Wednesday, 18 March 2015

I'm trying to escape a box...

As I sit down to write this, I hope I will make it to the end. I have started several posts lately, and as you may have noticed by my silence (or perhaps you haven't noticed and that's okay too) I have had little result. To be completely honest with you, I have been struggling.

Struggling to write.
Struggling to sew.
Struggling to get much of anything done really.

I have hit a low point and it really has nothing to do with being a mum at all. I thought I would write about it anyway as being a mum is only part of me. I think that there is a very real danger for mother's to lose their identity in their children. Many of us already struggle with the shift of identity when we we become mums, particularly if we choose to be a stay at home mother (an issue for another blog perhaps) but there is no sense in further complicating matters by losing ourselves altogether in motherhood. What I have to share today is quite different. It is simply about me.

Earlier this year I read something in my daily devotional which both challenged and inspired me.

‘First you crawled; then you learned to walk and the world grew bigger. Then you rode a bike…drove a car…bought a plane ticket. Suddenly the horizons were limitless. Then doubts crept in: I can’t (you fill in the blank)…and your world shrinks a little. I shouldn’t take that trip…I’ll never find my way around…I’ve too many responsibilities. And it shrinks a little more…[until] you’re sitting in a little box with the lid tightly affixed. No experiences, no lessons, no life. Boxes can be comfortable…but no matter how cosy you make it, it’s still a box. They come in all shapes and sizes. When we let unrealistic fears hold us back we can be fairly certain we’re climbing inside another box…and sooner or later we’ll run into the walls. Find one small “I can’t” in your life and take the lid off the box… try for a minor impossibility… apply for that dream job… start pursuing your vision… Poke the top off your box. Stick your head out and look around. Find a fear and turn it into a ladder. Get out of the box of doubt and insecurity and into the freedom of courage and belief.’ (Melody Beattie)
At that time I had been contemplating a couple of things - whether or not to start blogging and whether or not to start a small business. Several things were stopping me. What if no one read my blog? What if no one bought anything I made? What if I tried and failed? These were just a few of my fears. Fear of failure was a significant issue. However over the course of a few days, things like this quote encouraged and challenged me. What did I have to lose really? Yes it might all fail but I would never know if I didn't try.

So I set up my blog...which you are currently reading...and I began my small business Mubs.

I would be lying if I said that it had been easy. It hasn't. I have struggled with blogging. Some weeks I have been particularly passionate about something and the words have flowed. Other weeks, like this week, it has very much been a stop, start affair. As for my business, well it has been a slow start, which is to be expected, but at the same time does not provide much motivation to continue...I am the product of an instant satisfaction society it would appear!

Over the past couple of months, doubts have appeared and fears have returned.  Generally I managed to dismiss them fairly easily and continue in my ventures.

That was up until this week.

This week I've been in a dark place. I have been consumed by all sorts of negative thoughts. What is the point of any of this? I will never have a successful business! I don't have time to sew. I'll never sell anything. My blog is pointless! Who reads it anyway? I can't think of anything to write. It's just too hard.

It felt like there was a dark pressure pressing down on me, making it difficult to breathe, leaving me in a state of paralysis where everything just seemed too hard. I wanted to give up. I really did. I didn't know how to get out of this funk.

Until this morning.

This morning I drew a picture of what I was feeling. It is something I learnt to do a few years ago during some counselling sessions. I find it highly effective. Trust me, I'm not artist, but there's something about trying to draw what you're feeling that brings clarity and release. My picture this morning simply contained lots and lots of arrows all pointing downwards - that pressure I described before.

As I drew I was reminded of the quote about the box. In starting my blog and business I had poked the top off my box. I had chosen to confront fear, to expand my world and to leave some of my comfort behind.

As I drew, the thought struck me, what if, in seeing this pressure, I wasn't seeing the whole picture?

So I added to my picture.

The arrows were no longer just pointing down, they were pressing down on the lid of the box, the lid of the box I was in the process of trying to get out of.

As soon as I drew that picture, the pressure disappeared. It was instant. I suddenly understood what was happening. Something was trying to stop me getting out of that box. Something was trying to force me back inside, to limit my world, to make me stay in the comfort of what I already knew. (I'm not here to debate what that 'something' was. As a Christian I have my own thoughts on it but today's blog is not the place to debate these ideas).

The realisation of what was actually happening brought freedom. It also brought energy. I would not stay in this box.

How would you handle being stuck in a box?
I drew another picture and in this one, I stood next to an open box, the lid was gone, the walls were flattened. I was free. What did this look like in reality? Simply, to keep blogging, to keep sewing, to not give up. Personally I do not have the energy to do this on my own. I'll be very honest here and say that the first thing I did upon this realisation was pray and I will continue to do so along the journey. The next thing I did (when my daughter had her nap that is) was to start writing this blog!

Which brings me to the end of this post, wow I made it! It's very different to anything I've written before. It is a lot more personal but I'm sharing it because I believe we all have boxes that we are stuck inside. Perhaps we realise it, perhaps we don't, but our lives are too short to be stuck in boxes. You have too much to offer yourself and those around you to stay stuck in your box. My challenge to you, as the quote says,  is to choose one "I can't..." and change it into an "I can...". It doesn't need to be anything big. I definitely do not want to add yet another thing into an already busy life. But perhaps there is something niggling away at you, something that comes to mind as you read this, something you've been wanting to do for a long time. So go ahead, I dare you, poke the top off your own box and see what happens!

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