What is the perfect space for you?
Kat writes: How can you start creating a place like this in the spaces you already have at your disposal?
My pack rat tendencies paired with my three children’s piles of toys chase the inspiration to write and create back out the door, all the way down the road. I have had intentions to cull our stuff for quite some time — some of those toys haven’t been touched in years except to get tossed out of the way in favor of whatever the new favorites happen to be. I know we’ll be moving a little further down the line, and I’d prefer to make our packing experience less of a hassle. But more than that, I need the inspiration to let my voice out. I need to feel capable of creating words that touch the lives of others. I need to feel like I’m expressing myself. Therefore, I need to focus on the spaces that give me inspiration.
What do people thank you for?
Kat writes: How do you surprise and delight other people? (Because you know the truth is that you do.)
I think the biggest thing that surprises and delights other people is my smile. I get told regularly that my smile brings happiness to others in a world (or maybe just a country?) where happiness and kindness seem to be dying art forms. I’ve been thanked for my friendship and for my knowledge of grammar. I’ve been thanked for offering a hand when I can. Incidentally, I enjoy being a beacon of happiness, friendship, and knowledge, so I must be doing the right things.
What are the stories that limit you?
Kat writes: Who would you be without that story?
The current story of my life limits me in numerous ways, mainly because I’m crippled by fear, regret, anxiety, and depression. An incredible amount of situations that shocked my very soul happened so close together, and I have yet to recover. Yet I know these events have given me the foundation to arise stronger and wiser. I know that I can put these stories behind me and work towards the lifestyle I’d like to live. My current state of affairs is merely temporary, and I have come through other difficulties before. Surely I’m strong enough to stand tall once again and put some more cheer back into my smile.
What about your multiple selves?
Kat writes: How could you a cultivate a life that reflects all that you truly are?
This has been a difficult subject for me for several years. I have a deep desire to forge my own path in which I’m earning enough to feel comfortable and enjoy my life, yet I feel that my aspirations aren’t good enough to take me farther than the so-called starving artist. With a husband and three children, I cannot afford to be a starving artist. Instead, I neglect my needs and passions in favor of the more “appropriate” means of living — working outside the home, coming home to do household chores, etc. This doesn’t feed my soul.
Then there are are the multiple facets of my passions. Writing. Tutoring. Editing. Sharing the need to cultivate a thriving life worth loving. Inspiring. It’s all so confusing when broken down into each of its own parts, and all the more worrisome. I’ve been told I need to narrow it down to a niche, but I’ve never been one to be pigeonholed. In high school I had trouble “fitting in” because I was so against being labeled and shoved into a box with one name. I — all of us, for that matter — am so much more than just one thing. I’m a sales associate. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a cultivater. I’m a free-spirit. I’m me.
I think I need to spend more time putting the puzzle pieces on the table to see how I can arrange them so as to fulfill myself while still maintaining a functional household.
How will you make time work for you?
Kat writes: But I ask this because I genuinely don’t know: how do you go to work and give as much as is adequate but ensure that you have enough left for you?
Honey, I don’t make enough time for myself. I’m almost always overextended anymore, and the rare occasions when I’m not it’s all I can do to lift my head from the pillow to face another day. Negotiating more time for me seems like a dreadful prospect. How does one even do that while in the process of recovering from rock bottom? Surely there must be some sort of textbook or workbook, right? It seems like such a chore. However, I know what needs to be done. I know that I have to take time to nourish myself so that I can be all of these multiple players — the mother, the wife, the worker bee, the writer, the childlike woman seeking to enjoy every sweet second of her life. I think what I need to do first and foremost is remember that I’m in the recovery phase and treat myself as such. Don’t take my personal life to work; don’t take my work home.
What are the signs that you are on fire?
Kat writes: What is the catalyst for this feeling? What is it that you love about feeling this way?
When I’m on fire, it’s like the words flow as easily as water. I haven’t felt this feeling for a while, which is saddening. The catalyst is elusive for me. The conditions need to be just right. I need my environment to be calm and quiet. Sometimes having some energizing music helps. I absolutely love how productive and creative I feel when it strikes.
What tends to trip you up?
Kat writes: Who might be able to work with you to help you work this to your advantage?
Yes, I have trouble focusing on my ideas because I come up with a lot. I research how others are doing their work — the lifestyle business method — and get stuck when it comes down to deciding how to proceed. The ideas seem great on paper, but then I’m stumped and the inner voice starts telling me that my ideas aren’t good enough. Yes, I’m easily discouraged. Yes, I do question my “authority to write or say or make certain things.” Yes, I do compare what I’ve got to offer to what others have, and then I put myself down because I feel like my offerings aren’t good enough. I’ve got a list of lovely ladies who I feel like I should be reaching out to in order to get past these roadblocks. I just need to work up the guts to contact them and let them help me help myself.
Put out the call!
Kat writes: If the universe was prepared to send someone to help, who would you ask for?
I feel like this ties into Day 7′s prompt. I think I need to sit down and write several emails to enlist some help. Dearest Universe, I truly need for my dreams to materialize for the sake of my own health and the health of my family.
What would your perfect work day be like?
Kat writes: Whatever scenario that you have conjured, how does it make you feel when you picture yourself in it?
I’ve imagined the perfect day (work or otherwise) so many times that I suspect my head is a cloud itself at this point. I feel free and happy. I feel relaxed and nourished. I feel nurtured and nurturing at the same time. I feel inspired and inquisitive. I feel at peace. This prompt brings me back to a task to created a “painted picture” of my life — similar to conjuring this scenario of the perfect day. At first I felt compelled to respond to this prompt by attempting to create that painted picture. Then I realized it would defeat the purpose of feeling those feelings while imagining what that perfect day would be like. It also brings me back to The Desire Map and its CDFs (core desired feelings). Everything is tying together right now, and I feel that this is my sign to get back to cultivating the life worth loving so I can enjoy feeling free, happy, relaxed, nourished, nurturing, inspired, and peaceful.
