Epiphany Shmiphany

Holy guacamole. Thanks for all your responses to the grand epic What Do You Do For A Living post! You all rule the school. What a great read, eh? So many inspiring, thoughtful and funny posts. And people have taken such wild and wacky paths to get to where they are. That’s both reassuring and motivating!

So who’s out there? You’re a diverse bunch. To name a few – we have lawyers, teachers, accountants, stay-at-home-mums, administrators, students, nannies, librarians, bank tellers, PR gurus, academics, social workers, journalists, and even a former Karaoke Sound Engineer.

Why was I being so bloody nosy? I was curious about your lives and work and how you handle things. Thanks a bazillion, folks. Your answers gave some much-needed perspective!

Just so my Anonymous Colleague commenter is reassured and no one dobs me into HR – I am perfectly happy with my current job 🙂 I’ve just been thinking about what I want in the loooong term.

I’ve particularly pondered how I continue to (mis)manage my spare time – my apparent inability to get things done and make any headway with my plans. While the Scottish Companion can work like a madman all week yet manage to work on his album in his spare time, I go to work then just faff around at home.

Yesterday I got a cracker of an email from lovely reader Ellen K, who told me how she’s a web developer by day but in her spare time pursued her true lurve – woodworking! She completed a two year course and now does all sorts of cool stuff like teaching. In other words, she is just bloody doing what she loves! She made it happen. She is balancing the day job with the stuff that really floats her boat. She sent me a photo of her working on a piece and she looked so bloody happy and content, just truly in her element. Brilliant!

So when I posted those questions on Thursday I was just CRACKIN’ UP, baby! My gnawing dissatisfaction bubbled to the surface and I was panicky, weepy, scared. I was positively wallowing in overwhelmedness.

Once I’d calmed the hell down, I realised with a clunk that I’ve been here before! I felt exactly as I had at the start of my lard-busting journey. Hopeless, powerless, desperate, cranky, trapped. Just like we all bloody know dieting is simply calories in calories out, I know writing is a matter of picking up a pen – yet I’ve been feeling paralysed. People gave me sound advice, told me what’s worked for them – yet to me it sounded complicated and impossible. I was looking at university courses, retreats, self-help books… the equivalent of a last ditch crash diet or miracle pill. I was looking everywhere else for the answers except within.

Then I remembered something I wrote in Erin’s book:

"I always thought there would be a great epiphany.  I pictured it like the opening credits of Highway To Heaven – big fluffy clouds would part, sunbeams would stream down, and perhaps Michael Landon himself would descend. As cherubs plucked at harps he would say unto me, "Now is the time, Shauna. Now you will finally go forth and lose your lard."

I’m doing the same thing now, but swap "lose your lard" for "do some goddamn writing!".

Just like with the fat, there will be no writing epiphany. There is no Great Moment – just a moment when you start doing something about it. And if you can string together lots of little moments, that’s when you start to get somewhere.

Basically I need to apply the same approach as I did to the Fat Busting. Why was I successful with the Fat Busting this time when I failed so many times before?

  • I had a plan.
  • I was committed to changing my current habits.
  • I made myself accountable.
  • I made the task my number one priority.
  • I broke a large and overwhelming task into wee chunks. Baby steps!
  • I figured out what worked best for me.
  • I had a clear belief that I could do it.
  • I made a firm commitment to see it through, no matter how long it took.

I currently have: None of this. Yet I’ve been acting surprised that I’ve not produced anything!

Actual current status: No specific plan, no baby steps, no accountability, no prioritizing. No freaking self belief at all. And just like the weight loss parallel, I’ve been vague and secretive about my ambitions in case I fail and/or suck.

Righto. What am I doing about it?

I’m applying the Dietgirl Tactics! I am currently working on a proper plan and goals. I am going to shuffle round my writing priorities so I stop getting sidetracked. The moping stops NOW. No more being secretive in case of failure. Did that work for losing weight? Nooo. Wide-scale accountability starts now! I am going to write a book about these lard busting adventures. I don’t care how long it takes and how much it sucks and if it never gets published, I just want to do it.

I will work on the self belief thing. That took a wee while to get going with the Fat Busting too, but I will get there.

Please don’t think this is a fishing expedition. It’s not an entry coercing people to say, "Woohoo girlfriend, you’re a great writer!". Because this isn’t about writing ability, it’s about the ability to get off your arse and do something with that ability. And that’s the ability that I’ve been sorely lacking!

