I read a blog recently about writing 500 words a day and the power of it. The blog identified all of the things the writer did before she sat down to write the article and I completely resonated with it. It wasn’t the usual setting up the space stuff, in fact, it was the opposite. And it motivated me to get my butt into gear. After avoiding writing blogs and course work for years, I decided to give myself permission to set myself a 30 day writing challenge on 1st August and here’s what Day One looked like:
Today is the first day of my Write 500 word Challenge. Before I start though, I better mop the floors (even though we have a cleaner), take out the rubbish (even though my husbo does that daily), dust cupboards (stealing more work from our cleaner) and clean the toilet. None of which HAD to be done but yep, you guessed it, I was in the zone of the blogger who had inspired me. Distracting and Avoiding 101. However I am aware and committed. I know the struggle is real for so many of us. I also know these behaviours are directly linked to A V O I D A N C E. And underneath avoidance is fear of
what it is I’m avoiding (more about that later). Truth is, I feel like I’ve been avoiding writing, creative expressive writing that is, for years. There I said it. Years!! What the holy FUCK?!? I don’t feel comfortable about saying it, but there it is. The truth exposed.
The crazy thing is though, I love writing. And the conundrum is for far too long I’ve run from it. All because of my fear of being judged, criticised, made fun of, not hitting the mark and essentially not being good enough. All that old bullshit bubbling back up…
Sure I’ve written work proposals and short pieces, but I can’t remember the last time I wrote for the sheer joy of it. Writing where the words fall out of my head through my finger tips. Writing where I feel like I’m not writing at all and that in fact, the words are writing themselves. Nope. None. Of. That.
And here’s the kicker, I KNOW how therapeutic writing is for me. I know how much it helps me heal and I even suggest it to clients I support on their own healing journey. Don’t get me wrong, I write in journals every now and again, but the whole write at least 500 words a day because you’re a writer, well, it has eluded me – up until now. Nah, that’s actually bullshit (I’m good at calling out bullshit by the way). Writing doesn’t’ elude me – I have chosen to elude it.
And maybe part of me unpicking what the fuck that’s about is simply giving myself permission sto make a choice, to start doing this challenge.
So just for today, I won’t stop until I get to my 500 words and I’ll even attempt to not do a word count until I feel like I’ve given this a reasonable chance. Best part of this is, that yesterday as I was contemplating starting this personal “Write 500 words for 30 days Challenge” I realised that I’ve got a brilliant, and recent reference point to spur me on.
Falling Back on the Mat for 30 days
You see back in March I attended a Yoga Retreat, having not been to one in almost 20 years. I used to go on an annual yoga retreat when our kids were little. Before we moved to the far north of Australia. Actually, it literally was last century! WTF? Anyway, try as I did, I never found a suitable replacement so when I saw an advert pop up in my facebook feed for a local Retreat I booked straight away. That’s pretty big for me because I can agonise over doing something like that which is purely for me..
But this was something I knew was essential. “Compulsory attendance required.” Anyways, it was while I was attending that yoga retreat, I set myself a goal of “Falling back on the mat for 30 days.” After a great conversation with another retreat participant, I decided that my Falling Back on the Mat thing could be as informal as I wanted it to be. Being schooled in Satyananda Yoga for almost 27 years, I realised I had created a lot of Unwritten Rules about what mat work was supposed to mean and I was finally ready to look at them.
Having embraced a semi sorta yoga lifestyle that worked for me when I worked it, I deeply appreciated the value of a safe and non-violent lifestyle. And the philosophies of yoga and the depth and breadth of what mat work prepares us for wasn’t lost on me. I just needed to explore those unwritten rules.
You know the kind I mean? Like: You must do at least an hour of yoga to get any real benefits. You must be able to perfect the pose. You must hold the pose long enough to benefit. 10 minutes of yoga is not yoga. Blah blah blah.
Sadly, those unwritten rules rode shotgun over my actions. So I knew this “Falling back on the mat for 30 days” was going to push me out of my comfort zone. What I didn’t know was where it would push me to. As I unpacked and unpicked those unwritten rules, I decided to create some new ones. Rules that would serve me and support me.
