After blogging for 31 days, one thing is clear to me: There is no better time than now for us to do the things we dream of. When the desire to create overcomes the fears that hold us back, we are propelled into new territory. Like driving from a darkened forest into a sunny meadow, from a raincloud into clear skies, when we make a commitment and begin to act upon it, we find ourselves changed. The path is made clearer, and we find ourselves accelerating sooner than anticipated.
For me this post represents the completion of one project, and therefore the beginning of many more. This post is a letter of love and gratitude for the sources of inspiration behind it, and it is an opportunity to highlight many projects which might inspire others in their wake. This post is my offering to the sun and moon as they dance their dance across the sky. This post is my encouragement to you, whoever and wherever you are, to start something, whatever it is, to work on something, to give back to the world the gift of your creative devotion, to learn from it, to grow.
On the Moon Cycle blogging project
Friday, March 20, 2015. New moon, supermoon, solar eclipse, spring equinox.
At 3:30 this morning, as the sun was still being eclipsed by the moon over the Arctic, a truck caught on fire in the lot down the block from my house. I was awaking from a dream when I heard a strange alarm that sounded like a trombone, before the more familiar sound of a fire engine joined the soundscape. I watched from my window as a fireman hosed down the fire. Eclipses bring fiery energy.
The new moon represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. The equinox represents the end of one season – winter – and the beginning of another – spring. This new moon represents the end of this experiment for me – can I write a blog post every day? and the beginning of a new one – how do I integrate the writing habits I have built over the past month? Although January 1 may mark the start of the calendar year, in many cultures spring is considered the beginning. It is certainly a time when the intentions we set at the beginning of the year (call them resolutions, goals, what have you) begin to sprout. They ought not to have fully blossomed yet, but they are tender seedlings, and the extra sun of springtime will help them grow. Our intentions for the year are meant to be lived on a year’s scale, but spring represents the moment when we begin to see that our efforts are yielding results.
How I got to this moment: Hard work but also working with the unplanned & unexpected
I entered this year with some big intentions and audacious goals. Some of them, I had no idea how they were going to happen, I just knew I had to commit to them, one way or another. One of those goals was to publish more of my writing, particularly to share more of the insights I have learned in my work around the world, and make progress on a larger piece of writing, like a book or a manuscript. I didn’t know *how* I was going to achieve this goal, I just knew that I had to commit to it.
My friend Jeremy and I talk a lot about “monkey mind,” the buddhist concept for all the voices in our heads which tell us, in a seemingly endless chatter, that we aren’t good enough, strong enough, smart enough, etc to do the things we want to do. Monkey mind takes many forms, but for me, a common one is the voice that tells me I can’t do things quite yet, I have to come up with the perfect plan for how to make something just right before I can take even the smallest action to execute my vision. With all due respect to the importance of strategy and the wisdom of planning, I’ve learned that this voice has some serious limitations. Planning and strategizing are key, but mostly because they prepare me to take action when the time is right, which often is when there is very little notice at all. In fact, that’s how this blog project itself came about.
Knowing that writing was important to me but that I didn’t know how to prioritize it in the context of my current work, I spent the first few days of the year offline working on writing and intention setting. I began telling close friends about the goal. And within a couple of weeks I had found co-conspirators with whom to begin a writing support & accountability group. Within a couple weeks of that I began to have opportunities to publish blog pieces for other publications. Around the same time, a friend asked if I wanted to do a blogging challenge in February. In early February I’d be traveling in Peru and knew that wouldn’t be feasible, but I decided to say yes to the broader concept, and committed to starting something in mid-February.
I returned from Peru on February 16, intending to start my blog project then, but I had a long flight and the inspiration to write a first post didn’t come. I intended to start on the 17th, but once again, life got in the way. I realized that the 18th was a new moon and decided that my late start could be a blessing, not a curse. The idea to link my project to the moon cycle emerged and voila, here I am.
Here’s the shorter, more pointed version of the story: One of my goals this year is to make significant progress on writing, whether in the form of a book, series of articles or something else. From the vantage point of today, it’d be easy to view the past month of blogging as a smart component of a longer-term strategy to integrate writing into my busy life. But I didn’t start the year with that brilliant plan in place – it emerged organically from
months years of dreaming about writing, wanting to write more, feeling frustrated for not writing, seriously doubting my ability to produce content while still running an organization, etc. But, I made a broad commitment to writing at the beginning of the year. I found a group of supportive friends who wanted to do the same, and we made a plan for weekly checkins. Soon after, I said yes to a friend who suggested we both commit to writing ~30 days. A few weeks later, I said yes to my own intuition that told me to tie the project to the cycle of the moon. And then I told lots of people what I was doing, so that when the inevitable desire to quit emerged (which, frankly, it did almost every day) the desire to save face would be stronger. And all of a sudden, here I am.
What is your own project that wants to emerge?
