The difference between burnout and resistance

After yesterday’s post about resistance, Wendy asked some questions that got me thinking:

Here’s the question I’ve been struggling with though – how do you know the difference between burn out because you’ve been doing too much for too long and resistance? I think there is a difference, but I think the first can very easily turn into the second without you noticing as you begin to recover. How do you know when it’s time to kick yourself in the can again?

Using this blog as an example, sometimes I neglect it because life gets in the way and generally I don’t feel bad about this. This is not a for-profit blog. I need breaks. Breaks are human.

But I’ve seen it happen again and again, when I take a break I lose momentum. I turn inwards and I forget how to hit Publish.

If I’m writing in my journal instead, I tell myself it’s all the same.

If I’m working on a novel, I tell myself my time is better spent.

If my kids are out of school, I tell myself I don’t have time.

Time seems to be the #1 reason resistance has given me.

But time is a man-made construct, we can manipulate it however we want.

Maybe the trick is spending less much on each blog post. Blogging, for me, is less like a craft and more like a hobby, a ritual, even a memory bank. Spending too much time on pointless tweaks and self-sensoring leads to burnout and then resistance.

Still, I do think breaks are good and often very much needed. Like I said, when you pick up again you may be further along than where you left off.

Here’s another example: I was working on a novel and I had 91k words when I stopped writing. This was months ago, January or February. I got stuck and then I had another baby. But then the other day, without warning, the ending came to me. I wasn’t thinking about the story, I had no plans to continue it. I had all but scrapped those 91k words. Was it resistance that kept me from excavating this story, or was it burnout?

Maybe burnout lurks when we’re spending too much time editing and not enough time creating. Maybe burnout arrives when we’re forcing ourselves to finish something that’s not working. Maybe burnout happens for a reason.

But there’s no good reason behind resistance. There’s nothing behind resistance but fear.

I knew I had to come back to blogging because I felt resistance towards it. Like I posted yesterday on Facebook, Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art: “Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too.” Blogging is fun for me. I’m a thinker and a writer and I enjoy thinking and writing and discoursing about personal growth and the human experience. I lead a rich life of motherhood and mindfulness and I feel compelled to revel in these experiences, and remember them and share them. Maybe by examining my own mind, body and spirit, I can inspire other people to do the same.

It’s a blurry line between taking a break and succumbing to resistance, but in general, I think breaks are short and resistance is long. Breaks feel deserved. Like the couch after a long day or a protein shake after a tough work out. Resistance feels heavy. Like clutter or debt or a grudge. Burnout happens because we’ve been at it, resistance keeps us from going at it.

Resistance comes when I take “it”/life/myself too seriously. Expectations erase joy, and in turn, creativity.

Has your burnout become resistance? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

IMG_0908.JPG

Have you heard of resistance?

Have you heard of resistance?

Resistance is the force that stops us from doing what we want to be doing.

The force that feeds fundamentalism, addiction, hate and depression. A proliferating fungus, a tumor of stagnant energy, a cloud that suffocates our brains and chases our hearts every time we so much as think about doing it. Whatever “it” is.

Maybe the resistance comes in the form of silence. Maybe in the form of distraction. Maybe you don’t use your voice even though you’ve found it. Maybe you don’t ask for help even when you know who to ask. Maybe you type the words but you never send, or never post. Maybe you have a demanding day job or children at home and you never make the time.

No one is going to give you the time. You have to take it. If you feel in the seat of your soul that there is something you need to be doing whether it be swimming daily or playing team sports or writing a story or painting a picture or traveling the world–and you’re not doing it–you have succumbed to resistance.

Sometimes we bury our desires under so many layers of ego and opinion and appearance, that we forget what they are. But we can’t ignore the tug at our hearts.

Something’s missing.

Society, loved ones, corporations, jobs, bosses, other people, they usually have ideas on what we should be doing. Where we should live. How we should live. People are quick to speak, declaring what is best for us, what we need, what we don’t need. They believe themselves the authority and because they don’t have ill intentions, because they probably love us, we might think to listen.

But the only person who knows what’s best for you is you. Only you know where the resistance hides, and what it’s hiding.

