Someone recently joked with me that they should start a blog but they’re afraid they’ll forget to write anything.
If they end up anything like me, they’ll have great ideas while driving, or in the middle of church, or anywhere else where actual writing can’t take place.
I haven’t posted to my blog in eleven months. But, just because I haven’t posted doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. My freelancing for a local newspaper really took off last summer. Since May of 2014 I have written more than 100 feature articles for The Corry Journal. I also took part in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, completing my first novel with nearly 58,000 words. It’s a rough draft (extremely rough) and I hope to go back and edit it for this year’s NaNoWriMo.
The last eleven months have been absolutely amazing in the sense that I have found my voice and moved forward with my life. I’ve not moved on to a new chapter in life, rather, I’ve begun an entirely new book. While some people endure a midlife crisis, I’ve experienced a midlife awakening.
Having been stuck in a rut for at least a decade, moving forward was—and continues to be—both exhilarating and terrifying.
For my friends out there who could use a boost in the right direction, please allow me to briefly share my journey, without going into all the gory details. While the steps I took worked for me, they may not work for everyone. Still, there are more steps to take as I journey forward.
1. Let go of the chains. For me, this epiphany came while watching the musical version of the timeless tale of Scrooge. In the 1970 musical adaptation of the Dickens classic, Scrooge finds himself in hell, weighed down by enormous chains of his own making. He cries out, unable to move under the oppressive weight of hundreds of links. Thankfully, he awakens from the nightmare and changes his ways.
I thought, “Good grief, that’s how I feel right now!” The largest links in my chain: unforgiveness. I sat down and wrote a list of names of people whom I needed to forgive. Over the next few weeks I prayed for those people. I also prayed for myself that I could, with God’s help, forgive them.
2. Find wise counsel. Whether it’s a friend whose advice is sound or a professional counselor, talking out your troubles and applying wise advice to your life will cause you to be an active participant in your own recovery. Personally, I suggest a professional counselor as they are bound by the ethics of their profession to keep your conversation only between the two of you. One of my issues of unforgiveness was the friend who shared personal conversations with others. Still, that served to be an instructive situation for me, and I have not only learned a valuable lesson, but have also forgiven.
3. Find a method of release. This is common practice in many forms of therapy. Some people pour themselves into exercise. Some go back to school. Others take up a new hobby. It’s all about releasing the pain and allowing healing to begin. For me, I flooded everything I had into writing a novel. When that was exhausted, I began to produce artwork. While the novel sits quietly inside my laptop awaiting the editing process, my artwork is already selling and finding appreciation in the homes of others. My life is once again flowing freely.
4. Give priority to what you value most. For too many years I put other things before my family. I ran myself ragged trying to balance everyone and everything. Trying to please the friends in my life became a soul-sucking experience. It wasn’t fair to my family or to me. Now, rather than running from here to there, worrying that I might be letting someone down, I’ve stopped juggling balls and held on to only two: faith and family.
5. Move on. Those two words can sound easier than they really are. Seriously though, once you’ve let go of the chains, applied wise counsel, found a method of release, and prioritized your values…move forward. Don’t stay stuck in that rut where the stagnant water gathers. Get up, shake the dust from yourself and get moving. Whether you’re twenty-something or sixty-something, you should make the most of the time ahead of you.
So, I’ll ask you, what chains are weighing you down? What are you going to do to get out from under them? Have you sought wise counsel? What can you do to release the angst and allow life to flow through you once again? What are your priorities? Lastly, are you ready to move forward and not look back?