To my sweet inspiration:

1_crying_girlI miss you. I’ve been feeling empty inside without you around. Maybe lost is a better way to describe it. I’ve been looking all over for you, but haven’t been able to find you. I don’t know where you’ve gone and I’m like a lost child at the mall desperately seeking her mom. My eyes are welling as they dart from side to side each time I think I’ve caught a glimpse of you. My hands are trembling in fear you might leave without me. My stomach is churning in nervousness you might never come back.

What happened? I thought we were doing so well. Remember that time you brought me the “lone nut” video? Remember that? We were so happy together that day. You sat beside me as I wrote, encouraging me with every word like my own personal cheerleader. I felt like I was soaring. We giggled. We hugged. We were like inseparable teenage BFFs. I thought we’d be together forever.

But recently something has changed. I haven’t heard from you in such a long time despite my efforts to call you. Are you screening my calls? Did you change your number? Are you ignoring me? Are you mad at me? Please don’t say you’ve found another author to share your genius with. Please don’t. It would kill me. I need you, but every time I look around all I see are other artists with their inspiration walking together arm in arm, cavorting and living with such ease in the moment. They only remind me of my loneliness without you. Each word I type feels hollow. Each idea trivial. I sit, near lifeless, in front of my screen longing for my sweet inspiration to return to me.

Maybe I was too distracted when you came to me with your latest vision. Maybe I’ve let “life” get in the way of a true connection with you. Maybe I didn’t say “I love you” enough. Maybe another artist is treating you better than I ever did and you’re finding fulfillment in someone else’s heart. I don’t know. I wish I knew.

Please tell me its not too late for us. I can change. I’m ready to change. Please know it’s my simple desire to be with you always. Let me show you I’m worthy. We can change the world together. I know we can. When I’m with you my world is magical. You always leave me spellbound and blissful. I want to give that to you too. Please give me another chance. I beg you. I am nothing without my inspiration.

In hopes you will come back soon.

Yours always,
Andrea

P.S. I made homemade chocolate chip cookies for you.

Must write or beware my inner wolf

Some days – OK, most days – OK, every day – all I want to do is write. It’s my simple desire. I yearn for it. My heart pumps faster just thinking about it. My brain swirls with thoughts, ideas, and possibilities for new composition. Just knowing a chance is coming to sit down and let my fingers begin their dance, my soul arouses as everything I look at, hear, smell, read, digest, becomes fodder for my next creation. I am titillated in anticipation of what will come. (Hee hee, I used ‘aroused’ and ‘titillated’ right after each other – even though I spelled the latter wrong the first time.)

The reason I’m reflecting on this right now is because I don’t always get the luxury to write to my heart’s content. I mean, it’s already been 10 days since my last post, which bugs me. The thing is, in order to write, I sometimes have to be stealthy and cunning, like a wolf stalking its prey. Because even though I am a writer, I also have two other important vocations: a wife and mother. Each of which come with their own supplementary job titles we’ve all heard before: lover, breadwinner, nurse, shopper, gardener, pool cleaner, taxi driver, social worker, chef, and more. Some of these jobs I do well, others with varying levels of success (hopefully the lover part isn’t a fail! – hmm, what’s with the sex talk today?!)

Gray wolf from www.all-about-wolves.comAnyway (I say as I give my head a shake) I would not be the writer nor the woman I am today without the gifts I gratefully receive from these two other parts of me. Being a wife teaches me commitment, loyalty, depth of friendship, forgiveness, and true connection. Being a mother reminds me to be present, nimble, responsive, loving and patient. The trick becomes finding time to be the wife, the mother, the writer and just Andrea at the “right” times, and that, my friends, becomes a delicate dance even the wolf must master so as not to scare away his next meal.

I’m not always that good at it. My attempt at stealth is sometimes too conspicuous and ill timed. Sometimes, I stupidly think it’s enough if I have my laptop on my lap (aptly named), my eyes clearly fixed on the screen before me, my wrists poised on the keyboard, my fingers tapping in rhythm, that those around me will glean I’m trying to write, and perhaps avoid approaching and head for safety. But, I’ve been a mother for over 10 years now and a wife for over 12, I should know not to be surprised by any “out-of-the-blue, suddenly-urgent, I-have-to-ask-you-this-right-now-or-the-world-will-crumble-and-we-will-all-die-a-horrible-suffering-death-because-you-aren’t-paying-attention-to-me” moments from either husband or children that conflict with what I’ve attempted to deem as writing time. I should know, but too easily I forget and leave myself out in the open and exposed.