When I saw the Dalai Lama speak, a man asked him a tough question. The Dalai Lama responded, “I don’t know.” His audience of thousands waited patiently for him to continue. He did not. He demonstrated that it’s okay not knowing. We don’t need to pretend we are authorities. We don’t need to know everything. We can feel our way through darkness when we don’t know the way. We can cast aside our egos and revel in the mystery.

I enjoy growing older because I feel as if I am growing into myself. Growing stronger into myself. So that when someone tells me what to do, I know that I don’t have to listen. When someone says something about me or makes a judgment either implicit or explicit, I don’t have to believe them.

They don’t know me, not all of me. I know me. And I know resistance. And I know that when the resistance builds up like plaque on dirty teeth or toxins in the blood that the only cure is not a deep cleaning nor a drastic detox, but time. And when I grow bored of whatever it is that’s scaring me from blogging or writing or submitting, whether it be exposure or self-doubt or judgment, I can start again and be further along than where I left off. Because overcoming resistance is a story in and of itself. 

“Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.”

– from the book that inspired today’s blog: “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

IMG_0807.JPG

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

It’s Not An Island, It’s A Forest.

Lucy Miller Robinson:

Brilliant piece on parenthood by Cassie Fox. I love this woman and her words.

“And you’re not the only one who is scared of losing yourself in this journey; who hasn’t written a single word in months, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush or knitting needle since you had a baby, who hasn’t held a pencil in so long that it feels like you’ve forgotten how. You’re not the only one who feels like you’ve been bled dry by the end of the day, like a bleached jumble of bones laid out on your bed in the moonlight, with nothing holding you together except someone else’s need, and it’s all you can do to just stay there in one spot; you’re not the only one who wonders what else there will be for you, what will be left of your heart once they’re grown, how you can sustain yourself in this current space. And you’re not the only one who finds fulfillment outside of motherhood, who needs to move and create and comfort outside the square feet of your home; you’re not the only one who has a wide-open spirit and a need to be just a little bit wild, just sometimes, who wants to drink too much and dance too dirty and lick honey from the fingers of a lover.”

Originally posted on If We Do This, Then We Really Did This.:

WP_20140718_1066

There are over 7 billion of us humans here on Earth, but how often do we feel as though we are entirely alone? Right now, I am sitting on my comfortable couch in my second favorite room of the house, and it’s the kind of grey misty day I love, and it’s an unbelievably cool day for mid-July (I am wearing long sleeves! On July 18! In Memphis!); one kid is two feet away from me, yelling at the Playstation 3, and the smaller kid is methodically dumping out on the floor every single small toy she owns, but my heart — today, my heart feels small and shriveled, all drawn up the way my skin gets when I step outside in winter, and it’s like there’s this giant bubble all around me, and it’s made up of loneliness, and a quiet ache inside my chest, and a persistent sadness…

View original 1,955 more words

Lessons on Optimism

You’ve probably heard that “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”—the sentiment of Charles R. Swindoll, an evangelical Christian pastor, presumably a man of faith and optimism.

In the second volume of Anaïs Nin’s diary, she cites two different people who proclaimed that her diary would never be published. Stuart Gilbert, a famous literary scholar said: “You have the makings of a Proust. This is too natural and will never be published.” Denise Clairouin, a French translator of novels, said: “The diary will never be published. People can’t bear such nakedness. You are so much in life.”

Of course, seven volumes of Anaïs Nin’s diaries were eventually published, making her a feminist icon of the 1960s, a woman studied and celebrated and often quoted.

49b13eafa3e18f155576bb73d985f410

image via typewrittenword.tumblr.com

The thing is, she started seeking publication of her diaries as early as the 1930s. It took thirty years to see her diaries in print and yet she never stopped writing them. Some of the closest people in her life fought to break her dependence on her diary–her mother, her mentor, her lover, her therapist, her friend. But it was her diary who became her best friend and confidante (wikipedia). She wrote 15,000 pages, which today fill two four-drawer filing cabinets in a Brooklyn bank vault.

She didn’t need the permission of others, not even her loved ones, to fulfill this deep calling. She gave herself permission to do it. May we all be so bold.

fc6b444093f2e0756f01a32f6c1ddea7

image via etsy.com

May we all stop thinking about what it is we are supposed to be doing, how we are supposed to be parenting or working or spending or living. Forget about what you’ve started and what you’ve promised, not for always but for now, and think about what you freaking want to do with your life.

Maybe you want to quit your corporate job and move to the country where your children can run free.

