I cried on the way to my office last week. Now before you get too worried (I’m talking to you, Mom!), allow me to provide some background, as well as some tips so that you, too, may be crying on your way to work in record time.
Just a few short months ago, I finished my first book, Unhitched: Unlock Your Courage and Clarity and Unstick Your Bad Marriage. Fortunately, I was surrounded by some wonderful fellow authors, as well as a kick-ass writing coach, all of whom helped me press pause for a moment and celebrate this accomplishment. My coach then warned of the “postpartum publishing effect” where you experience a let down following the festivities of a book release. Oh man, was she right!
Around the same time of my book postpartum, I experienced some significant loss. A beloved firecracker of an aunt passed away. A dear friend died unexpectedly in a tragic accident. An even dearer friend suffered a traumatic brain injury in the same incident, and for some time it was unclear whether she would recover enough to have any semblance of a normal life.
All of these events came in the midst of a 2-month period where’d I’d violated one of my guiding principles by overcommitting myself royally in both my business and social life. The cherry on top came by way of an upper respiratory infection that lingered for about 4 weeks. By the end of March, I felt less energetic than a zombie with mono.
So of course the story ends here with me proudly sharing that I took it all in stride, practiced what I preach, was patient, and gently allowed myself to recover and return to normalcy all in good time. LOL. In reality, I did the exact opposite.
I became panicky that I couldn’t find my energy, my inspiration, my connection to the Universe’s unlimited battery that normally fuels me with ease. As a result, I pushed when I should have been resting. I tried to force inspiration when I know from experience it only arrives with healthy nurturance and allowance.
This scenario did not pave the way for a desirable outcome. I was exhausted, unmotivated, and had very little of value to show for the things I created when it felt like I was slogging through mud to push a boulder uphill.
Clearly what I was doing was not working, so I decided to approach it in a different way. Lo and behold, my new approach worked. If you, too, find yourself in a low energy, low inspiration place now or in the future, the following are a few tips for how to move through it and return to a place of stasis and vitality.
My partner’s parents have an adorable little Beagle name Ezra who tends to be a bit overzealous when offered a treat. In hopes of not losing a finger, as you bend down with the bacon, you gotta say “Gentle, gentle.”
I adopted this strategy for myself and started repeating “gentle, gentle” as a reminder that I don’t need to be chomping at the bit and pushing so damn hard. Instead, I could allow for the normal ebbs and flows of life. I could trust that with time and space, my energy and inspiration would return.
Just look at nature (who I’d say has done a pretty good job of mastering cycles). Not every season offers a bountiful harvest. Sometimes a period of dormancy is needed to give a seed time to germinate.
So I gave myself some space for dormancy. You can, too. Then a funny thing happened when I dropped my resistance around being a bit dormant…it allowed me to move with relaxation and ease through this slower, darker time, which was, in the grand scheme of things, not so very long at all.
Support Your Bod
After being in the Pacific Northwest now for about 6 years, I’m learning that coming out of a Seattle winter often involves shaking off the cobwebs and tuning things up a bit for spring. In early March, I had visions of getting up with the sunrise, as well as invigorating runs through a nearby park as I enjoyed the longer days. But my body just wasn’t complying.
So I went to see my doctor, a fabulous integrative practitioner who takes a functional, holistic approach to health and wellbeing. After a couple weeks of pokes and prods, saliva and urine tests among others, I discovered my Vitamin D was in the toilet, my hormone and cortisol levels were off, I’m slightly hypothyroid, and I’ve got SIBO in my gut (yuck!).
Here I was expecting my body to show up on demand and support my high energy visions…and yet I was not showing up to support my body (nor had I been for some time). I am now taking steps to change those imbalances and support my body. In turn, my energy and inspiration have changed already.
We ask a lot of our bodies. They are fabulous, finely tuned machines that tend toward healing and wellness with just the slightest nudge. By supporting and being kind to your body, the return on investment is priceless – not the least of which is a return to a vital, energetic life.
Turtle Step It
Several decades ago, my mentor, Dr. Martha Beck, was struggling to finish her doctoral thesis at Harvard. At that time, she also suffered from severe and debilitating fibromyalgia. Oh, and she also happened to be raising three children under the age of 6, one of whom has Down Syndrome.
At the time, typing was so painful that she had to tape pencils to her fingers so she could press the letters on the keyboard. Needless to say, she was a bit overwhelmed and unable to write in the massive 6-hour chunks she had overzealously initially committed to.
So she whittled it down into what she called “turtle steps.” Often this looked like spending a maximum of 15 minutes per day writing (although occasionally she felt inspired to do more). And that is how she finished her thesis – in increments of about 15 minutes per day.
In much the same way, when I was still feeling lethargic and unmotivated, I did the best I could on those days, whatever that was. That might look like seeing only one client per day, responding to only the very most urgent emails, or reading for just a short period to prepare for my radio show. I meditated, I prayed, and I did what felt nourishing. I did what I could handle and did not force myself to do more. I invite you to do the same.
Come April, I was starting to see glimpses of the self I knew and missed so dearly. By the end of the month, my fire was back. I recognized it when I woke with the sunrise without and alarm; when caffeine suddenly felt like overkill because I was already buzzing with energy; when I had to start keeping my Post-it Notes and Evernote app handy because the ideas for blog pieces, for client resources, for radio guests started pouring in again unbidden.
And so it was, on the way to my office, feeling (in the words of one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Abraham Hicks) so tapped in and tuned in, I cried. As Martha Beck explains it, we cry not when hope is lost, but when we get it back.
I cried hard with the return of my hope. If your energy, inspiration, and hope is missing, try the tips I’ve shared above. And if you need a little extra support, I’m in the business of reconnecting folks with hope – just let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.