Little Steps to a Beautiful Life

I was going to put off this post because I wasn’t in the mood to grapple with it or face it or admit that maybe I’m right sometimes, even to myself. I was going to just dodge it and write about something less personal like my love of coffee or my desire to someday go to Patagonia or something shelved away in the “innocuous blog posts that no one really wants to read” file. And then I hit a slump, and I had a bad day, and we here in SoCal had—wait for it—an overcast sky—GASP! I was irritable and sad and all those other emotions that squirm their way to the top when you feel like you’re crawling on the bottom of your day even though you know that it will get better and this is just a mood and these things come and go.

The post had been rattling around in my head for a few weeks, prompted by a group of great blogging women that I am a part of. It is the Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You. group on facebook that I was kindly included in, and while the name may feel a bit like overselling on days like this, the importance of a group of encouraging people in your life can never be overestimated. In this group, we have a monthly prompt, and this month the prompt was I need. You fill in the blank. You reach inside your soul and drag out the thing that you really need. Thanks for the introspection, BBBY.

I am a writer. It has taken me a while to be able to say that. Even though I sometimes get real live checks that turn into money after I write something, I have struggled to get the words out there. I am a—tilt your head to the side and try not to look guilty—writer. But here I am. I have a blog and a book in the works and articles that I attempt to get people to buy and websites that look better because I wrote them.

Being a writer means that my life looks different than most people’s. I hardly ever dress up. In fact, the other day I had a lunch meeting, and I wore clothes that I had to iron, like with a fire and heated metal plate and everything. Ok, not really, you just plug it in, but we’re talking ironing, people. But then I got home in the afternoon and changed into leggings and a sweatshirt while curled up on our amazingly comfy green couch and scoured the internet for an editor for said book. A few hours later I went to pick up my husband. As fate would have it, he ended up talking to someone in the pick up area that meant that I got out the car, leggings and sandals and all, and stood there looking like a college student who was late to practice for a community production of West Side Story goes 80’s. As I nodded politely in the conversation, I wanted to scream, I was wearing clothes that required ironing only a few hours ago.

It’s true. I get to wear what I want as a writer. Some days it’s exercise pants and sweatshirts and some days it’s jeans and cute scarves. I set my own schedule. I look for my own work. I manage my own expenses, and I spend a lot of time alone. I work in coffee shops and on my couch, and every day is a little bit different. I make my own deadlines and blow through them and then reprimand myself or just let it slide.

Sometimes it’s scary being a writer. I get scared because there is not a team of people that will pick up this project if I fall apart. And if the writing is not good, it’s my heart on the page. And if I get hung up or have a few days where the words do not flow, I freak out and worry that it’s gone. I will never write again. My life is lost. And finding an editor is scary and looking for a printer is intimidating and the list goes on.

But if I stop and breathe and look out the window at the beautifully overcast day, I realize that I love it. I love my life and the way that I am actively creating my world and the worlds of my characters. I love it and am scared by it and sometimes want to chuck it all. But I think that maybe that’s being human.

The other day I was talking to my husband, and I told him, “I just need to trust the process.” I chewed on that for the next few days, and then I realized that it was my need.

I need to trust the process. I need to let myself relax into the ups and downs, to acknowledge that everything is a flow. I need to let go of muscling what I imagine to be a perfect life into place and just believe that my little steps will take me where I want to go.

I am not the first person to do this living thing. I am not the first person to wonder and be scared and doubt and get excited and take the long way and become someone they never expected to be. I have to acknowledge that the process has validity, that there is more to know than I can know, that I cannot control it all. But at the same time, in trusting the process, I also have to trust myself.

While my process right now is about being a writer, I imagine that needing to trust might be much the same if I had any number of other careers. Because the truth is that life is rarely what we expect, and no matter where we find ourselves, it is easy to wonder if it is really where we are supposed to be.

But no matter where our tiny steps have taken us, whether it is running a corporation or caring for little people or juggling on the street or looking like a crazy person typing frantically and crying in a coffee shop (I never do this), we all have to trust ourselves first and the process second.

We have to learn to know when we are happy and then step out in the faith that we can know what it is we want, even on the days when the clouds fill up the sky. And then when we have decided to trust ourselves, we trust the process. Because life is not anything if it is not a process. A messy, wonderful, exciting, terrifying, nerve-wracking, transformative process that has a way of taking our little steps toward happiness and turning them into bold, brilliant, beautiful lives.

(If you want to be a part of the BBBY community and get these prompts that make you dig into your soul, just shoot me an email, and I’ll send you an invite.)

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