Change your thoughts and you change your world.
-Norman Vincent Peale
I certainly was not thinking words like this on April 27.
"I'm too tired." It had been an intense 3-day business trip meeting with disgruntled people and hearing them out in North Carolina. Since the meeting's end I'd driven through two hours of traffic-choked highway, sped through the rental car return and pressed through the airport security line as best I could, only to have my flight delayed two hours when I'd finally gotten to the gate.
"I don't want to write." This was Day 25 of a 100-day Challenge to write for 30 minutes/day. Numbly, I thumbed through my journal, then stopped. "Stop acting so small." the words jotted down the week before lifted off the page. "Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion,” (from Jallaluddin Rumi).
So I wrote.
I was a quarter of the way through a challenge to write 30 minutes/day for 100 days. Last year I'd tried an Instagram "100 Day Challenge" with daily photos but sputtered out just a few weeks into it. This spring I chose a fresh start and a fresh challenge: To write daily for 100 days.
I am choosing to be a writer; I am attempting to say Yes to an internal calling. Of course, a writer must write, but I did not write regularly. This 100-day Challenge was a chance to confirm a commitment I'd made to myself. To establish a new habit and core discipline.
From that late night in the Raleigh airport came the blog, "Ecstatic," about Johanna Van Gogh and her little known story of tragedy and struggle to bring brother-in-law Vincent Van Gogh's art to public recognition.
The next writing obstacle came on Day 52: Writer's Block.
"I have nothing to say," came the insidious thought. Have you ever noticed that with lack of inspiration comes fatigue? Here Alice McDermott's words in my journal were reassuring, "We are surrounded by story." So I wrote. I wrote about an upcoming circus performance my husband and I had tickets for. This led me to writing about the Flying Wallendas' high-wire act. Which reminded me of a work colleague I'd heard had learned to juggle... The next day I interviewed her.
And so that lackluster evening with "nothing to say" became the blog, "Say it!" -- a story of perseverance and how juggling led to this friend becoming a trapeze artist and contortionist (in her 50s!) who continues to push boundaries.
Now I'm home free right? More than halfway through I'm a roll with a regular time and place set aside to write at home. Until Day 81 - I'm in Washington at a week-long business conference. ""I'm not good enough" amidst all the distraction, this thought recurred again and again.
I wrote anyway. This time sometimes in 10-minute increments a few times a day. "There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for the life that is less than the one you are capable of living,” counseled Nelson Mandela from my journal. The result? The blog "Life is a Story" about a profound experience an acquaintance shared about finding an unexpected connection.
Over the course of the 14 weeks I wrote in lunch-hour conference rooms and outside patios after work, early in the morning and late at night. I wrote during three business trips from airport terminals and at 30,000-foot cruising altitudes. One time I pecked away on my laptop while on highway I-70 after spending a birthday weekend with my daughter in Kansas City (my husband was driving!).
Throughout this period I had encouragement from from emails and comments and "likes." Even though it was a public challenge I felt like people were rooting personally for me as both friends and strangers sent positive remarks. Some of the best blogs started out with initial resistance, like "Fling!" about love at first sight or, "Cha-cha-changes," the story of an amazing transformation.
So, it's a start. The challenge ended just a week ago so time will tell whether this new habit sticks. In the meantime, here's a fun little video my website designer Jamie Gilman put together for me. Enjoy!
(I'm still writing.)