The Art of Beginning Again

You know how people say something (career field, skill, craft, etc.) is both a science and an art? Well starting fresh, beginning again, starting new, or whatever you call it is more of the latter than the former.

There is no manual, no special sauce formula, no foolproof “ten steps to a better fresh start” (although the internet may beg to differ). You just kinda go, maybe make a plan, and then hope for the best all the while cowering with fear inside, your palms constantly slippery with the sweat of anxiety.

But let me back up a bit.

It has been over a month since I’ve written. There are so many things I want to write but don’t yet know how. During this gap, I left my job, a field of work I enjoy, and a strong support system, then moved across the state to enter a completely new field via graduate school.

To say the least I’ve been busy and tired and decided somewhere along this busy-tried highway that writing was again just something that could wait. And so I shelved it, like I often end up doing. It got put back on one of those dusty, dark places you might find in a garage, stuffed among the useless cords, old paint, and ratty shoes.

Being Afraid and Stuck

I give the cold shoulder to writing when I am busy, sure, but more so when I am afraid. And I still am. 100 f’ing percent.

In addition to being afraid I’ve been a cocktail of other emotions. Happy. Sad. Happy. Sad. Really sad. Really nervous. Happyish. Maybe excited? Relaxed. Frantic. Almost hysterical. Calm. Confused. And of course, afraid, afraid, afraid. (Not the “dark thing under your bed” afraid, but the “holy f, what am I doing?” afraid.)

Packing up your last successful life chapter and waiting at the station until you pull into the next one just, well, sucks. Plain and simple. Let’s just call it what it is.

Things are eerily calm yet unsettling at the same time. You feel like you’re on a wobbly dock trying to stay balanced so you don’t fall into the water below where it’s so gray and murky that you can’t even see your own reflection.

And you can’t see that darn reflection because your new chapter self hasn’t quite manifested yet. It’s partly there — since you’ve got all your past chapter selves hanging around like friendly, old ghosts  but none of these feel quite right to take on your next steps.

So you’re just kinda stuck for the time being and more vulnerable than usual. Which is where I’m at right now. (I also want to cry uncontrollably. Comes with the territory.)

Things I Know and Things I Don’t

I desperately want to get un-stuck but I know it’s not quite the time yet — it will happen though.

What I also know is that I wanted this change (i.e. leaving my job, moving away, going back to school); I planned for it in all humanly possible ways — lists, sound financial management, early packing.

Few details can escape my masterful planning (ask anyone who knows me, surely there will be nods as they read this), yet the planning didn’t make me feel any better. It reassured me that I can plan well and that I’m insanely organized. But I didn’t need this reassurance.

What I needed was someone to spill the beans, to tell me that fancy schmancy secret formula to coping with a new start — the “science.” But no one did because no one really knows.

The Terrifying Beauty of New Beginnings

Each new beginning is our own precious little terrifying experience. We can shape it however the hell we want it.

Even if someone is taking the same steps as you or has taken the same steps before you they are still not experiencing exactly what you are. 

Sure, you can gather some intel from Past New Beginners and seek advice from your dear family and friends but ultimately it’s your choice in how you proceed down the promising yet poorly lit New Beginning Road.

Whether it’s dancing like hell or running around bat-shit crazy, do your thing.

And I know, I know — you can’t see the entire path in front of you but that’s half the fun! And half the fear. (I know that too).

For me personally, I worked very, very hard professionally to get where I was in my last life chapter and so starting a new one makes me feel a bit like a splattered bug on a car windshield — dead on arrival.

I’ve felt disoriented and uncertain and questioned my own abilities, talent and experiences. In sum, I didn’t feel like much of anything and my head and heart were totally out of sync.

But these frightening feelings and thoughts pass as they now are for me.

I had to take some time to remember where I was and who I was and who I am today, reminding myself that I’m one badass mother f’er. (Self confidence is the shit, isn’t it? Makes you feel like you can fly — and you can, metaphorically speaking.)

It also helped to begin establishing a routine, meet new people and explore what the area has to offer to cultivate that feeling of excitement about the future. 

