Thursday, February 19, 2015

note to self: how to get unstuck




Were you one of those people that began this new year feeling energized about your list of positive resolutions? 

In case you don’t know, I wrote THIS post about tackling my passion project this year along with some other positive habits I wanted to work on, and today I thought I’d take a moment to examine why it is I haven’t been able to make much progress on the one project that means so much to me.

Do you have something on your bucket list that’s been tugging at your heart?

Well here is mine.


This is one of the baskets I have that are loaded with material from my past life when I was a therapist working with (mostly) eating disordered women. Changing homes has helped me find them again. And frankly I couldn’t believe how many overflowing files and old notebooks I’ve been carrying around in boxes all these years. But for a good reason. These are remnants of a clinical world that represent an important part of my life; it was the kind of work that transformed me from the inside out.

Do you ever wonder why you save certain items? Keeping this paper trail is probably a lot like the shoebox of your parents’ old letters or the little locked diaries you still have, you keep them because they tell a story that matters to you, like a thread pulling together pieces of who you once were.

Well this was the year I wanted to prioritize this writing project, turn this paper collection into a single story, maybe one my kids can read someday. And I planned to launch it with the passion project I had read about HERE.

But so far I haven’t begun my daily ninety minute writing blocks yet. 

Can you relate?

Have you ever found yourself “stuck” before you even started something new?


Looking inward

For me, the first step in understanding my lack of progress –involves looking inward. Slowing down and listening to my feelings. Asking myself, “Do I really want to do this?”  Because my days are certainly full, and I’m finding time to get other things done.

It is true I’ve been sick for the last two weeks and only now, am I beginning to feel like my old self. Which explains the feelings of restlessness I’ve been having. I’m used to having an abundance of energy and it hasn’t been there. And writing my New Year’s post was like holding my feet to the fire, making me acutely aware of each busy day that I’m not getting around to my writing project.

But do you know one thing I’ve learned?  That often the clues to whether our lives are out of balance are the feelings of frustration or restlessness we begin to notice when we slow down.


being honest about our priorities

I heard someone say once that we’re always doing what we want. And the minute we acknowledge this we can get around to making different choices. It’s true that I keep getting distracted by our house projects. But the truth is, I’m not good writing amid chaos and ugliness which is what it’s often like in a fixer upper. So I tend to use my free time tackling those DIY jobs that give me the immediate sensation of progress. And I’ll be honest, it’s a creative process that I love. 



Although I realize it’s all about finding that right balance.

And I need to grow. I need to change my mindset that says, “I’ll reward myself with my writing project just as soon as this one other thing gets done.” Or, “I’ll feel better when this is done (bathroom ceiling is painted)  because even though it’s true, and I do feel momentarily good, there’s always something else that needs to be done right after.

This is Life in our new home. And it’s the life of a creative, there’s always something I see that I want to transform. 


the head trip of Perfection

Which leaves me with the choice. How badly do I want to write? It’s that simple.

If I want to tackle my writing project I’m going to have to make peace with imperfection. That yucky feeling of being surrounded with lots of half finished paint jobs and rooms that  need major work. I’m going to have to wait. Live with it. Get comfortable with that messy, unfinished sensation that’s part of being in a fixer upper.

Waiting for everything to be “just right” before I start my writing project means I’ll be waiting a long time.

How about you?

Is there something you’ve been “waiting” to do?



Let’s make this year the one where anything’s possible.





Can you relate to this post?





sharing this post with Grace at Home 




Tamera Beardsley said...

Before I could comment … I had to blink back the tears of recognition … and take a deep breathe … Wow my dear … I could have written this myself! And ironically … right before I read this … I had chosen to 'unstick myself' a little bit today.

Even though I live in the same house I have for twenty years … I too feel the pull between loving on my spaces … or doing the studio work I have told myself … I 'need ' to do. I have so many pieces finished in my studio … but I always back away from getting them listed for my shop … and today I finally have … only because I am passionate about the concept of 'Crowning Ourselves'. I shall stop here … before I end up way too long here!