New rules for Falling Back on the Mat
- It’s no big deal about how much time I spend or what indeed I even do on the mat. Just choose to get on the mat every day for 30 days.
- Maybe I’ll do 12 Surya Namaskar a day, and maybe I won’t.
- Maybe I’ll ride to the beach 5 days a week and do some mat work, and maybe I won’t.
- On the days I don’t feel like doing mat, own it and make it ok. Remember feelings are feelings, not facts.
- Just get on the mat every day for 30 days no matter what.
I didn’t need the research to remind me of the power of creating new neural pathways through repetition, or any therapeutic reminders about the physical and emotional benefits of doing my self-imposed challenge. I just needed to do it. Once I had made the choice to set the challenge all I needed next to decide on the actions to take.
I needed actions that I could choose on a daily basis, so long as I made it to my mat in some way, shape or form.
100 days later here are some of the beautiful things I discovered
So, over 100 days later, here are some of the beautiful things I discovered on that initial 30 day falling back on the mat journey:
- The power of permission. Not that I didn’t know it before, this was literally the embodiment of permission. Doing bodywork that I knew my body mind and soul would benefit from on a daily basis shifted the way I went about my day. It also lifted my self-love levels. I found myself loving myself more because I was not only honouring my commitment to myself, but my whole body was strengthening and letting go of the old unwritten rules. I could feel it! Breaking the rule that if I were going to do yoga there needed to be a certain amount of time spent doing it, let alone in certain forms, helped me reap the benefits. It truly was a game changer.
- Take action! Looking at my yoga mat, bolster, blocks, bed of nails and straps didn’t make a frickin ounce of a difference. What made the difference was falling back on the fucking mat. And B E I N G on the mat. I was determined I was going to conquer my resistance to yoga – after almost 27 years of arguing with myself almost every time I stepped on to my mat I was done with resistance.
- It’s easier than we think. Once we’ve given ourselves permission to change and decided on how we are going to go about doing it, we just have to follow through with the actions.
- Be prepared to be surprised. Halfway into this 30-day challenge, alcohol felt out of my routine. I used to love having a couple of frozen margaritas or a vodka, lime, and soda. And now I don’t. Even the thought of it feels like poison.
- Get creative – I asked myself inviting questions like “What can bring to the mat today? What can I leave on the mat? What can I take with me?” I need to write a whole other blog about this. 2nd week in, we were in Bali and drinking Bintangs and cocktails. This was a challenge, but come what may, I still fell back on my fucking mat all of the 9 days we were there.
- Set limits and get the results. By setting a 30-day challenge it allowed me to gently create new norms that became new habits. I’m still falling back on my mat every day and loving my commitment to do so.
Interesting thing is, by about Day 23, I was so into it, I lost count of the days and had no connection with a final date or even a “Tick – that’s done.” In fact, what I ended up with was a whole new set of norms that include honouring myself in falling back on my mat every day no matter what. And as a result, a whole heap of other stuff got better in my life.
So, back to setting this challenge to write 500 words every day. For the last 21 days, I have written for the sake of writing. Not with a purpose to polish and publish, strictly to write to create new norms. And this morning I woke up thinking, this is ridiculous! Why not write about what I’m doing and share it? “Maybe I’ve created new neural pathways in record time?”
Anyway, here’s what I’m going to do for the next 9 days of my 30-day writing challenge. I’m going to commit to writing at least 500 meaningful words every day. My intention for this challenge wasn’t to write my next book. My intention was to do the bloody work. Because the more I trap my inner writer in the turmoil of old trauma, the further away I am from healing and the further away I drift from showing up and B E I N G me. I have spent enough decades trapped in pain and shame, resentment and envy, denying my authentic self to have a voice. Well no more! I AM NOT MY PAST. I am a fucking writer and I am allowed to claim that title like a warrior claims his weapon. Today I chose my weapons with love. Here’s to healing trapped trauma and setting myself free to BE who I chose.