I'm in the final stages of publishing my first book. It's been an insane journey with so many unexpected adventures along the way that I may have to write my next book about this process.
Now I'm getting down to finalizing and editing my manuscript, but doubts and worried keep popping up. What if it doesn't make sense? What if I have lost my flow? What of it doesn't answer the questions people need answered?
I like to think that on the verge of success I would be excited and raring to go...don't get me wrong I have moments of feeling that way, but the freaking out and stress is kicking in more and more often.
I am beginning to realize that the most challenging part of this whole undertaking is dealing with finally putting myself out there. Once this book is out I am going to be held accountable for what it says. I will have chosen my voice. No more rewriting or changing my mind. All of it is out there and in print for anyone and everyone to look at.
There is another interpretation with "I will have chosen my voice". This is my voice. I have tried to include a few others' voices to show how how rich and diverse this work can be, but ultimately I have to write from my experience. I have to realize I can't answer all the questions or cover every base. However, I can get the conversation started with my voice.
And that's what it is. A conversation. I hope this book lays the groundwork for many conversations to come and that others will add their voices along the way.
After Sandy blew through town I began reflecting on the ramifications of the storm. I am fortunate to be safe, have power and heat, etc. Now that my basic needs are met and I have been able to take a breath I realize that it is my choice how to proceed from here. I need to decide how to look at this.
I am running out of gas in my car and will possibly lose a total of 1 1/2-2 weeks worth of work before things balance out again. For an independent contractor that's quite a hit to my budget. I could be worried, unsure, and upset about the loss and insecurity that comes with it.
On the other hand I can choose to pay attention to spending, trust I can make up for this later on, focus on what I can do, and use the unexpected time off to push forward with unpacking and book writing.
My frame of mind fluctuates between the two states and I find I need to keep thinking in the here and now to decide what's important. Do you have a choice? Not always, but when you do have you looked to see what direction you usually tend towards?
A good saying that comes to mind:
The Dali Lama has a quote; “If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.”
Last week Hurricane Sandy came through and long island was one of the hard hit areas. I was lucky to only lose power for four days and many are still without.
This past year I have been navigating through the end of my marriage.
There are many parallels I feel I can draw, but the one I want to focus on is about what can come from these disasters.
Right now people are pulling together and working harder then they normally would to help those in need. Support, survival being placed above preconceived notions of those in need, and hopefully people are growing from the experiences or relationships happening because of this storm.
While the process of ending a marriage is rocky and unbearable, to say the least, I was constantly aware of the support I received and the growth I realized was happening. I wasn't always happy about it and there was quite a lot of resistance to the changes going on, but I tried to experience those moments none the less.
While I wasn't always successful, looking back, I did what I could and experienced the moments I was able to to the best of my ability. Out of this past year has come a book, a publisher interested in the book, a private practice, closer friends, new found strengths, and sky diving.
When Sandy hit I intended to stay in my new apartment and ride out the storm. Then I heard a huge crack and watched a 30' tall pine tree come down near my building. I no longer felt safe. I also no longer cared that I was at the tail end of divorce and my ex immediately suggested he come pick me up. It felt much better having a disaster with someone I knew and we made it through the storm intact.
No matter what happens, it feels good to be able to set aside differences when people are in need. Whether you are receiving help or can volunteer to help others see if you can pin point those moments you set something aside and learn from the experience.
Change is a scary thing. It does not matter what kind of change. it can be an exciting, happy, growing in a new direction kind of change and that nervous uncertainty will still sneak in now and then.
For me the fear is often around success and failure. Will I fail? What if I succeed? Sometimes the fear of success is bigger because then I have to live up to what I have accomplished. If I fail I can more easily say "Oh well, better luck next time." and move on.
What makes change harder or easier for you? Are there ways you help counteract the fear?
I try to make art, cook, and exercise. Sometimes I just need to sit on the couch and read a book or watch TV. Balancing the down time, conserving energy, with the going out and using energy is a challenge. I am very truly an introvert and I work on that balance a lot. Running my own business is often a pull in a not so introverted way, but it helps me not sink to far into my couch before getting back out there.
