mindfulness Writing

tending to my dharma

Since I became a mom, I’ve been loosely committed to my writing. I long for the spacious days to write like I did pre-kids. I dream about it. I crave it. But the truth is, I’ve been mediocre at best at creating the time and space for it.

Recently, I turned a corner with my writing. I started writing every morning for an hour. And sometimes longer. This is a huge step for me. As with any commitment to practice, the more you do something the easier it gets. The more I write, the more I want to write.

But then something different happened. Something shifted. I started taking care of myself in a new way. The quality of how I spend my days has shifted. The subtle tone of how I eat, how I exercise, sleep, meditate, and even how I do chores, has changed. I’m living with more intent and a clear focus. I’m moving through my days with more mindfulness, and more ease. The simple act of showing up every day at my laptop to write has become the center of my universe. It’s super simple AND it’s a feat of gigantic proportions for a mom to commit to that time on a daily basis. And I’m not perfect, I’ve definitely missed some days.

Three key experiences contributed to the shift:

  1. Talking to a writer friend who recently published a book
  2. Going on a personal retreat
  3. Reading Stephen Cope’s book, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

Having a conversation with a visiting writer friend, reminded me that I don’t have a strong writing community. He asked about my writing process and my goals. He asked about my stories. His sincere interest watered seeds of motivation in me. Since I don’t have a mirror in other writers right now, I decided to be my own mirror. I had a one-on-one with myself and the bathroom mirror. Looking deeply into my own eyes, I saw a woman who wants to follow her dreams and is hungry for her soul path fulfillment but has been lost and can’t find her way to the words. Looking deeply into your own eyes is a powerful meditation and tends to open the heart right up. You should try it! It feels similar to sitting on a mediation cushion, but more intense—my mind goes quiet right away and I can touch the true nature of my self, my true path, my dharma.

The other thing that happened was I went on a solo writing retreat. It was just for the weekend. It was super simple. I stayed at a friend’s studio for the weekend and didn’t even leave town. It was attainable and easy to fit into the family calendar. Any busy mom knows how hard it is to organize the household so she can get away for alone time. Because it was 10 minutes from home, it felt easy, but when I got there I felt like I was a world away! I wrote a lot that weekend. Having uninterrupted time to dig in to my ideas was so satisfying. I took a long hike and pondered some ideas for my book. I let my mind unwind. I touched my creativity. But I actually spent more time reading than writing. Reading is a writer’s most powerful tool.

That weekend I started reading The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope. It was recommended to me by my friend Marla Teyolia who is empowering women through her company Culture Shift Agency. WOW! Could. Not. Put. It. Down. And I wanted to savor every sentence! His book is beyond inspiring. It’s life changing. Highly recommended for anyone looking to clarify their life purpose, especially if you’re in midlife. Cope tours the lives of some of our greatest thinkers, artists and writers such as Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Keats, Jane Goodall, Harriett Tubman, Gandhi, and others, as well as a few of his personal friends, and looks at their life work through the lens of the Bhagavad Gita—the ancient text on the teachings of dharma. I underlined so many sentences that there were practically entire pages underlined! I may as well have dipped the whole book in highlighter ink. Passages about discerning and naming your own dharma—your life’s work—and then embracing it and doing it “full out”. He writes about the connection between an individual’s soul path and how it connects to the world and to the divine. This resonates deeply with me.

“All true vocation arises in the stream of love that flows between the individual soul and the divine soul. All true dharma is a movement of the soul back to its Ground.” – Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life

I sit at my computer to write now on most mornings and I let other things fall away — important things— but fall away they must. For my writing projects to survive I have to shift my priorities. I’ll pick those other things up later, or they will fall away to create space for the writing. It feels like parenting and how as moms we have to let so many things fall away, giving the majority of our energy to raising our children.

“Our lives begin to move into orbit around our vocation.”
—Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life

My little ones are teens now, and even though they still need a lot of support, their independence allows me to dedicate energy to my writing. I’m now making hundreds of small decisions and choices to turn my life toward my writing. I’m slowly shifting a habit energy that had built up over more than a decade of always putting everything else before my true love of writing. Now my kids see their mom tending to her dharma. ♥

4 comments on “tending to my dharma

  1. Lovely. I can relate in so many ways, and I appreciate your sharing. Wonderful to hear of these recent and important shifts; the time to write, show up for oneself, explore purpose….. Inspiring…..


  2. Kerry Bennassar

    Really lovely writing about this most important topic. Thank you!


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