Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
I’ve just returned home from my “celebration” trip. It was the trip I promised myself I’d take after completing part one of my memoir. It served as both a carrot leading me toward my goal, and also as a reward for accomplishing it. And, best of all, it was within my control; I didn’t have to depend on anything or anybody outside myself to legitimize or acknowledge my accomplishment.
I went to Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs and called it a retreat, rather than a vacation, because I wanted to give thanks, nourish myself, slow down, get really still and quiet—and listen deeply. I wanted to go offline and stayoffline, not for hours, but for days. I stared at the sky and at swaying palm trees, watched rabbits and roadrunners, and reconnected with my husband (whom I invited to join me). We held hands, lingered in bed, and soaked in warm mineral springs.
We also hiked Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park. We hadn’t done that in years, and I’d forgotten how challenging the first two-thirds of the trail was. It was a steep climb, but each of us put one foot in front of the other—and as we hiked I thought, This is a lot like writing, which involves putting one thought down and then another. Step-by-step. They both involve wandering, exploring, and they both require patience, courage, and faith.
Patience. I couldn’t hurry up that mountain any more than I can hurry through my memoir. I had to find my own pace. Not my husband’s pace, not the pace of the long-legged, male thirty-something who sprinted ahead of us on the trail. Not the pace I’d taken years ago, but my where-I-am-now pace—the one I could sustain, explore, and enjoy. The same holds true for my writing. I’m the only one who can tell what’s right for me in terms of pacing.
Courage. I need courage to keep moving forward in life—especially when things get difficult. At times my writing, like hiking that mountain, has felt impossible. Though this manuscript seems to be flowing through me. I seem, at long last, to be moving out of my own way so that what needs to come through me is free to do so. This is a relief and a blessing for which I continue to be grateful.
Faith. While hiking, I prayed I wouldn’t lose my footing and fall off the side of the mountain. And I pray I won’t fall off the point of my project or wander into literary quicksand. This is where gratitude for my coach and editor comes in. It’s wonderful having someone read my work, somebody who guides my steps and keeps me from sinking. Faith. I have it in her and in myself—and last week I counted on it to know I’d reach the peak if I simply kept moving toward it.
The view at the top of Ryan Mountain was spectacular—a 360-degree view of desert hills, expansive and golden in the late autumn afternoon. But it was cold and windy so we didn’t stay there as long as I would have liked. Having to head back down so quickly reminded me it’s not the destination—in my projects and in my life—that matters as much as the journey. The hike’s the thing. The adventure, what happens while heading toward my destination (or goal). It’s nice to have goals, and to reach them, but the real treat is what happens along the way. What matters are the values cultivated in pursuit of goals—patience, courage, and faith are stellar travel companions.
So as I head, with a grateful heart and a rested soul, into part two of my memoir, I plan to rely on these three friends—patience, courage, and faith—to accompany the next leg of my journey.