In the past six months, I have traveled through as many time zones. I started with a lovely trip to Lisbon to visit friends and meet Mooji, and from there, I went on to visit New Jersey, NYC, LA, Austin, and Houston before returning back to Africa.
During that whirlwind of a trip, I was able to work with my incredible graphic designer, Dillon, to bring my second book (unbreakable) to print! Thanks Dillon! But during that time, I was also writing my third book. As I think about it now, I am amazed that I was able to do both somehow. In the midst of enjoying time with family in friends during my travel, I actually finished writing my third book — a novel that is so long that it will probably have to be released as a series haha! And because I am old school, it took me an additional two months to type the book I had handwritten in 27 notebooks.
I am now editing the book, and actively measuring the progress of my edits by the number of pages edited. It’s a crude calculation, but somehow it inspires me to do a little more each day. When I updated my chart today, I inched my way to 16%. This number felt inconsequential to me…like I should have gotten more done over the past month. And that’s when I had to stop myself.
You see…one thing I’ve learned on this very long road to finish my book is that I’m not very good at incremental celebrations. Fortunately, I had family and friends who encouraged me to celebrate when I finished writing my book by hand…and again when I finished typing the pages. (I had a root beer float with vegan ice cream after I finished writing my book in LA…and then I got a manicure/pedicure and a message in Austin after I finished typing — my body needed it!) But even before I finished, my cheerleader mother excitedly celebrated as a finished typing each notebook. Sometimes I’m too much of a realist and can only focus on what’s left to do…but her consistent cheers did filter through and I remain appreciative.
Because my second and third books took over my life, I did not update my website as consistently as I wanted to. And I couldn’t even remember when I’d made my last post when sharing my business card with a lovely family from Vienna and a world famous Cape Verdean artist, Tchale, that I met here in Africa this week. It’s been so long that I wasn’t sure what to even talk about on the blog. I wasn’t sure how to start again. It’s possible that I’ve been too deep in the creative process of making new art…and, possibly more painful, editing that art.
I say painful because editing makes you look for flaws in your own work…typos, incoherent jumps in the story, and confusing elements that no one would probably understand but you. I have found that editing causes me to question if what I’m writing is any good. When I have those moments, I stop editing and go take a walk outside or watch a movie. I let the doubts pass by like clouds in the sky. I don’t let myself get attached to them. Instead, I try every day to do a little more of what I know I must do to complete my art. And more and more, I try to congratulate myself for small milestones completed.
I share all of this because I think we all go through challenges. Many of those challenges are multi-layered and require many steps to complete. I have been spoiled because my previous books came to me in a matter of days or weeks. Now that I’m working on this novel, I measure the time in months. In the same way, your previous challenges might have had clear action and resolution. But when things are more complex, I believe the process of resolution is similar to my own — we must simply do what we can each day to make progress toward completion. If we can, it’s great to celebrate small successes and even measure progress to help us recognize that progress is being made.
Not every road is straight, and not every solution is obvious. But I believe that we must do what we can with the information we have to keep going. A determined person can climb a mountain, but the mountain can only be climbed on step at a time :)
My prayer for you is that you will be gentle with yourself as you climb and find it within yourself to celebrate what you may now consider to be insignificant wins. The journey is the adventure. It is where the growth and excitement happens. If we don’t find ways to celebrate during the process, I think it is possible to be so overcome with stress and a false feeling of defeat that we might not have the energy to go on. So in this moment, I celebrate you and send my cheers for all that you are doing…and will continue to do. You got this! ;)
Photo source: My camera from a recent hike here in Cabo Verde :)
Author note: Because I have had enough editing for today, I have made the decision not to edit this post haha If you find a typo, please use it as your chance to smile at how I didn’t let a silly error stop me from posting this ;) Namaste.