Do & Be

Life Paralysis

A few weeks ago, when I came up with the idea of a new blog, fiiiiiinally settled on a name, and then built this website you’re reading now, I was brimming with energy and excitement. I’ve realized that I really enjoy the process and act of writing. First of all, it involves so many of my favorite things: stationary, settling down at my desk, spending time thinking about something in detail and developing a plan, tea or coffee, probably a snack. It’s become completely therapeutic for me, and also an outlet to process what is going on and what I’m currently ruminating over. I finally had the basic format and template of this website up and running, it just needed a bit more tweaking, and then something unexpected happened. My energy completely tanked. My internal battery, dead. I couldn’t find an ounce of motivation to sit at my cozy little desk, open a blank document, or even put favorite pen to paper.

Half of the issue? Pregnancy. The first several weeks of pregnancy had me exhausted. e x h a u s t e d. I’d wake up hangry, eat, and then I would immediately be ready for a nap. But, sadly, I am not a skilled napper like my dear husband. Never have I been able to plop down for a quick 15-minute shut eye and then get up re-energized for the day. When I take a post-church Sunday “nap” it’s usually just 2 hours of hiding under the covers and reading in comfort. But now? Now, this lady can NAP. And it’s basically all I wanted to do those first weeks. Coffee tasted gross and everything made me queasy, so why not, eh? I was at the doctor the other day and mentioned that I’m way more tired this pregnancy than I was during my first. She deftly pointed out that I do have a 2 year old now. True. Very true. He’s currently busy not-napping-noisily in the other room. Kid, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone… cherish nap time! CHERISH IT.

Because I know that much of this to-the-bone-tired is that first trimester slump, I’m trying to push through and still do things that are important to me while also listening to my need for rest. But the other culprits, I’m just going to call out… Fear, and its jerky little side-kick, Doubt. This blog, and writing in general, is an outlet that I value. It’s something I want to continue to practice and develop. A few weeks ago, when I set up Sift & Steep, I felt completely sure that it was the right thing to do for this stage of my life. Deep down, I still do, but I let my own doubts rise up and drown out that motivation, that confidence and assurance. What if I sit down to write and my brain is empty? What if no one is interested in what I have to say? Do I really believe that I have a unique story to tell? Isn’t there so much “content” out there already? Is this just me being prideful assuming people would actually care? What if I focus too much on how people respond instead of valuing the act of writing I love ?

I let those voices and the hypothetical answers take up space in my head for too long. Fear often parades as logic, and that was the excuse I clung to. But, as is often the case, those speaking in to my life echoed the exact truths I needed to hear. In the midst of this internal conflict, I finished up Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Side note: please, if you haven’t read it, go get it and dive in. So much truth and wisdom, laid out so clearly. And seriously, Brené is my hero. She practices the honesty and vulnerability she preaches, and she’s also dang funny. Anyway, as I wrapped up the book, her section on creativity and the act of creating smacked me in the face:

“If developing and sharing our gifts is how we honor spirit and connect with God,

self-doubt is letting fear undermine our faith.”

Ouch. That’s exactly what I was doing. I had basically said, “Forget this gift, this practice of writing that I value and that I know God can use for his glory… self-doubt, fear, you win! Imma nap.”

I will not give self-doubt the power to undermine my faith or my actions.

Earlier in Gifts of Imperfection, Brené also speaks about how perfectionism kills creativity and stamps out progress:

“Life-paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect. It’s also all of the dreams that we don’t follow because of our deep fear of failing, making mistakes, and disappointing others.”

That paragraph made me get up from my comfy chair and find a pencil, because it needed some serious underlining. Double underlining, even. Life-paralysis. What a powerful image that creates. I, for one, don’t want to go through life paralyzed by fear, doubt, or prideful perfectionism. I want to write, do, sing, make, cook, think, be – even if it’s sometimes crap. I want to value the NOW over the nap. I don’t want to have a pile of dreams that I keep getting hung up on and tangled up in, dragging behind me, weighing me down because I was too afraid to follow them.

Georgia O’Keefe is quoted as saying, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every second of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Preach, sister. Don’t let fear win. Don’t live paralyzed. As preacher and writer Charlotte Gambill says, if you’re scared, then “do it afraid.”

Seize the day. Then take a nap, knowing you earned it. That’s exactly what I plan to do right now.

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