Apologies for such a dry and humourless entry – this is really just me needing to think out loud. But it’s also me thinking out loud IN PUBLIC like a weirdo raving lunatic at a bus stop, which is what made the difference with the Lard Busting.

. . .

Today I did a few things I’ve neglected for ages. Ginger has been updated at last with two little entries. I also tackled my email backlog. I started with some folk who wrote LAST AUGUST. I am sorry. And I know there were more emails that I lost forever because I didn’t log into my old Hotmail account for too long and all my messages, (ie four years of Dietgirl correspondence) just bloody vanished. I am really really sorry if I never got back to you! I still have a few more emails to go but I am getting there.

Just so you know, please don’t ever hesitate to write, whether it’s to say hello or to ask for advice. I may not get back quickly, but I read every comment and every email gets a Reply To label put on it and I do listen and respond as soon as practicable. Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out a thoughtful answer. But don’t ever think no one’s listening or no one understands or that your comments are unwelcome. I have lost some weight but I still struggle with the same issues all the time and can feel just as alone and frustrated at times.

Croikey, I’ve been writing all bloody night. If you slogged your way through this whole indulgent tosh, you have burned approximately 65.8 calories, woohoo!

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23 thoughts on “Epiphany Shmiphany

  1. You have so many emails it takes you half a year to reply? Do you need a secretary? That’s the reason for the last blog post right?

  2. Hey Shauna; its like you’ve flicked a switch when you detailed out your ‘strategy of success’. Its the difference between wanting to do something and actually doing it; and while you’ve successfully been applying these steps to the Fat-Busting, this is exactly what I have been NOT doing and am bewildered as to why I’m not making any progress.

    I’m going to print out your list and stick it on my wall and apply it to every goal I want to achieve. The first goal I shall apply it to is…going downstairs to eat lunch. [Wha…? I’m hungry!]

  3. What Mmmarshmallow said! That is a great list to print out in large bold letters and tack on every wall in the house.

    I can not WAIT to read your book.

  4. we, your humble readers, all know that you are an awesome writer and can’t get enough of your words on the web! it’s so inspiring that you’re always willing to change and improve and use the gifts that you have…

    you go girl! work that plan and get your butt into gear with the serious writing!!:)

  5. I know exactly what you mean, and have felt that way myself. For years and years I had three goals – get out of debt, lose weight and write! And the process for the three of them is pretty much the same yet it’s taken so long to make progress.

    The good thing about writing (and I can say this at the moment cos I’ve been writing like the clappers on my novel) is that like losing weight, once you get into the swing of things it gets so much easier.

    Can’t wait to see the results of your renewed commitment 🙂

  6. Ooh I loved reading all the (96 or so :D) comments on the last post – wow people do really intresting stuff, and it’s wonderful to see that most are doing something they enjoy. Very inspiring. And even if the main purpose of your day job is just to pay the bills, you still have about 130 hours per week outside office hours to pursue your passion, whatever it is.
    I bet writing is not only about putting one’s thought on paper/screen – it must involve lots of other stuff too, like PR, socializing with the right people and marketing what you have. Not to mention being all professional and disiplined while doing it. Wishing you all the best while making it happen – we all know the talent is there!

  7. JUDE! Damn you, you figured out my plans. The recruitment drive was pretty successful tho, don’t ya think 😛

    cheers for the comments dudes! i am onto that book like a fly on shit. first task today though is to hem some trousers i’ve been meaning to hem for six months. hehe.

  8. just finished my book a few weeks ago. it feels great. good luck with this endeavour!

  9. Of all you wrote in this post, these were the words that spoke loudest to me:

    “There is no Great Moment – just a moment ”

    Heres hoping you find lots of moments to bring your plan together.

    Joc 🙂

  10. D’ya know what? Your journey of lard busting (as you so elequently put it) is nearly over and this is your new, wonderful, confident self coming out and pondering what to do next.

    Now get out there and do what you know makes your soul sing.

    NJ

  11. This post was the much needed nudge in the right direction. I have wanted to be a writer for a long time already, but all the time everything else was just a tad more important. I’m always like “Ok, I’m going to do it! But first I’ll have to…” And yes, with weight loss it has been exactly the same. Needless to say that I haven’t really achieved all that much so far.