Perhaps this is the “science” part of the Beginning Again Equation — but we are all different and maybe this is not how you would handle a new start (and that’s fine).

So go ahead and take whatever new beginning that you have chosen or that you’re thrown into and make it fully your own, fear and all. 

Begin again as the person you’ve always admired (your true BA self) and I’ll be right there beside you, doing it too.

Cheers!

XOXO,

KP

P.S. My newsletter is currently under construction — stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for reading!

On Writing about Being Tired and on Coming Home to Writing

On Tuesday, I wrote rather successfully about being tired. I didn’t think I could do it. And I almost didn’t. You know why? Because there was that little voice — my voice inside my own head (I know you have one too!) — that told me, “No, no, it won’t be good. It is pointless. Don’t waste your time with that.”

I’m glad I didn’t listen. I wish I would listen less often. And I like to think that I do listen less frequently now than I did before. Once upon a time ago, it seemed that I only listened to that tiny but powerful ever-present inner voice day in and day out (eek!).

I’m glad I didn’t listen to this voice yesterday because (1) I am trying to get in the habit of not listening to it and (2) I am trying to also get in the habit of writing, even if that means writing about being tired because I don’t have the energy to write about anything else (hey — it’s still writing!).

I have missed writing desperately. Sure, I have written emails, written notes in greeting cards, written reports and proposals for work, and written in all forms of regular everyday communications. But that is not enough — and it has not been enough.

I have felt such a void for the past couple years or so because I haven’t been writing very purposely in a creative manner. A part of my soul has not been complete — to be completely melodramatic. (The only way to live and breathe like a writer — ah, sweet melodramatic air!)

And for this longish while I sat around wondering: what on Earth is wrong? Why do I feel strange, down, trampled on and not quite so easily able to bounce back? What is this freakish void?

Likely I felt this way for different reasons, but a big reason seemed to be that I simply wasn’t attending to an important part of me that had previously always made me alert, alive, and present — my creative side.

It’s this creative side that many of us office folk let slide away like the mysterious crumbs and paperclips that cozy their way into our keyboard cracks, collecting where we don’t see them until that fateful day when we shake it out and admire with awe at what has been camping out right before our eyes each and every day.

While this is a part of us that we often push out of sight in favor of things like…work, family, work, friends, work, and all other manners of productivity and social normalcy, creativity is just as essential as any of these other parts of our lives, and arguably should be re-prioritized to have a lucky top-tier spot.

If we don’t make our own creative life a priority, no one else will.

Creativity is so individual, so personal that it is hard for one person or the next to really know what it means to you. Because of this, it can be difficult for those around you to understand why you must prioritize creativity as a part of your daily life and ergo difficult for you to see value in prioritizing it if no one else you care about sees the purpose in it. 

But we must prioritize it. Or at least, I must prioritize it if I want to feel my most alive and fulfilled. Without it I am fine, but with it I am great.

As Elizabeth Gilbert put it through a story in her newest book, Big Magic:

“Three mornings a week, Susan awoke before dawn and, in that groggy hour before her demanding day job began, she skated. And she skated and skated and skated . . . It was a revolution . . . Please note that my friend did not quit her job, did not sell her home, did not sever all her relationships and move to Toronto to study seventy hours a week with an exacting Olympic-level skating coach. And no, this story does not end with her winning any championship medals. It doesn’t have to. In fact, this story does not end of all, because Susan is still figure skating several mornings a week–simply because skating is still the best way for her to unfold a certain beauty and transcendence within her life that she cannot seem to access in any other manner.”

Creative writing is this beauty and transcendence for me. It allows to me not only to express myself more adequately, but also to be the brave person I imagine myself to be and to feel at peace, at home in some strange and beautiful serenity garden, which I imagine to be filled with golden sunflowers turning with the sun’s skypath and with lavender perfuming the feather-light breeze.

It’s a lovely place — this creative space.

And I hope if you are searching for yours, or trying to reclaim a space for it in your life, that you find it.

May you have happy travels on your path to creative living.

Cheers,

KP

P.S. I highly recommend Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert for some inspiring, refreshing and invigorating reading. It is her book, in part, that inspired me to re-start my creative writing and begin it again in a more exciting, fun and less fearful fashion.

