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Re-focusing and “Re-finding” My Center

August 25, 2011

Lately I’ve felt a bit off-kilter — as if I was being frayed in too many directions with too many “things” I HAD to do with respect to my writing. But then I had an epiphany as I was alone with my thoughts in my car. (Why is it that driving and the shower seem to inspire my best thoughts?) That’s when it hit me — it was time to re-focus and re-center.

Please, come inside my head as I explain this situation further …

I’ve been writing this blog since December 2009 and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I have my writing “day job” and my occasional freelance work. I also have MANY book ideas or Works In Progress (WIPs). I hesitate even calling them WIPs because they’re more like Ideas In Progress. But you get the idea (no pun intended).

Up until a few weeks ago, I’ve been perfectly content focusing on these core things. Then recently I started getting all these ideas about various writing opportunities to pursue. And all of sudden, I felt consumed with needing to query magazines; submit posts to national blogs; become a contributor to local blogs; and so much more. In fact, I started to get so overwhelmed by all these writing and business ideas that I began making a list to keep everything organized — and nothing was even solidified yet! I was becoming anxious and torn in several directions at once. I actually visualized what I looked like during this and the image was of me and my limbs being pulled in multiple directions.

When I was close to “freak out” mode, I began driving away from work to pick up Sophie. And that’s when it hit me like a ton of brick — I don’t HAVE to do anything!

And really, what did I WANT to do? What was important to me?

I want to do the things that bring me happiness and joy. I want to keep writing my blog. I want to develop my book projects into works rather than ideas. And I want to do well at my “day job.”

And really, I don’t need to do much more. I don’t need to develop this stellar freelance career right now. I don’t need to write daily posts for a national blog. And I don’t need to write a hundred query letters tomorrow.

And with that realization, I knew I had to get back to my center and mission, and re-focus my energy on the things that matter. I started remembering why I love writing so much. That is to use words and images to tell stories (mine and others’ stories) and hope they resonate with and impact peoples’ lives.

The weight of boulders lifted off my shoulder. I was free again; unburdened. And the visual image I now have of myself is one of me standing in a yoga pose with my hands together parallel to my heart — bringing peace and balance to my center.

The day after this realization, I received the following e-mail from a friend who made a bold and brave career move.

Part of this career change was inspired by you speaking of your own career shift when you told me that when you uncovered your passion for writing, you knew you’d have to make a change that would allow you to write. Once I realized what I wanted to do, I knew I needed to take steps to get me there. Doing [this new job] allows me to develop a whole new skill set… and I get to do it in the midst of all these [creative local organizations] therein! It was a very calculated decision, and so thanks to you for being brave with your own writing career and encouraging me to do the same!

I cried as I read these words; overwhelmed with emotion and happiness for my friend. It was not a coincidence I received this after making peace with what matters to me and re-focused my energies. This is why I write. This is what centers me. And this is what makes me whole.

Balance (This seems like more of a peaceful image than the traditional scales of justice)

42 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 3:28 am

    Follow your heart!

    • August 27, 2011 10:32 pm

      Thanks! That seems to be the best approach, right?

  2. Lena permalink
    August 25, 2011 6:01 am

    How lovely! Isn’t it liberating to be able to find focus? It’s easy to get side-tracked or spread too thin. It actually takes work to keep it all manageable. Saying no or “not right now” are things I have to work on every day. Good for you!

    PS: I, too do my best thinking in the car or shower — also when I run — it’s really the only “alone” time I get!

    • August 27, 2011 10:33 pm

      Yes, it is tough. Especially because people like us want to do well and want to succeed. Yet I always have to remind myself that I will succeed and do better by focusing on less.

  3. August 25, 2011 6:46 am

    Thanks for letting us into your brain Leah! It’s so easy to get caught up in possibilities and opportunities and forget to think about what we really want at this very moment. But I believe when we follow our gut (which I am really trying to do more often), all the things we want happen eventually when it’s right!

    • August 27, 2011 10:34 pm

      You’re welcome, Caryn! And yes, I truly do believe that all things will happen when the time is right. Thanks for your comments, as always!

  4. August 25, 2011 7:15 am

    Good for you for taking control of your head and deciding what it is you WANT to do!

