I’ve had a lot on my mind lately – perhaps more than usual, which given my tendency to overthink and overanalyze even the slightest gesture on the part of the universe or people or, hell, random pigeons, is saying something.
This time, however, the thoughts have an unusual flavor – this sort of minty, sort of cool undertone that I realized is actual utility. Yes, I’m thinking in circles about some things, but slowly a few things are clicking into place – my brain is playing Tetris with itself.
My guiding thought this month has thus far been “know thyself.” I recently finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better than Before, which discusses the nature of habits: how we create them, why we break them, and strategies for forming new ones. And though Rubin herself has one of those Type A personalities that drive me bonkerdoodles, she emphasizes that her way of doing things is atypical, and that no single approach to change is the “right” one, just the right one for you. Her big thing is, as you might guess, knowing yourself, and considering both how your personality can set you up to fail and how you can take advantage of it to succeed.
One important thing I learned reading the book is that I’m what Rubin calls an Obliger: I need external accountability and validation to keep me committed. I’m great at starting things but dreadful at follow-through, and I have a really hard time self-motivating. I run in a grey area between valuing people’s opinions too much and becoming resentful that I care about those opinions at all. Obligers like being leaders and role models – having people look to them and support their ideas.
At first I thought that was terrible. External validation? What kind of screwed up self-image is that? I shouldn’t need other people’s approval for anything! But then, I realized, it’s not about upholding the image of the perfect self-actualized woman. Craving validation isn’t a sin. We all do it to one degree or another; I just have a personality that finds external accountability a big motivator. If you just leave me alone with a list of changes to make chances are I’ll make a nice fat to-do list out of it and then lay down and watch Chopped.
Basically I’m equally likely to join a cult or lead one myself.
This was a valuable insight. Because of all the woo-woo self-helpy philosophy I’ve ingested over the years I believed that only I could keep myself on the straight and narrow/bi and swervy; now when I consider the habits I want to adopt in various arenas of my life (there’s a chart) I’m considering ways I could go public with them, ways to use my creative talents to both inform/entertain people and give me a framework for change.
That’s a big part of why I’m working on a Patreon in which subscribers will have access to my book chapters one by one – the old multipart fan fiction approach always provided the feedback I craved to keep me going. This whole thing where a book takes a year to get done and I have to hold back what happens from the world is no more fun for me than it is for you!
As you might imagine, based on my delightfully extroverted personality and my warm and fuzzy countenance (SARCASM SIGN), this is kind of a terrifying thought for me. I’m not what you’d call a joiner; I’m not good at sharing, except in writing. I’ve lived a lot of my life in secret, hiding the truth even when it was easier to be forthright than to make something up. Some of that was a survival mechanism, but I find that here on the edge of 40 I’m so closed off I’ve pretty much stopped trying to do…anything.
One of the things I always told people about The Circle Within was that it wasn’t a book written by a knowledgable Elder of the path. It was written for myself as much as anyone else, to help me crystallize and make sense of my way of practicing. The Body Sacred was the same way; I wrote it first and foremost because I needed it, not because I’d come through my body image journey and was now ready to dispense my vast wisdom to the masses.
Now I’m trying to figure out what exactly I need here in 2015 and how I can create it.
I’d like to say I have a Big Idea to share, but I don’t, not yet. However, I figured out that I used to blog a lot more when I was just talking about my life experiences and touching on larger truths rather than trying to “say something.” I’ve been trying too hard at what doesn’t matter, and it’s drained the energy I had for things that do. So, here I am, and since I don’t have any earthshattering insights, I thought I could at least share where I’m at, as well as this:
Here’s the first week in my agenda journal from Hope Wallace’s Daily Musings course. First, I decorated the title page with various bits of paper and a scrap of text from Shadow’s Fall. I stuck a library pocket inside the front cover to hold whatever paper flotsam I need.
By contrast, my actual agenda pages are not exactly a vintage themed outing; since I didn’t really go anywhere last week, I didn’t have any of the receipts or cards or ephemera that Hope usually does in her journals, so I just went with my own little doodles, my new pens, and a bit of Prismacolor here and there.
I think now that I’ve got more of a feel for what it takes to fill up a day’s entry I’ll make more interesting pages.Become my patron for exclusive online content and read new stories before anyone else!