How to make peace with practice
Am I ready to get my hands dirty & do the work?
They say the grass is always greener on the other side.
Most people I meet assume I love living in Nicaragua. They say, "The beaches! The year-round heat! The beauty!" And they're right, Nicaragua is in many ways a fantastic place.
But I'm itching to get out.
Here's the thing... Apart from Nicaragua, I've lived in Miami, Boston, Florence (!!!), and Madrid. On vacations and work trips, I've visited other eye-opening places where I met amazing people from all walks of life. And I experienced the opposite of what I dislike about living here. A few examples:
- I've been thirsting for a change in my friendships, but new, open-minded, nice people feel hard to come by. Supportive creative communities do exist in some places, which I experienced in Fargo and San Francisco.
- There are no public playgrounds or parks to visit with kids. It's difficult to come up with new kid-safe experiences to share as a family. I loved Colorado and Charleston for that reason—so much to do outside!
- Air travel is expensive and limited, making it difficult to get out and explore the world. Long gone are the days when a few euros would get me to another country and back.
There's only one problem with all this complaining...
Fantasize as I might, moving to a new place won't automatically solve anything. I won't land in a new city with a set of supportive friends or extra cash to spend on road trips. It's just easier to think moving will fix all my problems instead of working at solving it all here.
Since we're not moving anywhere anytime soon—or ever?—JJ and I came to an agreement that placates a few of my complaints: every weekend, we'll go on some sort of adventure as a family.
But you know what I forgot? That adventures tend to be quite a doozy. Take this weekend for example. We decided to visit San Juan del Sur, and our little guy absolutely loved exploring the wet sand. Later on that night, though, we woke up to the power going out and someone trying to break in at 3am. It was a scary moment, but we'd taken precautions to keep us safe.
Talk about an adventure.
That's how it feels to do the work in every area of my life—on a different scale, of course. When I need to finish an article I'm writing, when I need to tie my shoes and start a workout, or when it's time to hit the road with my camera.
Doing the work won't always be easy or pleasant, but it will be worth it.
So, JJ and I have decided to go on adventures here in Nicaragua to feed our "wanderlust", but what about the other issues I want to fix?
The opposite of running
I think we can all agree on one thing: it sucks when the grass is greener anywhere else but on our side of the fence. What would it take to make my grass a ridiculous, vibrant green?
After closing my business, I've had five full months to think about what I want to do next, and the truth is I have a few answers. My explorer eyes have finally found a few treasures. The problem is I avoid them.
The past two weeks or so, I've walked around with a weird sort of aimlessness—not boredom exactly, but more like resistance. Because what will people think? Because what if I'm no good at it? Because what if it's uncomfortable and I have to actually stretch myself?
If you feel this way, too, take heart. It means we're on the right path. Sort of.
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), 'Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?' chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
― Steven Pressfield
So despite my fears, I've decided it's time to put all the reading and consuming and aimlessness aside and start creating, like non-stop, even when it's not easy.
To spur yourself into action, make a mindful commitment to practice as often as you can.
So, here are my commitments, in order of difficulty:
After seven years of consistent workouts, making the time to exercise isn't difficult for me, so this almost doesn't qualify. But fitness takes time, which is especially precious now that I have my little guy.
My workouts are a non-negotiable in my life. I exercised throughout my pregnancy (even the day he was born!) and started again as soon as I was able. I love how each workout challenges my mind and body to do better, to go further than before, to believe.
Logistics matter when juggling family life and a personal life, so I'm committing to re-organizing my time so exercise doesn't eat into my creative time. To fix that, I'll be working out while the baby has quality dad or grandparent time, and then creating while the baby naps. (If that sounds trivial, it really isn't! Small tweaks make all the difference.)
→ I commit to working out at least four times a week: three resistance workouts and one cardio.
2. WEEKLY WRITING
I've been blogging for over 5 years and have published two books, so writing isn't anything new to me. You know what's new? Writing on a schedule. I've never forced myself to show up and write no matter the mood I'm in.
By stringing together nap-times, I'll have enough time to put together some quality articles, I hope. Since I started weekly writing, my articles seem more polished, from the initial idea to the edited result. Not only do I have more time to improve things, but I also have that "once per week" limitation setting a higher standard for what makes the cut. What I choose to write about has to be worth it because it means other ideas get put aside.
→ I commit to writing one article per week for my newsletter (and later published here).
This is the area I want to explore the most and also where I experience the most resistance!
My interest in photography skyrocketed around November—not in the formally trained sense but in an informal, whimsical kind of way. I'm interested in learning more technique, but I also enjoy winging it and finding my own route to beautiful photos. I thrive on turning my everyday experiences into creative, insightful shots.
The problem is I doubt myself. Not enough to stop myself from creating (my constant Instagram posts are proof of my photo-addiction!) but enough to make me uneasy and avoid picking up my camera at times. I plan on attacking that resistance by practicing daily.
→ I commit to taking photographs every day (and posted to Instagram).
The beauty in commitments
These three commitments are only a sliver of what I have going on in my life—my role as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and more. I'll struggle to get it all done, and I'll inevitably try to find excuses to use my time on anything but practice (like sleep or chatting online with friends). But practicing my art is the only way to shed the "run away" mindset. In the words of Pablo Picasso:
"Art washes away from the soul the dust of every day life."
After disliking myself as an entrepreneur, I want to make sure that I am proud of myself as I go about this exploration and this practice. I don't want to run away from problems. I want to do the opposite and express myself creativity as a result. Even practicing takes practice.
No matter what I explore, I'll always be searching for creative flow and peace of mind.
Because let's get real here... I'm not moving to Denver or San Francisco or South Carolina or anywhere else. And even if I did, you know how the saying goes:
"Wherever you go, there you are."
If that's true, then I need to make sure that wherever I am, I'm doing my best to express myself creatively. And as long as I'm doing this—juggling my family and my art—the grass will always be pretty damn green on my side of the fence.