#YourTurnChallenge – blogging daily for a week

Seth Godin has a new book called Your Turn. And in that spawn a few activities around that – including a blogging challenge @Your Turn Challenge: http://yourturnchallenge.strikingly.com/. Blogging a post daily for a week, ie. 7 days, means committment to shipping. Nothing complicated around the process, just shipping daily. From what I understand, Seth has been blogging daily for a few years now. Yes, that means he hasn’t missed a day where he posts a blog post, for a few years.

And the act of shipping daily, really is a commitment to yourself, about constantly creating and putting it out there in the world. So if it works, if it doesn’t, we will know quickly. What can be improved, what can be worked on better, what new areas to explore, what areas to stop exploring. It becomes clearer when things get shipped, rather than when things only marinate as ideas in the head.

I opted into the challenge and have been blogging every day (it’s day 5 today). At the side, I’ve been taking notes of what has come up for me – in what I write, in where I draw inspiration, in how I get myself distracted, in how I address tiny commitments. It’s day 5 and I am already seeing much feedback to what and how I do things (not just writing), just for the act of posting a blog a day for 7 days, that my mind is really blown. So more on that once I complete the challenge. The operative word being “once”, not “if”.

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An unexplained hiatus

I took an unexplained hiatus from the LMM blog. Unexplained, because as with many things in life, it seemed to just “catch up” with me.

So where did it lead me to and why am I back?

The truth is, the longer I was away, the more excuses I had in staying away.

We sometimes are able to convince ourselves that our dreams aren’t worth it. And that we have to know the destination, to know where we are every step of the way, before taking the first step.

And that roundabout then happened all in my head.  What stories do we tell ourselves? Deciding to skip that one post was one moment, blaming myself over and over again, finding reasons and then avoiding reasons, replaying stories in my head – that happened for a lot longer after that.

The decision to skip that regular post happened in one instant.  The decision to come back can happen in another instant.  And that’s just it.  If the need to write is greater than the need to hide, the love what we create is greater than what we are afraid of – it then all boils down to one moment of decision.

One moment. One instant. In the present.  Fully immersed.  And we go on to truly live, magic moment to new magic moment.

It’s good to be back.

What is your mess response?

How do you respond to “mess”?  In this case, uncertainty, unpredictability, unknown or without (perceived) order – basically anything in front of you that is beyond your experience or prior knowledge, hence, it becomes something you “don’t know how to handle”.

I’d used to think that it was just that the country I was born and grew up in was so structure (and somewhat manicured) that everything needed to be predictable for me.  But I realise it could happen anywhere else, because of the social conditioning (“new territory is unsafe”), family conditioning (“study hard, take a ‘good’ job and settle down”) or friends (“why do you want to be different”).  It took me really long to realise that taking risks is what allows to grow, and not taking risks stifles us.  And I can see why.  Anything outside what we know looks like “mess”, there is no order, a fear of the unknown prevents us from exploring, which keeps our circle of experiences small such that the next encounter that comes by is forcefully made to fit to what we know so that it would not appear “messy”.

And so responding to mess or allowing myself to step forward despite not seeing all the pieces laid out in front of me – is somewhat an on-going lesson.  My most reliable feedback is looking at how I typically respond to mess, identifying the pattern and then making the conscious choice to face whatever I need to that doesn’t look structured (yet) to me.

So let me count the ways that we typically respond to mess.

Shut down, blank out, run away

All systems do not respond.  No reaction, no movement, even dropping everything and leaving it.  This is with the faint and futile hope that the mess would somehow “go away” or resolve itself.  Maybe it does, maybe it just grows and sometimes it evolves.  Either way, you won’t know, because you are not even daring to look at the mess.

Let me order it!

The messier it gets, the more there is to organize. Every mess can be compartmentalize to a few categories, then taken down bite-size bit by bit.  The elusive dream is that once organized, it is no longer a mess.  More time to spend on ‘organizing’ an impossible puzzle, and not enough time looking at what the puzzle brings.

Resignation, letting the crowd push you about

At least you are somewhat looking at the mess, though not really identifying with it.  It’s fate, it’s the environment, it’s the circumstance, it’s just something that happens to you (again and again).  Just standing there in the mess, you may get pushed around and move some place, but it sure won’t be where you are looking to go.  And it doesn’t sound any less messier.

Frozen, and not about letting it go

Just rooted on the spot, like a deer in headlights.  The mess paralyzes you because you don’t see the few steps ahead, so you don’t dare to take just one of those steps that you do see.  Unlike the Disney movie Frozen, there is a whole lot of holding on tight and not enough letting go.  In this case, I’m not sure if the strain of not being able to move or the self-imposed fear of moving will get to you first.