Maybe you want to move to a bustling metropolis and devour culture with every one of your senses.

Maybe you want to live like a monk and write poetry.

Maybe you want to tell your boss to fuck off (maybe in polite terms, maybe not) and then go start your own company.

Maybe you want to create pockets of passive income so you can travel the world and work 4 hour weeks à la Timothy Ferriss.

Maybe you want to break up or get together or have children or stop having children or read more or kiss more or sleep more or move more or write more.

9e65b281521b045cf42998e4fe7254ba

I think you should do what you’ve always wanted to do. Give yourself permission. Don’t seek it outside of yourself. Be inside your body. We feel trapped beneath the skin for a reason, right? There is a time and a place to transcend the skin, but right now, while pressed against this earth, it feels good to be grounded in our bodies. Who we are, what we want to do, what and where we feel called to live.

If we don’t follow these tugs, these whispered callings, we’re not playing with the universe. We deprive the greater good of our individual goodness, our gifts, our passions. No one else is me or you. Our DNA is 99% the same but it’s that wild card of a 1% that makes each of us irreplaceable.

I wonder what these comments about her diary being unpublishable did to Anaïs Nin, if anything. Obviously she didn’t believe them. She believed in herself instead. Do I believe in myself? It’s a question I keep asking.

618850_orig

Anaïs Nin famously said: “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” An optimist sees opportunities, notices blessings. An optimist takes criticism as fuel rather than bullets. An optimist knows that she can do a whole lot with her reaction. If Piper Kerman had wallowed in her prison sentence rather than immersed herself in it and written about it, we wouldn’t have my new favorite television series, “Orange Is the New Black”

I’m talking to you as much as I’m talking to myself, perched upon a soapbox of beautiful intent: I hope you believe.

33ee71156cc0da7fe7baa97b4a59310d

 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Lessons from my children: it’s okay to be real

My girls need me. They need me to pay attention, soothe, be steadfast.

But I am erratic. My attention is scattered in piles like fallen leaves in the autumn. Cayenne crimson, turmeric orange, ginger yellow. The colors of my temper, spicy like the evil twin who lives somewhere in my head not my heart (I wrote about her on Mamalode). The earth spins and circles the sun and the leaves die and emotions gallop into uncharted territories like wild horses and no one can control any of it.

I see it in my daughter. Four years-old with feelings loud as a train wreck. She opens up her heart when its bursting and spills her frustrations all over the universe. Like fallen leaves in the autumn. Though I may grow angry in response, I prefer to be calm. In my center I am glad that she expresses herself with the freedom of a person who is safe.

Wild horses do not do well in cages or suppressed by crowds, but in wide open spaces where emotions have room to dance and turn, an ever-shifting kaleidoscope, its beauty a product of all the colors.

20140619-091039.jpg

Funny how I can celebrate my daughter’s colorful feelings and yet feel shamed by my own. What if we extended the same love and sympathy we show our children to ourselves? What if the chubby pieces of our belly are actually endearing, indicative of pleasure and humanity, and not something we need to hide beneath big shirts or use as a catalyst for deprivation or guilt? What if our stupid mistakes are not stupid but natural and productive?

Maybe I’m not a failure for raising my voice or losing patience. This isn’t Pleasantville, this is Earth in all its grit and glory. Maybe I don’t have to pretend to be calm when I’m not. There’s no shame in being real. Right?

At a birthday party recently where GiGi knew no one but her big brother, she covered her eyes when the party coordinator asked her a question in front of a small crowd of (older) kids. She didn’t try to pretend to be bold, she didn’t speak simply because someone asked her to. She let herself be shy and she opened up to the others when she felt comfortable. And ready. She stayed true to her emotions.

20140619-091018.jpg

It all comes to holding these emotions inside vs. feeling them and letting them go. There’s a fine balance between keeping your cool and causing a fuss, not only for parents but adults everywhere. I’m not suggesting we go around town honking haphazardly at other cars, arguing with hostesses or dragging our children by the ears, but rather that we feel okay about it when we do lose our cool. We aren’t bad parents or road ragers or terrible people, we are people. Terribly fallible, terribly sweet people.

