Tag Archives: focus

On distractions

Sundial

I talked to my therapist today about what enables good writing for me. What it boils down to is not letting my mind get pulled by the distractions. And wooo buddy are there ALWAYS distractions.

This is why I chose return as my theme for 2014.

I chose to focus on writing for ONE HOUR this afternoon. Just one hour. Just after I’d turned the timer on, I swear to everything holy a car alarm started going off. I had to laugh. I could let myself be distracted by the car alarm, or I could choose to focus on what I wanted.

Here’s what I want: I want to immerse myself in the world and characters I’m creating. I remembered what I wanted. And every time the fucking car alarm went off again (because oh, it did), I heard as a reminder to return to my focus.

I’m grateful for the years of practice I’ve had at meditation. I’ve learned that every moment is an opportunity to return to what I want to focus on. I don’t have to shame myself for getting distracted. I can just return. And so I do.

What are you choosing to focus on these days?

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When the going gets tough …

leap leap

I swim laps a few times a week. In my ideal world of lap swimming, I would have my own lane and never have to share. The reality is, there are usually more swimmers than lanes. Which means sharing lanes. I generally don’t mind sharing. It’s about finding a rhythm with the other swimmers and then praying no one runs into you.

My point is, sometimes swimming is easy and effortless, sometimes there are obstacles. I’ve been working on paying attention to my reactions – that is, the knee-jerk, unconscious responses. I have a tendency to quit or shut down.

On Sunday, I started swimming with my own lane. Ahh, perfection, I thought. Soon enough, one woman joined my lane. Then another. And then another! Before I knew it, there were 4 of us sharing one lane. The flow was fine, but I noticed I was getting annoyed. They had disrupted my peace. MY peace, I’m telling you.

I contemplated getting out of the pool. I’d swum enough. But then I paused. A thought surfaced: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Fuck that shit, I thought. I hate that. But then I relaxed, and I had another thought. What do I want??

What did I want? I wanted to keep swimming. Focusing on what I wanted, rather than on toughing it out, changed my experience. Rather than having to prove myself, I could return to the activity. I could relax and let go of the irritation.

The next time I feel frustrated, when things are hard, and I feel like quitting, I hope I can remember this. It’s good to stop every once in awhile and re-evaluate. Am I still on the path? Is this serving me? Is this the direction I want to be going?

I want to pause and say, When the going gets tough, what do I want?

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Return

spider o'lantern

We’ve passed the nadir and are swinging back toward the light. The light is lasting longer, even if it’s imperceptible right now.

One of my Twitter pen pals, Lou Knight, asked the other day what our one word of the year might be. At first I thought mine was focus, but as I’ve thought about it more, I’ve decided it’s actually return. Because my focus wavers, I wobble and wibble (hee hee), but every moment I have the opportunity to return to the object of my focus. I get to practice this in meditation, gently drawing my mind back to my breath or my mantra. Likewise, there are a myriad of distractions, and I get pulled by them, and then I notice and return my attention back to the work at hand, whatever that might be.

So, in the spirit of return, I’m taking up my friend GG Silverman’s challenge to embrace your fears for total writing awesomeness. GG shared her fear:

I told her my deepest, darkest fear: I was afraid that when I fully came out of my shell as a writer, that I’d be a scary, ugly spider instead of a beautiful butterfly, and that people would hate me.

Her response changed my life:
“It’s okay to be a scary spider. The world needs spiders, too.”

And the challenge:

Your assignment: take ten minutes to make a list of things that scare you the most, then the next time you have ten free minutes, write about one of them, and go deep. I guarantee it will be some of your most powerful, emotional writing. For extra credit, post the results on your own blog, and tag me with your link on Twitter (I’m @GG_Silverman) using the hashtag #FearlessWriting, or let me know if this exercise inspired an amazing story. I’d love to hear from you.

This challenge nearly sets my teeth on edge and turns my innards to liquid, but what the hell, it’s probably not going to kill me. Ha! Would love it if anyone else wants to join me in “hugging some spiders” this week. I don’t know that I’ll post what I write, but I may share a snippet. Who’s in?

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