Finding My Voice

July 24, 2017

I’ve never understood the desire to return to childhood, or high school, or the claim that those times are “the best days of [one’s] life.”  I know people who look back on those times wistfully – they talk about the lack of responsibilities and worry, etc.  I, on the other hand, am very very grateful to be an adult.  It’s not that I had a difficult childhood and, in fact, my high school experience was a pretty positive one.  But I remember, as a child, many times, wishing I could hurry up and become an adult. I love the autonomy.  Children have so few choices, other than perhaps consumerist choices (which toys do I want?  Which flavor ice cream?), which are not really choices at all, in the end.

But as an adult!  I have chosen where I live and with whom I live.  I chose to pursue, and was lucky enough to successfully pursue, a career wherein I get to choose how to spend my time, for the most part.  I have worked, and practiced, so that I have quite a bit of autonomy over my life on both the small, day-to-day scale, and the big scale too.

But, when Child Me imagined being Adult Me, she also imagined I would have something which I still am pursuing – A Voice.   A confident, authoritative voice.  Child Me imagined that Adult Me would know when to speak up and feel confident about what she was saying at meetings, in conferences, in conversations.  She most certainly thought Adult Me would be writing somehow, in some way, and she never imagined the crippling insecurity which haunts my writing like a shameful secret past haunts the protagonists of nineteenth century novels.

Writing here and in my journal is helping me find my voice.  Supportive colleagues, friends, and an incredibly supportive partner are helping me find my voice.  The confidence of tenure has helped.  Reading about imposter syndrome, and shame, and yoga, and Buddhism, and feminism, and all sorts of other related themes is helping me find my voice.

But it’s still not here.  I still feel more like Child Me than how I imagined Adult Me would feel a lot of the time.

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Five Months Later

July 7 2017

Day Seven in the Month of Fun in the Summer of Joy Is The Point in the Year of Flowing Legitimacy Occupying Peaceful Awareness.

Ah I see it has been almost five months since I wrote here.

I did not need or want this space for a time.

I was gathering – gathering research materials, gathering myself, gathering experiences, gathering my thoughts and my energy.

I got some writing done, then I stopped writing for a while as I gathered, and now I am writing again.

I need to swap out computers and I am worried about losing some of my precious data, though I believe everything is backed up, mostly in more than one place.  What is this fear about?  Well, it’s about fear – fear of loss, fear of losing, fear of being proven to not really “deserve to be here.”

I am worried about getting Back To Teaching in the fall, and just Back To Having To Deal With Academia Every Day.  Funny, though, how just naming my worries seems to dissipate some of their power.

“Slow and steady wins the race.” 5,000 words.

February 18 2017
Day 18 of the Month of Resting in Wholeness in the Semester of Sabbatical in the Year of Flowing Legitimacy Occupying Gentle Awareness

“Slow and steady wins the race.”  I remember hearing this saying for the first time, after reading or having read to me a children’s book that retold the story of the tortoise and the hare.

At the time I remember Little Me (maybe I was like five years old?) thinking, not in these words, but something along the lines of “wow, that’s so counter-intuitive* but it makes sense [*note – I doubt I knew the word ‘counter-intuitive’ when I was five].  But, it would be hard to remember in the heat of the moment during a race!”

Yes, Little Me, exactly. The thing is, you have to have faith in the moment that if you just proceed steadily, no matter how slowly, you will eventually “win the race.”

This applies to so many things – like saving money, or getting healthy, or engaging in a sustained spiritual practice – but of course here in my little writing-blog I am thinking of it in terms of writing.  When I was a younger woman, in grad school, so insecure about writing my dissertation, “slow and steady wins the race” was almost impossible to believe.  After all, so much hinged on me finishing the dissertation – not just the practicalities of life, like getting a job as a professor, which would mean being able to eat and not go bankrupt, but also all the stuff wrapped up in my identity.  I had been in school, with some breaks to work in the “real world,” almost my entire life.  Now was the time to “prove” that I “deserved” to reach (what I thought at the time) was the highest of all the rungs I had to climb – the Ph.D.  I had so much real and imagined stuff about my identity, and my future, and also my ability to not be homeless, wrapped up in that last golden rung – finishing the dissertation – that, paradoxically, I almost couldn’t finish the dissertation.  I would tell myself “slow and steady wins the race!” but it was very difficult to believe that at the time.  How could writing 100 or 200 or 500 usually pretty crappy words a day – which, after all, is just one or two pages – ever possibly result in something like a completed, polished, 300-page dissertation?

I wish I knew then what I know now.  That it definitively  can and will work.  But how could I have known until I did it?  I still am amazed that I did.  There are many better dissertations out there than the one I wrote.  But I did it, and the Authorities Who Needed To decided it was good enough, and by some crazy combination of luck, timing, and, yes, I suppose, my own talent, I got a tenure-track job.

