My Messiness

I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude this week. I’m working with a coach, and I set a goal this week to start working through my writer’s block. In some ways the logjam has been a gift as I mentally and emotionally work through the transition I’m navigating.

My process is messy. I have to butt my head and bruise my ego before I’ll try a different route. And I get very excited about all possibilities that pop up in my head. My friends probably think I’m crazy, and to some extent they are right. One week I’m chucking it all to become a baker in a seaside town, and the next week I’m madly throwing resumes at job openings on LinkedIn. It’s super confusing to me, and it feels really messy. So, I’d rather not write about what I’m feeling day to day. Being quiet is a bit of a gift. In the midst of my emotional roller coaster, I don’t have to worry about what it looks like to people I care about or, even worse, to complete strangers.

So in my coaching session last week, I began to process my writer’s block. My biggest barrier is vulnerability. It is also my most cherished gift. My best writing comes from being emotionally raw and highly introspective. But my fragility around being judged critically is hard to anesthetize enough to produce words. Just the thought of looking imperfect sends me to the trenches in silence.

Gratitude will lead me to the right words. There are times when I need to wallow in my pain, and I trust my gut that I will know when it’s time to stop wallowing. The wallowing allows me to feel. As soon as I start being grateful, I will rise. I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. 2020 has been no exception. It’s a transformative choice for me to re-focus.

This year has been a year of grief, horror and exponential pain. Over 1/4 of a million people have died of this deadly disease in our country, and that’s probably a gross understatement. For over 1/4 of a million families, 2020 has been an unimaginable gut punch. Not only have they lost a loved one unexpectedly, but they generally did it alone. I can’t imagine the sorrow that must come with that. Millions have lost their jobs and literally thousands are closing doors on their businesses and waiting in food lines. Fires have pushed people out of their homes, and multiple hurricanes have pounded the coasts. We are isolated and divided as a country and as individuals. And I don’t believe this is 2020’s fault. We will be left to work out these issues even as 2020 ends.

Given that bleak outlook, there are silver linings for me. I hope to explore some of those in the weeks to come. If you are struggling with isolation or grief or fear of what’s to come, I understand. This is not a call to be grateful. You have your own process. When you are ready and able to rise, you will find your way. I want to write. The only way I can write is to get out of this ditch and reflect on where I’ve been. This search for silver linings is part of my process. And part of my process is to write. I am grateful to have a place to process my feelings out loud. Forgive me for my messiness as I stutter start this battered ship. I have to start somewhere.

6 Comments on “My Messiness

  1. Hi, Sharon – this post brought back memories for me. I don’t know if you knew how much spaghetti I threw at the wall after I left the consulting firm following 28 years there. In addition to talking to people all over town about jobs that I immediately realized would not be a good fit, I thought about lots of other ways to occupy myself. I considered buying a Bruster’s Ice Cream franchise, since Baton Rouge does not have Bruster’s, then realized I don’t want to own a Bruster’s, I just want to eat their ice cream. Ed and I talked about starting a little business that would offer bike tours of Baton Rouge. We gave this up for numerous reasons and that was the right choice too. I thought about taking yoga teacher training and other kinds of physical trainer instruction to become a trainer to older adults. Again, great thing, just not for me. I remembered that, in my career, which was mostly with the same company, as I transitioned through roles, there was always a certain amount of patience and scanning the horizon involved. So, I would say that what I was doing then and what you’re doing now is a necessary part of the process. But I think you know that. It is frustrating. I’m glad you have a coach to guide you. You also have friends to bounce things off of, always.

    Regarding 2020 and COVID, back in March I was like most other people, worried about me or someone close to me contracting the virus. That hasn’t happened, but other things have. My sister-in-law injured pelvic bones a while back and has been in pain ever since. She has recently come to the conclusion, after two years of looking for a permanent fix, that there seems to be none and will have to accept life as it is. Then, she and her husband (John’s brother) had a freak incident over the summer in which the battery to their cord trimmer combusted in the Louisiana heat, catching the shed it was stored in on fire in the middle of the night. The shed was just outside their bedroom and, fortunately, my sister-in-law awakened just in time for her husband to extinguish the fire. They were literally minutes away from their bedroom catching on fire, possibly killing them both.

    Of course you know about John’s injury and we are grateful for his progress in healing, but he still has pain and stiffness and wakes up in the wee hours almost every morning with back pain. I’ve come to realize that healing of all types takes far longer then our healthy optimism bias ever allows us to predict. And then, there’s my sister and her traumatic brain injury. Who knows how long healing will take and where the end point of her recovery will be? It’s been interesting to me that — knock on wood — COVID hasn’t been an issue, but there are still so many challenges that we have been handed this year. My response to this has been to consciously remind myself to cherish each day and to do what I can to keep myself and others around me safe and healthy.

    I treasure your friendship, Sharon, and hope you have a good week. How nice it is to get to read your blogs again!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Sallie. You have had quite the year. I don’t think I was caught up on all the things going on in your world. I think we probably have a similar approach to dealing with life. It’s great to have you on my team!

  2. Humans are messy. Our lives get unexpectedly messy. The world caught a weird virus and EVERYTHING got turned on it’s head- relax! Try not to give yourself such a hard time- be kind to your soft self, who wants to write (& writes well) but is clearly scared of being judged. Meditate. Read. Rest. Count your blessings. And all this drama too shall pass, hopefully. What a terrible year 2020 has been, especially for Americans. Keep choosing gratitude & kindness, to self & others 🙏🏼❤️ G

    • Thank you so much for the support. Yes, it has been a terrible year, but Democracy appears to be holding. I think we’ll come out of this slump. And I’m sure I will too once I figure it out. LOL.

  3. Why is it “messy”? Isn’t there some judgmental-ness in using that word in this situation? Maybe you’re just… alive.

    • It’s interesting that some readers think the term messy has a negative judgement around it. I actually think messy is charming and uninhibited. It really just means there’s no structure, and I don’t feel a need to clean it up. I think maybe our society thinks messy is negative. I quite like it.

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