No Matter What – Day 21

It’s the end of week four of the No Matter What Game and since I posted a bonus piece on Saturday this also brings us to Day 21, which is where I leave you.  Not because you’ve been anything but supportive, but because next week I start my dietary detox. If you’ve ever done one, you know I’ll need all my wits about me to manage the civil war between what my mind wants and what my body craves.

Never fear, I’ll be blogging again in no time.

Old vintage typewriter, close-up.

G: Which prompt was your favourite and which one did you learn the most from?

P:  In my way of answering without really answering, I will say they were all my favorite because I learned something from every single one of them.  Whether it was what I felt like writing about at the end of a very long day at the office was debatable.

In the end, it came down to showing up and practicing my craft.  Nothing would get done if I waited until I felt like it, had the energy, or was inspired to do it. Having a coach and the accountability that blogging daily provided made a huge difference.

I love to write, it’s true.  I write every day no matter what regardless of whether I’m blogging or journaling.  Journaling helps me metabolize life. But blogging helps me bravely find my voice.

Before we started the No Matter What Game, I was convinced I needed to figure out a way to quit my day job in order to write full time.  Now I know the key is not the amount of time I have to write but simply that I write. No. Matter. What.

It’s also not about writing something that goes viral or gets lots of likes and attracts thousands of raving fans.  (Although I’m open to that experience.)  It’s more that I write the right words for the right person at the right time.

I recently had an experience writing a few greeting cards for Cardthartic.  I was thrilled to see my words alongside of beautiful drawing of a sunflower.  I sent the card to a dear friend who said it meant the world to her, not just because I wrote it, but because of the words held special meaning for her and her son.

At that moment I let go of the desire to write a book that gets made into a movie that wins awards and surrendered to the sweet success that writing a few good words can bring.

I have “met” many of you because you read one of these posts, liked it, and invited me to check out your site. You are amazing and incredibly inspiring!  This makes the whole thing worthwhile. It motivates me to write no matter what because it really does matter to all of us.

As artists we no longer need to feel isolated unless we want to. Creative communities abound and our tribe often looks much different than we imagine.  Mine is now wonderfully diverse and global.  And we never would have found each other if we were unwilling to be vulnerable, visible, and vocal.

Thanks to all of you who have followed diligently or just read what interested you, left a comment, or liked a post. And thanks to the world’s greatest coach Gillian for sending prompts no matter what. Even though I’m done writing daily for a short time, you can still ask Gillian to send you prompts at www.gillianpearce.com.

My world is infinitely better because all of you are in it. Thanks for playing along.

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I’d love to hear from you.  Please your feedback or share your favorite prompt in the comments below.

No Matter What – Day 9

father applying sunblock cream on daughters shoulder, sun protection

Gillian is on holiday right now and had this to say about today’s prompt.  “Right now I’m sitting by the pool in Gozo trying to get my daughter to put on some sun cream which made me think of today’s prompt. 🙂 “

G:  You know that song – always wear sunscreen by Baz Lehrman?  What 5 things would you have in your version of that song?

P:  I didn’t know the song, but I Googled it and added a link on his name (above) so those who don’t know it can listen to it.  Even before hearing the lyrics, it sounded like a commencement address to me.  Since I’ve given and listened to many such addresses in my academic career, I realized I had heard snippets of this one before.  It’s definitely worth sharing.

A few years ago when I graduated into a new decade, I wrote a commencement address of sorts.  I called it my Midlife Manifesto and tried my hand at making a video.  If you’ve got some headphones handy and 3 minutes to spare, click on the video below to see my version of “always wear sunscreen.”

If you don’t have time right now, no worries.  Come back later when you do.  In the meantime, here are 5 new ideas to add to the mix.

1) Put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t save anyone if you aren’t alive.

2) Move at the pace of grace.  Don’t just do something, sit there. Go when you know. Act with intention.  Do with deliberation. Let grace be your guide.

3) Put your whole self in and shake it all about. Do what you love.  Love what you do. You are one thought away from a new perspective. Why not choose the cheerier thought?

4) Always trust your cape. Believe in your Superpowers.  “She did not know she could not fly, so she did.”

