Sunday, February 13, 2011

One. At. A. Time.

This morning, lying in bed, I had so many thoughts crowding into my head that I literally stopped them in my mind, with a single, firm hand up.

I said. Stop.

I said. One at a time.

I said. Please.

So then my thoughts dutifully gathered themselves up and presented themselves to me, one by one.

First thought:

I want to publish my stories. I want to take my story collection and send it out. This is the dream I routinely defeat with, "Oh, they're just short stories, no-one wants to publish short stories." But I want to put my dream, and my stories, into the universe. Because they will never be published if I NEVER send them out.

Second thought:

I want to write a book for young people. I want to finish the book for young people I am writing. I want to finish the book for young people I am writing and I want to write stories about animals for my girl and I want to write funny stories that will make kids laugh and I want to write. I so want to write. Just write and write and write.

Third thought:

I need to organise my next writers workshops. The THREE workshops I now run, each one just a bit (or a lot) different. The workshops are wonderful. I love them. But they do need to be planned, organised, prepared for. What will I do for workshop A, and B, and C?

Workshop thoughts A, B, and C started putting their hands up, and calling out. And I said, "Please, no need to shout! One at a time! Order in the court!"

But it was time for Fourth thought, which said:

I want to write a blog post. But my head seems to be so crowded and so empty all at once. What will I write about? And other people's blogs are so awesome and mine is so very small. Oh, what is the meaning of life/blogs/life?

That's when my thoughts got a little self-doubty. Started fussing and fretting.

The workshop thoughts kept shouting out ideas. The 'I want to write' thoughts sloped about the back looking mopey and desperate.

And then the 'Grocery shopping' thoughts came rushing in and so did the 'Cleaning the house' thoughts.

The 'How to get the cat to like the kitten' thoughts opened the door and asked, "Excuse me, but do you have a minute?"

The 'How to find time for my beautiful husband' thought then asked politely if it was its turn.

The 'How to make healthy vegetarian meals that have iron and vitamin B and protein' thoughts and the 'How to find time to exercise' thoughts started arm wrestling.

And the 'How to homeschool with clarity and kindness, freedom and vision' sat in the centre of the room with its arms folded and said it wasn't going anywhere until someone listened to it.

It's hard to see a path through when they're all behaving like that!

So perhaps I should just pick one thought. And think that for a while. Or perhaps I should just play a game with my children and put the thoughts in a drawer for another time. Or perhaps I should take myself back to bed? 

Or perhaps I should just laugh. My husband read about a study that said when you are feeling stressed or angry or upset, you should force yourself to smile. Your body feels the upturn of your mouth and sends it to your brain, which suddenly thinks, Hey, nice! 

And your brain sends messages back to your whole body and tells it, "You're feeling okay. You might even be happy." Your brain might even say: "Yep, you're totally on vacation in Hawaii right now. You're warm and sitting by the sea, which is drifting in and drifting out, doing sea tai-chi. And in a minute the waiter will come with a smoothie, and soon your children will run up, wet from the sea, and give you enormous dripping kisses." 

And then your whole body smiles

Just like I am, smiling suddenly,

as I write these 


  1. Oh boy do I hear you! I struggle routinely with whirlwind thoughts and where to begin. I'm definitely going to try smiling. :)

  2. I don't know if compulsive list making is your thing, but when I feel so overwhelmed and the noise in my brain is at a fever pitch, I get a notebook and just write and write and write every single thing that I am thinking about. Then I organize the big list into little sub-lists. And when the thoughts come crashing back in, I say, "sorry, I already wrote you down and am thinking about you in three days. No cutting in line."

    And then I tackle them one at a time and cross them off the list with probably more glee than is entirely healthy.

    (in fact, sometimes if I do something that was not on the list, I will write it down JUST to cross it off. I might have a teeny list problem.)

    And I do not want to hear you say that your blog is tiny and small. Your blog is a peaceful oasis of joy and I love coming here. I posted a picture of the inside of my refrigerator yesterday, for crying out loud.

  3. Please write your short stories! That is something I would so love to read. Maybe that is the reason you are in my life, you will write this killer book, Kei will read it and her life will be changed forever. She will become a reader. :)

    I posted this on my blog re. you coming to Kei's play, not sure if you saw it:
    You know if you go to and pick Australia and Northern Alabama…we are not that far apart. Maybe the kids should get to work on digging their way through! ;)

  4. please please publish your stories. And I don't think your blog is little, I find it very inspiring.
    Way to go with the mindfulness! You say it's your brain but it's all you!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.