So I’m outlining notes in preparation for my first attempt at writing a magazine article. One of a few cool but kinda scary things I have planned for this year. Not sure exactly what will go into the article or where the article will end up, but I know it will deal with creativity and resilience…two of the biggest elements that make up my life now more than ever before. 2016 was tough. I made it through stronger than ever, with more accomplishments than I anticipated. (I’m not normally a big accomplisher.) At the beginning of the year, a life shift put me in “just get through this” mentality, but I did a whole lot more than “just get through.” I became a certified Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach, developed & ran a second season of art camp for our town’s recreation department, I painted A LOT, I made many new friends, I kept my kids alive for another year, (not always easy when they seem determined to trigger homocidal impulses) I helped people, I saved a kitten, got rabies vaccines & sick as hell, said goodbye to a woman who gave me a sense of who I could be, instructed part of a woman’s retreat, comforted friends & family members through hard times, traveled with my husband as we re-invented our marriage, and I took on & accomplished a goal I’ve had for YEARS. I made it a priority to re-establish my self worth. As a result, I’m really proud of my emergence from 2016.
I think I pegged it with the tiny scribble in the middle of this jumble: I triumph over the odds against me. There are many.
I certainly didn’t choose the easy road paved with good choices or thorough planning, and I’ve pretty much ensured that the odds will almost always be stacked against me, but I do tend to rise above. I wouldn’t recommend my choices to my daughters; its probably a whole lot better to plan & follow a well-worn path of wisdom and informed decision making. (I wouldn’t know for sure; I’ve never tried it. *With the exception of hard drugs. I went with “informed decision making” for that life option. Gotta say that was a good choice. Don’t do drugs, girls.) But it’s good to know that even if things don’t turn out the way you planned, you have the option to fall apart or to get up & move forward. Even if you do fall apart for a while first. That’s normal.
Two quotes I love: “we make plans and God laughs” (Yiddish proverb) and “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon)
I found the John Lennon quote especially helpful when I first stopped working after my daughter Veronica was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. I planned on going back to work. I had my self worth all tied into my ability to make money, and we were kinda on the broke side. But once I learned to accept that life was simply about to change again, and I could choose to fight against it or roll with it, I figured I would see where it took me. * In all honesty, I was way too exhausted physically and emotionally to fight. It wasn’t some noble, peace-filled acceptance. It felt a whole lot more like defeat at the time. But it worked out beautifully anyway. (I became a mural artist, had another kid, trusted my husband to take care of us and he was amazing, etc. Thats a whole other story.)
And if God is laughing at my plans, as the Yiddish say he is, I’ve come to realize its not because he wants to see me suffer and fail. On the contrary; God’s been giggling at me the whole time because he knew I had more in me than what my little plans were going to let me settle for. I do question his sanity quite regularly. I don’t pretend to have it figured out or to even know exactly what I believe for sure. But I can tell you one thing: I trust God.
Having said all that; my whole “blah blah, plans, whatever” belief system, where I basically threw out any planning whatsoever? Well, that doesn’t work 100% either. Its fine, but kinda boring, and you end up doing a whole bunch of stuff that works for other people -just without any of the passion or drive that gives life the “zing” factor, and you tend to disappear a little. But only the good side of you. The boring, bland, disappointing bits of you are really visible. So that mostly sucks. I learned that the hard way.
How do you proceed when your plans are laughed at, life is tossing you along without a map, and you’re settling for the well-meaning plans of other people? You start by getting curious. I’ve found when you get introspective and really curious about what makes you happy or excited to contribute to life, the planning is enjoyable and the motivation, at the risk of sounding all new-agey and woo-woo, is kind of divinely orchestrated. It feels natural, like its supposed to happen. And that’s how I know I need to put plans to action.
But here’s the catch: I try not to get tied up in a certain outcome. I try to let go of expectations. I attempt to do what I feel its time to do and let whatever happens happen, and trust its gonna be good. It’s a very Kaizen Muse way of going forward. It’s not easy at first, but it gets easier with practice. (With enough practice, it starts to feel like play, and that’s REALLY awesome.)
Of course I have an idea of what I hope will happen. I have a picture in my mind of a desired outcome. But it almost never matches what happens in reality. Reality is usually better or proves to be a stepping stone towards the next thing, whatever that is. It’s always a learning experience if nothing else.
So here we are, 2017. I’m plotting out my notes. I’m excited and curious. I’m throwing ideas out there again. I have semi-plans. God’s laughing.
I’m psyched for the punch line 😉