5) Create. No. Matter. What.  You know the drill by now, yes?  Begin again.  And again. And again.

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Want to share your version?  Please do so in the comments below.  To have Gillian send you daily prompts, email her at www.gillianpearce.com. Thanks for playing the No Matter What Game with us.  Gillian sends me prompts each weekday and I do my best to answer them no matter what.  I encourage you to do so as well to get your creative juices flowing.

No Matter What – Day 6

If you are just joining us in the No Matter What Game, look for details on how to play after after the post.

 bob and penny you don't say

To preface Gillian’s question for today, I mentioned to her that last weekend after Bob proofread the post that kicked off No Matter What, his comment was “I’ve lost you again.”  This is a guy who has watched me work through a couple of 21 Day Dietary Detoxes, a 30 Day blogging challenge,  and a 1×31 Get Stuff Done challenge in the last year.  So he know of what he speaks!

G: How could you approach this challenge differently so that Bob doesn’t miss you so much?

P:  The challenge of spending quality time with loved ones versus spending time alone in order to create is something I think most artists/creative people struggle with.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve never married.  Artsy folks tend to have a different relationship to time, space, and reality in general than regular folks.

If you are a creative type, you know what I mean.  If you live with one, you also know what I mean.  And bless you.  I know we’re not the easiest people to live with.

The call to create is compelling.  The courage required to create is considerable.  And the consequences of not creating can be catastrophic.

I used to print out my posts and leave them on the table for Bob to read before he drank his coffee, digested the news, and prepared to leave the house at 7:15am.

He could consume in 3 minutes what it took me 3 hours to create.  And so it is with most creative work from movies to plays to concerts to books.

I love to linger after movies or finishing a book or attending a concert.  I want to watch it again, read it again, listen to it again.  I want to understand as much as I can about all of it. I want to know the back story.

I move slowly in a world that moves fast.  Attempting to alter my rhythm is very stressful for me.  I also get that my moving slowly and deliberately is very stressful to those who like to move quickly.  Like Bob.

But as a writer, I cannot afford to rush through life and miss the nuances and the tells that allow me to craft a story that rings true. I have to feel my way into the messiness of life.  I have to have time to think about my behavior and work out what it all means and why.

Whenever I commit to a challenge, there is a point when I melt down and want to forget the whole thing.  The first time I did a blogging challenge I hit a snag around Day 19.  It was the first day of school and a demanding day for administrators, advisors, and staff.  I came home late, slumped on the couch, and declared myself done for the day.

Bob said, “Honey, you need to do write.  I know you had a tough day but you’ll be really upset with yourself if you don’t write.”

Of course he was right.  I got up, dusted myself off, and posted my 500 words as if there was never a doubt I would.

In the end, I think our loved ones would rather have us create – even if it means time away from them – than resent them for the craziness that comes with not creating.

And since it’s football season followed by hunting season, Bob may not miss me at all. 🙂

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What’s the No Matter What Game all about?  Click here to find out. If you’d like to jump in on the conversation, please do so by leaving a comment below.  If you’d like your own prompt delivered to you, you can contact Gillian at http://gillianpearce.com/.

