leap year

I have to get on and write the first post.  Days now it’s been, weeks, since I started trying; choosing a topic, changing to another, and another, undecided where to start.  Playing instead with the name and subtitle, and how I want the blog to look.  Browsing other blogs for design ideas, but drawn into reading them, post after post, people’s comments too until, sick of myself, I pick up a How-to-Achieve-Your-Goal book and read that, but that’s not the answer either.

And for some reason, maybe because I’m so sick of myself and all the putting-off, and I don’t know what else to do, I close my eyes and take a breath.  I feel the touch of air inside my nostrils; the rise and fall of my chest, my belly, my shoulders.  I feel the movement of skin against clothing.  Breath, after breath.

Then a thought, a voice in my head, jumps in: ‘For goodness sake, just do the damn writing.’

I open my eyes and pick up my pen.  I put it down.

Another voice, like the scream of a frightened child: ‘I can’t do this, this blogging.  I can’t, I can’t.’

The first voice again: ‘You crazy bitch.  So melodramatic.  Of course you can.  Other people can. They don’t have a problem.  Dave, for example. And Sarah, she’d do it.’

Hear that?  The name-calling, bullying, comparing.  The unquestioned assumption that other people do better.

My belly’s cramped up and my solar plexus is knotted.  I remember what the books and guided meditations say to do, and I pay attention to these unpleasant sensations, exploring them, breathing into them, and as best I can I leave the thoughts alone, up there in my head.  And soon I can barely remember what the thoughts were anyway, and the tightness is melting, turning into something soft, and there’s an ache in my jaw and throat.  I could cry, to hear how I talked to myself just then. So I try to make amends with a few kind words, just a brief, ‘Hey, girl, you’re doing fine’.

The hum of the computer.  A sigh from the dog.  Belly, chest, shoulders moving with each breath.  My mind is quieter, soothed by my breathing – until the next thought:

‘But I still don’t know what to write.  Will I ever write even one post, let alone post after post?’  And my belly clamps down again.

So this is where I start, with these loud voices, with being scared of blogging.

Feb 29th.  A leap year.  A good day to take a leap.  Hardly a leap really, just a step, like in the first and last verses of the David Whyte poem:

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

.

26 Comments

  1. What a courageous start, Margot. Interesting that you heard the voices so clearly. Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Hi Sue, thank you for being the first person to comment! I don’t often hear my thoughts so clearly. Usually they’re a vague background hum. Maybe on this occasion my mind was quiet enough, for a moment, and then I was shocked by the harsh words and tone into paying more attention than usual.

    2. Thank you for your brave first post! My voices (mostly 😉 get less powerful each time I step outside my comfort zone. May your voice soar!

  2. Interesting! Sorry to be dim but I don’t really understand how thoughts can be manipulated in this way. How you feel is how you feel. Do these thoughts not creep back when you least expect them?
    Good luck with the blog!

    1. Hi Maddy, thank you for dropping by, and asking this question. I don’t think I’m manipulating my thoughts, more just acknowledging them, and if they’re not helpful to me, trying not to fuel them. I notice that if I catch a negative thought early I have a chance of not magnifying it. One way is by deliberately placing my attention elsewhere, on sensations of the breath or body, but another might be to go for a walk or do some hobby/activity. Also, I notice that how I feel is directly related to my thoughts, that there’s a feedback loop – a thought causes unpleasant sensations of anxiety, say, which make my thoughts even more anxious. But by paying attention as far as possible only to the sensations, and giving them time to settle, and each time the thought creeps in, coming back to closely observing the sensations, sometimes thoughts/feelings ease and de-escalate. I don’t find it easy, and as you suggest, thoughts do creep back when I least expect them.

      1. I’ll give it a go, f only because when I can’t find anything to worry about, I invent something, and it’s very wearing! As you say, I could try to catch negative thoughts early and redirect my focus. Not massively confident however!

        1. I totally get how wearing that is! This blog isn’t the best introduction to mindfulness, so I’ve put a few book recommendations in the ‘Books’ bit, any of which would give you a good start. It might also be worth checking out local mindfulness courses and teachers, as it’s really nice to be able to ask questions and have the support of a group (tho’ one-to-one is an option too).

  3. Hi Margot A wonderful date to start a new adventure. I felt myself noticing my breath. The words resonated and I was on the journey with you I look fwd to reading step 2 whenever it feels right to take it. xxxx

  4. Hi Margot, what a Blog! Brilliant, exactly how it tends to be. I enjoyed reading it, it’s reassuring that it’s like this for someone else.

  5. Your words certainly resonate with me! I love your honesty. Well done for taking the leap! I’m looking forward to reading more. xx

  6. hi Margot, well done you!
    It looks great; and it’s brilliant to start a mindfulness blog with mindfulness of getting it started.

    1. Hi Kath, I’m so relieved to hear that you think this. I agonised over whether I should start with ‘easier’ things like drinking a cup of tea or brushing my teeth etc mindfully, but in the end went with what was most on my mind!

  7. Hi Margot I think that is a lovely blog. I love you way of writing and it is completely relatable.

  8. Hi Margot, that is such a brave first blog. I love your honesty. Our thoughts can get in the way of so much at times. I look forward to reading more mindfulness gems.

  9. Thanks Margot…the poem was emotional as were some of your words about taking that first step. It’s hard but with the love and support of others somehow easier.

  10. Thank you Margot for your meaningful thoughts! I like the way you write a lot because when reading your text honesty and authenticity resonate in me strongly. And when you write about the voices you hear and about the underlying assumption, I feel relieved because it’s something I can relate to (“I’m not the only one having these kind of thoughts !”). I’m curiously waiting for you next blog post :).

  11. Hi Anna, thank you for reading and commenting. I’m inspired to hear that you can relate to the blog post and know that you’re not the only one having these kind of thoughts. Hopefully we can both believe in them a little less 🙂 I’m curious too to know what the next post will be (tho’ I have half an idea).

  12. Love the way you describe mindfulness Margot and what being with unwanted experience feels like. Thank you. You may well have just inspired me – I feel closer to writing my first blog. So thank you. Look forward to spending silent time with you again in May. Angela x

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