So I’d been in a kind of a funk for the past few months. I felt like I was in a good place with my career, but was having a hard time seeing what possibilities lay ahead in the near and distant future. I was also feeling in a bit of a rut when it came to my life outside of work. It was a busy summer of family events so I wasn’t carving out a ton of me time which always throws me off balance. I felt writer’s block and demotivated when it came to this blog and to my freelance work. Healthwise I was feeling a bit lethargic. I found out I need to have surgery (not a big deal) but my insurance company is throwing a lot of hurdles in my way so I’m having to spend a lot more time and money on some preliminary things before I can get it approved. I wasn’t in a great place.
I decided to take a step back and try to focus on me and connecting to the activities and people that I love and find inspiring. I made three little changes and while it’s early it seems to be making a ton of difference. Today I’d like to talk about gratitude which is one of my focuses at the moment.
I just listed off a litany of woes in my life. While I would love to have a little pity party for myself I know that wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t see improvements in my health, writing life, or career. Instead I decided to try to bring back some things I love. I started rereading The Artist’s Way because I remembered that the chapters were broken into weeks with assignments. Maybe it’s my background in academia, but I am a born student so setting up homework assignments is a great way for me to stay on track with something. One such task in this book is to write down three people who have been your creative champions. These are the people who encourage your passion and make you feel like your art is worth something. Art here is whatever your creative outlet is. For me that’s writing.
I decided to take this exercise a little further and write a thank you note to my three champions. I wrote to a friend I’ve known since college who is among other things a brilliant visual artist. Beyond that, Sarah is also an amazing cheerleader to all of her friends. She is everyone’s biggest fan and her encouragement is sincere. I also wrote to my former undergraduate Creative Writing professor who is a beautiful poet and my former writing instructor and mentor who is a bestselling author and journalist.
I received a sweet text from my friend Sarah, a postcard from my undergraduate professor, and an email from my mentor inviting me to a reading she was doing later that week. That night was amazing for me.
Sue (my mentor) introduced me to her current students and they were so nice. Instead of a textbook on the art of writing, Sue gives her students a packet with clippings of published work and accepted pitch letters from her former proteges. Her students said they saw me in the packet. I was flattered…I made the book! I also ran into another author whom I had once written a profile about for a local NYC paper. I was sure he wouldn’t remember me. Not only did he remember me, but invited me to an event at the MFA program he is running.
Listening to Sue share her work was inspiring as I always find her work to be. What really got to me though was her responses to some of the Q&As after the reading. She was asked what advice she would give to people struggling to become writers. She said that you should have a job that you love that pays the bills and carve out time you’re not at work to write. This way you’re not dependent on making a living off of your art and you can write what you want.
That’s when it hit me that I’m in a great place. I love my day job and should be focusing my evenings and weekends on the writing projects I want to be working on. I got this much needed boost from writing some thank you notes. Who do you need to write a thank you note to?