inspiration

07/22/17 inspiration , Life , Meditation , Mindfulness , positivity , quotes , self-inquiry , Swami Satchidananda , yoga # , , , , , , ,

Digging One Well

I have always been a well-digger, by which I mean I have always had a lot of interests. I’m a naturally curious person, and at various times in my life I’ve immersed myself in everything from writing to business to marketing to politics to cooking and baking to homemaking to antiques and antique selling to Buddhism to yoga to meditation to fitness…

You get the idea.

It took me awhile to realize there is a difference – a big one – between an interest and a passion.

There are a lot of great things about being curious, but one of the downsides is that it’s easy to get distracted. The sad truth of it is that there are only so many hours in the day. There is only so much available psychic space in a day too.

The last fifteen years or so I’ve gotten better about sensing when I’m off track, when I’ve let my interests monopolize my time instead of treating them like a condiment to the meal of my passions. There are so many fascinating things in the world and they have never been more accessible to us than they are right now. What can I say? It’s easy to get sidetracked.

The Indian proverb above is expanded upon by Swami Satchidananda who explains it this way:

“There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep. Even if you encounter a rock, use dynamite and keep going down. If you leave that to dig another well, all the first effort is wasted and there is no proof you won’t hit rock again.”

Sometimes we dig deep and actually hit water. In that case, we should sit awhile and enjoy the fruits of our labor, taste the water and see if it’s to our liking. Even if it is, there is no guarantee it will always be that way (and no guarantee the well will always have water – wells do run dry). And for the record, it’s okay if you hit water and decide to move on anyway. I’m a big believer in the idea that sometimes you have to get what you think you want to know you don’t actually want it.

Either way, it’s natural and healthy that we should re-evaluate our priorities from time to time. We are always changing. Every second of every day cells are dying and being born in our bodies, perceptions are shifting, we are accounting for new information by discarding that which is no longer true or useful and making room for that which is.

Well, I hope we’re all doing that. Jesus… I’m freaking glad I’m not the same person now I was when I was twenty, and I pray to the Universe I am not the same person when I’m seventy that I am now. That’s part of the magic, isn’t it? The knowledge that there’s a vast repository of experience and knowledge out there? That we are free to draw on it at any time?

I’ve dug a lot of wells, but the through-lines of my life have been reading, writing, and learning. I have never lost my desire for any of these things. Lately I’ve been sensing myself at a crossroads. Some of it is probably that Caroline, my youngest, will be leaving for college next month, and while I still have two young people at home (one getting his Masters and one commuting while he gets his undergrad degree), knowing the kids are all officially adults is a huge change that’s bound to bring some introspection.

But the truth is, I’ve never really lamented my impending empty nest. My children and I are incredibly tight (as those of you who have seen us en masse at book events can attest!). I miss them when they go. But there are so many things I’ve been waiting to do and experience and it really does feel like time.

So the big question for me is which well will I dig next? Specifically, how will I use my words to honor the things that have moved to the forefront of my consciousness?

Because I’ve always been committed to a joyful life. I’ve done some intense things to achieve joy and harmony (quitting a lucrative career with nothing else in the works, moving 3,000 miles to a place where I knew no one, getting a divorce), and one thing I can say with certainty is that I have never regretted a single one.

I’m incredibly fortunate to live in such harmony. I acknowledge this with gratitude while also saying for anyone else out there who feels the need for change that I have made conscious choices to live this way, and in case you should think I live a trouble-free existence (no perfect-life filter here!), there are sacrifices (I have no health insurance, as the sole breadwinner for my family, my income is sporadic, which can be terrifying, etc.).

All of which is to say you have the power to radically alter your life if you feel the need – and so do I.

In fact, I’ll let you in on one of my favorite secrets: THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE NUMBER OF TIMES AND WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN REINVENT YOURSELF.

Say that again for yourself. Believe it. I do.

I’ve always found it most helpful to work backward from what I want. Working forward from where I am now can be too intimidating. I’m not sure I would have known what to do with the advice to move 3,000 miles with four kids or get a book deal. But knowing I wanted a book deal meant knowing that I had to have a book to sell which meant knowing I actually had to learn more about craft and finish a book, possibly several.

