You may have noticed that I haven’t been particularly “chatty” here in blog-land the last several months.
Below I share where I’ve been, what I’m learning (again and again and again),
and what that may mean for you.
Read on. (it’ll take you about 4 minutes…)
I’ve been remiss here in blog-land. I’ve also been less active than usual in my private Facebook groups…and in sending emails to my fabu-list of peeps.
Though I left my “day job” at the end of June, 2014 with the intention of making my “side hustle” a thriving, full-time biz, seven months later — in January of this year — I began working on it part-time again.
I didn’t plan it that way.
Things were kicking into gear for me: I had a great bunch of one-on-one clients; my Facebook community was engaged and growing; I started mapping out a virtual program, and I was offering in-person workshops — both locally, and back in my beloved Bay Area.
But about 6 months before I left my job, one of my oldest and dearest friends was diagnosed with a rare form of a rare cancer, and soon after I left the job, her treatment options had nearly run out.
And that changed everything.
A freelance tech and PR writer, and late-in-life singer-songwriter who — like me — worked out of her home, Marybeth and I started co-working together — usually one day/week. And because my biz was still in the early/building stages, when things got more intense/challenging at the end of 2014, I wasn’t completely booked up, so I was able to make even more time to be with her.
Soon, I was at her home in Jersey City two and three days a week — supporting her as she managed her home, kept concerned friends in the loop, endured treatments, and searched for answers. On her good days, we’d sometimes play hooky from our work and go on little adventures — to the beach, obscure diners, and other fun day-trips. Sometimes we’d just stay home and cook, watch one of her favorite shows on Netflix, or walk to the park across the street from her home, admire the gardens and talk.
Heartbreakingly, it wasn’t long before all treatment options were soon exhausted. She stopped working, and we were all left to deal with the limitations of her declining health, managing a support team and her pain medication schedule, and finally, the painful reality of her ever shortening days.
With more and more time with her, and less and less time focused solely on my work, it became increasingly hard to rally the energy to amp up the business in any significant way. So I simply maintained; I slowed down on blogging, marketing, and developing new offerings, and just continued on with the small and manageable client load I had.
Then, after steadily declining over 9 months, there came an even more horrible, rapid decline as summer faded to autumn. On Saturday, September 26th, I spent the day in Jersey City with Marybeth and a small band of some of her closest peeps. She was still there that day, but in and out of it, and sleeping a lot. We sang to her, told stories, and never let go of her hands.
I left around 4:30 with plans to return the next morning, but before the sun rose on September 27th, Marybeth died in the arms another of my dearest friends, Betsy.
I’ve tried to write about this so many times.
Marybeth encouraged me to write about it from the start: “It’s what you do, Debs,” she’d tell me. She wanted me to write about it: in my journal, and here on the blog. She’d remind me that writing about life (and wrapping it in my “write freely/live fully” mantle) was what my peeps had come to expect.
But I couldn’t see beyond the daily struggles she was enduring (or the emotional and physical exhaustion i was dealing with while supporting her) to write anything coherent or thoughtful about it.
I couldn’t talk about the challenges, or unearth the deepiosity and insight from an experience that was wrenching the hearts of everyone who loved her. Where was the learning or inspiration in this?
True, one of the themes I often go back to in my life and in my work is that we get just one life, no one gets out of it alive, and there’s too much at stake to live an unexamined life, or one full of regret…so, y’know: get on with it.
But this was too immediate. I couldn’t take a meta-view and tie it up with a neat bow of insight in that great coach/lifestyle-bloggy tradition of: “This thing happened; it sucked; I survived; here’s some learning for you!”
And for some reason, I felt like I needed to do that. Or that I was supposed to do that; to be “on” with insight and inspiration (and the occasional awesome journaling tool or technique) for my readers. (all. the. time.) (but if i didn’t have any answers for myself, how could i possibly share anything with my wondermous blog-reading peeps?)
So I just stayed away.
About a month ago it became clear that this Writer Babe wasn’t using all the tools in her arsenal: I wasn’t journaling that much, and when I was, I wasn’t letting the writing flow to ask the questions. Instead, I was straining for answers and being wildly impatient. I felt like I needed to make up for lost time. (which makes me laugh, because i know better. there is no making up for “lost time.” but still the brain plays its little tricks and tells me i can. and i should.) (ah, you funny little brain.)
Eventually, I remembered…
If I know anything, I know this: I find answers through writing. This isn’t something I’m just going to be able to strive, strain and figure out.
The only thing I know how to do is to show up on the page. And write. And keep writing. To write my way home.
Even though it feels raw and scary, and there’s no guaranteed solution or prescribed time-table for OKness. (and even though i know all that, i still kinda want one…)
So finally, I picked up a pen without trying to figure shit out.
It didn’t take long for me to see that, clearly, I’d made shit up about how I had to have answers for my readers. That they expected it.
Well, it’s not like I’m a guru; I don’t walk around proclaiming that I have the answers to all of life’s big questions. Sure, I know some stuff cause I’ve been working the personal growth muscle since I could think (i think…), and I definitely have my share of opinions…but mostly, I know a lot about a simple process that helps people get to their own answers.
So what made me think I had to have answers for anyone? (including myself.) (whoa. lightening bolt.)
And then I thought: maybe my peeps needed to hear this too.
Maybe we could all use this reminder now and then: that we don’t need to know where we’re headed in writing practice to get benefits from it. We just have to practice.
So, here we are.
Me? I’m ready to write myself back into my life, and back into my business after this shitty, shitty thing that’s happened.
I’d love to have you join me. Write along with me.
Write to illuminate blind spots, fears and resistances; to process the challenges, heartbreaks and losses.
Get quiet and write to access the insight that lives underneath the shoulds, gottas, and have-tos in our crazy go-go-go lives.
Write and learn from the process. Ask the questions and watch the answers rise up from the page.
Write your way into a better, more compassionate, uncompromised life that shines with meaning.
Stick around; let’s write our way home.
To write along with me, and learn more about things that are brewing and coming down the pike, click on any/all of the following:
- Sign up for my semi-regular email missives
- Like (and engage with) the Living Out Loud writing Facebook page
- Join the Write Yourself Awesome community on Facebook
- Learn about upcoming workshops
I welcome your questions and comments…always.
To learn more about Marybeth, and to hear some of her amazing, heartfelt music:
Big, big thanks to Amy Palko for helping me get to one of the most mega of ah-ha’s ever by reflecting back to me that helping others “write their way home” was what I did. (and big thanks to the goddesses in amy’s practical magic business circle for holding the space for said “ah-ha.”)