Maybe you think I’m being dramatic using the wolf analogy, but I actually did growl at my husband on the weekend after his 5th question to me related to whether I was still planning on trimming the hedge, or if I could help him fix the gate, or if there would be time that day to go out and get some beer. I can’t even remember what it was about, and it doesn’t matter. What I do distinctly remember is the deep rumbling sound that started in my chest and was emitted in my throat as my lips snarled in the direction of my life partner: the wolf staking claim to her fresh kill as an intruder nears. I felt utter exasperation by yet another interruption, and it brimmed over. In my head I thought, “Are you kidding me with this? Can you not clearly see the brilliance oozing forth at this moment with every inspired fingertip touch to the keyboard?” I guess the profundity of the words I was so beautifully weaving together at the time were not transcendent enough to touch his soul – only mine. Ultimately it’s my fault for not pre-defining to my loved ones what “writing time” means: stay away or beware my inner canine.

Writing is my escape. It’s my discovery. I’m literally sitting here grinning as I type these words. I’m not kidding, and I don’t even know if this is a decent post. It might suck. The world may not be shifted in the least because of these reflections I’m sharing right now but I don’t care! At this moment, I simply don’t care because I am elated to be typing here with a goofy grin on my face, in an quiet sleepy house (aside from my sleeping dog who at any moment could destroy the quiet part of this description by jolting awake in a barking frenzy at some random sound that likely only took place in her head). Ah, the zen of it all.

So I know I have to hone my hunting skills because if writing gets tossed to the bottom of the Andrea pile, my wolf will begin to starve and who knows who will be her next prey.

A kindred spirit

The second Nancy got up to speak I knew she was a kindred spirit. I love it when that happens! It’s usually at unexpected moments when you are anticipating that your day will bring the same old, same old, but then someone new and fun suddenly pops into your life – like you just walked into a surprise party just for you. That person carries an energy about them that captures you inexplicably like a welcome, warm hug of greeting that says “I’m sure we’ve met before. It’s great to see you again!” I visualize it as their soul angel flying over to hang out with mine like we’ve been best friends forever!

That’s what it was like with Nancy. She was a trainer for a course I recently took. Her passion, goofiness, and enthusiasm for life oozed out of her and I was immediately drawn in. The course was only two days and their were 14 others participating, but within only a couple of hours, she and I both knew we “got” each other. And by the end of the two days we had hugged multiple times, shared some laughs and exchanged personal information. Our connection so effortlessly natural.

When these kinds of encounters happen, most of us are overwhelmed by the feeling that we were meant to meet this person. We simply know it was not at all by chance. These kindred spirits who enter into our lives, if only for a short time, are so incredible because they leave us with renewed energy, revitalized hope for life and humanity, and a clearer vision of who we are and even hope to be.

My simple desire is to hang onto these moments when they happen and find a way to remember them in times of doubt and uncertainty.

I have no idea when I will see Nancy again, but I feel fortunate knowing we both left a positive mark on each other’s lives. We gave each other a small piece of ourselves and I receive hers as a gift to be cherished. So, I am happy to take a moment, soak in the light of the universe around me and the God who is ever within me, and say a heartfelt “thank you!”

Be the lone nut!

One of my friends at work came by my lovely and oh-so-inspiring grey cubicle the other day, gratefully distracting me from hellish project management software updates that had been weighing me down for the 5 hours previous to her arrival. And she said, “Oh Andrea, I saw this awesome TED talk today and I thought of you right away! The guy’s name is Derek Silver or something, and he talks about starting a movement.”

Knowing that Karen gets the spazziness of my brain – she experiences it first hand on a regular basis – I trust her instinct that I’d like it. Just as we find the video and I start to play it, she says “you’re the nut!”

“What?”

“You’re the nut!” she repeats as she points to my screen at this shirtless, skinny dude who’s dancing unencumbered on some grassy hill with a bunch of people sitting around staring at him – some laughing awkwardly, some looking at him in disbelief trying not to make any eye contact with him, others not really paying attention. And clearly, he doesn’t give a shit what any of them are doing, thinking or saying. He’s in his own beautiful world, freely soaking up the sun, basking in the moment, letting his soul guide his body. (Not sure his soul is very coordinated though, based on the way he’s flailing his arms and body around, but whatever!)

