I decided the other day that I would write four books in the next five years. Two of these books I’ve already researched well, one is a fun, easy book to put together, and one is a start-from-scratch idea.
Yes, I just started a new job, just agreed to be on another board, and I’m growing my Tending the Fire Within business. Oh, and I’m a single mom with three kids still at home and one out in the world.
But it’s been nine years since my first book came out. I’ve got some things that need to be written. So, here goes. I will keep this blog going as well, albeit with less frequency.
I am excited about all these opportunities, because for me, they all work together and fit so soundly into my life’s work: I connect people. To themselves, one another, and to ideas. That’s why I’m here.
I might be a little terrified of being overwhelmed, too. It’s happened before. But I need to stop just talking about these books and start writing them. I have the support. (Feel free to ask me how the writing is going.) I have the skill. And more to the point, I’m not attached. I’m making plans. Ambitious plans? Sure. I don’t know any other kind.
But these aren’t too ambitious. There are all kinds of people who have written (some famous) books in days or weeks. Five years is a long time. When we want to do something, sometimes the hardest part is getting past all the reasons why we can’t possibly make it happen.
A friend of mine has an effective reminder to herself that she’s using a lot these days. Whenever she starts imagining how challenging something might be to accomplish, she stops herself and says, “No barriers. Drop the barriers.”
This is a woman who has accomplished so much, and is brilliant in her field. Yet she, like most of us, has to resist the thousands of ways that we can sidetrack ourselves from doing what we really want to be doing. From being the person we know we are.
Conventional wisdom says that we have to know our life’s purpose to be happy. That we need to be clear about what we’re here to do. Figure out our passion and life gets a whole lot better, right?
Okay, so far, so good. It is excellent to get clear about what is going to help us feel alive, connected to our best selves and our loved ones, contributing our unique gifts to the world.
But that doesn’t fully cover this driving need that comes from the human heart. Because it’s in the doing where things get really fulfilling. It may seem obvious, but it’s not enough to know what we ought to be doing. For life to flow with ease and joy, we’ve actually got to figure out how to do the very thing that makes us tick.
I’ll admit to a bias towards doing. I like getting things done. So I will add the caveat here that we all have to figure out how to simply “be” as well. If you’re all jazzed up about the doing and you are puzzled by what “being” is…you may want to consider taking up a meditation practice. I’m convinced that there is nothing that meditating regularly doesn’t help. Meditating makes everything else work better. If we can be easy and loving with ourselves, it is so much easier to be that way with the rest of the world.
Then imagine what we can get done! Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about being a CEO, or making tons of money, or winning an important prize. If fame and power and fortune happen along the way, then they do.
What I’m talking about is fulfilling the thing that calls from the depths of your heart, your soul, your very being. This is the reward that most of us are yearning for. What I’ve seen is that the people who can accomplish so much and stay healthy and kind are the people who have mastered the essential balance between internal and external work.
The internal work is knowing ourselves, taking a continuous survey of our internal landscapes, creating space and time for our hearts to sing, understanding that we are creatures of connection and passion that need ongoing nourishment in these realms.
And the external work is creating the practical, real steps to support the very thing that makes our hearts sing. It’s setting up support and practices that keep us on the right road.
Knowing what we’re here to do, we can line up the rest of our lives to support that one thing. Even doing the laundry and mowing the lawn become service to the thing that we must do and accomplish and contribute.
Not in a frantic, obsessive sort of way. But in a practical way. In a flowing way. In a committed way. In a way that trusts that there is enough time. There is enough energy. There is enough. If we’re tending to the balance of internal and external factors, there is enough.
For me? I’ll make breakfast for my kids, and keep seeing who they are, and love them up. I’ll work hard in my business ventures, giving my best strategic thinking and powerful work to the causes that I’m passionate about. I’ll meditate and do yoga and sleep and eat well. I will delight in my family and friends.
And I’ll write at least a thousand words each day. It’s a practical, real number. It is a manageable number, a realistic expectation. It might be a pain some days. I may write a thousand words of pure drivel. But something good will emerge. I’ll keep on along this road. I like where it’s going.