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The Word of the Day is Relax

After getting a burst of motivation for writing, it appears that I promptly fell off the face of Livejournal. That's just how life goes, sometimes. In that end of summer rush, I decided that it was more important to have a few adventures and actually live life a little--otherwise, what will I ever have to actually write about. So, I hiked around a few mountains, visited a few old cemeteries and even checked out a rock that messes up your compass readings.

However, this post is not about those things. This post is about me finally taking steps to get some of my anxiety issues in check. Today I had an appointment with an LCSW to come up with strategies to get my compulsive skin picking/nail biting/lip chewing behaviors in control. It feels like they've been getting progressively worse--which probably creates a feedback loop, because I start to feel anxious about the symptoms of my anxiety. Seeing as I've apparently been living in a near perpetual state of low to moderate anxiety for quite some time, the first plan of action is to try to learn to relax. We basically want to reset my baseline. My current assignment is to engage in a relaxing activity three times a day.

When I first heard this, I have to admit that my anxiety level spiked a little. Three times a day? Sometimes I barely find time to brush my teeth; how can I relax three times a day. However, it turns out that 5-10 minutes at a time is fine. I've got a list of suggestions, although really, I can choose anything. She suggested that engaging different senses might be helpful, too.

Tonight I decided that my relaxation would be to give myself a nice facial treatment. I had a little gift pouch of Burt's Bees stuff that my mom gave me--I'd been holding onto it because it's nice and I felt like I should be saving it for some special moment. I decided that tonight would be that special moment, not because there was anything special about tonight, but because I wanted to relax and engage in a little self care. There was this pore-refining mask in it that appealed to me, so I mixed the clay into a thin paste and covered my face. Mission accomplished! It smelled wonderful and made my face feel tingly while it dried. I spent 15 minutes quietly enjoying the sensation. Afterward I put on some nice night cream, eye cream, and repair serum and felt good about being nice to my face.

That face mask is probably ridiculously expensive--but I might have to get some for project relaxation. It felt so good.

Day 1: Writing

With this new fire ignited in me to get back into writing, I sat down this evening to bang out some words. The initial idea I'd had was that perhaps I would put together some sort of short story or poem or reflection. Instead, I wrote about 235 words laying out an idea for a novel--a general concept, some world-building details, a couple of quick character sketches...

Before tonight if someone asked if I wanted to write a novel, I probably would have explained that my brain just isn't capable of working out long format works. I can't honestly say what happened in the last 12 hours to have changed that.

Whatever happens with it, I should be proud that I stepped out of my comfort zone and entertained this new idea.

Inspiration and Motivation

Sometimes I am inspired to write. The idea springs forth from the ether to whisper in my ear: write me. Then the words come, first a trickle, now a geyser unstoppable. Most days, though, I'm not. Maybe I'm inspired. Certainly I have ideas—so many ideas that on any given day I've forgotten dozens by bedtime. Really, perhaps what I mean to say is that I'm not sufficiently motivated.

That's a trickier problem to solve. Ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere, one thing reminds you of another and suddenly a story is blooming in your mind. Motivation, though, comes from one place: yourself. Sure, you can come up with external rewards or punishments, scare yourself into writing—but it seems that without some sort of intrinsic desire, you're doomed to failure.

Don't get me wrong; I want to write. There's just been something standing in the way. It might be my own perfectionist nature that tells me if I can't be perfect, it's better to not even try. The old familiar self-sabotage demon seems the likely stumbling block. Convinced of my own failure before I even try, I find myself stepping back and concocting one excuse after another.

A man I deeply admire and respect told me one day that he knew I had a novel inside of me. I'd never even told him that I had an interest in writing—but he looked at me and his artist's intuition must have kicked in. Sometimes I think of how much I'd like to prove him right.

For those of you who may have confronted similar demons, how do you fight against them? For those of you who write, how do you push yourself to improve?