    • August 27, 2011 10:34 pm

      Thanks, Susan. It’s a great feeling and realization.

  5. August 25, 2011 7:16 am

    It’s easy to get ‘scattered’, and then nothing gets achieved. Sometimes we can get so distracted with thoughts of what we think we ‘should’ be doing. It’s such an uncomfortable place to be. Any really, it can cause us to miss out on what’s most important.
    So happy for you you had this moment of clarity, Leah. You are on the right path!
    Do what makes you happy!

    • August 27, 2011 10:36 pm

      Exactly, Cynthia, and thank you! It’s amazing how just achieving that clarity helps re-focus so much.

  6. August 25, 2011 7:25 am

    Good for you for figuring it out. It’s like taking a deep breath. Plus you have a beautiful sight filled with great content and lots of wonderful photos. Congrats on knowing what you want, and for knowing you’ve got plenty of time to pursue the other stuff later. You are most assuredly at a good point in your life and in your writing career. I’m so proud to call you my friend! 🙂

    • August 27, 2011 10:37 pm

      Thanks, Monica. That truly means a lot. And I’m proud to call you my friend too! One day we’ll say we knew each other when!

  7. August 25, 2011 8:09 am

    Very inspirational post. It’s such a blessing that you helped your friend go for their goals. Well done. 🙂

    • August 27, 2011 10:37 pm

      Thanks. I’ve been reading that email nearly every day to remind me of what’s important.

  8. August 25, 2011 9:18 am

    This was helpful to me today, Leah. I am feeling frazzled too with so many changes I need to make in my life. I love blogging but it is taking SO much time. I’m not sure how to move from blogging into more writing to submit for publishing. I need to find a new day job because I lost hours at the preschool I teach at, and am not thrilled about this. Too much. Thanks for helping me take a deep breath this morning!

    • August 27, 2011 10:39 pm

      You’re welcome! Finding a new day job will help you. I remember when I changed day jobs earlier this year and because I made the change and felt myself in a better place, my mind opened more creatively for writing and such. It’s an amazing feeling!

  9. August 25, 2011 9:33 am

    Balance…so hard to accomplish, or at least we tell ourselves that, don’t we? Like you,
    I LOVE writing and blogging. It fills me with such love, passion and freedom. I realize we are so lucky to have that. Many people don’t. I recently did an interview (driftlessareareview.wordpress.com) saying how much I wish I had another life left to write even more! Great post…Mary Kennedy Eastham

    • August 27, 2011 10:41 pm

      Thanks for commenting! I just checked out your interview and found it very interesting. Let me know if you figure out how to create that second life for writing. I’d be interested! Still I’m so glad we have blogging and our fellow bloggers.

  10. August 25, 2011 11:54 am

    I totally understand about starting your blog — I feel the same way about starting mine; one of the best decisions I ever made. I also love that you want to do what brings you happiness and joy, me too…. it sounds like you were able to figure that out, which is not an easy thing to do — so that’s wonderful!

    • August 27, 2011 10:42 pm

      Thanks, Julia. It’s easy to get side-tracked though and think you should be doing more or something different. But then I go back to what makes me happy and what I’ll be proud of in my life. It’s always my personal writing.

  11. August 25, 2011 2:13 pm

    Awesome Leah! I was just speaking with Michael Ann today about trying to find the fine balance between blogging and actually doing one’s own work! (Not to mention competitions, reading, critiquing, etc. etc.) I think you’re absolutely right: one must do what makes one happy. It’s impossible to please everybody and others will always have opinions about what is right for you also, but you have to live in peace and harmony otherwise everything gets out of whack and your writing is definately affected. Don’t spread yourself too thin!

    • August 27, 2011 10:42 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. I appreciate your support and kind words.

  12. August 25, 2011 3:18 pm

    I agree that it was not a coincidence that you received that timely message. It sounds like you refocused and counseled yourself well. Thank you for the reminder.

    • August 27, 2011 10:43 pm

      And thank you for commenting. I love it when we have moments like that, when we get a letter or hear something that reminds us why we do what we do. It’s powerful.

  13. August 25, 2011 4:28 pm

    Congratulations on such an epiphany! Blogging is wonderful, but is also an amazing amount of work. Finding balance is difficult. ….but I’m having a blast! I’ve met the most wonderful people – and I wouldn’t have run across crock-pot lasagna if it wasn’t for your blog…which was FAB, by the way!