Thank you for this most lovely post … and so happy to hear … I am not alone in my struggle to balance my lists of want to do's!

Sending you love and appreciation my friend!

Simply LKJ said...

Love this Leslie. And yes, I can so relate.

Art and Sand said...

As usual, beautifully expressed words to get me thinking.

I liked the Anne Lamont quote and it made me think of an encounter we had yesterday. We walked the Carpinteria Bluffs and stopped at a favorite outdoor burger joint (a splurge on calories after a 6 mile walk) and ran into some acquaintances. Like me, she taught middle school and I would see her at conferences. He was in the same practice as our doctor so I have seen him on several emergency issues. They asked if they could join us and the conversation got around to retirement and our aching bodies. Kate still substitutes because she said she needs something to do. Steve talked about becoming an artist at 55 and I talked about blogging. They were both eager to learn about these new creative outlets we have begun - including the 6 mile a day walks.

I'm not sure where I am going with that paragraph, but I guess it is to illustrate that our minds crave activity and painting the bathroom isn't enough - especially for you. YOU need to write - for those of us who love your words. And, you have a story to tell.

Can you bring in someone for a few hours a week to clean, paint, etc. while you relax by writing? I have a friend who is a very successful artist. I was surprised when she told me she still goes to a painting group with 4 or 5 women. She explained that those hours are dedicated to her art. If she didn't go to "art club" she might lose herself in laundry, grocery shopping, etc. and then be mad at herself for not being creative that day.

I don't have your eloquence so I hope you understand my meaning. Try to let the house go a little and spend time on you and your words.

Karen said...

I love your writing style so I would love to hear that you've written a book. I too have a very difficult time going forward with goals when disarray prevails. Since you are in a new home with some fixer needs, maybe you could get one space that you feel good about (like your lovely dining room) and use that room to commit one hour a day to your project. If you did that for 1 week I bet you'd have a healthy start.
Good luck, I'm still working on my NYE goals but these things go slower than I would like. :-)

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Once again, Leslie, we may have been twins separated at birth. I'll just say "I can relate." If I tried to say more, I'd probably write a book—and not the one I'd like to write! :-) Good luck, my friend. This is an ongoing challenge for creatives like us!

karen@somewhatquirky said...

The first thing I can relate to is the basket (or boxes in my case) filled with stuff from my past professional life. I have to remind myself "i used to know all that". I like to say I'm not a perfectionist, but I definitely lean that way. I have learned to overcome, but a lot of the time the whole perfectionist thing stymies me. And chaos ensues. I am not like you, in that a beautiful space, or clean, organized space will not give me the peace to move towards my dream. If I said that, I would be lying. You're treating the writing like it is a reward for doing the other stuff - that actually has no real timeline. I say you write everyday for a certain amount of time and reward yourself with a bit of time for the first item on your to do list. Eventually it will all get done, and you will have honored your passion.

Carla from The River said...

I struggle the exact same way!! I have to have the house cleaned, dishes done, laundry done, and with my boys still busy...I am busy with them and their activities and life.
I have a novel, in my head. My blog is where I write and create, until I get to the novel. My life is so busy now with the boys, I can not relax enough to give to the novel what I want.
Not sure if that makes sense.
Great post! Makes me think.
Thank you, Carla

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

I know just how you feel, Leslie. I feel unsettled when I have chaos all around me, but we can't wait for the perfect time because it may never come. I think a little studio in your back yard could be the perfect place to escape the chaos around you and immerse yourself in the book you are going to write. And I know you'll do it! Those files were waiting to be discovered once again.

sweet violets said...

I can so relate to this!!! And I ask myself the same questions.....are you really interested in this project?? Do you care at all about this project?? That narrows it down pretty quickly for me. Some things on my list are things I feel I 'should' do and don't really care they get crossed off.

But every day I am creative, whether it be in my studio, cooking, decorating or cleaning. Sometimes it's out of balance, but will make up for it another is short....

Thehouseofhampton said...