No Matter What – Day 5

No Matter What Game …. find out how you can play below post.
Woman is lost and wanders into a book with glow lights.
G: Your mentioned in your last post “I currently have 5 books begging to be birthed”. Give us a taste of each book.
P:  The theme that runs throughout all my books is the idea of “Lost & Found“.  I believe we need to get lost before we can truly find ourselves, our sidekicks, and our way in the world.
As cliché as it sounds, it really is the journey, the climb, the adventure that makes the man or woman. We need to set out on our grand adventures with the best of intentions so when we discover the road from here to there is under construction, we can see these detours for what they really are. Divinely orchestrated and unexpected side trips where we encounter the people, places, and experiences we need for our character (and stories) to emerge.  Joseph Campbell called this the hero’s journey.
One of my favorite phrases is part of a longer quote by J.R.R. Tolkien,  “Not all who wander are lost.”  That would be the title of choice for my stories about Santa Fe and why it attracts so many people who feel exiled from other places.
Another book about living the creative life in the Land of Enchantment would be The Dog, The Desert, and the Days that Define a Life.  My dog Malcolm and I had the most extraordinary adventures involving red racers, bulls, javelinas, hawks and a wide variety of other dogs as we hiked/housesat/dogsat our way through Santa Fe.
I particularly like stories of pilgrimages and hikes; works that explore inner as well as outer journeys.  I was thrilled to see Cheryl Strayed’s book “Wild” and Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in  the Woods” become movies.  I also love books and movies about the Camino De Santiago. I especially enjoyed The Way with Martin Sheen.
At the same time I’m concerned the market will be saturated with these walking stories before I have the chance to write mine.
The Lost Ladies of Cumbria is about a week long hiking trip with poet David Whyte through the Lake District told from the perspective of seven middle-aged women.  The circumstances that brought each of us to that place and that time are themes I think many women at midlife can relate to.
We often hear about men’s midlife crises, but women’s stories have largely been left untold.  (Except for Stella.) This book gives those stories a voice while weaving in the incredible poetry and wisdom of a gifted poet.
I’d love to create a day book called A Penny for Your Thoughts which could be a compilation of blog posts and the Midlife Manifesto I crafted a few years ago.
And last but not least, I plan to turn a class I designed and taught 11 years ago called Read It & Leap! into an ebook that ideally you will be able to download on February 29,  2016.  Yes, approximately three Leap Days after I originally conceived of the idea, I’d like to finally birth this baby.  Long labor, yes?
So, there you have it.  The books demanding I write them into existence.  Which one would you like to read first?  Let me know in the comments below.
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Follow along or play the No Matter What Game weekdays at www.midlifemacgyver.com.  The world’s best coach Gillian sends me a prompt each weekday and I post a response no matter what.  You are welcome to use the same prompt and record your answers in a private journal, share with a group, or even better, share in the comments below! If you’d prefer to have your own prompts sent just to you, contact Gillian at https://www.facebook.com/gillianpearcecoach.

No Matter What – Day 2

Cute 4 months old baby making a funny surprised face
Okay, it’s Day 2 and the game goes like this.  The world’s best coach Gillian gets to ask me a question and I get to answer because my commitment for the next 30 days is to write no matter what and hers is to coach no matter what.
You are invited to play along as well.  Find out how below.
G:  What has been the most surprising/unexpected thing about your life to date?
P: Short answer – everything!
Specifically:

  1. Life got infinitely more interesting once I turned 40 and has gotten increasingly better every year since then.
  2. After living in many exciting and beautiful places, I now live in a small farming community approximately 65 miles from where I was born.
  3. I also own my house and have a “real” job.  Oddly enough, I now I find this exciting and beautiful.
  4. I had clung to a dream so long that when it finally came true it took me awhile to realize I’d outgrown it.
  5. I got engaged when most people were having grandchildren.
  6. I changed my entire life by changing what went in my mouth (in terms of eating healthy, whole foods) and what came out (how I used my words).
  7. Relaxing into the moment makes my life so much easier than stressing into it does.
  8. The universe really does have my back. It will meet me half way. Sometimes I only have to go the extra 1/4 mile.
  9. It often takes 50 years to become an overnight success. Practice, practice, practice.
  10. Having the approval of thousands of people I may never know is not nearly as important as loving those in front of me.
  11. Pets make the world a better place.  So does Amazon Prime.
  12. Cleaning up my act has consequences.
  13. I had no idea how scary it would be to write “raw“.  This kind of “ask me anything” writing is terrifying because it demands a deeper truth.
  14. Invisibility is not a superpower.  Vulnerability is.  Gratitude is.
  15. My body – everyone’s body – is a wonderland. Mine is my oldest friend and ultimate ally. I cannot afford to ignore, abuse, or otherwise shame it.  Becoming a Certified Eating Psychology Coach was one of the best decisions I’ve made.  It healed the wounds unconsciously inflicted over a lifetime.

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If you’d like Gillian to play the No Matter What Game, contact Gillian at http://gillianpearce.com  or https://www.facebook.com/GillianPearceCoach/ to set up your daily prompts.
I’d love to hear your responses to Gillian’s question of the day or my answers.  Please leave your comments below.