Stop This Hamster Wheel; I Want to Get Off (Writing with Purpose, Peace and Presence) by Donna Gephart
Today, I’m delighted to welcome award-winning middle grade author Donna Gephart to the blog. Donna will be my guest at the May Write Now! Mastermind class on Wednesday, May 22 at 12:00 PM. If you’re interested in attending and are not already a member of the Write Now! Mastermind class, stop by the Mastermind page and sign up.
Donna has also offered to raffle off a signed copy of her book, Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen! Check out the entry requirements below the blog post to learn how you can enter!
Stop This Hamster Wheel; I Want to Get Off
(Writing with Purpose, Peace and Presence) by Donna Gephart
In my twenties, I worked full-time, part-time and freelanced in my “spare” time. Then came marriage. Kids. More work. More freelancing, etc. Basically, I got an A+ in being a Type A personality through my thirties and into my forties. I assumed the never-ending hamster wheel of life occurred outside myself, and I had to keep up.
It took 46 years, a restorative yoga class, and listening to Eckhart Tolle’s The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose to understand the hamster wheel was spinning furiously, but it was inside my own mind. Ceaseless chatter filled my mind from waking till sleep. (If I slept.) Eckhart Tolle calls that voice “ego” and says it’s not who we are. It’s outside of our true essence.
Some left brain chatter is necessary, of course. It’s the left brain that helps us make deadlines and arrive on time for meetings. But that same noisy left brain tells us we’ll never be as good as J.K. Rowling so why bother trying, and dust bunnies are spawning under our furniture because we’ve neglected cleaning to finish writing that last chapter and, um, let’s check our Amazon ranking one more time. Too much left brain chatter all day, every day leaves us exhausted. It drains energy we could use to create art and literature.
I have three words for my loquacious left brain: SHUT UP ALREADY!
Jill Bolte Taylor, in her book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, wrote about the morning a stroke affected her brain’s left hemisphere. She was in a brilliant state of bliss with her left brain nearly incapacitated. It took her hours to activate her left brain enough to call for help. She survived and wrote about the nirvana of accessing the right side of our brains.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, once in a while, we could access right brain bliss and creativity while quieting left brain chatter? If we could approach our work with focused purpose, peace and presence?
WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION or PURPOSE?
My yoga teacher often asks during class, “What is your intention? In this class? For your life? For our planet?”
What is your intention? What are you uniquely qualified to do? To what effort will you give unbridled enthusiasm?
Thinking deeply about your intention and purpose will guide you away from actions that don’t support your purpose (i.e., scrubbing toilets) and toward actions that do support it (i.e., penning a novel that will illuminate the world for your reader).
SITTING IN STILLNESS
I recently discovered that sitting in stillness for a few minutes leaves me alert and aware, peace-filled and quietly energized. Want to try?
Sit quietly. Palms up. Eyes closed. Focus on your breath. Feel it fill your body and release. If a thought flies into your mind, be aware that it doesn’t need to be acted upon and let it fly out again. Back to the breath.
Being aware of your breath makes you unaware of your thoughts and draws you to the present moment. According to Eckhart Tolle, it’s really all we have. In the present moment, we’re not thinking of the speech we’ll give next month nor the mistake found in a book we’d written. We’re not recalling the sting of a recent rejection nor the deadline we might miss because of a family emergency. In the present moment, all memory and future thinking falls away. In this space, we can practice our writing and illustrating with clarity, purpose and focus.
Yoko Ono once gave John Lennon a card that read simply: “Breathe.”
So, every once in a while, hop off the hamster wheel in your mind.
Consider your intention/purpose. Sit in stillness. Breathe.
Then create with great purpose, peace and presence.
About the author. Donna Gephart writes award-winning, funny fiction for tweens from her home in South Florida. Her new middle grade novel, Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen (Delacorte Press), received a starred Kirkus review and is about a girl who will do anything to get on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! For resources for writers, visit Donna here.
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Excellent blog, Donna. So very timely for me. Thank you. Makes me want to go to the beach by myself, no phones, no internet and just breathe…. 🙂 Happy writing!
I do not have unbridled enthusiasm for scrubbing toilets . . . and waste too much time procrastinating when I have to do them!
Thanks for the reminder to stay in the present moment, to consider what I am uniquely qualified to do, and then to create with great purpose, peace and presence.
That left brain chatter and my ego tried to trip me up today. I went out to my garden, my place of presence, for a few hours and came back to my MS refreshed and restored. Thanks for the reminder, Donna, that creativity often requires that we get out of our own way.
Thanks, Jennifer and Lori, for your comments!
Great question. Most of the time, I have to simply ‘clock in’ mentally. Sure, there are plenty of things that have to get done, but you can only do one at a time. I schedule work and do that work according to the schedule. It’s a bit organized (Gasp, did he say ‘Organized’?) but it’s what truly gets the work, left-brained OR right-brained, completed.
Looking forward to tomorrows conference call! Can’t wait to learn some new tricks. Thanks for putting on this event and for the opportunity. I’m excited to listen to your words of wisdom, Donna!
Oh, and how do I minimize distractions? By making my writing a priority and letting my family and friends know. If I find myself without writing time, it usually means I’ve committed myself to too many things that aren’t supporting my dream. That makes it easier to minimize. Thanks!
I hear the chatter.
Loving these comments! Thank you. Can’t wait for our call later today!
I play games in my mind during boring tasks or listen to recorded books, etc. Then I can keep working.
I am on the conference call RIGHT NOW! I’m sooooo excited!!
Thanks, Jaimie! Let me know when your book comes out, I’d love to have you do a guest blog post!
I’m a real right-brained person so I have to be careful about shushing that left-brain chatter completely or I’d never be on time or scrub my toilets again. (Wait. My husband cleans the toilets. Yay!) I’m also a terrible breather. Just reading the word breathe makes me forget how to breathe entirely and I end up doing jagged, phony breathing until I forget about breathing again. It’s not left-brain chatter but right-brain daydreaming that’s my downfall (or so said my 4th grade teacher at a parent-teacher conference).
I believe the “dreamers” are the ones who will save our planet. So, your 4th grade teacher was inadvertently complimenting you!
Btw, if it weren’t for my more left-brained hubby, our bills would never get paid.