swimming in joy

December 5th, 2011

If you want to keep me awake at night, ask me about my writing process.  (I haven’t ever figured it out.) So I took notice when my friend  Christine Mason Miller dropped by for no good reason during the last, mad deadline for her new book, Desire to Inspire. (Win a copy here.) Turns out she doesn’t have a writing process either. Hers is the process of no process. (Sounds Zen.) She likens it to surfing. (I haven’t ever figured surfing out either.) Read more of her guest post, and if  Desire to Inspire inspires you to desire, leave a comment on this post by the end of the day Thursday, Dec. 8 and you could be swimming in joy (without getting wet).

Before the ink began to dry on my contract with North Light Books for the publication of my next book, I made a decision. I declared that, no matter what, my work on the book was never going to take place in a space of stress, anxiety, worry, or fear. This book was going to be created from joy, and in order for that joy to flourish unfettered, I was going to have to trust – Trust with a capital T.

With five major deadlines, nineteen contributors, more than one hundred images, and ten chapters, there were loads of opportunities to lose my cool. Not to mention the usual creative hurdles that have the potential to throw the best laid plans into a rapid tailspin such as writer’s block, procrastination, or, in my case, an eight-week old puppy who joined our family soon after the book contract was finalized. I had my work cut out for me, not only as the author of the book, but as a self-proclaimed devotee of Trust in the Process and Commitment to Joy. Had I faltered on the latter, the book could certainly still be written, but then the experience of writing it and pulling together the stories of its nineteen extraordinary contributors would have been less akin to riding the perfect wave and more like being pummeled by the surf.

As a surfer, I understand that occasional pummeling is part of the experience, but it is those gleeful moments of catching a wave that I’m always striving for. Considering how few and far between my surfing experiences happen these days, I expect to be tossed and turned as a result of wipeouts more often than not. But as an entrepreneur and wrangler of inspiring souls, I’m a pro, so when the book contract was finalized, I decided there was no reason why I couldn’t keep this project away from the usual frustrations. I caught the wave when I secured the contract, now all I needed to do was put into practice everything I’ve learned over the past sixteen years as a professional artist and advocate of inspiration and ride that wave home. The promise I made to myself to Trust wasn’t a blind leap of faith that rested on a hopeful wish, it was an acknowledgement that I knew what I was doing – that there was no need to do anything but Trust. I could scrutinize, strategize, and organize all I wanted, but at the end of the day this project was going to go its own way. My job was to show up, do my work, and then let the book lead.

A week or so before my final deadline, I spent afternoon with Karen Maezen Miller. It felt slightly indulgent at the time, maybe even a little bit careless. I had a deadline – something I take very seriously – and here I was taking a handful of precious “work” hours to visit a friend. Who did I think I was? But deep down, I knew this was part of the process. This was not time being taken away from the book, this was time spent in support of the book; this was time spent in Joy, this was time taken with Trust. And it has since become a wonderfully sweet memory of The Time When I Was Writing My Book, because it was an afternoon I consciously chose to spend in the company of my friend rather than my manuscript, even with the deadline looming.

It is hard work catching a wave – it involves paddling like crazy and then popping up to two feet in one swift motion with nothing but upper body strength. Feet must grip the well-waxed surface and there are often other surfers that I have to avoid swooshing into. But once I’ve got my footing, my work is to maintain my balance and, most important, ride that wave with glee. It is an experience that is played out in three steps – show up with my surfboard and get in the water, paddle as hard as I can when the wave comes my way, and then, if I make it up, trust that the wave will hold me, and let it carry me in. This is all we can do in any endeavor – show up, do our best work, and Trust. After that, all it needs to be is fun.

Leave a comment, as many as you like, by Thursday, Dec. 8 and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of this book. Perfect for giving (or keeping!)

Christine Mason Miller is a Santa Monica-based artist, writer, and explorer. Her next book Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World – is now available on Amazon and bookstores everywhere. Follow her on www.christinemasonmiller.com.

 

40 Comments »

  1. Beautiful post. I love the image of the book, and the words about those wings…

    Comment by Deborah — December 5, 2011 @ 6:14 am

  2. Show up, do the work and Trust. Love that and that’s what I’ve been trying to do myself. Lovely post. I’d love to win a copy of the latest book .. even better to spend an afternoon in the company of Karen Maezen Miller. ; )

    Comment by Shawn — December 5, 2011 @ 6:22 am

  3. Thanks for this again, Karen! And such a lovely post, Christine. It’s ironic that for so many years I used to teach the ‘writing process’ to my international students, yet have never followed a process either. When we move out of the way ‘ego’, the story (or artwork) will always follow. I have yet to understand publishing deadlines but I have written for pay for several years now and it’s that creative space that keeps me sane. When I jump out of that space and leave trust behind (an instead listen to my inner chatter) ego steps in. Then whatever I work on falls apart. Thanks again for the lovely piece on writing. It’s inspired me!

    Comment by Katie — December 5, 2011 @ 6:24 am

  4. Mmmm. This was yummy, Christine.

    I’ll begin by saying: I didn’t know you were a surfer! So fun to learn that about you.

    Second, I love that you could trust this process because you’d built a foundation of trust with yourself previously through the work you have done. You knew you were a pro at this, that you knew what it would require to get it done well, and you could just do it. I’ve been learning to trust myself lately, too, with various creative ambitions, and it’s kind of strange but also really amazing.

    xoxo,
    Christianne

    Comment by Christianne — December 5, 2011 @ 7:08 am

  5. This book sounds lovely and inspirational. Can’t wait to take a peek.

    Comment by Dena — December 5, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  6. This sounds like a lovely book – love the comments Katie made “When I jump out of that space and leave trust behind ego steps in. Then whatever I work on falls apart.”

