Vulnerability is beautiful thing, sister. Putting yourself out there is an amazing way of being a teacher for our community. Thank you for your trust.
My name is Laura and it is so nice to connect with you in your newsletter. Thank you for being so open and honest with us. It is very refreshing and I look forward to learning from you and being alongside this journey with you.
I would love to ask for your advice. Do you have any advice on how to feel motivation throughout the day? I struggle with anxiety and depression and oftentimes have trouble staying focused. Sometimes my brain even feels foggy. With work and school, I stay on track but it can be so difficult.
Thank you so much for all you did at Seventeen magazine! Your words really shaped me growing up.
I hope you have a wonderful week!
Laura! Thank so much for reaching out...for your support back then…and now. It really does mean a lot. And I'm speaking to you, dear reader, too. Thank you for having my back and giving me nourishment in the form of kindness and loyalty as I crawl out of my self-imposed hibernation.
Okay, back to you, Laura. This feeling you're feeling? Yes. Yes. Yes! You’re experiencing the call to come home to yourself.
I know it sucks - and honestly many people just sort of accept these feelings as a part of life, and medicate with coffee, sugar or some such. But what I actually hear you saying when you describe what you’re struggling with is that you want to connect with yourself...with your authentic self and you’re fucking bored to death of whatever it is you’ve signed up to do at this moment in your life. You’re not the problem. It is the problem. Because the fact is, when you're in your "zone," I'm sure you have no trouble whatsoever with motivation or focus, right? That's where we need to get you to, my sister. I PROMISE this isn't just some bull-shit Professor Positive talk. I've been where you are, and I've also gotten out of it. And this is important: No judgement about whatever you’re doing now. I’m sure it’s noble and great. You know when I felt the most like what you’re describing now? As a stay-at-home mom! The most noble job! They call it the hardest job you’ll ever love. Okay. Great. Not for me! I can say that and not feel badly because I couldn’t love my children more, but I was bored to death and I missed what gave my authentic-self purpose: Being of service….to you! We all have that thing that really lights us up. So, let's figure out what that thing is for you.
Listen, often we live our lives the way we're expected to. We follow career or educational paths that we feel are "right" based on...well...who knows what. It could be based on your culture, your community, your parents. (And yes, even grownups like you are not immune to making choices to please their parents. I fucking married someone at age 26 who was a super lovely awesome person. But I really married him because my mom loved him, and I desperately wanted her approval. I also invited the person who sexually abused me for years and years to my wedding. I didn’t even consider otherwise. And I wasn’t even questioning my choices - just following my programming.) My point is, just because we're technically grown doesn't mean we are basing our choices on our most creative and authentic selves.
Okay great. But how are we supposed to be in touch with our creative and authentic selves? The idea sounds so…lofty. And it feels that way because it’s a voice that many of us have shut down from a very young age. See, creativity and authenticity get developed through play and playfulness. (Something most adults, of course, don’t make time for because we’re running from one thing to the next). But we actually start disconnecting from playfulness long before adulthood. Like listen to this story and tell me if you think it’s insane: When my youngest children were applying for Kindergarten, the mother of an absolutely lovely boy in their class was told by several admissions officers at different schools that her son was “too playful.” (He was applying to KINDERGARTEN sisters, so her child was FUCKING FOUR YEARS OLD AND IN PRESCHOOL!). Too playful? A 4-year-old? But this is the conditioning that most of us have in this culture. Once we become school age, the playfulness needs to stop, and we have to be compliant...or else we are considered problematic in the classroom because it’s hard for the teachers to manage us. I see how this makes teaching easier, but it comes at a cost. We become really, really good at a young age of listening to the grownups around us and less good at listening to ourselves. Children are taken from a place of freedom and exploration (we used to suck on our toes, fart and touch our privates freely!) to rigidity and structure and in many cases, unless they have tons of time to do free play at home, that sense of freedom, playfulness and joy starts to get dialed down (or is just corralled into a small part of their life). And they begin a life of going from school to practice to games to homework to bed which then becomes coffee, work, coffee, work, drinks, work, bed when we’re grownups.
This rigidity can zap your sense of play and, in turn, creativity which impacts your path. I believe that is the core of what you are suffering from.
Laura, don’t worry - I’m not telling you to suck your toes, fart freely and touch your privates in the open! Instead my invitation to you is to begin to explore your playfulness...and while that sounds loosey goosey, I suspect this exploration will ultimately lead you down a different path than the one you're currently on. One that will not leave you seeking external motivation and energy. And if that scares you a little - FANTASTIC! We are not here to live someone else's dream even though that feels safer. I did that for the past 13 years and - spoiler alert - even if you "have it all" it’s tough to be motivated.
Okay - here's my prescription for you (because clearly now I think I’m a fucking doctor – 🙄🤣): Julia Cameron's wonderful program, The Artist's Way. Just get the book (She has an online course on her website too) and…do it. It’s a really cool program (12 weeks) that will reconnect you with your playfulness, creativity and authenticity and with that lens you will naturally tweak your path. This isn’t just some blah blah book recommendation. This exact program has helped many a well-known artist reclaim their motivation - Alicia Keys, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, Elizabeth Gilbert even credits the Artist’s Way for helping her get to the place of writing Eat, Pray, Love. The list goes on and on… I also worked with Julia at one point for 12 weeks while I was on my sabbatical. It’s a fun, easy and magical process. The ultimate “me” time.
I know a part of you hoped for a quick fix, like a breathing trick or a yoga posture to regain your focus. And sure, breathing and yoga are great. But in this case, I think it may be a band-aid when you really need to do a little soul surgery. Let’s reclaim the young and playful Laura trapped inside you and get her take on what you should be doing. I really hope you go for this! And if you guys want to create a group and do it together, I’m happy to facilitate your getting in touch with each other. You can have Zooms once a week and do the exercises together and share experiences. You will be shocked at the shifts that will happen. Let me know if you want me to help facilitate putting together a group. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And instead of wondering what’s wrong with you that you don’t have motivation or focus – I challenge you to pivot and question whether what you’re doing is worth your focus and motivation. Let’s see! TBD. Keep me in the loop. I feel super excited for you! 🤍🖤❤️
PS - Are you on Clubhouse? Listen in on my conversation with the super inspiring Ethan Lipsitz! Love Extremists on June 1st at 6pm ET. It’s my first Clubhouse!