#JuWriSoMos Challenge, final reflection

Dear First Ever Participants of the #JuWriSoMos Challenge,

This past one hundred and six days have been such a fascinating journey. There has been so much going on in my daily life during this time, and I know that each of you have had a lot going on during this time too!

To be able to write this letter, my last assignment of this challenge, to you is truly a gift.

Back in the beginning of this challenge, I thought my big thing was going to be staying focused and really getting anywhere with just five minutes a day. And I found that was a little difficult at first. Yet, as time went on and the prompts shifted, it became easier and easier to just jump right in and more and more difficult to convince myself to stop when the timer went off.

I found myself reflecting on that quite a bit actually. When I get into a rhythm, a flow, I don’t want to stop. I want to push through, go hard, run fast! Even though I know that if I make it to the finish line I will absolutely crash and fall apart, being completely drained for a prolonged period of time. I look back at my career in my field, my academic career…really my entire life up to this last couple years, and I see the pattern staring at me and waving bright crimson flags. Over time, I have shifted it, I have learned a few things about slowing down and preparing for the next season of life. Somehow though, the feeling, the anxious urge to run after that “flow” if I even caught wind of it, still lingered. And it lingered much deeper than I imagined.

What I learned through this process was that I could. I could find inspiration in a short amount of time if I asked myself the right question or allowed myself a pause to sink into it. I could gain traction and momentum, break it, and then find it again. I could walk myself deep inside, dig around in the depths, and emerge without breaking. I could handle the big and little overwhelming emotions.  I could keep coming back, over and over again.

In spite of the fact that the world around me continued to be a beautiful dumpster fire, with some spectacular things thrown in here and there, I was able to write every day. I was able to rough draft several projects that I have been working on for a few years but have kept putting off because I didn’t feel like I had enough time for them. I was able to refine this challenge, write every day, send prompts every week, and post every week (and then some). I was able to finish a couple of projects too. And the truly amazing thing is, here we are at the last day, and I don’t feel so exhausted that I want to give up on writing for a year or the rest of my life.

More than anything else, that’s the takeaway for me. The universe just kept whispering, and then got louder and louder until I finally slowed down enough to hear.

I don’t have to do everything at once, pause.

The pause is where it all comes together, that silence and stillness in between is where the dust settles and I am able to notice clearly. I am able to gather my energy, and focus.

Without the pause, there is just chaos. Chaos of chasing, frantically trying to stay on the inspiration or motivation or energy train, and never being enough. Chaos of the aftermath, the complete depletion of the entire self, and barely being able to function at all. This challenge was like a pause for me. Time to gather my thoughts, center, focus, and settle.

I would do this again in a heartbeat, I will do it again next year. Maybe a little differently, but it’ll happen again. And between now and then, I have already scheduled myself to continue writing throughout February. Some days it will be focused and about a specific thing, some days it will be about making progress on a project, and other days it will just be about writing something.

Thank you for joining me on this adventure, I am truly grateful. I am excited to learn where this road has taken you, and how this practice will continue to shape each of us.