As long as I can remember I’ve been an improvement junkie. I’m easily beguiled with a headline like, “Improve Your Entire Life With This Single Top-Secret Habit.” I have an entire shelf of self-help books, hopelessly dog-earred, tattered and highlighted.
The web site Life Hack is designed for people like me. (Refrain from clicking unless you care to sucked into its vortex for several hours.) Life has always been an incredibly complicated Chinese finger puzzle that I’ve never been able to come close to figuring out. Every new year I’ll adopt some new habit or routine, hoping I’ve finally found “the secret.” (In fact when The Secret came out, I was one of the first to buy it.)
Wherever I Go There I Am (Damn it!) Until Recently.
But at the end of every year, to my acute disappointment, I wasn’t much different than when I started out. Frustrating! But I still never gave up because I felt this constant tug…
This year, though, something radically changed. After years and years of banging at the door, it opened just a crack. And now, every day, it’s getting open a little wider.
I’m a writer and a teacher so it’s natural for me to want to share what’s been happening to me. If you follow this blog, you know I only blog about once a month, sometimes less. But I’m anticipating more frequent posts because I’m very excited to talk about “My Year of Allowing.”
What do I mean when I say “allowing”? I’ve heard the concept many times before, and understand it intellectually, but recently I’ve been engaging with it on a much deeper level. Here’s a brief explanation:
Why We Rarely Allow
Growing up we’re conditioned to contract away from any kind of pain: emotional or physical. After years of contracting and resisting every little thing that came our way— from a tummy ache to a snide remark— most of us have been conditioned to live in a state of constant defensiveness. In other words, instead of allow the present moment to flow around us in a natural way, we are battling it almost every second like Siamese Fighting Fish.
How so? We’re either thinking about the past (a crappy Amazon review that happened ten years ago) or the future (our upcoming spring vacation; woo hoo!) or we are continually judging everything we come into contact with, from the ring in the barista’s nose to the UPS man who looks at us funny when we answer the door naked. (Kidding! I’ve never done that, but he’s definitely seen my pjs.)
Life lived this way is like going against the current in a canoe. Is it any wonder that, at the end of the day, we find ways to escape by plopping ourselves in front of the TV to binge watch Netflix, surfing Facebook or guzzling alcohol to make everything a little blurry around the edges?
Are You A Present Moment Resister? (Hint: Most Likely)
Resisting our lives is no way to live and yet, probably ninety-eight percent of the population do exactly that. If you’re thinking, “Not me, baby cakes, I’m chill,” you’re probably so entrenched in that way of life you don’t even notice it. (Unless you’re the Dali Lama, then you are chill. But even the His Holiness would tell you it takes practice to stop fighting the present moment and flowing with it.)
So, a few months ago, something clicked with me and I thought, this year is going to be different, no more putzing around. This is the year I’m going to quit fighting life and simply allow it to unfold. And for the time ever, I’m getting it.
My problems are approached in a completely different way, my creative work is far easier, and insights are flowing into my life at a dizzying rate. (Hence my announcement to blog a bit more because I’m eager to keep up with all this stuff.)
Here’s some things that have happened since I’ve started my year of allowing. Since this is primarily a blog about creativity, I’ve include news about my writing at number one. But there have been other benefits as you can see.
- Wrote a 104,000 draft novel in three months. Easiest work I’ve ever experienced. (I started my year of allowing early in December.)
- Attracted more money in my life than ever before and in unexpected ways. Every week I see some unexpected source of income. Saturday night I won $500 in a raffle.
- Have attracted $30,000 in grants for a non-profit book I volunteer for.
- Cleared up some digestive issues.
- Healed and vastly improved a relationship with a family member.
I intend blog at least once a week to talk about different aspects of allowing and some of the things I’ve learned about it. (Warning: There is a bit of a learning curve.) I hope you’ll enjoy hearing some of things I’ve learned about allowing so you can apply it to your own life.
This week’s question: (From a reader) How do you reclaim beginner’s mind in your writing? It’s a matter of allowing space and not buying into preconceived notions or beliefs, like I’m a panster or I can only write in utter quiet. Approach every project with curiosity and open mind, like a first-time writer.
This week’s quote: “You yourself are your own barrier – rise from within it.”
― Idries Shah, The Way of the Sufi
This week’s finds: Comedian and mindfulness expert Kyle Cease shares daily insights he gets from meditating two hours a day.
How to argue with kindness. (I’m really trying to put these steps in practice.)
The photo on the left is me trying to be glamorous for an Oscar party. Normally I would say Oscar parties are not me. Getting glam is not me but in the year of allowing, anything goes.
Write authentically and love authentically.
That’s the theme of Karin’s latest romantic comedy, Love Literary Style, about an emotionally stunted literary writer who falls in love with a vivacious self-published romance writer and becomes distressed when her success surpasses his. Library Journal calls it, “Thoughtful and addictive.” Learn more here
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