Time for a change.

I’m feeling wanderlusty today. Far off thoughts of drinking wine until 3am in a tiny restaurant in Rome and then hoping on a plane to Patagonia for a climbing expedition bring a little life to my otherwise standard Saturday morning. My heart and mind travel to another land while my feet stay planted in my living room.

I must be on the verge of a change.

Whenever change is in the air, I feel the desire to chuck it all and live like a nomad. Although a part of me enjoys the idea of never setting down roots, another part of me, the one I should probably examine, knows I’d be running from the life I’ve created. These urges have crept up on me many times and the underlying cause is always the same: change is a-comin’.

But what is this scary change on the horizon?

Who knows. Not me. Of course there are things in my life I’d like to and are trying to tweak, little tidbits that need molding and shaping to look like the life I want, but I’m not sure what parts are due for a larger, broader change. I’m open to all possibilities though. And despite the desire to get out of this chilled city, I think, for now at least, I’ll stay put.

Or maybe I’ll spend my rent check on a plane ticket to Rio…

What are your signs that change is in the air? How do you cope with impending change?

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Tell your story.

Telling stories is part of being human. We tell our stories so that others can learn, so that we can let go, so that a piece of ourselves can live on in the mind of another. Storytelling is powerful and essential.

Last night I was reminded of that power when my husband stood up in front of a group of mostly strangers and told a story. An incredibly moving, unbelievably revealing story about his childhood. He wasn’t alone; there were others also revealing snippets of their life to a crowd of mostly strangers. Some stories were funny and gave a peek into a single moment. Others were gut wrenching, intense, and deep. Each allowed me, and the rest of the audience, to enter that person’s world, peeling back the layers of perfection that are worn like a heavy winter coat and revealing an underworld beneath. I cherished those moments, allowing myself to relate, to the point of near sobbing as one person talked about being a spectator to illness (a little too soon for me I guess). I left feeling a deep desire to write and ready to dig deep.

Having the courage to speak one’s truth to the world is not easy. There are so many barriers in our heads, telling us to be quiet, push those emotions deep, don’t embarrass yourself, don’t make others uncomfortable. But isn’t that what growth is? Aren’t we all supposed to speak up, feel our emotions, tell our stories? If we’ve survived that struggle, grown from our past, shouldn’t we share a piece of that? Isn’t it human to go to that uncomfortable place, knowing that being real is good for us? Why do we run away? Why is it so damn scary?

Last night I saw a group of people being real, expressing themselves and feeling fully. There was no masking the unsavory, dirty parts of the past, just acceptance and sharing. If only we could all have the courage, myself included, to live without the false version of ourselves, the shiny, no-chip manicured mold of the person we’re expected to portray.

I’m sick of being what’s expected. I’d rather be real.

For more on storytelling events in Chicago, go here. What storytelling events happen near you? 

Show up and stare.

I’ve been working on a book for the past two years. I took a break for a few months, feeling like I had enough on my plate, and have recently come back to working on it. After months of avoidance, finding every excuse to not work on it, and even doing the work that needed to be done but that didn’t require too much brain power, I finally opened my notebook to a fresh page and began re-crafting my plot.

And then I stared. I had no idea where to start.

Unconsciously I had spent months convincing myself that I had no idea what I was doing and I was never going to get it “right”. Bottling up all that emotion, and combining it with unbelievable pressure, left me feeling defeated even before I began. But I had a writing date with myself. So I showed up. And stared at the paper.

After an hour, I had a jumbled list of potential plot points based on what I had already written. Each time I started to create a through line though, I got stuck and succumbed to staring out the window.

Argh.

When I came back, I had no answers, but I could see where those answers needed to live; it may not be what I was looking for, but at least I had inched forward.

Having a product, some tangible bit that proves I accomplished something, makes me heart feel lighter and helps my confidence soar. But working on a piece of writing doesn’t always provide those happy, fluffy feelings. Sometimes you have to show up and stare, whether it be at a blank piece of paper, a computer screen, or even out a window. Sometimes the staring is the work. Sometimes showing up is the only option. Sometimes, when life is a crazy whirl of to-do lists, that quite space to stare is vital.

So I show up and stare, trusting that the answers will come, that the writing will happen, that I have the answers in the deep crevices of my brain.

What do you do to spark inspiration? What do you stare at to access those answers?