 

I recognize that I have had all four at different parts of my life, though I often gravitate to the “Let me order it!” and “Frozen” quite a fair bit.  To choose a different approach, I ask myself two questions:

1. Am I ok with mess?

And if I don’t feel like saying yes, there is already something I am resisting and not willing to look. Perhaps the mess is well…very unstructured, perhaps I don’t know how.  Being ok with it means I will be able to get to where I want to get, despite not knowing how.  It means looking for the why and being ok with anything that comes.  I recognize this state by a feeling of groundedness, being centred in myself and when I look forward to “leaps of faith”.

2. Can I surrender to the mess?

Surrender involves vulnerability – in my resistance, there is often something I want to be right about.  Though whatever that it, it often is not relevant to the mess at hand.  Surrender is also not about expecting the mess to look a certain way.  Why should it? If it’s something beyond what I have experienced, I wouldn’t know what to expect to look.  While the answer is always “I can”, the act of asking the question often reminds me that I don’t have to put too many definitions on to what I cannot define at the moment.

 

On a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being the most vulnerable, open, comfortable with mess and uncertainty, I’d rate myself a 2.  I don’t know when the impetus hit me to really start looking within.  It could have been that I have been stuck for a long time, that I have tried everything I knew.  It could have also been that I knew this was not the way to live, structured and always in a little box.  It could have been that I didn’t want my kids to grow up losing who they are when every single day, they are all about living wholeheartedly, jumping heart first instead of head first.  It could also be that I myself wanted to experience what is to live wholeheartedly, jumping heart first instead of head first.  And for all that, I knew that if I was ok with mess, it was only because I was ok with me.

Decide: #10 Decide to Explore

It’s easy to think, to plan, to contemplate and just…do nothing. Often there exists a gap between the thinking and planning, to the actual action of doing and creating. The gap is where we make choices, we decide. And often, we spend ages in that space just cruising along.

So, decide.

Decide: #10 Decide to Explore
Little kids explore things wholeheartedly, with their eyes, fingers, ears and sometimes mouth. They explore, not to collect more information and answers, but to stay in the space of questioning.
I like that definition of exploration. It allows for experience, wholeheartedness, the expansion of something new & opening of new doors.
Another way of saying, choose to stay in the awe of wonder.

This marks the end of the second series. For more of the series, please refer here.

Author’s note:
I’ve been exposed recently to some people with big dreams, the ability to stretch the mind, and the unmistakeable internal calling of wanting to develop this blog in a few directions. So I’ve taken down ideas of what I want to write, mull over it a little and will be starting on those next, instead of a 3rd series. And I can’t wait!

Decide: #9 Decide to Listen

It’s easy to think, to plan, to contemplate and just…do nothing. Often there exists a gap between the thinking and planning, to the actual action of doing and creating. The gap is where we make choices, we decide. And often, we spend ages in that space just cruising along.

So, decide.

Decide: #9 Decide to Listen
Interestingly, we often mix up the terms ‘listen’ & ‘hear’. Though the recognition of the experience between the two is quite distinct.
If only hearing happens, then there is confusion & uncertainty that results from no real understanding.
If listening actually happens, connection is present.
How do you know connection is present? If you listen, you will find out soon enough.

Decide: #8 Decide to Release

It’s easy to think, to plan, to contemplate and just…do nothing. Often there exists a gap between the thinking and planning, to the actual action of doing and creating. The gap is where we make choices, we decide. And often, we spend ages in that space just cruising along.

So, decide.

Decide: #8 Decide to Release
This is for all the dreams I let die without being noticed or expressed. The weight of carrying them is starting to drag me down, while the temptation to hold on now looks like obligation. It’s as if holding on meant giving them witness.
Today, I let those dreams I let die go peacefully. Fully release, fully forgive. So that when I choose to create new ones out of the ashes of old ones, they are done in the spirit of soaring, lighter from the weight released.

For more on series, refer here.

Decide: #7 Decide to Dance

*This post was a few days late since I just came back from a trip to Phuket, from an event called the Awesomeness Fest. More on that in my later posts. Recovering from such an empowering, mind-stretching event took a while. And here, the series continue.*

It’s easy to think, to plan, to contemplate and just…do nothing. Often there exists a gap between the thinking and planning, to the actual action of doing and creating. The gap is where we make choices, we decide. And often, we spend ages in that space just cruising along.

So, decide.

Decide: #7 Decide to Dance
It’s not the steps, which style or type of dance. It’s not the right type of music. It’s not how someone looks at you when you dance.
All this time, it’s about feeling the music and moving your body to how you feel with it. It is free, primal and joyful.
Dance, simply dance.

For the rest of the series, refer here.