So that was my first real writing goal: finish one book, even if it sucked (it did).

But I dug that well through five books to sell Prophecy of the Sisters. I did not allow myself to be distracted by other interests or by doubt or by anything but the shovel in my hand, the dirt I was throwing over my shoulder, the possibility of water.

So what do I want now? I want to travel freely and expand my writing to the areas that have been speaking to me lately. I want to continue living joyously and help others to do the same. I want to keep learning and being open to all the possibilities.

With  that in mind, I’m doing a lot of centering work right now to determine the best road to take for the next phase of my journey. I know which direction I’m heading, but I’m still charting the course.

I hope you’ll join me on the path. There is room for all.

<3

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09/11/15 Indie , inspiration , Life , Uncategorized # , , ,

A Head Full of Fear

Head_Fear_QuoteI saw this quote about a week ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I’ve always had a saying that has served me well;

Never make a decision out of fear.

You’d be surprised how many decisions are fear-based when that is your litmus test.

Now because this is the internet and the internet is full of trite sayings that, when dissected under the magnifying glass of critical thinking, aren’t helpful and might actually be harmful, I’m going to give you a disclaimer.

Fear can be good. Fear makes you look both ways before crossing the street. It makes you think carefully before making a career decision that might have lasting implications for you or your family. It keeps you from driving too fast and eating too much junk food.

That’s not the kind of fear I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of fear that paralyzes you. The kind of fear that keeps you from taking a step in any direction because something might go wrong. Like many people, I struggle with that fear on a weekly basis. The burden feels greater because I am responsible for other human beings, and I don’t want to fuck things up for them.

But friends, I am so, so, SO glad I have not let fear rule my life. I didn’t let it rule my life when I got out of two bad marriages. (yeah, my track record there isn’t so great, but you know what? Everyone is happier now, my kids included). I didn’t let it rule my life when I ditched a very high paying but unsatisfying job in my home state of California for a quieter life in rural New York where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have a job. I didn’t let it decide whether I should write back in 2004, when I got serious and started writing the books that led me to Prophecy of the Sisters and my first deal with Little Brown. I haven’t let it rule my life while I’ve experimented with a bunch of different genres – from YA Gothic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, Steampunk, and contemporary fiction to adult romance and psychological thrillers.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been scared. It doesn’t mean I haven’t made mistakes either. But I haven’t regretted any of them, because I’ve been in motion. I’ve been MOVING. And even the things that seemed like mistakes at the time, later looked like exactly the thing I needed to lead me to the next good thing that WASN’T a mistake.

Isn’t life funny that way? I’ll bet if you look back on the “bad” things that happened to you, you’ll find that the vast majority were precursors to something good that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been confronted with the “bad” one. If you think about taking away that one negative experience, what would you lose that was good?

And I’ll let you in on another secret; almost always, the thinking about doing something scary is worse than the actual doing. That’s because we build up all these scary scenarios in our head, and statistically, they aren’t ALL going to come true. Plus, when you’re moving, you don’t have as much space in your brain for worrying and being scared. You’re too busy taking steps, looking around, making something happen.

For the first time in a long time, I feel in control of my situation. Wanna know my one regret?

Not taking control sooner. Being so scared that I stood still for so long, or if not still, that I didn’t move in the one direction that offered the most promise.

So look your fear in the face, dear friends. What’s the worst that can happen, really? What’s the best? Is your avoidance of the worst worth sacrificing the possibility of the best? Will you be satisfied later, when you’re still in the same place because you were afraid to take a step? Because here is one absolutely universal truth; nothing in your life will change if you keep doing the same things over and over again.

And you know what? Taking a step isn’t very hard. It’s just one step. Take one today and another one tomorrow. You will be two steps closer to the thing you want, and you’ll be so busy moving, you’ll be surprised by how your fear recedes into the background. Free up all that space in your brain and psyche and imagination for something better. Because there is always something better than fear.

<3

 

 

 

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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of over seven novels. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.
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