I am a list queen.
Right now, I have three lists going at once—things I need to do next week, my general list and a book order list.
Tonight at 11:30 p.m., I left behind a gently snoring Howard to get up and write down a detail about the book’s coming out party next week (on my general list) and the name of a friend who wanted me to send her mother a copy of my book (book order list). Then I noticed that my general list was too messy—too many things crossed out—so I rewrote the list.
It’s almost midnight, and here I am still up. Again.
I recall my reputation with grocery lists. Nine times out of ten, I either leave my list at home or on top of the onions in the produce aisle within ten minutes of beginning my shopping. Eight times out of those nine, I get home from the store with almost everything that was on the lost list. Knowing that about myself, however, doesn’t calm my urgent fears that THIS TIME I will forget something.
With my book just out in the world and the huge unknowns of marketing looming large in my mind, I want to cling to lists—mine and the ones that fill self-publishing books. The trouble is that my best work doesn’t flow when I’m trying to check things off. I may feel efficient, yet something is missing.
Odd thing is, I know that my creative juices flow best when the prompting comes from deep inside me, bubbling up from my belly. I wake with a few sentences luring me to sit down and write. An urge arises to call someone. An idea comes for a gathering of friends to mark a special moment in our lives. Thoughts arrive gently, seemingly out of nowhere, each holding a bit of sparkle.
These nudges seem untimely, scattered or illogical when I try to understand them with my mind. But time and time again, they lead to places beyond anything imagined or possible through my lists. I get an image of the big picture of marketing the book—reaching out to meet people who are already waking up to the big topics rather than me out trying to sell the book—and suddenly the numerous details don’t seem as important.
While writing Big Topics at Midnight, I began to learn the language of my body. Now when I pay attention to my belly or back, it gives me information about unnoticed feelings or the need to stop for a few moments and stretch. I’ve learned to hear these subtle forms of guidance even though my head often shouts that all of this intuition stuff is just a burp from my imagination.
I was born with a mind that easily learned the “right” form of intelligence—think things through, be logical and rational, and be able to defend my thinking with solid facts. Only later did I discover the wisdom of my belly, intuition and Spirit.
It wasn’t easy to incorporate this more feminine way, of knowing, and the power of the “one right way” has a stronghold on me. Things on my lists seem so urgent, so clear. Intuition, on the other hand, comes sometimes in a haze and always with its own timing. I’m not fond of waiting.
It is 12:15 a.m. I’m up with the cool night breezes and occasional cars driving by trying to remember what I know: My most important spiritual practice is learning how to stand in the middle of the paradoxes of life. Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem very efficient.
Actually, it’s a pain sometimes.
Lately I’ve stumbled under the weight of getting to all of the tasks on my book lists.
Still, I want to do both—following my inner guidance and my carefully crafted agenda.
So I fall down. Then I stand back up again and return to my practice of taking the best from both approaches. Sometimes lists. Sometimes listening. Sometimes pushing forward to get things done. Sometimes sitting outside under the tree and slowing down enough to hear that still small voice inside.
Sometimes I’m a listening queen.