Anyway, so it’s only now, a decade later, that I can really believe it when I tell myself “slow and steady wins the race.”  I am making progress on my book project.  I have about half of a chapter written.  5,000 words. Now, it’s a pretty rough half a chapter.And it would half of a pretty short chapter.  But it’s something.  I do believe that I can “win the race” if I just keep at it long enough, steadily and slowly.  I wish I could go back in time and tell myself of ten and twelve years ago, “remember the tortoise and the hare?  Well – the tortoise was right.  You can have faith.”  But maybe that kind of faith requires a little bit more age and experience?  I don’t know.

Legitimacy

February 4, 2017

Day Four of the Month of Resting in Wholeness

Wrote almost 1500 words last week.  Actually making progress, I think, though it seems so slow in the face of all that is before me.

This is where the faith comes in.  Faith that I can do it and will do it if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Many small steps add up to one big journey.

I am finding it important to remember that my process is legitimate.  Even if I think it’s slow, and silly, and self-indulgent, and far too “woo-woo.”  Whatever it is that enables me to take those few small steps every day – that’s my process.

On Waiting to Write

January 23, 2017

Day 23 of Month of Healing in Semester of Recovery

I am now on sabbatical.

I have been writing, but not in here.

I realized today I have been Waiting to Write.  Both in here and on my manuscript. I have been gathering LOTS and lots of information, and writing a little about it here and there.  But all the gathering has been an attempt to appease (what I think of as) the frightened raccoons who, if left unattended, run around my head trying to convince me that I am in no way qualified to write anything, and most certainly not what I am currently working on.

Just realizing this instead of taking the raccoons seriously seems like some progress toward healing.  And recovering my voice.  It has taken a lot of meditation, yoga, journaling – basically self awareness (and awareness of the capricious nature of the self) I guess – to get here.  To say to the raccoons “hey guys, I hear you and I know you are scared.  Why don’t you have some nice hot tea while I get some writing done.”

Goodbye and Thank You to 2016

December 29, 2016

2016 draws to  a close.

Been looking back through my blog entries here, which I began a year ago.  In fact my blog’s name refers to the name I gave 2016: the

 Year of Easy Abundance Recall!

Beautiful.  Fantastic.  Good for me.

I am struck by how similar what I wrote then, in January, February, March, April, and May seems to what I am doing now.  Practice! Joy!  Gratitude!  Self love!  But in a fun way not a serious or Internet way.

In May I dealt with the same fears I am dealing with now.  Can I really write?  Do I want to have all this time in front of me just dedicated to writing? Actually, it doesn’t really matter whether or not I want it – it’s what is in front of me!  Thanks to my sabbatical.

I already did some year end reflection stuff in my journal, which I don’t really feel like replicating here.  So, let me repeat to myself some cool things I think I said here in 2016:

Bravery is scary.

Having fun is sort of the entire point.

A bounty of autonomy and an abundance of volition!!

The other side of fear is magic.

It’s Not My Fault!

Protect your life force.

Go back down.

Remember.

No longer applicable!

This is all pretend!  And it’s for fun!

JOY!

Allowing my fears to tell their story (without arguing with them) can really help.

So.  I’m in a new house, with a new professional life stage (sabbatical) in front of me.  Happy New Year and here we go.

 

105 words today!

November 7, 2016
Monday in Week 12 of the Semester of Healing

Well it’s been almost six weeks but I finally got to write more on my manuscript today!  Good for me for not just being like “fuck it, it’s practically the end of the semester anyway; I’ll just pick this up over Winter Break”!  Hells no!  I got back to it even though it’s Week 12 motherfuckers!

I was terrified sitting down to write this morning.  Do I remember how?  Do I really have anything to say? But I did.  I sort of was like “okay, Internal Fear, I hear you and I see you, and what I’m going to do is just try this out and see what happens.  Love you though!”

I also secured some funding to do some research travel while on sabbatical next semester.

Moving during the semester, plus also being Acting Chair this semester for the first time, has been a lot.  I still can’t really imagine writing this whole damn manuscript.  Like, is that even possible?  But I am just taking baby steps and having faith in myself and in the process.

Oh and I have noticed the irony of the fact that I easily write twice as many words in here about writing my manuscript. :/

Still 0 words. But getting there.

October 28, 2016
Friday in Week Ten in the Semester of Healing.

Wow.  Still dealing with the aftermath of moving and a bunch of whatever administrative work stuff blah blah.

Haven’t written in probably a month but I am starting to imagine a world where I might write again.  I miss it.

I should probably unpack my office a bit more.  Being surrounded by my books seems to help me write somehow?

We are paying someone to put a window in here, in my new home office.  There are two windows but the lowest part of each window is at about 5 feet above the ground, so I can’t really look outside.  Why did they design windows like that in the 1960s?

Mentally I had no space, nothing to say.  It was all caught up in moving and blah blah blah whatever.  I still don’t feel like I have any space but I can imagine having something to say.  

I love Halloween.  I love this time of year.  Feels like a time of endings and new beginnings.