always want to be in the zone. We live for the zone. We live in the zone and when we’re not, we’re trying to get in it because it’s the most gratifying place to be. It’s where you feel the most alive.

When I saw that transcended look on her face, a weight inside of me lifted too. I felt like I was in good hands. I felt safe because anyone doing anything for you with that much love and passion will make you feel safe.

A friend of mine also works at the salon and it was nice having the three of us women talk, laugh, and be in this great wave of energy together. Now every time I walk in, I see my hairdresser’s eyes twinkle because it means that she gets to play.

The reason I’m telling you this is because it gave me a greater sense of gratitude towards my own passion, which is obviously writing. I realized that not all passions have the option of feeling this sense of freedom and playfulness every day like I do. I mean, with writing, all you need is a pen, a paper, and your imagination. That’s really lucky. I can play whenever I choose too. I can make up stories and write lyrics or poems, maybe even a funny rap here and there. But not all passions can have that option on a day-to-day basis.

I mean, I obviously feel less creative on some days. I feel like I don’t have any downtime on others. But the option is always there for me. I can take 10 minutes out of my day to have the same kind of fun that my hairdresser might have been waiting months for.

It’s crazy for me to wrap around my head why more people don’t trust someone completely with their craft, especially someone with 15+ years of experience and someone who still finds so much joy in her work. I mean, every time she’s finished with me, I’m so SO happy with the outcome (which has not always been the case).

But it hurts to think that she doesn’t have the same option as me. I mean, you have clients who have very specific notes on what they want and hair color and cut isn’t exactly something you can take 10 minutes out of your day to randomly do freely.

But this is something I want to bring and seek out more and more. That when I need any service, to take the time to look for someone who truly enjoys their work and cares about me. That’s all you need to get a better outcome than what you expected as well as an added bonus: you get to be in the zone with them.

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Unreliable Sources: A Note On My Writing Process

I started this blog as a way to document my life, keep track of my growth and let out all that I once bottled inside. I do the same with my journals, though it’s a lot harder for me to read back on those entries than it is to read my old posts here. The great part about having old work is that you’re able to compare not only what your life once looked like, but also the progress you’ve made in your writing.

When I write a post here, it’s not scheduled. It’s published shortly after I write it and quickly edit. I like writing in the mornings and clearing my head-space, so sometimes I don’t even remember what it is that I wrote about. More times than not, I have to read back on the post before publishing to find a common theme that I can use to make the title.

The great part of this process that I chose is that I trust in the flow of it. Writing is the one place I can trust myself in, while other areas of my life carry a lot of doubt. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have anything more to say, but as soon as pen meets paper, I find that I always do.

Some things written here are rough, choppy or not true to what I believe now. I don’t hold myself to the person who writes my blogs posts, my journal entries, my stories, or my poems. That’s because after I’ve written anything, it is now in the past.

I’m glad I get to bring you guys with me: readers, bloggers, and fellow writers, because you know exactly what I mean. Sometimes you write something that moments later, you don’t agree with anymore. Sometimes you need to write things that are true. Sometimes you need to write things to get more clarity on whether or not they are true. Sometimes you have to tell lies to tell the truth. Sometimes you have to be vulnerable to see your own truth.

I think that’s the most beautiful thing about any kind of art. It’s a courageous act, not because it’s hard to do. But because it opens up every part of yourself, even the parts that you don’t like to shine the light on. Those are the most interesting parts for me. The dark, the broken, the lonely.

I wrote a post once about how the things that I write are not who I am. I think sometimes when I try to explain this, it comes off as being unreliable. I don’t know if that’s accurate. I think it just shows that we’re a lot more complex than we make ourselves out to be or perceive others as.

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