Valuing our inner timetables enough not to move forward with anything (however inviting) for which we don't yet feel ready or safe enough.
Feeling Not Safe
It's not safe to move ahead into anything you don't feel ready
for… Taking breaks and taking all the time you need to get ready
is what's really going on when you think you're
"avoiding," "escaping" or "running away"!
From May of 1992 through December of 1995, my friend B and I had been traveling almost once monthly to sell our wares at women's, goddess and pride festivals. We improvised from these experiences to create three women's craft festivals of our own. These festivals, held in Ojai, were experiments in creating sacred communal space with other crafts women. We put together a single issue of a newsletter/journal for women exploring the Sacred Feminine. And, during 1996, we also coordinated several women's drumming events for the solstices, equinoxes and a couple of the cross-quarters.
It was quite a departure from what had, before then, become my usual life. For many years, I (a recovering super-achiever) had been working only two days every other week as a therapist. After those two days I'd be free to loll through long stretches of open time that I spent drifting, dreaming, resting, meandering in the mountains and aimlessly puttering around my little cottage and its tiny gardens as I journeyed deep within.
Those four and a half years of travel and doings were about taking my work out into a larger field, about being available to interact with lots of people from the center of the me-that-I-had-become during the seasons of my slowing and inward journeying. It had felt right to answer the urging from Spirit/my inner self to move out into the world. Still, I often missed my slowed down, non-achieving, resting life. Often I found my self wondering, "Whose life am I leading, anyhow?"
At the end of the year-long cycle of drumming events, I was feeling exhausted, more than ready to go back into my solitude. I looked forward to a well-earned return to hibernation, to space for resting and assimilating all the new experiences I'd been through.
Just a couple of months (to the day) into my yearned-for rest period, I received a call from a delightful young woman, a writers' agent specializing in women's and spirituality books and connected with one of the largest, most well-known creative talent agencies in the country. She'd been given a deck of my Rememberings Cards a year before and grown very attached to their supporting comfort. Just that week, one of her authors had been visiting her (someone who also knew my work). After they'd talked about their shared delight in the cards, she acted on her almost year-old intention to call me. She wanted to see if I might be interested in having her represent me.
It was exciting. She was warm, vital and juicy. She was eager to help me get my work out into the world. We had several conversations. I sent her a huge packet: copies of the many articles I'd written along the way, photographs of my house, my artwork, me. We talked about book ideas, the process of publishing, the ways she might mentor and coach me along the way. I felt truly seen and heard by her. She appreciated my need to move slowly, to move from the inside out so that anything that grew would be growing in harmony with what I believed and how I lived.
We agreed that I would open my self to whatever might come to me over a period of some weeks. I was clear that anything that felt like work wouldn't be right for me to do. The timing seemed right in some way: I was at last finished with my four and half year cycle of busyness. But, I wondered, was I ready to take such a big new step without first having a long space of empty, folding inward time.
The weeks stretched into months during which I felt pushed and pulled inside my self. Other writers I knew were engaged in long, frustrating struggles to find representation. Here I was being given an amazing gift of possibility with none of that effort. I felt that the gift was from Spirit. I definitely did want, someday, to put something together from my writings. Still, the days would go by and I would find my self napping, reading more novels and detective mysteries, wandering in the mountains, puttering in my little gardens or finding sorting/winnowing projects inside my little cottage – everything but writing.
I struggled with feelings I hadn't had since college paper-writing days. I was beset with vague feelings of unease and almost-guilt for procrastinating and avoiding the blank page. I'd find countless self-nurturing things to do with the open space I'd carved for writing to happen: manicures, pedicures, clay masques, etc. I kept having the painful sense that I might be running away from or squandering this gift from Spirit.
In the middle of all this stressing, I would remember to talk kindly and lovingly to my self. I'd remind my self that, if I wasn't getting to the writing, it was most likely because, for whatever reason(s), I wasn't yet ready for it. I would remind my self that following where my energy led me was the best guide; that it was important not to allow my own or anyone else's ideas of what-might-be-better to undermine that inner, natural flow. I'd remind my self that I had learned that my inside self was a completely trustworthy guide: when I listened to that voice, I was certain to be in and acting from my own center.
I'd remind my self how I had come to trust and believe in the healing power of going only as fast as the slowest part of me felt safe to go. I'd remind my self of how I'd been unfairly tyrannized most of my life by the inner imperative to live up to my potential. Then I could feel (for longer and longer stretches of time) that I was fine just as I was in all my resting-timeout glory. I could embrace the reality that it was okay for me not to take this gift that I wasn't yet ready to accept. I could know that this would not be the only such magical opportunity I'd ever be offered for going forward. And, I could recognize that all this needed resting time was surely a part of my process of getting ready for the future.
I called the agent to thank her and tell her I wasn't yet ready for working together. I promised that if and when I were ever up for such an enterprise I'd definitely be in touch.
A website and tales about the individual Rememberings and Celebrations Cards that began coming almost monthly some three years later turned out to be the next step that I was getting ready to take.
Remember to be really gentle with your self, not to ask your self to move ahead into anything that you're not ready for and not to harass your self for taking all the time you need to become ready.