A friend of mine asked me how I became motivated enough to finish a book last year and draft a book this fall/winter. I don’t have a good answer for her beyond my obsession with tracking progress on a physical calendar. (Now with more shiny stars thanks to V.E. Schwab’s influence.) Does discipline help? Yes, very much. Is writing often a sacrifice? Absolutely. To get shit done, I’ve given up TV time, evening vegetating, weekend activities. It isn’t all strain and effort; I’ll be the first to admit that it feeds my soul.
And that’s the thing. I know first-hand that writing isn’t always there. Life gets in the way. Chronic stress, illness, unforeseen circumstances, mental health struggles. These are only a few things that stepped between me and my words in the past. Everyone has a different story. Every day that I create, I’m grateful for the ability to create, for the energy to carve that small space out for myself.
Lately writing alone hasn’t been enough to get me through bouts of anxiety and stress. I’ve returned to my yoga practice as a result.
One of my wonderful yoga teachers gently encouraged the class to develop a mantra along with the breath. She suggested I am strong. That didn’t resonate with me. I didn’t feel strong at the time. I wobbled and ached and dropped to my knees and lost my breath and focus. But I was there. I got to class. I got onto my mat.
My mantra came to me unbidden and perfect. I am here.
I’ve carried it with me since that class, and I hope I can continue to carry it. Breathe in. I. Breathe out. Am here.
Present in the moment. Proud of myself for getting there — to my mat, to bed, to the keyboard, to a place of reflection and gratitude.
Am I zen all the time? Far from it. In fact, I often feel like a live wire. Tense, ready to snap and buzz and bite. So more than ever, I need that mantra and the breath, an opportunity to step outside of myself and recognize, I am here. To take pride in being where I am, to practice self-care when I need to, to know that difficult moments do pass.
My yoga mantra is my writing mantra. It’s my jolting awake from a nightmare mantra. It’s my sneaky-thought-spiral centering mantra. I am here.