On Writing and Second Chances

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I didn’t always know how to speak. How to convey what it was that I was thinking or feeling, probably because I didn’t always understand it myself. There are still times I find myself in this place. Often when I haven’t given enough time to reflect because everything else took priority. It didn’t seem important enough to put at the top of my list. Or rather, I didn’t think that was important enough to put at the top of my list.

So I listened to music and found that the lyrics I gravitated towards typically felt the same way. I would sit at the foot of my bedroom door and place my headphones into my ears, a disk into my walkman (because yes, those existed and I totally had one) and just let it soak in. I let myself understand. That was my time for reflection.

Last night was a turning point for me. I found myself in a dark place, having given another chance to someone who doesn’t want to change. And time and time again, I fall into this illusion that maybe this time will be different, but it never is. That this instance has replayed over and over too many times that I don’t think I can do it anymore. I reached a point of breaking down until I started hearing rain shooting at my windowsill. I heard thunder and saw flashes of lightening. I laughed because I had just written about energy matching energy and it felt like the universe got me. Like it knew exactly how I felt and it wrestled into a storm, showing me that it’s okay.

It was a permission slip of sorts that reminded me that everything can spiral. Everything can rage. Everything can cry, even the sky. And then, when it’s all over, the world becomes quiet, just like my mind.

So I thought about it all last night as I was trying my best to fall asleep and then again this morning. How many chances do I hand out before I am left with nothing? How many times should I let myself get back down here, back to drowning? How many times do I let my own perception cast a filter on someone else’s truth? And how many times am I going to let myself feel defeated when mask that I put on their face comes off? Because it always does. And how many times am I going to blame them instead of taking a look at the part I had to play in this?

Maybe a lot of us do this. We see what we want to see. We see what we hope. We see through our own intentions instead of another’s. And then we fall flat on our faces when we learn that they weren’t how we imagined. Or that they didn’t change like we thought. And the thing that keeps us on this rollercoaster of letting the behavior pursue, or continuing to hand out these chances is this scary thought that what if we don’t and this time is when it’ll actually be real.

When I started thinking about second chances and false perceptions, what came to my mind was why I’ve always found hope, trust, and love in writing. How time and time again, it has saved me. How many times I’ve clung onto it with my dear life because it was all I had. Books, journals, blogs, essays, stories, quotes. Words.

How words can be so much like humans. They can flirt and flutter, or lie and deceive, or give you hope and love. It’s the words you choose to read, the words you choose to write, and the words you learn to trust. Because in the end, words can heal just as easily as they can betray. But words are words and humans are humans. And if you cast your own filter on either, they won’t get to tell you their truth, so why would we expect to see it?

If we’re seeking to become the most authentic versions of ourselves, I think we also have to remember that we have to allow others to be the most authentic versions of themselves, too. And the truth is that sometimes that’s going to hurt, but it can also be humbling and magical. What I understand now is that maybe to see things as they are, we have to simply let them be. Let words be words. Let humans be humans. And then decide, what do you want to be a part of?

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What Happens When Your Daily Routine Doesn’t Work Anymore

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I get really attached to my routines. There’s this sense of order I thrive off of in my mornings that I haven’t really gotten or perhaps even wanted in other areas of my life. But this little daily structure is what has let me feel free in all other areas, even when I feel stuck. So as you can probably imagine, it was both frustrating and stress-inducing when I began to wake up day after day and realised that my morning routine was no longer enjoyable for me. It was instead, a burden.

It became this thing that I held myself to. If I didn’t accomplish all of these things in the morning, then I would deem myself a failure. I would feel down and scrutinise myself for the rest of the day. I would tell myself that I’d make up for it by doing twice the work tomorrow.

The day after I finished the first draft of my novel, I sort of went into what I like to call my “mourning period”. Writing it was such a significant part of my daily routine and when it was over, I knew it needed to rest before it was time to edit.

My full-time jobs have never really been my passion, but simply a means to make ends meet. I never wanted to rely on my creativity to compensate me for its time. I don’t expect for it to provide me wealth or fame or whatever else. I’ve always known how to work to make ends meet so that I can give any open time to my writing and other creative pursuits. I know that if I don’t have other jobs that help me provide for myself, I’ll be too stressed to create anything at all. And the deal I have with my creativity is just to spend time together. There’s nothing else I really need from it to feel satisfied. No money, no attention.

So when the first draft came to an end, I felt like my morning routine became burdensome. It wasn’t fun. It was just tasks that I had given myself. Tasks that were once enjoyable, but now, a chore. I realised that writing the first draft of my novel was what really fueled me above anything else. Everything else in my morning routine was tied to it, too.

I did yoga before and after writing because I’d be in too deep in the emotions of the characters. I would feel everything and too much of it, so doing yoga put me back into my present being. I would brew a cup of coffee and light a candle while I journaled to let out any of my own thoughts and feelings so that I could fully immerse myself into the story right after. And then after writing and doing yoga, I’d make breakfast, pack my lunch and dinner and head on to work.

When my first draft was over, suddenly all the other parts of my routine didn’t make sense. After four months of writing day in and out, working full time, volunteering, and having a steady routine, I felt like when I was finished writing, I was in need of rest. I needed to let the first draft sit there for a while. Maybe a month, maybe two depending on how I felt. But within this period of rest, I’ve felt more and more scatterbrained. I’ve also learned how bad I am at resting.

