Hello everyone! How was your summer? Mine was a glorious mess of contradictions, so most of the time I was days behind in my creative self-work, sorting through the various stressors that had hijacked my nervous system.
When I did have time to catch up with myself – to dance around with my kiddo, to sit down and draw and write in my journal and ask questions and breathe – the knot would loosen enough for me to remember: OH YEAH.
Oh yeah – there’s no such thing as doing it perfectly.
Oh yeah – I am a human being and it’s okay to mess things up.
Oh yeah – that’s how I learn: by messing up. It’s okay for me to be honest about it! That’s the only way to learn from it.
Oh yeah – When I don’t have childcare, things go nuts. Right! I’ve been here before. This happened last summer. I can figure this out.
Oh yeah – what works for someone else might not work for me! That’s not because I am a FAILED HUMAN. This isn’t a contest. No one is winning the Best Mom Award.
Oh yeah – I don’t have to be hard on myself! That’s a choice. I can choose to be gentle and loving. When I do that, it’s easier to be gentle and loving with those around me. Especially my sweet little 3-year-old monster who is figuring out how to be a human being too.
We relearn the same lessons over and over, don’t we? And then get mad at ourselves for not learning it the first time, even though of course we didn’t learn it the first time. Learning is circular and repetitive!
Look at how much you are learning right now. Look at how far you’ve come. Think of where you’ll be a year from now. What if what you’re doing right now is exactly what you need to do to get there?
That question is a big one in my life.
I first heard it ten years ago, at a workshop led by an Australian performance artist named Margaret Cameron. The workshop was part of an international festival for women theatre artists. I wasn’t sure if I’d made the right choice to fly all the way to Denmark to take part, but here I was, in a workshop led by a woman wearing (in my memory anyway) a flowing muumuu and turban.
I tried to be open-minded but she seemed to be making it up on the spot, leading us on a ridiculous journey across the stage like we were children. I was jet-lagged and grumpy. What am I doing here? What am I supposed to be learning? What is she training us to do exactly? My inner teenager rolled her eyes HARD.
And then something happened. She asked several questions:
What if this is exactly where you need to be?
What if what you’re doing right now is exactly the right thing?
I know it’s not – but what if it was?
What if you are doing exactly what you need to be doing?
Something about these questions made me stop and notice that I had a running commentary in my head of this is dumb, you shouldn’t have come here, you’re not doing this right…
These were familiar thoughts. I realized that in most moments of my life, my brain was buzzing with this refrain.
And how liberating would it be to imagine – not even to believe, but to CONSIDER – that I might be doing some things right.
It felt radical and dangerous and ridiculous all at once. And in that moment, everything shifted. My energy shifted and suddenly this workshop was blowing my mind. Suddenly Margaret Cameron wasn’t some kook, she was a fucking genius.
I remember thinking, I wish I had the courage to do what Margaret Cameron does. To share my silliest, scariest, most heartfelt ideas and not care whether anyone thinks I’m a fool. To patiently wait for people’s resistance to fall away, or not.
Her blithe confidence seemed absolutely alien to me. I thought, maybe when I’m 80 I’ll be ballsy enough to do something like this.
Today I was thinking back to that time, and I realized: holy shit – not only was Margaret Cameron’s question a great exercise in shifting perspective – it was RIGHT.
I was exactly where I needed to be in that moment. I was doing exactly the right thing. Every single thing was the right thing, even the parts I thought I was doing wrong. They all led me to where I am today – a place I couldn’t imagine ten years ago.
I thought I could never be brave enough, confident enough to risk looking like a fool. But here I am!
Where will I be ten years from now? I can only imagine, and experience tells me the reality will be wilder than my wildest vision.
So what if it’s true for you? What if everything you’re experiencing now is preparing you for where you’ll be in ten years?
Does anything shift when you ask yourself that question?