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Feature photo credit: My Journals / KP Original

Why This, Why Now

I have this hunger gnawing at me — but in a pleasant way. So gnawing is not the best word….nor is hunger, perhaps…

…let’s revise! One more go…

I have this deep, deep and ever-replenishing well of creative energy inside of me and it’s going to burst and explode all over like f’ing confetti at a kid’s birthday party if I don’t start this damn blog and write the shit outta it.

There. Much better. (BTW — I’m PG-13 rated.)

With that, I welcome you to my very first blog post of my second, third, fourth…(who’s counting anymore?)…blog.

(You can find one of my still active blogs from a few years here — from a time when I explored Croatia as an English language teacher post-undergrad. I also have a fun, new Tumblr of GIFs I started with a good friend that you can check out here.)

I am excited to be here, and writing and publishing once again — finally! (Hallelujah!)

But why this blog, and why now?

I’ll tell ya: because it’s time!

It’s time to fully embrace my creativity once again — that creativity I once had by the boat-fulls in high school art classes and overflowing in college creative writing workshops — and harness this crazy energy inside me that wants to jump for joy and scream at the same time.

(Creativity is such a marvel, isn’t it?)

And so, as all good writers and poets do, I will tell you a story:

Once upon a time, like many folk, I was self-conscious to the extreme, very shy, and very self-critical, always second guessing my words, my actions and ultimately, myself.

Why? I’m sure for a variety of nature and nurture reasons — but let’s not busy our pretty selves with that now. Because frankly my dear, I don’t quite give a damn any longer.

And so, not long ago I decided it was high-time to kick that silly self-critical bandwagon to the curb (because we’re all pretty frickin’ awesome BA people just walking each other home) and focus on what really matters — living your life the way you want it to feel.

Now, I live for myself — but also to help others.

I continually strive to be a strong, successful woman working to make the world a more sustainable, humane, compassionate and happy place, knowing that every little bit helps. (Personal mission here, folks — hello buzzwords!)

I also live continually inspired by the retrospective thoughts folks have later in life that whisper to their internal brainlobes, “Looking back on my life, I wish I could have experienced that or done this differently. I regret…yadda, yadda, yadda…”

I am inspired thinking of this often quoted generic scenario not because I aim to think such thoughts myself as I grow better with age (pinot grigio, anyone?), but because I aim to not have such thoughts, or at the very least to minimize this nostalgic and sad internal dialogue.

We only have one life anyway — so why cloud up our precious mental landscape with sad, worrisome and negative dialogue if we have the ability to change our thoughts and our ways?

Of course, we will all reach a day when FOMO* becomes a reality you can’t rewind — but I would prefer, as much as I possibly can, to embrace life with all its warts and bruises and all its soft spots and light, breezy skies — because this is it.

This big, beautiful, strange, at times horrible, and usually pretty okay thing we have going for us is life. Our life. One. Just one, folks.

Let’s just say I’m ready and willing now more than ever before to explore this life to the fullest and see how far it can take me until I can look back on all the wonderful and challenging experiences I’ve had by myself and with those I love and think — “Wow. That was a pretty damn good ride.”

Onward — and rock on.

Ciao for now,

KP

P.S. Here’s what you’ll discover on this site over time:

  • Musings about life growth and journeys.
  • Thoughts on all sorts of relationships (friendships, familial, romantic).
  • Travel posts that go beyond the “see this, do that!” formulatic article style.
  • Musings on the world of activism and movements.
  • Random injections of humor and lightheartedness.
  • Less click-bait, and more meaningful content.
  • Posts on writing, reading and books as my heart desires.
  • Random posts on my personal obsessions.
  • Occasional guest posts by some extra, special folk.

P.P.S. You can check out my writing on other online spaces here, here, here, here and here.

P.P.P.S. Sign up for Weekly InspirationInspiration for Good‘s newsletter! You will have my heart forever. ❤

*FOMO = fear of missing out — a brief footnote for all the folks like me still stuck in the early 90s and beyond who have no f’ing clue what everyone around you has been talking about in this 21st century of ours…

Feature photo credit: Book and Relax / KP Original