I can’t remember when it was exactly that I discovered the monthly prompts from Write ALM, but I think that for the last six months or so I’ve been trying to keep them in mind when I’m doing my morning pages or when I get stuck with my writing. It’s always good to have something sitting in your back pocket to inspire a few words. Back in May, I got smart and made the decision to start printing the graphic that goes with the prompts. At the beginning of each month, I paste the prompts into my writer’s notebook so I don’t forget what I can potentially write about during the month. Usually I only write a paragraph or so about the prompt, but occasionally the prompt will speak to me, sparking more than that. This morning, thinking about working towards my goals and making a new plan for my life, was one of those mornings.
Today’s prompt from Write ALM is “Look Up.”
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe this next year is going to be one of preparation and planning for change. The situation that I am in will not work long-term. Sweet Husband and I talked about it again this evening because I came home tonight – my first mid-week (or end of week, as the case may be) trip home of this school year. For the first time, SH said, “If we have to move, then we have to move. If we have to go back to Hattiesburg, then we go back to Hattiesburg.” But I don’t want to go back to Hattiesburg.
Which brings me back to the fact that I’m going to have to do the preparation and planning and work during the next 9 months that will put me (& us) on a different path in the spring. We cannot be in the this same place next year.
It’s important to remember as I’m digging in and doing all of this very important work that I can’t lose sight of the end goal. I want to be home. I said that during August Moon, but that’s the truth. I almost don’t care how I get home, but I want to get home.
There are all kinds of ways for me to make that happen – all sorts of possibilities. I feel drawn to forging a new path for myself; one that marries writing and photography in ways that are capable of providing a means of support for SH and me. To that end, I’ve reached out to a coach (and I need to reply to her. The beginning of the school year is a hectic time). I enrolled in a blogging course. I’m upping my photography game. I sought clarity through August Moon. I’m opening myself up and putting myself out there. I’m making lists of things that I need and want to do and making some steady progress towards them.
My nose is to the grindstone. I’m putting one foot in front of the other.
And I’m reminded of a particularly brutal mountain hike back in the day when I lived in Reno. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, and living in Reno, so very close to Lake Tahoe and in the Sierra Madre Mountains, it seemed like a good idea to take up some form of hiking. I’ve never been one to hike (or camp) off-trail, but I do like to be outside and going. The problem is that I’m not often in the best of shape. Hiking up a mountain in thin air can be a terribly difficult thing when you’re over-weight and not cardiovascularly in shape. But I’ve never been one to let a little thing like fitness – or knowing where I’m going – stop me. I put my head down and put one foot in front of the other. I keep moving. Sometimes just inch by incredibly tiny inch; sometimes just leaning forward and not actually moving but enough to consider it (in my head) forward progress.
I run like that, too. Head down, watching my feet, concentrating on just moving forward and making progress, which in my head is much more important than, say, looking out for a street sign.
The problem with always having your head down, with your nose to the grindstone, focusing on making progress, is that when you finally do look up, you may find yourself far off course. It’s happened to me more than once – I’m hiking along, following what I thought was the path and when I’m forced to stop because I run into a tree or a fence or am at the edge of a cliff. When you aren’t familiar with the path, if you aren’t looking up and looking around, the ground around you can look like where you’re supposed to be, even when you’re grossly off the rails.
Over the course of this next year, I’m going to have to remember to look up. Frequently. Not so often that I lose where I am and what I’m doing, the progress I’m making, but often enough that I don’t get lost or put myself in an even more precarious position. It’s important to remember to stop, assess the goal and whether I’m truly making progress or if I’m just inching along to be inching along.