It's funny, you know? I had all these plans to make a business out of storytelling. The fact is, I haven't done a StoryReading in months, and it's okay. I love doing StoryReadings, and helping people to discover themselves within their story, but to tell the truth, I've been busy. One of the things someone said about my mom as we were preparing for her memorial service, was how she really devoted herself to things and people, to the exclusion of other pursuits. I do that, I think, and then I wonder why I'm lonely and itchy and restless.
I've been working on an amazing project for a client, one that is calling on all my experience, knowledge and talent, stretching me in new ways. It has, in many many ways, been a dream come true, and it is ongoing. However, even when I'm only spending 10 or 20 hours a week working on this project, I'm not spending time working here, on this blog, nor on building my storytelling business, nor on much else. My attentiveness to my family suffers, and I don't see my friends.
this way, dear reader, lies madness for me. I get stuck and lonely and anxious. I begin to think I have no friends, no life, and I suffer. Here are the assumptions I'm making:
I also start seeing all my particular qualities and ways of being as faults rather than strengths.
There is one of those big days coming up, when people like to change things. People like to embark on big self-improvement projects or exercise plans or strategies for growth or what-have-you. These re-starting days are useful; I have to remind myself that every day, every moment is the start of the story, too, though. So is every new moon, every new calendar page, new school year, new notebook, newly-sharpened pencil... But usefull, all of them.
My words for 2016 that I've chosen are Show Up. This is hard for me. It's not just show up, it's show up even though you think you should be working. Show up without apologizing for who you are. Show up without deflecting with the phone or the computer. Show up at dinner, and really taste the food. Show up to the party, the theater performance, the coffee date. Show up to my family, listening, being actually present.
Showing up demands a lot, and yet it is so simple. It demands less posturing and less faking and less should-ing. It demands vulnerability and willingness to witness. It can mean offering help, or shutting the hell up. It can mean speaking up or stepping up. Or stepping back.
It means showing up for myself, too, setting clear, respectful boundaries, and letting others rise to the occasion. It means believing in the story, and in the Story.
This is the path out of stuckness and loneliness, out of my anxiety and depression, out of my creative stagnation and into expansiveness, beauty, and raw joy.
There is nothing wrong with devotion. Devotion doesn't mean guilt, though. It doesn't have to mean self-immolation. But devotion can get really, really small and turn into obsession or workaholism, into fear. Devotion is about love. Love is not about fear.
Show up. Choose joy. Love. Expand. Creative energy is not finite. Self-care and connection with others are REQUIRED for healthy devotion. Beating yourself up is silly and just makes you tired. Instead, show up. Grow. Be.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.