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Collecting Moments

Time stretches before me like a magic carpet willing to take me anywhere. I remember back when I thought I’d never grow up, when the end always felt so far. Four years of college passed. Four years of my daughter’s life happened. Now the first four months of my second daughter’s life are nearly over. She was just born and soon she’ll be walking. Change happens without regard for the weary.

20140611-112841.jpg

How is it that I am both the oldest I’ve ever been and the youngest I will ever be? How is it that I have children and a husband and a home of my own and all these terrifying adult responsibilities? It happened slowly over time, moment by moment, and yet so much of those moments have disappeared. Important things happen but they fade until the memories bear no distinction from dreams and I must ask myself: did that really happen or did I dream it?

20140611-113053.jpg

Important things take place and I forget them completely as if they never happened at all. Either they fall into the vortex forever and I have no knowingness to miss them, or something reminds me. A picture, a person, an event. And though I may still not remember it for myself, I find comfort that I have a past. It’s out there. I’ve been living. I’ve been breathing for 29 years. The atmosphere contains me and I contain the atmosphere. Time unravels as it winds around itself. Time cannot be conquered nor reigned in nor slowed. So how do we cope with it?

20140611-113103.jpg

Perhaps in another dimension we can manipulate time, but not here, not now.

20140611-113310.jpg

I cope by writing about it and taking pictures of it and trying not to dwell on it. Time cannot be reigned in, but my thoughts can. I try to be happy about time rather than nostalgic. I collect moments to remember.

20140611-112953.jpg

I spend a lot of time these days “wearing” Skyla. We both love it, the closeness and ease of nursing and napping and traveling this way. Occasionally she will be nursing in the pack and I will look down and see her staring at me. Or I will look down and see her smiling at me. And those eyes. And that smile. And that fuzzy little head. Joy pours out of me like smoke from a burning building.

20140611-113039.jpg

She opens to this plane of being. Unfurling, unfolding, uncurling like the spiral of hair on the crown of her head. She stretches her limbs longer today than yesterday, grabbing and kicking at an understanding of what it means to exist here and now.

20140611-113016.jpg

Giovanna is a force to be reckoned with, a spirited opinionated stubborn girl-child. She’s not my baby as much as she is her own person with awareness, consciousness, and a memory of her own. She doesn’t care much about following the rules at home. She draws on walls and sneaks downstairs when she’s supposed to be sleeping. She thinks her brother is the coolest and her sister the cutest. She loves them something fierce. She finds everything I might ever try to hide from her because she’s always looking, her brain is always turning. She reminds me every day to give her the gummy vitamins. She loves water balloons and dresses.

20140611-112849.jpg

Emile turned eight last week. He is the sweetest handful. He likes to talk back and he thinks he knows everything there is to know. He is very willing to read stories to GiGi and help herd her to bed, though he’s not so keen on his own bedtime. He loves bugs, legos, playing with his little sister and holding his littlest sister. He loves babies. He is a bona fide boy with holes in his pants, dirt lodged beneath his fingernails, and a tendency to tackle. He calls me out when I let a swear world slips (he doesn’t like it). He is quick to forgive. He’s already up to my shoulders.

20140611-112907.jpg

They take so much out of me. They keep me awake, they demand my time, they suck me dry. Yet I am willing to give more, I am willing to give everything. These moments are everything.

20140611-113117.jpg

 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

It’s June and I am

Inspired by Alisha Sommer’s “Currently I am …” post.

Listening … to Skyla’s voice as she finds it, her breath as it moves through her body, pliable and pure.

Eating … like a goddess and letting food love me back.

Drinking … homemade americanos, and many glasses of water.

Wearing … my torn up TOMS because I just can’t quit ‘em, they make the earth feel soft under my feet.

Wanting … to take more of my beloved barre classes because this energy, nor the subsequent endorphins, cannot be replicated at home.

Dreaming … about traveling, publishing novels, going deeper.

Needing … time, sleep, and a tan.

Thinking … about opening as I participate in another session of Liberated Lines. The theme of OPEN feels different than the last session on LOVE.

Feeling … like I could spend every spare moment reading and writing, and there would still be more books to read and more words to write.

20140604-100848.jpg

20140604-104054.jpg

20140604-105317.jpg

20140604-104143.jpg

20140604-104157.jpg

20140604-104214.jpg

20140604-104221.jpg

20140604-105723.jpg

20140604-104612.jpg

20140604-105251.jpg

 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.