So, what is it that you are dreaming of doing? If there is a new habit, action or creation that wants to emerge, it’s worth noting the spring equinox is perhaps the most auspicious day of the year to begin something new. But really, you know, any day will do. We make things special by ascribing specialness to them. Is there a project you’d like to begin? What’s the smallest possible action you can take to move it forward? Can you start that today? Then take the next smallest possible action on it tomorrow? If you do that, and keep doing so day after day, just imagine where all that will add up within a month.
What happens when people say yes to the creative fire within them?
What’s cool is how many people I see effectively leveraging their internal creative fire through similar projects. I’ve watched people transform their self-confidence and inner strength through 30-day yoga challenges, commitments to meditation, Couch to 5k training programs, etc. Particularly inspiring to me at the people who create their own containers to test their limits and see what they can create. The projects below are just a few of my beautiful and amazing friends whose projects inspire me, and might inspire you.
Lily & Charlie are two of the most funny & creative people I know, and they are out to enrich and transform children’s television with Adventure Sandwich, a DIY live-action cartoon. Last year they spent a lot of time working on the backend of things – pitch documents, meetings, etc – so this year they decided to get their cardboard sets bustling again, and have been creating one video every single week so far this year.
My dear friend (& daily supporter <3!) Mailande hates waste but doesn’t have much use for the pile of cards remaining from her business school days. She’s been applying her considerable talent and magic use of metallic markers to make oh-so-pretty, mini pieces of art once a day, every day, until the stack is gone. Check out the images, and the quite inspiring guidelines behind ’em.
For the past few years, an old buddy from high school, Darrell Ford, has posted FB status update every day in the month of February using the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonthFacts. Sometimes the updates are about his experiences with race, growing up Black in the Midwest. Sometimes they are about his family, his youth, his wife or ex-girlfriends. But what makes them #BlackHistoryMonthFacts is that each status is a statement about his life, whether about stereotypes he faces or his love of tacos. I’ve got a whole blog post drafted about the larger implications of this, and how moving and inspiring I find this project. But for now I’ll share something Darrell told me – that for him, the coolest part of doing this has been seeing other people take it and do something of their own with it, like the many friends of his who now do something similar for Women’s History Month. We are a part of history, but we so rarely remember it. I am floored by how authentic and vulnerable Darrell’s sharing becomes during the month of February as he engages in the daily practice of sharing a piece of himself with the world.
My friend Emory is the one who called upon me to do a daily blogging project (note – had he suggested weekly I still would have wondered if it wasn’t overly ambitious, given the *one* personal blog post I published last year). On March 2 he underwent the first of a series of very interesting procedures called LENS – Low Energy Neurofeedback System – which is a relatively new approach to treating brain trauma, like the kind many of us have sustained if we’ve ever had a concussion or fallen on our heads. He decided to blog daily for the month leading up to the procedure, to more thoroughly explore this brave new realm of brain treatment, and to closely examine his experience with it moving forward. To blog so openly about his experiences is brave. Many of his posts are quite informative, others quite moving. I’m grateful, too, for the push he gave me.
Take this project. Make it your own.
That’s the final word of the Moon Cycle writing project. My original rules were relatively simple:
- I will post one thing every day, whether a few words or many.
- I will pay attention to the moon phase at the time of each posting, but won’t limit myself to lunar subject matter.
- I will experiment with form and function, allowing myself to be playful with the creative process.
- I will write about whatever feels most ripe and relevant on a particular day. It may be about work, it may be about food, about bodies, about nature, about an interesting book I read, about a piece of music that inspired me. I’ll write about what feels alive and what moves me.
- I will set a timer for 30 minutes and attempt to post within that time. If I feel energetic I will allow myself a little longer on some days, but the goal of this project is to get in the flow of easy posting without focusing on perfection of craftmanship.
What is it you want to cultivate? What needs to exist in the world that you can help create? What are some baseline rules you can establish to help you accomplish this goal? Take my rules above. Hack them. Make them your own. Check out my friend Dan’s beautiful blog post Dark Light, A Solar Eclipse Writing Month, as he embarks on his own lunar-linked month of writing. Don’t know what you want to do? Take a walk in the woods, find a comfy log. Sit on it. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Ask yourself – what wants to emerge in me? To sing more? To learn the guitar? To write, to read, to create a garden? Whatever it is, spring is such a good time to give attention to the things, habits and patterns we most want to grow in our lives.
Let me know what you’re up to. It’s so much more exciting to create something when you feel like you’re part of something larger than yourself.
Final final word: Thank you, moon, for all the inspiration you’ve provided to me along the way. I look forward to watching you emerge as the tiniest sliver at sunset, in the west in the coming days. As you wax toward fullness, I’ll be catching the first buds of spring on a trip to the East Coast and home in the coming weeks. I will no longer be writing blog posts every day, but I’m so excited for what comes next.