Missing my mojo

My self-confidence has taken a beating lately. It’s been insidious, starting perhaps with the perfect storm of retirement, my own aging process and caring for my dad who had a stroke.

Since then, I haven’t been able to find my footing. The ground beneath me often feels like gelatin or worse yet, like the crossroads that Dorothy meets on the Yellow Brick Road trying to get to Oz. Which way to go? What to do?

Before all that, I seemed to tackle whatever presented itself in life with some gusto. Travel overseas? No problem. Move to a new city and discover the culture and people? Many times.

But as I grow older, and especially the last few years, my mojo feels like it’s left the building. Depression? Perhaps. Sadness? Definitely. This time in life presents a lot of loss — youth, energy, friends and relatives who become ill and die — so sadness comes with the territory.

I remind myself: Be gentle with your precious being during this time. The last five years since dad’s stroke have been rough. In hindsight I’ll probably ask myself how I did all this. And even in the midst of it I have to remind myself I have accomplished some goals.

Two years ago I spoke to a group of 200 politicians and lawmakers, sharing my personal story about caregiving and actions that need to be taken. Later, I spoke at a local press conference about caregiving issues. And I actually finished the first draft of a new novel.

From the outside looking in that may seem — well — important. But truth be told, I’m just not feeling it. I’m proud and happy about these achievements, but from where I’m sitting, what I’m speaking about here, is an inside job. A feeling of elation, motivation and thrill that comes from a deep inner sense of confidence, of knowing you’ve got this, whatever “this” may be.

I quaked through those talks on caregiving. I still think the draft of my novel is total crap.

So there you have it. Truth out.

But as I sit with this process of feeling incompetent and no confidence whatsoever, I know this will pass as everything does. Not that I will ever be the life of the party. I never was  someone prone to blustering and bragging, but hopefully I will reach a point where I can start to feel solid ground beneath me again, feel a stronger sense of self.

The saying goes that “when fishermen can’t go to sea, they mend their nets.” For now, I’m mending my nets, honoring that maybe for this day what I’m doing is enough. I got up, cared for dad, made phone calls to doctors. Came home exhausted and took a nap.

The truth is, I’m in new and foreign territory at this stage in life. The 9-to-5 jobs of my entire writing career gave me structure, but now I’m forging a new and different self in the midst of challenges and a vast sea of possibilities. It’s scary out there. But I’m learning, and honestly, sometimes struggling, with whatever arises.

I know in time I will find my way back home to my self. And my own brand of quiet confidence. I know it never left, perhaps just resting, as it needs to, as I need to, as we all need to. Life can weary us. But a major event — divorce, death, diagnose of an illness — can all but exhaust us.

Again, I go back to being gentle with myself. And invite you to be gentle with yourself if you’re going through any major life challenges. Or even the small hardships that daily life presents.

So tonight, I’ll finish writing this blog post, read a bit and set some small goals for tomorrow. Go back over the manuscript of my novel and cringe through every word. Take a walk. Care for dad. Take a nap. Pray and meditate. Breathe.

All will be tiny steps toward center. I don’t know when my confidence will awaken within me again, but when it does, I’ll welcome it with open arms and heart.

For now, my prayer is to be at peace where I am in life and that you may be, too. Life is hard enough without putting pressure on ourselves. In Divine right timing, all will unfold and as my favorite medieval mystic Juliana of Norwich said, “All shall be well.”

It really will be, you know. Mojo or not.


(Blogger’s note: If you want some handy tips on building self-confidence and other sage advice, check out my friend Patti Villalobos’ Coaching Page on Facebook. I think you’ll like her suggestions. And her.)









Tipping point

Most times I feel I’m stumbling through life. Poorly.

I turn on the morning news, only to catch the weather forecast. I don’t watch news as a rule. Bad energy. This time, the energy is vile and foul. Another mass shooting. I am aware I am assaulted by fatigue. Weariness. And my life, other than bumbling about, already feels weary.

I want to crawl back in bed and hide under the covers.

But I can’t. Like many of you, I have responsibilities. I care for a father who had a stroke and is 90. I’m struggling to revise the manuscript of my new novel. I’m trying to find part-time work in the midst of caregiving and in the midst of it all, have some kind of personal life.

I also realize I am sad. I am struggling to stay away from the news. The media is covering this event as it has every other blood-drenched massacre, with each detail drawn out, focused on, expanded. Watching too much can be addictive and drag me deeper into the morass of our country’s sorrow.

I make a cup of coffee and go over my day. Doctors to call. Sitting with dad for a time. I look at the news again to learn of any new developments. I shut it off. I go to Facebook. Everyone is offering prayers. Posting photos with candles and expressing their sorrow. All this is good. But haven’t we done this what feels like a thousand times before? Does it change anything?

I am a big praying person. Each day I ask the Divine for peace in the hearts of all people and our world. In my heart. But as I sit in prayer and meditation, I wonder: Is it working, helping at all? I ask a friend this and she says, “But you don’t know if your one small prayer won’t be the tipping point to peace. Keep praying.”

The truth is, my empath-self is on overwhelm. After the hurricanes in this country and then the aftermath of Puerto Rico — now this — I can only absorb so much. Shields up. Shields up. I am feeling the sorrow of our humanity and what we keep doing to each other. Of our disconnection to each other and Mother Earth.

I feel powerless. And weary.

I shut off the TV and laptop and start my day. I head outside into fall weather, with brilliant blue skies, sunshine, crisp cool air, tree tops ablaze in oranges and golds. The day seems to mock the agony in our world. I meet a neighbor who smiles and I smile back. He asks how I am and truly means it. I offer the usual “I’m OK” and ask how he is. He is OK, too.

I hear small birds twittering in the bushes and watch another neighbor help a woman get her groceries out of the trunk of her car. I stop for a crossing guard who guides children across the street. He grins at me and waves me on. When I get to my parents’ home, I hug dad and ask him in Spanish how he is. “Estoy bien,” he says, and this warms my heart.

This is life, I remind myself. The little things we do each day that stitch together the fabric of our lives and being. The kind and loving gestures. The acknowledgment of each other as part of the same family.

I can not change what happened in Puerto Rico or Texas, Florida or Las Vegas and before that at Sandy Hook Elementary. And I may not be able to do great things — feed starving children in other countries or even in our own country, provide shelter for the homeless, or help the thousands of women and children who are sold into sex trafficking each year.

But I can control how loving I choose to be in this moment — in this day. I can, as Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.”

This can be my intention and focus with each breath as I stumble through what seems my small, meaningless life. I can also choose to take some kind of action about violence of too many kinds in our country; I can write to politicians to make my voice heard. I can become involved in grass-roots groups, from faith-based to local government.

I can write. These words. They often save me. Perhaps help others.

Or I can sink into the weariness and powerlessness. Wait for the next mass shooting.

I gather up courage and whisper another prayer for peace. Perhaps it will be the tipping point.