Unshackling Myself – Reverb 10

– Contributed by Wee C

Not long ago, Big L forwarded me an article from Psychology Today called Shackles or soul-stirring? Decide before you commit. She’s good like that – she always finds all the gems! The article is well worth the read, but the basic premise is that some things take your time and make you feel like you’re in shackles, while other things stir your soul. Choose the things that stir your soul and abandon (or don’t say yes to) those that don’t.

I love this philosophy and have started employing it in a number of areas of my life, included with Reverb 10. The night I “committed” to do Reverb 10, I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to feel obligated to write every day. Heck, I spend my days writing – writing strategies, emails, and other assorted documents. Did I really want to come home every night and write? But I loved the idea of being challenged by a question, posed by someone else, that I needed to write to. I loved the opportunity for creativity that Reverb 10 brought. And I loved that I was joining a community of writers, all taking their unique approach to the daily prompt.

So, I signed the agreement. Yes, for those of you not doing Reverb 10, you sign an agreement to write about the daily prompt every day. Theoretically, Tweets count, but c’mon, taking the easy way out wasn’t what I was signing up for. I wanted to write….or so I thought. But clearly, I have not IN ANY WAY been writing on a daily basis. Life has happened, as it always does. And suddenly, what was supposed to be soul-stirring has felt a little too much like shackles. Why? Because I made a commitment, and not fulfilling a commitment immediately results in those shackles being locked up and the key thrown away.

And, here’s what happens when the shackles are on: I become paralyzed and incapacitated. I want to do what it takes to get those dang handcuffs off, but I just can’t do it. And the longer I wait, the worse it gets. Like when you haven’t spoken with an old friend for years, but know you need to call. Every day that passes makes it more difficult to pick up the phone and call. Until eventually, you just give up, numbed by time and shame.

I was beginning to feel an awful lot like this with Reverb 10. Every day, the need to write has lingered at the back of my mind, and every day I’ve struggled to get to it. And every day, I’ve beat myself up over it. Just trying to get my daily dose of guilt, you see.

But, tonight, I’m done. No, I’m not done with Reverb 10. I’m simply done feeling badly that I’m not writing about every prompt. Because, after all, wasn’t I doing this for enjoyment? Wasn’t I doing this for self-fulfillment? Wasn’t I doing this to STIR THE SOUL? And not to end up in SHACKLES?

So, I’m going to pick and choose, writing about what I want, when I can and enjoying the fulfillment that comes from that. Rather than trying to cram the answers to four questions into 1,000 words. Ahem.

And, so, tonight, I will answer December 11th’s prompt: What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? Ok, there’s more to the question – like how will you eliminate those things, but I only want to answer the first part of the question. What? It’s my blog post and I’ll do what I want to. So, here goes:

1. Shackles – hahahaha! But it’s true, in 2011, I’m trying to keep those shackles off altogether.

2. Self-doubt – I’ve been second-guessing myself since my grade 1 math tests. 2011 will be all about trusting myself.

3. Lack of faith – I have always believed that life turns out the way it is supposed to, if you just have a little faith. But sometimes that faith is stronger than others. Here’s to 365 days of deliberately choosing faith.

4. Eating for comfort – my fellow cheese lover and all-around delight, Mr. Ben Boudreau told me that cheese is addictive because it contains morphine. Read it here and believe it! Explains why I exhibit addictive behaviours with it. 2011 NEEDS to be about finding another source of comfort. One might think exercise or something would be a good idea.

5. Request for Proposals (RFPs) – I want nothing to do with RFPs in 2011. Nothing.

6. Holding it – I’ve recently realized that when I’m up against a deadline, I’ll avoid going to the washroom for hours. No. HOURS. Dying, squirming in my chair, I’ll push through to get the work done before I go to the washroom. I feel this could be unhealthy over time, so I ought to stop this.

7. Wasting fresh food – I hate to admit to this one, but I love buying fresh fruits and veggies. They’re so shiny and colourful. They’re firm and juicy. They’re…perfect. But when they become less-than-perfect, I don’t want ’em. Funny, sounds a bit like fruit imitating life. Or something like that. So, I’m done with the waste. I’m going to buy what I need and leave the rest of the pretty little peppers at the store for someone else.

8. Multiple lists – I keep the good folks at 3M and Post-It in business. Lists on my desk, lists in my notebook, lists on my fridge, lists tucked away in stacks of papers. In 2011, I only ever want two lists on the go: things to do and things I’ve accomplished…because sometimes those two things are dramatically different.

9. Lack of routine – no day in my life is the same. I dig that, but trying to learn how to execute the day, every day, is a smidge inefficient. I’d like a few, small routines (like going to the gym…sigh) to ensure I accomplish the things I want to accomplish.

10. My muddy yard – with two little dogs, I need grass. Stat. I need my sanity and my clean floors back. And the two are directly related to one other.

11. Control – if I could shed anything in 2011, it would be my need for control. And I’d replace it with love, respect and desire for vulnerability.

I’ve gotta tell you – this post felt cathartic. Maybe I’m already accomplishing number one on my list just fine.

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5 responses to “Unshackling Myself – Reverb 10

  1. I love them all, but number 5. I totally relate! Who am I kidding. 1-4. 6-10. I relate to them all.

  2. Shackles or Soul-Stirring- I’ve got to remember that, that’s good stuff! I’m glad you’re letting go of the guilt; I all too often feel guilty and that was definitely on my list of 11 things. Oh yeah, and I’m totally forwarding that cheese article to my cheese obsessed sister. They just opened a restaurant down the street from me called “Cheeseology”- NOT making that up!

    • Emily, it’s a good thing I don’t live where your sister lives – I’d be 5 tons! But I love the concept!

      And, I think the shackles analogy started with the fabulous Jenny Blake (http://www.lifeaftercollege.org/). Wanted to be sure to give credit where credit is due! It’s such a simple way to think about the things that consume our time. Why would we EVER want to be in shackles? And, yet, we consciously make the decision to lock ourselves up every day. Enough of that!

  3. Awesome! Unshackle yourself. and go to the toilet! Hoorah for freedom, because that is what makes writing great.

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