C is for Conclusions

I am all out of conclusions. That may be an obvious conclusion to draw if you’ve read my previous two blog posts for the A to Z Challenge. Generally, I write to figure out what I am thinking, but lately, I just cannot seem to wind my way to a conclusion.

I know it is a virtue of age and maturity, as well as a sign of the times in which we live, but answers of any kind seem increasingly elusive. Facts, even when verified, are rejected as untrue and flat out lies get promoted as capital T Truth. We increasingly live in an era of uncertainty, politically, economically, socially. And that uncertainty has crept in to my writing. As I try to find and then follow that thread that almost always appeared, I now question myself. My inner critic jabbers away at me as I type, eroding my confidence in what I used to think of as a surefire way to figure shit out.

One good friend reminds me on the regular that difficult or challenging experiences are simply metaphors. Like when I had plantar fasciitis, she asked me where in my life was I not standing on my own two feet. So, I decided to take that approach here.

Where else in my life am I having difficulty coming to conclusions? Ooooh. Well. I recently (in August) launched myself into a new life, selling my house, buying an RV and hitting the road. It’s been a learning process. I’m not sure yet how it is going to work for me. I am having difficulty settling into #vanlife, and find myself casting about for alternatives: maybe I could live in a condo here, or perhaps I should buy a lot and build a pole barn and RV pad, or I might just need a bigger RV, and for sure I should get an RV with 4WD.

Clearly, I am trying to get some clarity. I’m tossing out all manner of ideas, trying them on, asking friends and relatives what they think. Calling realtors, getting pre-approval, just in case. Just in case. I want to be prepared. But, I haven’t yet reached any conclusion or concensus—

and there’s the metaphor:

My life and my writing, conclusion-less for now.

Life imitates art.

I have Chapters left to write.

I have Worlds left to explore.

J is for Just Do It

J

Whatever it is that you want to do, just go for it. Do it. Move. Take action. Stop talking about it and take that first step. Yesterday in my Trauma, Disaster, and Crisis Counseling class, we watched a video about the Oso landslide. We talked about the September 11 terrorist attacks, and Brussels, Paris, Turkey, Pakistan.

The take away from all of this? Life is short. Unexpected shit happens. Don’t put off until tomorrow (or someday) what you want to do now. Don’t listen to the naysayers, especially the one that is usually the loudest, the one in your own head that says “you’re too old, too broke, too tired, too fat, too busy, too whatever.”

No one is going to intervene on your behalf to suddenly make your dreams come true–or usually that is not the case. If you want to write a book, you’re going to have to sit down and write. Want to run a marathon? Gonna have to get out there and train. Have the urge to see the world? You must book the tickets.

I know taking that first step isn’t easy–if it were we would all be out there living our dreams, and I would have no justification for pursuing my dream of becoming a therapist–no one would need me if everyone just did what they wanted to do. But we don’t. We don’t just do it when we want to make positive changes, nor do we just stop doing the things that make us miserable. This Bob Newhart video is a classic and one of my favorites. If only it were this simple!neuralpathways

Instead we take the path of least resistance, living the status quo, afraid to rock the boat or upset the delicate balance. We live in fear, unable to extricate ourselves from what seem to be proscribed paths.

And, it’s not our fault. We are creatures of habit. We get used to doing things a certain way, and our brains form neural pathways, well-worn grooves that make our responses and actions more automatic. If we’ve developed a habit of getting up every morning and reading the news on the interwebs but what we really want to do is develop a morning meditation practice, we’re going to have to work at it. We’ll have to focus on retraining our brains to not reach for the laptop or the smartphone. Just like walking in the woods–it’s a lot easier to take the defined path than it is to bushwhack through the underbrush to get to our destination.

The good news is that we can build new pathways. Our brains can rewire, thanks to neuroplasticity.

It takes effort to forge new trails, but if the old paths don’t lead to where we want to go, we have to get out our machetes and go for it.