    • August 27, 2011 10:46 pm

      Thank you, Ann! And you are so right. It is a lot of work. But it’s work that I love doing and I’m proud of, and I love “meeting” all of you.

  14. August 25, 2011 5:27 pm

    Yay, you! I love that you found this clarity for yourself. I have often suffered with the same drive to submit work and blog more and find other outlets to write. Ultimately, it’s true for me that the writing part is what makes my heart sing and the part where/if I get my work featured somewhere other than my own blog is icing on the cake. It is so important to listen to ourselves when we begin to get panicky and stop to ask why. Bravo!

    • August 27, 2011 10:48 pm

      Thank you for commenting. And you are SO right! It’s the writing and expression that I love so much. Everything else is icing on the cake!

  15. August 25, 2011 6:09 pm

    Leah, what a beautiful writing. It’s hard to find that happy point, that whole inside you and once its founded it’s a peaceful and wonderful feeling!

    • August 27, 2011 10:48 pm

      Thank you, Ariana! And thanks for always reading and commenting. It’s truly appreciated!

  16. August 25, 2011 6:24 pm

    Leah – I have been going through similar thoughts. I don’t really love my technical editing job but it’s not terrible and I need to do it until I find another source of regular income. So I do the writing I love doing nights and weekends and then feel like I’m not spending enough time with my family or I should be researching publications and submitting queries and essays etc etc. For me writing takes up massive amounts of mental real estate. Even when I’m working or doing something else, I’m developing ideas for writing and end most days frustrated that I didn’t get more writing done.

    Every so often I need to recalibrate like you did and be grateful for each moment of life I do have, whatever I am doing. Thanks for the encouragement. Let’s all just keep writing and little by little, as long as we are following our heart, it will lead to all manner of surprises.

    • August 27, 2011 10:50 pm

      Thanks, Carol. It is a balancing act, like you say, even just finding time to write for yourself and finding time for family. There’s just not enough time in the day. It’s tough when we have a “good enough” day job that keeps us there for income. Yet we want to do something else for passion.

  17. August 25, 2011 7:54 pm

    Certainly a universal feeling, Leah. Right now I’m trying to take a deep breath and re-focus as well. There are just too many directions to go at one time — and most of them don’t get us where we want to be.

    • August 27, 2011 10:51 pm

      Thanks, Julie. Exactly. I think that’s key too — knowing that all those directions will not get us to where we want to be. And to always know that and work toward what you want and are passionate about.

  18. August 25, 2011 10:40 pm

    I think it’s wonderful that you were able to focus on what is most important to you and let everything else go. I’m inspired to do some soul searching myself.

    • August 27, 2011 10:53 pm

      Glad I could inspire you, Shary. I feel like it takes regular re-focusing though and clarity. Someone told me that’s what yoga is for!

  19. August 26, 2011 5:22 am

    Nicely said! I, too, tend to get scattered and then begin thinking that I should be doing something “more productive” with my time. More productive, obviously meaning “income producing”.
    Found you through Coming East.

    • August 27, 2011 10:54 pm

      I love how you said “more productive” for “income producing!” Isn’t that the truth?! It’s such a quandary. We obviously need to support ourselves financially. But what about emotionally and mentally. It’s tough to find that balance. Thanks for coming over and commenting!

  20. August 27, 2011 1:35 pm

    You are such a talented writer, Leah, that you should never fear doing the writing you love best at the time you feel inspired to do it, because those other opportunities will present themselves again when the time is right for you. So, while you are excited about developing these ideas of yours, get a move on! Good for you for making that decision.

    • August 27, 2011 10:55 pm

      Thank you so much! And I do truly believe that if you do what you love and your heart and soul are dedicated to it, good things will come.

  21. August 28, 2011 8:01 am

    It is so gratifying to know when we follow our own hearts, we inspire others. I love that you asked yourself what was important to you, and then went for it!

  22. September 1, 2011 3:24 pm

    Yup–we’re all really talking about the same thing, aren’t we? There’s lots of thing going around these days . . . the issue of spreading too thin and not focusing on what we really want more.

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