As Karen and I are watching this dancing fool, Derek Sivers (not Silver) starts breaking down what’s happening in the video and showing how a movement begins, because it doesn’t take too long for a second guy to follow suit. The new guy is immediately embraced by the original guy – “as equals,” Sivers explains – and the two continue to flail freely, until eventually a couple more join in, followed by a few more – “the tipping point” – when suddenly it’s no longer strange to take part and everyone feels safe to add their own random rhythms…and the movement has begun.

“The lone nut gets all the credit <for the movement>,” Sivers says, “but it’s really the first follower who makes the movement happen. Without his courage to join in, there would be no movement.”

In just the three minutes and 10 seconds it took to watch the video, I’m totally lifted out of my project management hell and tuned in to life with new inspiration.

“The lone nut! I love it! Be the lone nut!” I say as I’m searching for a pen to write it down.

“That’s totally you. That’s totally how I see you!” Karen responds. She’s laughing at me now because I’m clearly so excited by the whole thing.

“You just gave me a new life mantra!” I say. She laughs some more, pleased she so effortlessly gave me such joy. And inside, I have to admit, I’m also feeling pretty pleased that she sees me as a lone nut because how fun is that?

Which leads me to think about how cool it would be if we all let our inner lone nut loose. Think about how amazing it would be if we could feel that free, unrestricted from fear of being judged; fear of being the odd one; fear of not fitting in. Think about the life energy we would exude; the ability we would have to truly live in the moment; how good we would be to each other as we embrace those around us as equals! Can you tell I’m pumped?

We so often hold back, trying not to stand out, and yet the ones we admire the most do the exact opposite. Why don’t we give ourselves the permission to let go? Because, like Marianne Williamson said, “it is our light, not our darkness that frightens us the most.”

So, my simple desire is to strive to be the lone nut, or continue to be the lone nut (since Karen thinks I already am one). Except I want to get rid of the ‘lone’ part. I don’t want to be a nut on my own. I want to be a nut with other nuts! And as I think about this more, this new simple desire is clearly driven by my original simple desire – my raison d’etre –  to be an instrument of light (see past blog post )…or actually, they are one in the same, just another way of saying it.

So, here’s my plea to the world – let your inner nuttiness and light out, and let’s “start a movement” together.  Who’s with me?

Reflections on friendship, possibility and change

Every once in a while we meet someone who shifts our world a little bit. Someone who sees us in a way not many others can. Someone who accepts us more willingly and openly than most. And when we are blessed to come across such a person, our load becomes lighter and we see new possibility in our lives to which we had previously been blind.

I’ve been blessed over the past couple of years or so to have had such a person in my life. A colleague who quickly became a friend because of her generous, warm spirit. On days that were dull and tedious, she brought light and purpose. On days that were stressful and heavy, she brought laughter and levity. On days that were joyous and fun, she delighted in the moment.

I am writing about her today, because as of yesterday, my friend is starting a new journey in her life in her well-deserved retirement. A new journey she’s not sure she is completely ready for, but one I know will see her fly in ways she never thought possible.

Starting a new phase in life can be terrifying – whether it’s retiring, becoming a new parent, starting a new career. The fear of the unknown is daunting, but it is precisely in these moments of great change when the greatest discovery of self takes place. It is precisely at the time when our carefully crafted foundations are rocked that we discover more deeply who we are, more clearly what we are capable of and can stand more firm in our new knowing.

Change is powerful because it forces us out of our comfortable selves where we tend to settle for less than who we are and shows us what could be. It breaks down the constrained definitions we have of life, and shines light in the dark corners we worked hard to conceal. But what is funny is that on the other end of a significant change, when we get past the initial denial, anger, and resistance, finally stop fighting and learn the lessons the change has taught us, what was once the unknown becomes familiar and we begin to settle again.

So instead of hiding from change and the unknown, let’s seek it out. Instead of fearing the uncomfortable, let’s embrace it. Instead of holding back from new possibility let’s boldly walk toward it.

I desire this for my friend as she walks this new path. I desire this for myself when I am faced with the unexpected, and I desire this for anyone who seeks to be more than they are right now.

As I read back these reflections, I recognize they are not so simple desires. I know I will not always be able to live up to what I hope for myself and for those around me. I can only continue to seek and try, and when I come up short – as I very often will – I can only hope that I will remember the gifts from my friend, the lessons she taught me, and the simple desires she inspired today.