If you’ve been following along with me for a little while now, you would not be surprised that I am approaching 2018 with expectation. With hopes for new challenges to come my way.
It is both an exciting place to be and a frustrating one. To have no idea what your role is in the world anymore, but to have all the freedom one would want to explore the endless possibilities. I am standing in the tension of transition, and though it can feel frighteningly hopeless I know it has the potential to be a place where learning abounds.
My friend sends me a text on a Friday afternoon asking if I want to go out for a drink that evening. I waste no time in flying back an “Absolutely!” It’s exactly what I need, time and space to mull over my thoughts with her. THE person who can both encourage and ground me, who also has dreams of her own simmering beneath and bubbling over as we enter the new year.
We sit down at a small table, 2 caramel drizzled lattes sitting between us. We talk about the things we want to make more time for this year, the things we are willing to pursue even when the kids interrupt us a million and one times, and we’re still not as good as we hope to be. It’s the dreaming that I love about her, and the way she enjoys the simple pleasures of life. How she can knead a loaf of bread in her kitchen yet feel all of Paris around her.
I tell her about the frustration of feeling stuck with no idea where to go next, yet this overwhelming desire to do more, be more. She listens excitedly but reminds me of the truth I know I need to let soak into my bones: that what if I am doing all the right things, and what if I just need to try and enjoy the now.
She reminds me of how lucky we both are to have the freedom in our schedules to pursue our interests, to follow a trail of curiosity to see where it leads us. I know that many people don’t have this luxury, and though my time at home frustrates me, it also allows time to explore my creativity without the burden of needing to turn what I’m doing into a source of income.
“Maybe you just need to keep doing what you’re doing,” she says with a smile. I breathe her words in and let out a sigh. An exhale of relief. I have become more and more aware of the pressure I have placed on myself, to make something of myself. Why haven’t I written a book yet? is a thought that runs through my mind almost daily (even though I know this can take 5, 6, 10 years).
Deep down, I know better. I know these things cannot be rushed. Last summer I listened to an interview with Amanda Sudano-Ramirez, from the (amazing) musical duo Johhnyswim, on the Shauna Niequist Podcast. I went back to her words this week because the message is on point. Shauna had asked her what advice she would give to a musician starting off and this is what Amanda had to say: “Do whatever is in front of you to do. If all you have is a guitar and Garage Band on your computer, then write some songs and put it on Garage Band. If there’s just open mic nights that you can do then do open mic nights. Whatever’s at your hand [to do]. Because it’s really not up to you to develop the path for yourself. Don’t stress so much about where you want to be, necessarily. Have a goal in mind, but enjoy the process of what’s in front of you to do. Keep walking forward step by step. And it’s okay for it to be step by step, especially if you’re enjoying the process.”
She continues to say that during the early stages of pursuing her singing career, when she was playing to small audiences and felt like she had idea what she was doing, her mother said to her “These are the good ol’ days. These are the days you’re going to remember, these are the days you’re going to [look back on and] love.”
I am beginning to understand the weight of these words now, and the importance of them for any of us starting out on a new path with no roadmap. I know that I need to come to a place where I am gaining momentum by the actions I am taking, yet letting go of the anxiety around what may or may not happen. And replacing worry with joy.
Marie Forleo emphasizes a similar truth: “You must train yourself to enjoy the journey because guess what — it’s all journey! Our entire lives are an ever-changing, always evolving adventure. We never ‘arrive’ so to speak, so if we don’t condition ourselves to enjoy the process, we’re missing the entire point.” She suggests that as a way to practice enjoying the process, we commit to creating joyfully rather than stressfully. We can check in with ourselves throughout the day, to see which attitude we are holding and correct ourselves if needed.
These women have reminded me that it IS possible to keep our ambition, stay focused on our dreams, yet be grateful for what we have in our lives already. This is the kind of character I want to cultivate this year.
Tell me, are you or have you ever been in a place where you were starting out on a new path? What ideas or practices helped you to keep walking forward step by step?