What is your heart’s desire? Perhaps you know: a creative outlet such as collage, or to play your flute, or to teach kids how to sew. Whatever it is, take a few moments to imagine how it feels to be engaged in this activity.
If nothing comes to mind, celebrate that, too! Life is not about doing, we are human beings after all. Perhaps that’s the best place to begin: with the recognition that we are human beings! Begin with Being. Being YOU!
2. Prioritize your time.
Make time for whimsical, imaginative dreaming. This is part of Being, even if you know your heart’s desire. Give some time and space to yourself and your heart’s desire to dream a little. Before we can do anything, it helps to be able to imagine it.
a. Schedule dates with yourself on the calendar. A place and time to begin. This is an appointment like any
other. Commit. Show up at the scheduled time.
b. Be reasonable in your scheduling.
“Four times this week, for three hours/session” may overwhelm you and your (probably) full life. Try something simple: 20 minutes, three times this week to daydream and be. Find the time of day that suits you best. (For example, I’ve discovered 2:30 – 4:30 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons is a time when my energy is conducive to write and revise. If you know you’re a night owl, even if you want to do an early morning practice, begin by meeting yourself where you are at. Set an hour from 10:30 – 11:30 p.m. to practice, if that will work best for you today.
I’m a fan of the 13-moon calendar (www.13moon.com) with its 13-day “wavespells.” When I’m starting something new, I map out time over one wavespell: “Over the next 13 days, I’d like to set aside time for collage. Three times, ½ hour per session.” Then at the end of the wavespell, I assess how it went.
3. Keep your dates with yourself: Show Up!
Then allow Life and creativity to happen with the tools, space and protected time you’ve provided.
4. Be Gentle, Persistent and Realistic.
Sometimes doing something new is disconcerting. Even if it is our heart’s desire, there may be internal blocks (probably handed to us from our oppressive culture) that will obstruct our path. I find when it’s difficult to prioritize something I long to do, i.e. collage or puppet making, and I can’t seem to get it together, I give myself the option to toss the idea. “If I don’t make a puppet in the next three months, I’m going to clear out all the things I’ve been saving as puppet material. Maybe I’ll trade puppet-making for less clutter!” (I take on projects that accumulate boxes of odds and ends that if I don’t use, somebody one day will discover and say “What was she saving that for?”) I’m amazed how my invitation to explore releasing the puppets gave me more space, time and energy. After two or three days of internal conversation: “Yeah, I’m not going to make puppets, perhaps I’ll grieve that,” I sat with the reality of letting go of my puppet making desire. Suddenly an energy burst arose that coincided with available time and before I knew it, a new puppet came into existence! Born from a pleasurable, playful place instead of pressured, push-forward-at-all-costs energy.
5. Go ahead and challenge yourself.
What’s the worst thing that can happen? You will fail, get hurt, hurt someone else, or die. Is there anything worse than those four things? Inevitably, ALL of these things will happen whether or not you begin something new anyway. Return to your heart’s desire. Does it put you or anyone else directly in harm’s way? If so, perhaps you may need to reconsider and look deeply at your desire. My guess is, if you’re reading this, your heart’s desire is peaceful and safe, and probably nobody will get hurt and you won’t die from pursuing it. (Maybe hang-gliding or jumping out of airplanes are exceptions, and if that’s your desire, please mindfully weigh the odds for yourself. The world is full of dare devils and stunt-people, after all. If that is your heart’s desire, please let me know! I’d love to hear how you found this article and more about your adventures! I also better check my liability policy to see what happens if I’m inadvertently giving advice that’s danger-inducing!)
Keep in mind when starting something new: frustration, failure and/or disappointment will likely come into play. Here in the muddy lotus roots we may think “Why bother? No matter what I do, I’ll still end up here, where I’m uncomfortable and covered in muck! Why would any sane person advise me and others to go here?” Trust your heart’s desire and begin anyway!
6. Take a respite, breathe and return.
Take time and space away from your task, a “Breathing Spell!” and then return. Do this again and again and again. Continuously return to the beginner’s mind. (I did to create this article you are reading!)
My experience includes the joy of learning from mistakes. Of taking the “wrong path,” planting a variety of seed that doesn’t bear fruit, lettering an ‘o’ too thin or short. I take a breathing spell, I return. I keep going. I learn. The next time I’m on the trail and I approach the crossroad, I remember and turn left instead of right (or on a new path, I check my map). I do a little more research, boost my soil’s nutrients, select a different type of flower to grow. I keep lettering until an ‘o’ comes out the way I want it, and then I try to make four more just like it in a row. I develop some kind of muscle memory that remembers: “ ‘O’ feels like this.”
7. Assess your progress and satisfaction.
At times during the process I get stuck. My internal critic will scream “This is IMPOSSIBLE!” I’ve learned that these are the times to rest and reassess my expectations. I check if the “Perfectionist” or the “Prince of Lies” is “driving the bus.” I breathe deeply and pull out my pencil. I write the word IMPOSSIBLE. Then I add a handy little punctuation mark, an apostrophe, right between the “I” and the “M”: “I’M POSSIBLE.” Then I begin again.
8. Begin again and again. Always be a beginner!