Beautifully written! I can relate to this post and I feel much better knowing I'm not alone. I've dedicated the last year to a yoga practice, and I find myself growing in ways I had never dreamed of. I had no idea I was holding on to things inside my body. As I slowly unstick myself, life flows through me. Warmly, freely, and joyfully I slowly move forward. Each day spending time doing things I love to do and further away from things that really don't interest me. I no longer care about being perfect, I care how and with whom I spend my time.
The House of Hampton

Pam Kessler said...

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm not doing this project that I really should be doing, because once it's done it's done. And then what am I going to think and dream about? The build up is almost better than the real thing. Or maybe I'm just telling myself that to put it off another day :)

Unknown said...

This post speaks to me today, Leslie. I have been wanting to write the story of my adoption, and how I found my birth family, for many years. My husband was gone for the weekend recently and I pulled out all of my photo albums, letters, notes and let myself feel the emotion. Only then, in an empty house, with all the feeling, did I start the writing project. Once I let myself go, it stared to flow. I've only just begun, but it feels good to start.

I can totally relate to needing to have the 'home' projects in order and not chaotic. Perhaps you can just create that little corner of beauty and peace (fresh flowers and a candle) to help you get started. I'm so happy to hear you will be sharing more of your passion project with readers.
Happy Weekend, Leslie dear!

Vannessa@Luxuria said...

OMG! I can SO relate. As I try and organize my Dad's estate I too am finding all his unfinished projects and boxes of photo's etc. It made me feel sad to see so many unfinished projects.
I do have lots of things/passions that I dip in and out of, and each of these things fill a space and make me happy in a different way. So I literally program time to do everything. So maybe you can schedule writing for Wed and Thurs afternoons (when the madness of the beginning of the week has gone), and do your renovations on the days/times you feel suit you. I say, follow all your passions, just schedule them all in and give yourself small incremental targets xx

Lori said...

I can totally relate to most all of your posts Leslie and that is one of the reasons I love coming here. I started out the year thinking I was going to do certain things and here we are almost at the end of Feb and I haven't started any of them. But you know what ~ I do not beat myself up anymore ~ why stress myself out? I know some things that I want to change and some that need to change ~ in time the change will come but only when I am ready to take the step and commit to it. xo

michele said... much that it hurts. Our backgrounds are soooo similar and even now we are leading parallel lives I think. I have a book years in the making because I keep waiting to be 'out of the throes' with some distance from the topic. i don't have writer's block but like you, I cannot seem to feel settled. I would love to belong to a writing community so let me know if you have any ideas. I registered for a workshop in June at Princeton seminary so let me know if you need details. Peace to you, twin.

Unknown said...

I spotted your post a few days ago Leslie & earmarked it to come back & take my time reading it....and here I am!

I can so relate, I started this year wanting this year to be different to last year in so many ways. And in lots of way it is becoming different....but I also feel quite stuck, as I did last year. I'm feeling frustrated....I'm also trying to do too many things at once.

My feeling stuck has - surprisingly - meant that I have only blogged once this year...unheard of for me! I think it's partly because I keep thinking that thing of "once I get this done, then I will have time to write". But actually, that's been no good for me at all since I love to write & it's an almost essential part of my day....arrrgghhhh!!

Each week this year I have told myself that I will complete a particular task & then hasn't happened yet!! Maybe this week :)

I am fascinated that you plan to write a wonderful.

I wish you luck with getting unstuck, you will do it, I know you will Xx

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Wonderful though-provoking post, Leslie! I have things I NEED to do, things I WANT to do, and things I want to do (but obviously not enough) that don't get done. If I'm honest with myself, I think the things I most want to do...get done.

Tami said...

I do relate. There is the feeling of something simmering inside of you just waiting to be let out. I say sit yourself down and write, make a start. Even if it's just 90 minutes every couple of days. Be creative both ways by doing house projects and writing...creativeness be gets creativeness.

Splenderosa said...

Leslie, I'm coming over from Simone's blog where she gave you a shout-out. Oh yes, how I can relate, especially about the "perfection." I'm following you now. xx's

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