How to navigate uncertainty and give birth to stars (and what happened on my hiatus)

Three days into my publishing hiatus, I was flooded with ideas.

Big ideas, like career/life uplift ideas! THIS is the reward I get for making space, I thought. And then came insights.

I’m like this because… I love that because… I truly want more of…

And with amazing serendipity, some new people showed up in my life. Capable, visionary business kind of people. And then feelings started surfacing… jazzy excited about The New kind of feelings.

This hiatus thing is AWESOME! And then, as quickly as the creative rush thrilled me, a fog flattened me. Uncertainty fell over the land. The blue birds of fortune ceased to chirp. I was really uncertain.

All those ideas, insights, feelings. Which, why, when, how? How was I going to pull this off? How could I let that thing over there go? Who could help? What needs to come next? Tear down or renovate? Print or digital or a backup bass player? Walk away. Run right to it. Art, money, life, peace, audacity.

Tally of confusion:

Four mind maps; reworked a three year calendar three times; two packs of sticky notes; bought one 2013 Moleskine day planner; read five old journals; called seven (yes, seven) soul sisters and high-powered acquaintances for input; three visualizations; extended my hiatus from two to three weeks (which is like three years in Bloggy Time.) One dark chocolate sea salt bar.

The beauty of stopping is that things loosen — sometimes to the point of becoming unhinged. And unhinged is very, very disconcerting. And essential. Coming unhinged is the passage way to innovation. Keep the faith and let yourself go crazy.

I’ve been stuck, and nuts, and saved enough times to know that clarity always succeeds confusion. Spring in certain. It’s not the uncertainty that’s frightening, it’s not knowing how long the uncertainty will last. Sure hope the sun appears before I lose my crops.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t last long.

By Day Seventeen, I was right as rain. At 10am that day my strategy was full of gaps and hairy questions. I was fully distracted by my quandary. How am I going to make this work?

By 3pm that day I had one conversation, a body work session and eureka! I literally tore out the left side of my mind map and switched it with the right side. THAT’S IT! Do it in reverse! A star is born!

You must have chaos in your heart to give birth to stars.
— Nietzsche

HOW TO NAVIGATE UNCERTAINTY

  1. Accept that uncertainty is part of making great stuff. Whatever you do, do not run from confusion. This is a graven as: Never make direct eye contact with a Gorilla in the wild. Roll up your pant leg when riding a bicycle. And everything you’ve been responsibly taught about condoms. Repeat: Whatever you do, do not run from confusion.

  2. Repetitively, like a Greek Orthodox Catholic widow rubbing rosary beads, ask yourself these two questions (it will be both comforting and trying):
    Does this feel restricting?
    Does this feel liberating?

Ideas, insights, feelings. Restricting? Or liberating?
Which, why, when, how. Restricting? Or liberating?

And that’s how you get through the Jungle of Confoozed. You weed whack restriction and you sniff for the scent of freedom.

No one can say how long you’ll be there. But eventually, you will come to a clearing and it will appear so suddenly, you might gasp when you turn the corner and it looks so… obvious! It’s not that clarity was hiding on you. You just needed to squeeze the fruit (very messy) to get to the seed (which is always there — often in the shape of a star.)

 

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