Happy New Year to you! Welcome to the first Monday Mama Muse of 2014 and the first one in a very long time. The writing of this post is my first act of writing for 2014 and my own attempt to start doing the things I love to do on a daily basis rather than putting those things on hold while I do all the things I think I have to do.
As we face this clean canvas of a bright and shiny New Year, the one thing I want to encourage myself and other mothers to do is:
“Stop living in a state of perpetual preparation.”
Stop waiting until:
- you’ve lost your post-baby weight/the last 10 lbs/started drinking green juices or inhaling kale on a daily basis;
- you get the job of your dreams/you launch the business of your dreams;
- your child starts sleeping through the night/starts school/goes to college;
- you’ve figured out what you want to do with your life (quick spoiler alert: however long you wait, James’ Earl Jones ain’t going to appear and proclaim your life’s purpose);
- you’ve written your book/play/blog post;
- your life is perfect (whatever “perfect” means to you)
I’ve always considered myself prone to procrastination and considered it an integral part of my personality. As I approached my 40th birthday a few years ago, I felt a surge of possibility as I started a brand new decade. I then read a few articles about “50 being the new 40” and I started to think, maybe I can wait a little. Take the pressure off, Sal. No need to rush things. That was the behavior I practiced and I became a master of procrastination.
Calling yourself a procrastinator gives you permission to not do shit. For want of an eloquent and lovely way of saying it. In my experience, it’s the not doing of the good shit that would transform your life if you actually did it instead of consuming vast quantities of precious energy stressing about the fact that you’re not doing it.
One startling fact hit me recently. I have NEVER procrastinated about doing laundry. Ever. In fact, I do laundry daily. Each and every day. I don’t sit around bemoaning the fact that I have laundry-doer’s block and that, much as I crave clean clothes, I just cannot bring myself to do the laundry.
And yet, I can go for weeks, months and years without writing on a regular basis. Even though there are so many things I yearn to say and explore through writing.
If I had written for just five minutes a day for the past fourteen years (the years I have been a mother), that would be a mother-load of writing. Almost as much of a mother-load of writing as the mother-load of laundry I have done during those same years.
I absolutely LOVE Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creative genius and her take on “writer’s block” and the fear of being a writer.
Writer’s block is simply a choice you are making to NOT write. Let me prove that to you. Find a pen and a piece of paper and start writing. Your hand moves from side to side right and words are appearing, right? I recently read about a writer with cerebral palsy who types with one thumb. Are all 8 of your fingers and both of your thumbs fully-functioning? Good, then get writing or painting or playing the piano or whatever thing you claim to want to do and yet keep choosing to NOT do.
Click here to read a wonderful interview about writing with Natalie Goldberg, author of “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within”. Her advice? “Keep your hand moving.”
Every time you catch yourself saying “I’m a procrastinator” instead say to yourself, “I’m a person who chooses NOT to do things that are truly meaningful to me and that would make my life so much richer than it is at present.” Don’t forget to add that THAT is what you’re modeling for your children and imagine them living in that same state of perpetual preparation.
My oldest daughter will turn 15 this year which means that we have just three more years of her living at home with us. This fact has made me so very conscious of the reason I founded Stand Up, Mama in the first place. Motherhood made me very aware that I was modeling how to live life in front of three very precious and very impressionable young people. Realizing how little time I have left with my oldest daughter at home has renewed my determination to live my life to the full. To make sure that I’m being fully present and living my dreams on a daily basis so that that is what my children see. To give them something to aspire to in their own lives.
I love the quote by stand-up comic and writer, Viv Groskop:
“I began to think. ”You brought these children into the world. You better show them what it’s like to live life to the full. Otherwise what’s the point?”
So, this week, as you go about your daily life, please take a moment each day to reflect on the things you are putting on hold or planning to do at some point in the future. As you catch yourself procrastinating on something that you truly want to do, take a small step toward that thing. If it’s writing, make the commitment to write for 5 minutes a day. If it’s starting a business, commit to researching and planning your business for 15 minutes a day. Tell your children what you are doing and let them learn from you as you life fully each day rather than on automatic pilot.
If you start making excuses (again), take a moment to watch the following TED talk. I defy your excuses to remain intact as you watch this extraordinary young woman.
Life is short, live accordingly. Life with your children at home is even shorter so, starting today, show them what’s possible.
Wishing you a wonderful first full week of 2014!