    Your post has been a real eye opener, a reminder that I have to quit waiting for that Great Moment when everything just miraculously falls into place! Because you’re right – there is no such moment. I either take action and do something in order to make my dreams come true, or I can wait until I’m blue in the face. It’s my choice!

    Thanks for the reminder! And I’m so looking forward to your book – because I know you CAN and you WILL write it!

  12. wow everyone replied to that post!! lol it was fascinating reading through everything, took a while but was worth it. Keep up the good fight woman, let those words flow to the page. All the luck to you!! 🙂

  13. That is so cool that I inspired you. But you are right the heavens didn’t just open and the angels didn’t sing. I had wanted to go to furniture school since I was 18. Then in my late twenties I started to do something about it. I did just what you are talking about, I made a plan. I needed to finish my master’s I was going part-time at night and was not happy. I finished and I started to seriously get into the woodworking. I started saving as much money as I could and started taking adult ed classes. It took about 2 years but I was on a mission. So when I got into the furniture school my dad was excited but my mom worried I would become homeless b/c I was quitting my job. I told her that if I ran out of money I would just quit the school but I had to try. I also felt the same way you did when I started to get serious about it. It was all I wanted and I didn’t think it would ever happen. I worried over how it would happen. I felt overwhelmed at times. It is all about the plan. I didn’t do it until I was 30. So it took about 12 years from when I first had the idea. Everything fell into place. It was a lot but I did it. It just took time and I did plan it all out. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have a plan. You can do it. It may take time but you are on the right track!!! Just like you said you have done it before with other things. You didn’t just move to Scotland one day out of the blue – you and your sister had a plan! I am excited for you. YooHoo!!!

  14. That was a very inspiring post! I think we all have aspects of our lives that we are unhappy with but not quite sure how to go about fixing it. If you apply your weight loss strategies to other aspects of your life, you’re sure to succeed as you did before.

  15. Shauna, remember that when you set a goal, also promise yourself a REWARD, & make sure that you claim/redeem it, when you have achieved that goal. But don’t make the reward a food item – sometimes you can, but define the reward in terms of quality time with a friend/spouse/sister, or a special activity that you like doing. Aim high & you will reach the sky!!

  16. Hem some trousers????? I bet you also need to paint the bedroom, mow the lawn and do the dishes??? Get writing!!! No more excuses!

    I recognize your tactics…I always tell people I can’t write my PhD thesis unless my house is clean and tidy. If that is already the case then I will find a load of admin to sort out, or I can’t go on another day without sorting my e-mail. Yeah..right!

    You can hem your trousers after you’ve finished the first draft of the first chapter!!

  17. Noooo Anne-Marie, I actually needed to hem those trousers. I’d been stepping on the hems for five months 🙂 it was the first task of the day, but not the only one!

  18. Yes, yes, you are exceedingly right. I think I remember reading that Graeme Greene wrote 300 words a day and that was it – and he did ok, didn’t he? It soon builds up. Or it could. I speak as one who got a book published in (I think) 1978 and then got enmeshed in being a mum – time slips by (yes, 30 years – whizz!)so if you’re thinking of having children, get writing now.

    Like all your fans, I too look forward to reading the results. You’ve already got a lot of readers!

  19. I’ve been feeling exactly the same way! I don’t feel like I have any time or head space to pursue my passions. I actually have to find one. It seems when people love something enough they make it happen. Can I actually be passion-less? I want to find that something that motivates me. I need to flip that elusive switch once again to even lose my last 30 pounds, no to mention add a passion to that. I feel like I’m reaching for it in the dark.

    Awesome post! I’m going to re-read it just for the insite and the exercise 🙂

  20. You know, it always amazes me how happy and smug I feel once I’ve done SOMETHING to make a project happen. Breaking things down into small chunks is totally the way to go for me because I get to check things off of the list with minimal effort. I am cheering you on as you begin your writing journey (not solely because I’m dying to read the book, either)!

  21. Thanks for this post. Reading your blog, I realised being a few kilos over my ideal weight isn’t really a problem, but writing – that’s a whole other story.
    I’m going to try to use your points above to get me going, full credit given, of course.

    I have just read your whole archive! That’s some journey.You really are amazing.

  22. The Dietgirl tactics are great! We can all certainly apply them to many different aspects of our lives and journeys.