A couple of years ago, I started to notice elephant journal on my Facebook news feed.
I can’t remember exactly what the message was that drew me enough to click it and like the page. It only took a month of seeing the daily feed and wanting to read more than the allotted three free daily stories before I became a subscriber.
The articles where calling out to wilder and unfed parts of me. Subconsciously, I must have known I was getting ready to go into free-fall.
This was a point in my life where things were beginning to change, rapidly.
I was in a longstanding marriage that had been heading south for quite some time and a job that left me unchallenged. After years of grinding out work and being chained to a life I no longer recognized, my heart was pacing like a caged animal.
My answer to this at the time was to throw myself deeper and deeper into competitive bicycle racing. I would go out and train like a demon possessed—ride through hail storms, ride through anything. Anything to escape the fact that my life was coming down around my feet. And it finally did last summer.
August 1, 2014. I moved to the big city and took a loft in an old warehouse down by the Missouri River, sat by the window that overlooks the water and just let all of it wash over me.
I was in a place of compete surrender. I took my life savings and gave myself this year off with no restrictions. I rode my bikes, raced, opened my heart as best as I could to a new man and all the new experiences, and I sat by the window and wrote—daily.
I let it all fly, vomiting out the stuff that I needed to expel. I was looking at my entire life—all of it—and turning it on its head. Burning off the unnecessary.
By the time this spring rolled around, I knew I needed to get back out there in the advertising/design field from where I came, but I wasn’t sure where I fit anymore. I had been toying with the idea of honing my ability to write and maybe even going into some sort of social media content manager position. When I saw the ad for elephant journal’s apprentice program, everything clicked.
Elephant journal had been the background music through many of these changes. It made perfect sense. I applied and was accepted for what was to become a life-affirming and life-changing experience.
Without much of an idea of what awaited me or who this enigma named Waylon Lewis was, I dove into the water head first.
I know without a doubt that this was time well spent. Yes, I learned about the intricacies of social media. I got to roll my sleeves up and edit articles and got some of my own published. I managed and learned how to grow my two pages, Mindful Gentlemen and Elephant Bicycle and remain very partial to them.
The biggest part of this for me was what was happening on the inside though. This was to be my summer of doing the final work of allowing myself to be open and vulnerable. These are the lessons I learned.
“inspiration is overrated. Like a relationship, it’s not dependent on inspiration. It’s dependent on caring when there’s no inspiration.” ~ Waylon Lewis
Many of our elephant journal meetings included on-the-spot three to five-minute writing exercises. These were a jolt to a nervous system not used to releasing material for others to read. Especially unedited, stream-of-consciousness style writing. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to be disemboweled or have my head placed on a stick, it got easier and I found that there is something about doing this that dislodges any blockages. In three minutes, you had better think of whatever resonates for you in that moment and get to the heart of the matter quickly.
2. You are never too old to start over.
I waded in there with a large group of apprentices; many, if not most, were half my age. I tend to be solitary by nature, but as this new experience unfolded I began to look forward to my two meetings a week and the communication I was having with exceptional people from around the globe. Smart, lively, lovely people. I discovered that I was more than capable, that I was still able to think fast and respond on my feet, that I am still flexible and most importantly that I am still creative and I can take an idea from start to finish with speed.
To have the publisher of an organization you deeply respect tell you that what you just laid out there for open discussion, gave him chills—that is a neon sign that you are doing something right. I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, writing is something that I can seriously pursue.
“Read until you know how to write simply and directly from your red raw heart. Leave behind the bullsh*t. Lalalalalala.” ~Waylon Lewis
Author: Jenny Wise
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Courtesy of Author