I’m batching yesterday and today’s prompts since I missed yesterday.
What do you love?
Kat writes: Say someone found all of this evidence many years after you’d gone: what conclusions would they draw about the things/ideas/people you loved?
I think whoever found all this evidence would be kind of confused. I’ve never been one to get pigeon-holed into one category or another. I think the biggest conclusion they’d draw about me would be that I had a varied taste, a love for life, and cared deeply about people who touched my heart. I wasn’t biased. I also wasn’t afraid of different — or of unpopular. They’d see the artwork on my walls, put their by my children, and realize that I certain was no Martha Stewart, either. I wasn’t fond of scrubbing crayon and markers off the walls.
What’s hiding in your closet?
Kat writes:What, in your wardrobe, feels most like you?
First off: my work clothes aren’t fair game here, so we’re going to ignore most of the clothing I wear 5 days a week. When left to my own devices, I seem to select feminine pinks and purples or earthy greens, oranges, and browns. I’ve got a ton of clothes that fit into that “someday” category — pants from before I had my babies, dresses that were worn for singular occasions. When it comes time to relax and settle in for the night, I prefer loose fitting pajama tops and bottoms. I love fleece pants and socks during the winter months. I’ve got a favorite jacket that’s older than my daughter, and I really don’t care that I’ve worn a huge whole into the right elbow of it. I’ve got a love for scarves and added several to my collection last year. Overall, the persona I wear says bright, fun, and flirty. It says I’m a bit of a hippy — and that’s okay.
What is it that you do now?
Kat writes: What sorts of themes are emerging from your list? What is missing?
I’m not up to sharing the whole list — really, there’s a boundary that I’m not willing to cross here. However, the overbearing theme emerging from even a quick mental inventory is that I’m not focusing on that which matters most. I’m spending too much time on auto-pilot, too much time on other people’s dreams, and not enough time cultivating a life worth loving. I’m missing that sparkle I once felt. I’m missing the feeling of connectedness within my soul. I don’t write nearly as much as I used to — or as much as I need to, for that matter. Writing is a form of self-care for me. I’ve neglected myself in that regard. I don’t spend enough time cultivating relationships to grow my business. Without these bonds, I’m floating aimlessly in a sea of binary code. I don’t spend enough time enjoying the present. My family needs me to stop, take a deep breath, and cherish every moment. I don’t need to dwell on our troubles. I don’t give myself enough positive reinforcement or spend enough time soaking up positive vibes from positive people. (Seeing a pattern here?)
A couple years back, I called it Operation Summer Vacation. Maybe it’s time once again to revisit this mindset so I can get back to myself.
Set an intention.
Kat writes: On this first day together, in the light of the beautiful full moon, I invite you to share what is it that you want to explore over the next two weeks. In particular, I invite you to consider the crossroads at which you find yourself, in any aspect of your life.
The word “crosswords” has been floating around me for over a year now. I’m at a fork in the road — and I’m not talking about a two or even three pronged fork here — and have been standing still in confusion for quite some time. I used to have a very clear vision of who I was, what I wanted, where I was going, and how I was going to get there. And then one day, my life came crashing down. Although I had the best of intentions to persevere and prove my strength, I’ve been beaten down to the point of near destruction. I’m at rock bottom trying to crawl out of the hole and heal my shattered soul while nursing my traumatized family.
I have several options going forward, but I still feel a small piece of me yearning for that life I had begun to cultivate before January 16th, 2013 derailed my dreams. I think the very best intention to set now would be to explore that yearning — dip my toes in once again to get a feel for that dream. I intend to take time to explore my options while remaining fully present. I intend to start over with my Cultivate project. I intend to draw inspiration from Kat to host my prompt series once again.
Set your intention(s) for 2014. It can be something as simple as setting an intention to choose happiness to something as grandiose as a list of major accomplishments. Use your best judgment, and keep in mind that you want to cultivate a life worth loving.
I intend to finish the second half of 2014 cultivating happiness by simply choosing to be happy.
What do you need to let go of to cultivate your best life in 2014?
I find myself coming back time and time again saying that I need to let go of my expectations, but I never truly focus on doing just that. I really and truly need to let go of my expectations because those pesky little buggers disappoint me all the time. And I mean all. the. time! I’m also really needing to let go of this need to keep stuff “just in case.” It’s time to let go and bless someone else with something they need and lack. I’ve been too quick to revert inside my shell, hiding away, and avoiding all these things that need to be done so I can cultivate my life worth loving. I’m not thriving, and I’m tired of feeling like a big fraud — coming here and preaching thriving instead of surviving. It’s time to let go and start living.
What are the tiny ways you can cultivate courage in 2014?
It’s funny in a way. Kat quoted Mary Ann Radmacher as saying “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” For much of the last 16 months, that has been my courage — telling myself that I’ll try again the next day. I’d go to bed and tell myself that the day was over, I had made it through another day, and the next day was a fresh sheet of paper to write on. That was probably how I cultivated strength during the most difficult trials of my life. That was how I cultivated courage for 16 months. Now that I’ve reached the climax of the situation, knowing that next month will bring an end to this harassment, I know that I can continue to treat each day as a fresh canvas. Even if today isn’t perfect, I can pursue my dreams again tomorrow. Even if I fall short of my goals today, I can always try again tomorrow. As long as I keep trying, working, and doing, I can face each day with strength and courage. In the end, that’s what matters most.