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  • Writer's pictureSusan Stoderl

Confessions of a Self-Care Avoidance Expert

After putting out my first book last week, I had an endless list of things to do to market it. I was overwhelmed and exhausted and could not make myself do one more thing. I was even questioning why I was even trying to be an author.

Then last Sunday morning, I sang in my church choir along with choirs of three other Episcopal churches in a joint service to honor the one-hundredth anniversary of the Diocese of Western North Carolina. Preaching the sermon was Bishop Curry, who is the one who spoke at Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s wedding. The man can speak to your very soul. Go right through it like a spiritual arrow. I listened closely to what he had to say, and I consciously felt joy. I also have to say that in addition to being inspiring, he could easily make a living as a stand-up comic. There was no thinking about everything I should or should not be doing. I was laughing my head off and being inspired at the same time. That night I didn’t have my usual 3:00 a.m. panic attack on what needed to be done. I was in the moment, surrounded by other conscious, loving people and singing splendid music. This led me to do some soul-searching about what my correct path is. I finally came to realize my path was correct, but I was following it incorrectly.

So here is my confession. I had cut so much of what made me who I was out of my life, that I became only a small fraction of who I am—of what makes me a writer. It was just not working. I needed balance.

As an example, I used to write a haiku every morning, sometimes a lengthier poem, usually on nature or a spiritual point. The whole reason I moved to North Carolina was a slower life and to live in the middle of an extraordinarily beautiful natural world. I no longer even stared out my window at the glory of God’s creation. I just worked. The last poem I wrote was on February 11, 2022—nine months ago. When I was working on my book, the haikus helped me tone my writing.

I used to journal at least several times a week, usually first thing in the early morning by candlelight. It was a way of reflecting on where I was in my self-care. I checked back through my journal. I wrote sixteen times in January, fourteen in July, eleven in August, five in September, and my last entry before November 17 was October 22—almost a full month. Do you see a pattern here? My journal was where I was totally honest with myself (well, unless I told a big fib). Instead, I was busy doing social media to get known as an author. But I was not knowing myself. I wrote a bad haiku today, and it led me to study nature outside my window.

I used to meditate daily. It was checking in with something bigger than myself and the last time was over a year ago.

Housekeeping has never been my thing, but when I am surrounded by a mess, it affects my self-esteem. The same goes for my yoga and walking. My consistent mantra is I’ll do it at 11:00 a.m. when my body’s warmed up, when I know good and well that if I don’t do it before 9:00 a.m. it will never get done. I did the minimal this morning. If I am going to be a good writer, I need my health.

The second book in the Sophia series is complete except that I need to further clarify the physics explanation of the time travel aspect. I have not worked on it since the end of last year with getting the first book out the door. I am promising myself I will do at least a few paragraphs a day regardless, so I have a feeling of moving forward rather than churning water. Being a news junkie, I always have time for it, time better spent reading a book or writing one!

So, it is path correction time. If I don’t do the above, I don’t have self-esteem, and without it, I don’t fare too well at being a writer or a human being. First things first.

#writerslife, #selfcare, #lifebalance, #writing, #selfpublished

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