I’m a late bloomer in many ways, but none that I take too seriously. For example, I recently joined a virtual writing meet-up group even though I’ve been writing for … let’s just say forever.
The virtual women-only group is introvert-friendly, meaning we are welcome to keep our cameras off during session. None of us do, which surprises me for such a reserved group just getting to know one another. I remind myself to “not take counsel of my fears,” as my dad likes to remind me, and keep in mind that this is an inclusive group of functioning adults.
This collective allows an opportunity for accountability, creative confidence, and support. It’s like being in a sorority … no, a love club. Scratch that, it’s a community: like-minded women with a shared love of creative writing, each in our own stage of the creative process. I’ll walk you through a recent meet-up.
As an icebreaker, we are given the opportunity to speak up. We are asked to state our name and a little about ourselves before declaring “I am a writer,” then to sit with the silence that follows. The quiet is empowering yet equally awkward.
Nevertheless, I say it. I am a writer. Yet another example of my late bloomer status — or should we say, delayed blooming. I’ve casually mentioned things in conversation like, “I like to write in my free time” or “I could see myself as a writer,” but never have I ever said these three, short liberating words. What I find is saying this aloud encourages me to take up space and stop making myself small to the world.
Our facilitator makes it clear that “if you write, you are a writer.” Well shit, I guess that makes me a writer, along with all the other women in the group. Some are outlining a novel, drafting a memoir, writing poems, or blogging.
All of us are here together for very different reasons, but also for the same reason: We are writers.
After the icebreaker, we are given our writing prompt for the day and space for a “power hour” of journaling. Again, we have the option to turn our cameras off for the duration of this time but again, no one does! Together we embark on a hushed journey of keyboard clicking, flooding the pages in front of us with our own thoughts and feelings.
Our prompt is the following: Take a look at your planner for the week. Is there enough joy and beauty? If this were your last week on earth, would the planned activities fill you with joy? Which activities seem meaningless once brought into the context of how short life is? What are some manageable, small activities you can sneak in that bring you joy? Where can you sneak them in?
Looking at my planner, all I see is work; early mornings, long days, sometimes late evenings. I’m protective of my weekends, though, saving those days for a little schoolwork, a lot of wine and downtime with my husband, dog and friends.
I find my work meaningful, so I’m very lucky in that sense. Working at a non-profit, I know my work directly impacts the community, which is fulfilling. It’s the bullshit bureaucracy that weighs me down.
The excessively complicated administrative procedures, superfluous minutiae, or non-essential workplace conversations that would lead anyone down a road of mental instability.
There’s only so much yoga, meditation and other forms of exercise I can do before turning to a medical professional, which I have recently done. I’m now on my third week of Lexapro to get control of my anxiety. I think it’s working?
Let’s look at my self-care for the week. Hmmmm … I was able to sneak a facial in during a lunch hour, so that’s a small victory. By now I have finally and officially released the misconception that self-care always means a day off, vacation or massage.
Carving out a little time for myself during the workday also qualifies, so a lunchtime facial fits the bill.
I was also able to walk away from my desk early on Friday, around 4 p.m., but on a day that began at 6 a.m., maybe that’s not such a win after all. Then again, starting my day with the sunrise provides quiet time to complete work projects, personal tasks, and a longer lunch break for a workout which is often my self-care for the day.
I am intentional about everything at this point in my life — work, friend groups, downtime — so for me, nothing is meaningless (except those empty-calorie conversations with co-workers that working from home 80% of the time helps alleviate).
For now, I’ll squeeze in a little more time with Mother Nature, especially since the U.S. National Whitewater Center has reinstated River Jam, and revisit this prompt next year after grad school. Maybe then I’ll have more free time to complain.
I suppose I can also let go of the “late bloomer” status and take heed from the French proverb, “Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace”, because I’m doing just that.
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