It’s been a while since I’ve written.
And while I could make up a long list of excuses about how busy I’ve been and why I haven’t shared here, the truth is that I’ve been hiding from my own writing.
I’ve spent the last few months feeling a little stuck – while also struggling with some realities of middle aged life, work, parenting and care taking. (Ever been there?)
I’m incredibly grateful to report that I feel myself rallying – returning to the things that make me passionate, excited and hopeful about our collective future.
How did I get back to this place? What does it take to get yourself “unstuck?”
I will tell you that for me, it wasn’t just something I had to “shake off.” It was an intentional process that involved just as much intellectual work as effort of the heart.
Here are some of the actions I have took – and am continuing to take – in order to reclaim myself.
1) I had to identify what, precisely, was making me feel so stuck. I hid from this truth for several weeks, busying myself with day-to-day life to avoid thinking about what was bothering me and why.
Then, my stubborn, normally reliable body apparently decided to claim that time for me. Two painful (and brutally expensive) root canals have left me with ample time for reflection.
And in that time, I’ve realized something: there is a calling that has been slowly and steadily whispered in my ear that I’ve been avoiding. Every time it started to call out to me, I turned up the radio; picked up my pace. I hit the gym, the movies – anything to keep from hearing this challenging and transformative call.
But I’m hearing it loud and clear now. And I am beginning to be honest about this call with those who are closest to me – those who are both safe havens and able to help make the vision a reality. Even while my circumstances have not changed, I feel far less “stuck.”
2) I am being intentional again about my social and civic connections. Being stuck is draining. It sometimes even makes us uncomfortable around the passionate people in our lives that are living their purpose and thriving. One way I am doing this is by starting a group of some sort. The verdict is still out on whether it will be a book club or a Bunco night or a dinner and dialogue gathering. But I know that I am lucky enough to have a list of people I want to get to know better. And as I’m becoming less “stuck,” I feel more free and empowered and comfortable reaching out.
3) I’ve developed a plan for making my new vision reality. This plan is going to take a little time. It will involve an awful lot of networking and heart and, admittedly, a bit of luck, too. It might not happen right away – or even in the next year. But there is power in taking small steps, every day, to make this dream closer to reality. Sometimes, just taking the next right step allows you to feel less stuck, even if your circumstances have not yet changed.
4) I’m making more time for the things that help me feel fulfilled. Community service is a way of life for my family. We believe strongly that we have an obligation to support the most vulnerable among us – the children struggling with broken families, homeless veterans, moms who don’t know where they will find their next meal. But for some reason, when I am stuck I shy away from these acts. I make excuses or fill my calendar with less rewarding things – partly, I suppose, because in serving, I know I will be reminded of the calling I’ve been ignoring.
5) I return to a place of gratitude. I’m not a big fan of self-help books and programs. They’ve never quite felt effective to me. And instead of helping me to move beyond a challenge, I find that the book or program just encourages me to spend more time stewing over something negative. I am happy for and encouraged by people who are helped by such people. But for me? The best thing I can do to move past a feeling of being “stuck” is to focus less on the problem and more on gratitude. This gratitude brings a calmness to me – and it also prevents me from hyper-focusing on the areas of my life that needs addressing to the point it isn’t healthy. Gratitude reminds me that while I am working to improve a situation, the life that I have is already one for which to be grateful.
So, in writing this post, I make a declaration: I am back. Back as a writer and back as a thinker – back as a person who works to connect with others and to live a life that is authentic and packed with purpose. I hope that in sharing this, those of you who are or have been stuck will feel a little less alone. And maybe, some of the tips here will work for you, too.
What about you? Have you ever felt stuck? What was the cause? How did you move forward? What’s next for you?