On Making Mistakes and Missing Signs

I recently read a post written by a fellow blogger that really hit home. After reading her post I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said and how much it resonated with me.

Here is the link to the post by Liz Worth who is a tarot reader and author based in Toronto. I am not sure where I came across her and became interested enough to follow her – probably some sort of social media connection.

In any event, her post was – roughly – about giving up on a dream and ignoring signs in your life that are trying to get you back on track.

Her post and experience are much richer and deeper than that 2 second sound bite – and perhaps that is just what I took away from it. But nonetheless that is what made me think about my life and my story.

This really resonated with me: 

The hard thing about breaking away from old patterns is that we need to also reconcile the fact that we let things go for as long as they did. 
Lately, I’ve been wishing that I could look back and see that my story unfolded differently, that I could say that I corrected my mistakes so much sooner than I did, rather than letting years go by fully knowing that things were not leading me to where I wanted to be. But that’s not how my story goes, and so I need to trust the lessons that come from it.
I guess that’s why I’m writing this all down now. Because it’s been on my mind, and because I know I’m not the only one with a story like this.
Standing in your truth after pushing it aside for so long can feel uncomfortable at times because it puts you face to face with all of your own insecurities and doubts and poor decisions. It makes you look back and ask, “What was I thinking?” 
But now, my history is giving me a new story to tell about how all of these experiences have allowed me to help others, how it all brought me to finally recognize that signs are always showing up for us, helping to show us the way out, or the way in.

I am 47 now and have let fear and doubt pull me away from the writer’s life for…well, almost my entire life. When I consider my journey as a writer I think of some of the highlights in my life and clear memories I have:

  • In junior high I wrote a poem for a friend who was moving away. At that time I had already fallen in love with the poetic form through reading Walt Whitman and E.E. Cummings. I regularly wrote poetry and made up my own words.
  • In high school I loved English class and scored well enough on the AP English exam to not have to take freshman English my first year of college. I thought perhaps I would go into journalism. I was keeping a journal and writing poetry regularly.
  • When I experienced a very dark time in my personal and athletic life I discovered that if I resumed my journaling practice and made time to read and write in solitude I felt better. It saved my life.
  • At my third university I wrote a paper on HIV in my science class and my instructor suggested I try to get it published, she thought it was that good. I continued to journal and write poetry regularly.
  • While in graduate school other counseling students took electives within the department and I chose a creative writing class. One of the highlights of my graduate school career was having two of my poems selected for publication in the college’s literary magazine. I continued to write.
  • While in graduate school I wrote an article for a non-profit organization I was part of and lived off the high of positive feedback on my writing for months.
  • After graduate school I took a creative writing class and began several short stories. Wrote poems, got solid feedback, positive feedback and kept writing. I began work on a book.
  • On the evening news one night I saw a report that my high school boyfriend had been murdered. I had been listening to the local NPR radio station and they had a segment called “First Person Singular” where listeners could submit and read opinion pieces, etc. I submitted a poem I wrote about the boyfriend. It was accepted and I recorded it for radio broadcast. The woman who ran the segment encouraged me to continue to share my work. This was the first piece I shared publicly. I began letting people read my work.
  • I began to share my work, write marketing materials for the organizations I worked for and eventually decided to quit full-time work to focus on my writing. I was freelancing for a local weekly newspaper and also picked up some national magazine work here and there. I enjoyed the work. The hustle was hard and getting paid pennies per word was somewhat demoralizing, but I was getting positive feedback. I also joined a poet’s workshop where I was amazed and inspired by my fellow poets who encouraged me beyond measure to keep writing and to put my work out in the world. It was empowering.
    • I’m not quite sure what happened at this point in time. Looking back now I think this was when I began to get a little bit of traction with my writing and first began to try to call myself a writer – which I could never do while keeping a straight face. I had poems selected for a local literary publication and was invited to read at their event which I loved and excelled at. My husband at the time was not super supportive and I believe my inkling of possibility made him nervous and uncomfortable and what mental and emotional challenges I felt in my marriage already were only exacerbated by me reaching for my joy. It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Let’s leave it at that for now.
    • During this time I began working on a novel. I have 70 pages of it sitting on my bookshelf. I think about this book nearly every day. It is a beacon of hope and light on some days and also a bitter reminder of all the times I have been called a quitter and told I don’t finish things I start. In fact, once upon time, a significant person in my life at the time told me, “If you say you’re going to do something I am assured you won’t.”
  • It was during this 4 or 5 year period that my mother became ill and eventually passed away after a very intense few years that demanded more of my family than we could handle.  I began a meditation practice because I knew she was dying and needed to open myself up to the last of her life and to be present for her transition. This was also an exceptionally difficult time in my personal life as my marriage was getting worse and to continue in it was becoming untenable. I had quit freelancing and shortly after my son was born I began studying for my teaching credential. I kept writing – poetry mostly, because it was what I had time for.
  • I was selected to read my work at a local event that I had attended as an audience member several times. It was a juried showcase of the finest women writers in the area – and being a progressive, university town we have a lot of them! It was a dream to have my work selected – even when the organizers asked me specifically to read the poems I had written about my mother’s death. Look, I’m going to ditch my usually humility and modesty and tell you – I nailed it! The poem I read touched people. I received emails after the event asking for copies of the poem for people to share, other women who had been at their mother’s bedside while she passed resonated with my words. I was on a high! I had publicized the event on the radio with other readers, I was asked to read again locally, I felt like I could finally feel some real momentum and a shift inside of me.
  • And then…the SH** hit the fan. How do I explain what happened next? I think this might sum it up for you: Shortly after the reading and receiving all the positive feedback and feeling energized and validated and excited my then husband said to me, “We are not special, Jessica. You are not special. We are just normal people living normal lives. That is all we are and all we will be.” Or words to that effect.

Dear Reader, I left that man.

It took a while, maybe another year, but I did. I left.

  • I continued to write poems and journal. I carried on as best I could. I worked and wrote and worked and then, one day I read an article about a woman who was inspired by E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey series.  Even though she had “never had dreams of being an author” she went on to write and self-publish erotic romances that earned enough for her to quit her day job in a year. Since then she has written many books and one just got picked up by Hollywood.
    • She inspired me and in 6 weeks I wrote and self-published an erotic novel under a pen-name. I still have my day job. 🙂

This is a really long post, and I apologize for that. If you have read this far “thank you.” I truly appreciate it.

I suppose I wrote this selfishly, as a way to sort out my story. But it’s also a way to let others know – the way Liz Worth did for me – that we are not alone when we miss the signs that we are so desperately searching for. That we are not alone in choosing the wrong path again and again.

And most importantly that we always get the chance to begin again. And again. And again. For as many times as we need to.

By the way, If you are like me and always looking for signs :

This is the sign you have been looking for. 

THIS is the Universe telling us “YES!”

With Love,

rhymes with yes 🙂

2 thoughts on “On Making Mistakes and Missing Signs

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