A lot of change has been happening recently. 2012 is a big year and I will write more about that in a couple of weeks. In the mean time I wish everyone a happy start to the school year and I hope you are all excited about the fall weather. Fall is always a time of rejuvenation for me, so I am very excited it is just around the bend!
Do you have to be an expert to teach, run a workshop, or share your knowledge?
I have met people that say yes, but then I wonder what is an expert? There are some people out there who know a lot about a topic and are certainly impressive to listen to or inspiring to learn from. Do we all have to be at a certain level before sharing?
I was recently mentoring someone who mentioned how challenging it was to run a workshop and she questioned if she had any right to be doing this. Meaning, should she really be sharing her thoughts and beliefs to paying customers when she still feels she has a lot to learn on the subject. I can tell you that she is not lacking in education or knowledge on the topic and I would love to participate in one of her workshops sometime. So why is this successful and knowledgeable woman questioning herself?
Part of the answer lies in the idea that there is always more to learn. We can't know it all. With all the information out there that is accessible to everyone how can we possibly read let alone comprehend everything. Part of learning is sharing the knowledge we have and hearing the responses. The questions we can't answer give us our next jumping off point into a subject. If we are honest about our scope of knowledge there is no reason not to share with others. Remaining open to not knowing will allow your students to both trust in what you have to share and learn how to respond and react when entering into the unknown.
One way I have always approached learning is to enter into a class open to whatever that specific teacher can share with me in that specific moment. It is a chance to gain another perspective. If it is an unfamiliar topic then it is all exciting and new information. If it is a topic I love, then there is bound to be some information I already know, but this person will bring a different understanding or excitement to it then I would.
Of course there needs to be some knowledge on the topic about to be explored. If the teacher brings nothing new or no solid base of understanding to the subject then why teach it? At some point though you have to trust you know enough to share that information with others. Start with novices and see what kind of feedback you get. As you teach you learn how to gauge when you are ready to move to another level, what information is too challenging, and what helps others learn from you. If you remain open to changing and being challenged your students will learn a lot.
The 2012 AATA conference was reinvigorating for me this year. I haven't been down south in the summer for a few years and forgot how, once past the shock of being wrapped in the humidity, there is a earthy grounded feel to being outside. The weight of the air, smells of the earth, sounds of cicadas,and the look of Spanish moss hanging from the old trees. It's quite an experience!
I think the conference itself was smaller then usual because of its occurrence during the week instead of the usual Wed-Sun. It was sort of nice and by the end of the week I could recognize many faces. I met some new friends, gave a talk on Alzheimer's and art therapy and went to a delightful workshop on gardening as a metaphor for the aging process.
A couple highlights included getting to room with my friend Sibel, meeting a couple new Naropa grads, and seeing Michael Franklin. I think that's what the conference is really about for me. Reconnecting with my larger art therapy community. Especially doing contract work it's easy to lose the connection to and support of others. I really look forward each year to not only meeting new people, but to seeing Michael, Sibel, and other former classmates, teachers, and connections.
It propels me into the next set of challenges with renewed excitement in my work and life.
Heading to the art therapy conference in Savannah, GA in the morning. On Thursday I'll give a talk on art with people who have Alzheimer's and doing contract work. Looking forward to it!
My plan is to introduce this website and then blog regularly upon my return. Also, start tweeting. Big steps forward over the next month!
I have been formatting, reformatting, and changing my book for several days now when what I really need to do is get it out to my proofreaders. The realization hit me that it's almost done. My reaction? It's not ready!
The truth is I'm not ready. It's ready to send out and receive some feedback before I rework it once more. It's a scary, exciting, vulnerable, move forward or stay stuck moment. I'm worried and thrilled all at once.
The solution is to let go of it to my trusted friends and proofreaders.
After a few crazy months my website's almost finished and I'm ready to get back out there looking for jobs and helping people achieve their dreams!
Here we go! It's always a little bit nerve wracking to start something new, but unless we try it we can't know how great it will be. So, here's to an awesome blog about creative healing or a complete disaster that will teach me and everyone following a lot in the process. Welcome!
Emery is excited that Water & Stone is becoming a reality and hopes this blog will inspire others and be a place to share challenges, success, and exciting moments.