When I completed my book in late December of last year, I had no idea what the year ahead would bring.
The book was due to be released in February 2020, and I excitedly arranged for a celebration with my family and friends.
I booked a coffee bistro for March 21st, the Spring Solstice. Everything was coming together!
Then, news started coming in about a deadly virus that was already affecting many countries around the world. By early March, I knew I had to cancel my book launch. It would not be safe to gather as a crowd in a cozy indoor location. At first, I felt proud of myself for making this choice. I knew it was the right thing to do.
And then, as the months went by, it was clear that there would not be an in-person book launch this year, and I became aware of my disappointment and sadness. My dreams of speaking engagements and book signings remained just that: dreams.
Over the past months, I have come to terms with the reality of releasing a book in the middle of a pandemic. I have become more active on social media and am hosting a virtual book club where my book is discussed. My articles and podcast interviews are helping to get the word out about my book.
How is this for me?
I am learning to trust that things are happening beyond what I can see. This is a mystery, and I find it challenging to surrender to the unknown.
I am a person that thrives on words of affirmation. I am encouraged by an email, a card in the mail, or a voice message that acknowledges something I have done or said. When I hear back about an article or newsletter I have published, I am grateful to know that my work is being noticed. I feel motivated to keep writing and sharing my gifts with others.
Here’s the thing. Many times, I do not hear back from anyone. I do not get a complimentary message in my inbox. It is as if my words have disappeared into cyberspace and no one has noticed them. I feel dejected. I ask myself, “What is the point of writing a book? An article? Or sending out a newsletter?”
When I am in this mood, the last thing I feel like doing is writing anything else. I am tempted to give up my dreams of using my gifts to uplift others. All I want to do is hide away and forget that I even have a book available.
In the midst of all of this uncertainty, I have been rereading my book. There is a section titled “Embrace Chaos.” Here is what it says:
“Life is sure to be filled with times of uncertainty and messiness. When I choose to trust that chaos gives life to creativity and I move forward on the unseen path, I often find an unexpected gift awaits me.”
I became intrigued by what might be possible for me if I could look at my situation from a new perspective. What might happen if I moved forward before the path appeared? Is there a gift waiting for me? What does this look like in my daily life?
As I focused on experimenting with this approach, I realized that I am 100 percent responsible for my experiences in life. Even if I can not change the external circumstances, I do have the power to choose my way of responding to uncertainty and disappointment.
Perhaps my ideas will inspire you to take a look at how you might show up in times of chaos.
Three attitudes I am choosing to adopt on this trail of chaos:
1. Be Curious
I know that I limit my view of what love looks like if I think it needs to be only “words of affirmation.” In fact, I may be missing acknowledgement and encouragement if that is all I am looking for. When I let go of my narrow view of what affirmation looks like, I find unexpected gifts.
Recently, I received a text from my son. It included a photo of my smiling nine-year-old granddaughter as she held up my book. She had taken it to school to show her teacher the “book that my grandma wrote.” I was touched and moved by this action. Here it was. Love, appreciation, and a young girl who was proud of her grandma! And, it was a surprise.
2. Be Confident
When I believe in myself and trust that my writing will touch others, I am able to release my need to receive feedback. Here is what I wrote in the preface to my book:
“I have a story that I have been given to share with others. It’s bigger than ‘my story.’ It’s a life-giving fountain. And it is my responsibility to write, trusting that those who are thirsty for it will find it.”
I am not responsible for the responses to my book. I wrote it with an open heart and gave my gift freely to the world. In light of this truth, I remind myself that my success is not measured by the number of positive comments I receive. I am able to surrender and trust. When the comments do come in, I accept them with joy. One woman said she had a new view of what it looks like to receive after reading my book. She is inspired to see the benefit to herself and others when she receives with an open heart.
3. Be Calm
Am I willing to accept what is, and not be frantic with worry about what I think “should” happen? As I let go of what I don’t have control over, I am able to calmly view what is happening and be at peace with the situation. I take steps to care for my health and well-being.
Walks in nature and getting enough sleep are basic habits that support me on this path. Calling a dear friend who listens deeply to me helps me remember I am not alone, even though I may be lonely. My writing is a comfort to me, and as I keep trusting that there is a plan bigger than what I can see right now, I access the calm that I long to feel.
I find it helpful to think back to other times in my life when the path seemed to have disappeared. I reflect on how events transpired to bring new opportunities and gifts to me. A spirit of gratitude leads to calm energy. I practice patience and trust that the Universe will supply exactly what I need in this moment.
My journey is not over. The pandemic continues. Life seems more uncertain than ever with increasing cases of COVID-19 and the pressure of keeping safe. I miss hugging my grandchildren and my friends. I struggle with the reality of not knowing what Christmas will look like for our family. I am here to remind us all that it is a moment by moment choice to be curious, confident, and calm during these chaotic times.
I invite you to look for love in your life in places that you may not ordinarily think to look. Be open to the gifts that show up unexpectedly, and be someone who knows that chaos can lead to creativity.
I offer my book, Saying Yes to Life: Embracing the Magic and Messiness of the Journey, as a resource for you during this time.
You are not alone during these challenging days.