    Comment by Alyssa T — December 5, 2011 @ 9:15 am

  7. I love the idea of being creative in a space of joy.

    Comment by tmc — December 5, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  8. ‘Consciously choosing, joy, trust, making a sweet memory in the midst of daily life and commitments.’ This is a lesson for me to practice every day, I want an abundance of sweet memories.

    Comment by MJ — December 5, 2011 @ 9:54 am

  9. The “moment” is often filled with not only joy, but wisdom for our work…thankyou for reminding me of that. Love your writing!
    Jane

    Comment by jane smith — December 5, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  10. Love the analogy to surfing! It really applies to the creative process as well!

    I love the intention Christine set in the beginning…making sure writing it was a joyful process…a huge reminder to me!!

    Comment by kathryn — December 5, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  11. it all starts with showing up, and great things will happen. you go girl.
    have ordered your book already, cant wait.

    Comment by spice — December 5, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

  12. So appreciate the reminder that we can choose joy — even when the process is shaky and the outcome unknown. Wonderful post and the book sounds like a much-needed antidote to the anxiety of the age.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — December 5, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  13. Trust is key! Love the image it provokes.

    Comment by Ranya — December 5, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  14. I’ve been hearing about this book, and would so appreciate a copy to enjoy!

    Comment by Amanda — December 5, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

  15. I would love to read this book.

    Comment by Mathangi — December 5, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

  16. Swimming in joy, riding the wave, trusting that all is…as it is. This is my daily “to-do” list in a nutshell when I can be conscious enough to remember it.

    Comment by Alana — December 5, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

  17. Thanks for sharing this. Trusting in the process really is important, I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by the goal and deadline that I forget to enjoy the process itself.

    Comment by Grace — December 6, 2011 @ 4:24 am

  18. Show up. Trust. Why are the easiest sounding lessons the longest to learn? Maybe because they aren’t lessons but practice.

    Comment by Kim — December 6, 2011 @ 5:07 am

  19. I love this! Writing is a mystery. Every time I start a new book I feel like I can hardly remember how I wrote the last one. But it does come, and I know I am learning along the way. I am starting a new book NOW and I appreciate the example Christine has given me.

    Comment by Amy Tiemann — December 6, 2011 @ 5:20 am

  20. lovely, wise words…thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Jennifer — December 6, 2011 @ 6:06 am

  21. “My work is to maintain my balance and ride that wave with glee”…words to live by! Thanks for the guest post, cannot wait to read the book!

    Comment by Meghan — December 6, 2011 @ 6:15 am

  22. Looks like a delightfully inspiring book…can’t wait for it!
    Brenda

    Comment by Brenda — December 6, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  23. very inspiring and wise words.

    Comment by keishua — December 6, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  24. Would love to be inspired by this book at a time of huge transformation in my life.

    Comment by Anamika — December 6, 2011 @ 8:08 am

  25. This book looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing it. I can’t wait to dive in!

    Comment by Claudia — December 6, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  26. This is a beautiful and inspiring piece of writing. I am especially comforted by the admission by both writers of a “process of no process.” I find that my writing process is circular, rather than linear, and I find joy and satisfaction in the spinning–perhaps because I came to be an intentional writer after years as an incidental writer, and only after learning to throw pots on the wheel. Still, I occasionally mistake this lack of definition for lack of discipline and become frustrated. I will reread this post next time I feel those negative feelings overtaking my creativity. God bless.

    Comment by Pamela Gottfried — December 6, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  27. Oh, I think I would really get into this book! Thanks for the process of no process–it feels so much better than “I don’t know where the hell that came from.” 🙂

    Comment by Donn — December 6, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

  28. Lovely post, and I’m sure the book is as well.

    Comment by Aparna — December 6, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  29. Oh, of course, I must read!! I can hardly wait.

    And this: I could scrutinize, strategize, and organize all I wanted, but at the end of the day this project was going to go its own way.

    I’m “clipping” it and posting where I won’t ever forget it.

    Comment by Christine @ Coffees & Commutes — December 6, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

  30. the book looks beautiful! I would love to win a copy! Thanks.

    Comment by rene — December 6, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

  31. Inspiring……..I would like to try the “show up, do our best work and trust” philosophy. I think I personally this philosophy could just open my world!!
    Thanks!

    Comment by Sue — December 6, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  32. I can’t imagine something created within this light being anything but beautiful. Of course I love a contest, and winning would be so much fun! But…if not I will definitely be buying.

    Comment by Tamara — December 7, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  33. The book looks gorgeous!

    Comment by Wylie — December 7, 2011 @ 9:39 am

  34. Sounds like a lyrical and thought-provoking read. I look forward to reading it!

    Comment by sharon — December 7, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  35. Can’t wait to open this sucker!!

    Comment by Frizz — December 7, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  36. Trust. Faith. Just what I need to learn at the moment.

    Comment by Le Grain de Sable — December 7, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  37. Reading through all of these comments this morning is getting my day off to an especially beautiful start ~ THANK YOU!!

    Comment by Christine Mason Miller — December 8, 2011 @ 8:54 am

  38. I love this. I’m in the process of writing a book, as well and I find myself going by “feel” on a lot of days. Thank you so much!

    Comment by Jane — December 8, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  39. It’s so inspiring to be reminded that I can Let Go, enjoy the journey of writing itself and arrive at the same place of Creation, probably “ahead of schedule” of any frantic pace I might have set. Can’t wait to read the book!
    E. J. http://www.zenmindfrenchmind.com

    Comment by E. J. Gore — December 9, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  40. Thank you for the quote in the accompanying picture…I copied it in pencil crayon and placed it on my fridge…my two girls asked questions…and the message was sent along. How easy to transform the world!

    Comment by Kirsten — December 26, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

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