What I’m trying to understand now is how to restructure my mornings. I had gotten so attached to my routine that when it couldn’t work anymore, I felt like I lost a part of my identity. I felt like I was all over the place, lost and bored. There was no meaning behind it anymore. My days just felt like work, sleep, wake up, journal, yoga. There was nothing enticing me to move forward.

And with that, moving to the other side of the country in two months has been a little stressful. I keep telling myself that this is the worst time because I feel lost and scattered. I keep telling myself that this might not work the way I want it to. And then when I catch myself admist all this scrutiny, I remember that everything that is happening now is just new. It’s not that I am lost or scattered. It’s just that I have never moved across the country by myself before. It’s just that I have never written a novel before and understood what it looks like to be done the first stage. It’s just that this is all brand new for me.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that this my first time doing all of this and instead chose to call myself a failure or a lost child who didn’t know what she was doing…amongst other things. Somewhere along the way, I forgot that this is progress. That in two months, my life will look completely different than it does right now. That it already does. And that growth is scary because it’s new. But fear is fear and it has such a negative connotation that it becomes our initial instinct to label our lives as failures just because we don’t have all the answers. But the thing is that you create answers as you move along and try different things. You grow by doing something you’ve never done before.

That’s not failure. That’s not even being lost. That, my friends, is transformation.

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When a Cycle Ends and the What Nows Begin

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This morning and the morning before, I’ve been waking up with anxiety. I’ll shake in my bed for a few hours and I don’t necessarily know what is happening to my mind or body. All I know is that I’m afraid, but I don’t really understand what I’m afraid of.

In a lot of ways, within this past month, my life has changed dramatically. In other ways, it’s exactly the same. I finished the first draft of my novel on April 21. I was finally able to move out of a toxic environment. The weather has gotten much warmer. I no longer have relationships with many people I once considered my closest friends.

But a lot stayed the same. I’m living in the same town. I wake up at 5-6am every day. I do my pilates and yoga (mind and body) workouts. I let my coffee brew as I go to take a shower and when I come out, I meditate for as long as I’m able to that day. I make breakfast, pack my lunch and dinner, and then begin to get ready to go to work. I usually come back from work at around 9:30-10:30pm and then try to read for a bit before I pass out, and then the day begins again.

It feels as though my life is much different, but my days are all beginning to look identical. I like morning routines. I like waking up early to do all the things I want to do before I do the things I have to do (like go to work). But after finishing the first draft of my novel, writing is no longer on the list of things to do, and that was by far my favourite. Even in the groggiest, tragic, or boring and uninspired days, learning how to write this first draft is what has held me together. And now, it’s over.

I wanted to go back in and start typing out the handwritten draft, but it didn’t want to be typed just yet. I felt a dragging of words that needed time to just sit and rest, and so I let them. In the meanwhile, I’ve had some thoughts of the next book that sprouted a while earlier that I’m beginning to make sense of and research.

But there’s this sense of a cycle’s completion that has been giving me a lot of anxiety. A lot of, “what nows” and “Now that this is over, is this what my life is going to look like?” And of course, the “Am I always going to live in this town and have to work this job?” When am I finally going to save enough to travel? Why can’t I afford to have the type of adventure I crave? What if this draft never wants to be edited? What if I never write again?

The day I finished the first draft, my housemates moved out and I had to pack the rest of my own things. I went to a goodbye dinner the next day for all the people at my work who were 4th-year university students graduating and moving on. Waking up to empty rooms and going to work with new faces, all I felt was lost. All I couldn’t make sense of was why I was still here and everyone else got to move on.

I’m now subletting a room in an apartment for the summer with strangers who complain that I wake up too early or that I need to close my bedroom window at night because they can hear the wind rustling. I moved out of a toxic environment into a place that scrutinises the way I go about my days. All I feel is groggy, meaningless, and like whatever this next phase of my life is going to be, doesn’t want me either.

I’ve been talking to my counsellor about it who is also a very spiritual person and made sense of this in a way that I want to share over here because maybe it’ll do something for any of you who feel as though they have completed a cycle or season of their life. She talked about how there was a time in her life where she explored Paganism and how that helped her understand the cycles of each of our journey’s.

Samhain (in the Pagan Wheel of the Year) is the ancient Celtic festival marking the end of harvest season and the onset of winter. It’s this sort of in-between time, a time right after a cycle’s completion, celebrated October 31st to sunset on November 1. It’s supposed to be a day and point of time when “the veil separating the world of mortals and the world of spirits is at its thinnest, enabling the souls of the dead, witches, and faeries of all sorts to mingle with living people. Even though it’s a cycle’s end, it’s not a sad time but rather it’s considered one of the most sacred. It’s more of a liminal time when the veil between life and death grows thin. It’s considered the most powerful and spiritual time of the year.

If we look at the periods of our lives, the endings of cycles, in a celebratory way, I think they can make room for magical things. Instead, I’ve been struck with anxiety and fear, which is okay and pretty normal. But if we shift our western ways of thinking and see any time of completion with eyes of wonder instead of eyes of fear; if we let ourselves rest and mourn this time and celebrate it all at once; if we look at it as a sacred time instead of a scary and sad one, what would happen? I don’t know about you, but I’m curious to find out.

 

 

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