A few weeks ago I was in a slump. The slump consisted in part of me feeling confused about how to establish the type of career as a writer that I want—or at least the type that I think I want. That is, a career that is intellectually stimulating, creatively challenging, fulfilling, collaborative and fueled by my passion for travel, self-development, mindful living, books or something else I can get behind. It would also be nice if there were some type of salary involved.
I woke up every day feeling conflicted with my ambitions: should I write for the blog, should I work on my fiction, should I pitch stories to magazines and online media sites or should I just give it all up?
Instead of making a decision, I procrastinated. I purchased my first Taylor Swift album, memorized the lyrics to every song (unintentionally), devoured a couple Stephen King books on my reading list, became obsessed with Darabont's “Shawshank Redemption,” kept my hair in the kind of messy bun that indicates that no fucks are given, and did absolutely nothing to make progress with my writing.
I was paralyzed with indecision.
It wasn’t until I attended Oprah’s “The Life You Want” seminar in Seattle with my mom that I received some clarity about how to proceed. When I returned home after the weekend, I knew what to do.
Instead of making a comprehensive list of writing goals, scheduling my time into hour-long segments devoted to pitches, blog posts and articles, or applying to every writer-related job on LinkedIn, I meditated.
I woke up each day, went for a run, stretched, and then sat in stillness with myself for about 15-20 minutes as my heart rate slowed, my sweat dried and my mind cleared. I don’t know if I can classify what I did as meditation, exactly—I wasn’t very quiet, I didn’t have a breathing pattern or a mantra and I didn’t slip into a space of deep understanding or transcendent nothingness.
But I did become peaceful. I listened to the sounds around me: my dog rustling in the bushes, the trickle of water dripping from the waterfall ledge in my family’s pool, the lawnmower across the street, the waves rolling onto shore if I was at the beach.
I talked to myself—sometimes in my mind but usually out loud as a whisper—and acknowledged the things in my life that I am grateful for. I paid tribute to everything that I have and everything that is going right for me. I embraced the notion that everything in life happens for me, not to me. I reflected on my desires and vocalized my dreams.
Then I surrendered all of it. I asked the universe to give me the drive to reach for what I want and the strength to accept what I am given. I asked for this over and over, every day.
Less than a week into this practice I received an email response from Arianna Huffington, whom I had contacted a few days earlier to pitch an article idea for the Huffington Post. She wrote that she would love to feature my voice on the site.
I burst into tears when I read the email because it was the first validation I had received in a while that I am on the right path. I was relieved and overjoyed. As the support and encouragement flowed in from my family and friends, I took the time to savor each compliment and gesture of kindness I received, feeling increasingly blessed as the hours and minutes passed.
Since then, I’ve had another article published with the Huffington Post about my high school cross-country days and my wonderful coach, Rex Hall. I am humbled and beyond grateful for the positive response this piece has received. I know it is a small step in the grand scheme of life but a big step forward for my self-confidence as a writer.
The events of the past couple weeks have reminded me how vital a daily gratitude practice is to our peace of mind and our prosperity. When we begin our days by feeling content and thankful for what we have, we open our hearts and hands to receiving.
Gratitude breeds abundance.
The next time you’re having a rough day or a rough month, don’t complicate things by wallowing or harboring bitterness longer than is necessary. Bring yourself back to the basics by expressing your happiness for what you have.
It’s really that simple: everything beautiful and worthwhile begins with gratitude for what is.
What are you feeling grateful for these days?