Easy to spout the above sort of optimistic, aint-nothun’ gonna stop me, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar type quotations when you’re killin’ it, right?
But what about when you’re not doing so well? What about when you LITERALLY. JUST. FAILED? And you feel like shit about it?
I’d like to think of myself as spiritual enough to rise above the illusory opinions of the corporeal realm; philosophical enough to understand that, like all else, failure is merely perspective; and bold enough to get back up on the horse and journey on until I reach my desired destination.
But recently, when I learned that the publisher of my first book, Um, Like…OM: A Girl Goddesses Guide to Yoga, rejected the manuscript for my 2nd book and first work of fiction, I didn’t smile the knowing smile of an enlightened soul who is aware that ‘every moment is a chance to begin anew’ and all the other psycho-spiritual bullshit that floods my inbox, social media lists, and own personal mental chattering. No, I didn’t take a deep breath, knowing that all would ultimately work out in my favor. What did I do? I froze.
Paralyzed by my own inability to see “rejection as merely suggestion” as so eloquently and aptly stated by my magical spirit sister Andrea Balt, I was utterly and completely STUCK.
See, because, the thing is, although I’ve been a practicing yogi for nearly two decades now, despite a deep devotion to my spiritual center, at the end of the day, I am nothing more than a plain ole human being. Oh! And, added bonus: I’m a girl (which means that I am, admittedly, a bit more physiologically prone to wildly fluctuating moods and emotions. Damn hormones). I simply do not recover as quickly as I’d like to from a blow to the ego.
I wrote and sold my first book to my dream publisher, Little, Brown and Co. And I’m deeply grateful for such incredible success- a veritable dream come true– and so early on in my career. But I can’t hold on to that single achievement forever. And I don’t believe in clinging to the past or remaining stagnant. Like most, I want to continue to grow, to succeed, to expand in both consciousness and craft.
Thus, after hearing the rejection of what can only be described as the birth of my second child (albeit a literary one), all I could do was sit, stunned before a blank screen, wondering if ANYONE, EVER would want to publish the work I’d spent the last three years birthing at home, sans pain meds.
Intellectually, I knew that beating myself up was counterproductive, but emotionally, I felt drained. But as my beloved yoga teacher, Guru Singh always says: there is no way out; only through. So beyond simply having faith in the Universe’s larger plans for me and my work, the thing I most needed to do to cure my writers block was, ironically, enough, to sit my butt down and WRITE.
Unfortunately, somewhere between turning my computer on and logging online, I got distracted by these:
vintage tie dye cowboy kicks
Rather than dealing head and heart on with my internal demons, instead of facing the glaring, empty white screen before me, I chose more colorful pages (namely, shopbop and revolve clothing) to distract me from the real work at hand, my soul’s work.
I couldn’t help myself. With the amniotic fluid of my creative womb seemingly sucked dry by the birth of my book baby– a baby that was now resting in the precarious hands of various editors at unknown publishers, awaiting approval of its existence, I literally felt I had nothing to offer the page.But oh, how the page had something– a lot of things– to offer me. And so I shopped. Against my better judgement, I made monetary purchases where what I really needed to be investing in was my own life’s mission.
I drooled over Jacquie Aiche and Jennifer Meyer jewels! I nearly pressed “purchase” on new pairs of Calleen Cordero and Sam Edelman spring sandals! With the mere click of a mouse, glorious healing malas and material masks of all kinds could be mine!
Of course, being a Spiritual Girl in a Material World, I KNEW this frivolity was not the way to free myself from the bonds of creative stagnancy. I was well aware that shopping was pure distraction, procrastination; an attempt to fill a space that could only and would only be filled by creating and giving forth. Thankfully, my higher consciousness (and a good dose of inspiration) won out and my shopping binge was more of the visual sort, than an actual spending frenzy.
There is a lesson in all of this, I suppose, which is to forgive myself for a completely healthy need for distraction, for placing material goods over a greater spiritual cause. And if you know me, then you know I sure do appreciate the artistry of the sartorial set. In other words, I love me some new clothes. But ultimately, HAVING MORE falls way short of actually CREATING MORE.
Still, knowing what I had to do and actually doing it are two disparate things. I still felt stuck, like I had nothing to say. Or, if I did have something to say, it had already been said a million times before. And then I happened upon this: 31 Magic Quotes to Summon Your Creative Genius.
It is a post curated and created by Ms. Balt whose site “Creative Rehab” was exactly where I needed to be for a nice, long stint.
I dare you to visit and not be inspired into recovery.
I still had other publishers I have yet to hear back from, so in the meantime, I was determined to get something, anything down onto the page. And the moment I fully committed myself to reigniting the fire burning within, I happened upon this incredible work of art, a book by Stephen Cope, Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts: The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling.
There’s nothing like reading something and feeling as though it was written specifically for you. (Mr. Cope, did you write this for me?! Cause I’m pretty sure you did and I can’t wait to meet you one day in the flesh).
And in one more act of synchronicity, the very evening I discovered Mr. Cope’s great tome, I happened upon a PBS special on JD Salinger, whose iconic Cather in the Rye was said to have been turned down by several publishers before ultimately being published by, yes… Little, Brown, and Company!
Obviously, I’m no JD Salinger. I mean, maybe in terms of my left-of-center spiritual beliefs and an unfortunate aversion towards the social set, but literally prowess? Eh, not so much. Still, I took this as a sign. Salinger had been rejected. So had Alice Walker, Ayn Rand, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, George Orwell, Sylvia Plath, John Grisham, F.Scott Fitzgerald, and on and on and on…
And that’s when it hit me: I’m going to write about failing. How we all do it. How it feels like a pain worse than death. But how we have to keep on keepin’ on, even so. While I wait for more “No’s” to roll on in from publishers, while I wait for that ONE enchanted “YES” (because all it takes is ONE), I’m going to blog about the pain of rejection. About how that pain becomes a block, and that block makes your life a living hell, and the only way to escape that hell is to do the thing you think you cannot do.
So I end with this: “F you, Failure!” You’re not going to stop me. I’m going back to listening to all my psycho-spiritual, create-your-own-destiny, visionary self-talk. And I will succeed.
(And so will you.).
OH, and ps. I returned all the crap I bought online, except for the tie dyed boots. I’m on a sole mission, after all.
Phoenix Rising, baby. Phoenix Rising.