Lessons Learned

As writers, sometimes we get so caught up in our own minds, that we forget all of the things we know we should be doing or thinking about to not allow our own narcissism to get to our heads. This past week I’ve spent a lot of time healing from a really tough year and a half, and by opening myself up, I ran into several reminders throughout the week of what is important to me, and how to be happy with my life. Here are the ones that stick out in my mind the most:

1)    My yoga teacher spent a lot of time talking about being pampered. She spoke about her experience in Portland at a coffee shop the previous weekend, when she had this sudden realization that our society expects everyone to cater to us, down to getting our coffee drinks just perfect – or they’re free. Lesson learned? How can we break free from our pampered attitude? Maybe next time order a plain coffee and stop being such a princess.

2)    I spent time with a friend this week and upon mentioning that I still don’t know what will happen to my book and the uncertainties of our family’s new lifestyle choice, she said: but isn’t it when we are going through the most chaos and uncertainty that we learn the most, and grow the most and live our life the most? I’ve heard those words before, but for some reason they really resonated with me. Growing. Like everything around me currently is. Lesson learned? Uncertainty can be a good thing. Grow from it. Embrace it.

3)    This week my family really proved to me how much they love me. My husband asked what he could do to help me so that I can get back to writing. Our younger daughter made my favorite tea for breakfast and told me she’d prayed for me the night before, seeing as I was coming down with an illness the previous day. When I told her I felt better, she felt she had something to do with that. And I think she did. Lesson learned? Allow others to take care of you – if only once in a while.

 Giving feels much better than receiving.

Giving feels much better than receiving.

4)    Our little island community has this wonderful online way to give away items you don’t need or want anymore. In exchange, you’re free to get things you want or need. We posted several things online, including a musical instrument. I drew a random number from the interested parties and the family who ended up receiving the instrument brought flowers from their garden and the cutest Thank You note I’d ever seen. It was simple yet the sentiment went much deeper than words. It reminded our whole family how good it feels to give. Lesson learned? Giving feels much better than receiving. Give a little more!

5)    Friendships. Even though we have moved two states away, after making a home for ourselves in California for fifteen years, I had a lot of interactions this week with old and new friends. Some helped me get through tough moments, and I was able to help a couple in return. Lesson learned? I have plenty of friends and people I love, and never to close myself off to new friendships. They are worth everything.

6)    Onto my last lesson of the week – though it’s only Friday, so there could be more. A project I’ve been thinking about for two years is going to be set aside and a new one is in the making. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt on Monday when the realization hit that I wouldn’t be pursuing it, and most importantly, finishing, what I started. That goes against everything I believe in, and every part of my type A personality screamed and kicked, throwing a tantrum. I grieved for a day, but you know what? I got through it. And those amazing novel ideas that had been tickling the back of my brain? Well I get to pull them forward to my frontal lobe, write them out, and really start thinking about what I’d like to delve into next. Maybe change, chaos and uncertainty isn’t so scary after all. Especially when you accept and decide to move on. Lesson learned? Even if you think you can’t move forward, you can. You just have to try.

What about you? Can you list some things that you might have learned, and lessons gained, that you weren’t even aware of?

I’ll leave you with advice from Jess Walter that is posted on my computer:

Be patient. Be bold. Be humble. Be confident. Don’t give in to the speed and surface banality of our culture. Don’t give in to jealousy, commerce, or fear. Do charity work, or coach kids, or be a Big Brother or Sister, or something. Whatever it takes to get out of your own head and avoid authorial narcissism. And whatever you do, don’t ever take advice from authors.