How to accept the things that we cannot change

We all know the serenity prayer with the line: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’It makes absolute sense, if we can’t change something or influence the outcome then why would we waste energy trying to do the impossible?  And yet this is what we find ourselves doing again, and again, at least it was a pattern for me.

As this is a blog about the inner journey of the creative, I am going to focus on the things that creatives cannot control in their creative journey, and how to live peacefully accepting this fact. Creatives create. We pour our heart and soul into our work; what we cannot control is how our work is received when it goes out into the world. Authors, artists, songwriters, and performers suffer whenever they release new work. Waiting for critics, agents, publishers, or the public to respond can feel torturous.

S. Hermann & F.Richter – Pixabay

 Through meditation, I learnt how to live peacefully during these periods of uncertainty, letting go and trusting God. I have used the word God because that is what I believe however, replace God with the Universe or anything else that is meaningful to you. What is important is an acceptance that there is a higher power.

I think of it like this. My job spec is to create – to produce the best work I can. Improving my craft, getting feedback, striving for excellence – these are all within my control. My boss – the higher power, has a different job. He (she /it) governs the universe, is the creator of all things, and knows exactly what is required and when. I believe that God is working in my best interests so that I can fulfil my life purpose according to his plan for me. You might reword this to say that the Universe or your higher self knows your purpose and will manifest what you need to become the person you are meant to be. 

So, imagine you have this boss who has the power to make anything happen – to perform miracles, who knows everything – what is, and what will be. With a boss like that, we can safely let go of control. All we need to do is keep the lines of communication open so that we see the opportunities presented to us, and follow our intuition. I truly believe this and it has brought me peace. If things do not go the way I had hoped or expected then I accept that there is a bigger picture and in time I will understand.

AllNikArt – Pixabay

 We are driven by what is in our heart and I believe that seed has been sown for a purpose – it is what we are meant to pursue. How and when that dream comes to fruition is out of our control but everything in the Universe works in perfect harmony. When I let go, believing that what is meant to be will be, I have more creative energy, insight, and clarity. I am not wasting my energy interfering in what is God’s business – I am getting out of my own way so that good things can happen.

It is human nature to try and control everything in our lives, especially when it matters so much to us. Of course, I have moments when I am fearful and question my faith, what if I am deceiving myself? At these times I think of myself kindly and talk to the inner child. A child has a limited perception of the world. I try and reassure this part of me from another place that has greater understanding. I think that having the serenity to accept the things we cannot change is perhaps one of the greatest challenges for creatives. 

Why waiting on God or the Universe is a gift

We live in an era of instant gratification. An expectation that if we live by the rules, tick all of the right boxes that we will be rewarded with our heart’s desire. A person with faith in God, the Universe, can find that faith tested.

When we experience setbacks, we have to draw on our inner resources, developing resilience and this prepares us for what lies ahead. If our prayers are not answered immediately, or even for a considerable time, it is because the time is not right. I am writing this as an author who, like many writers, has experienced frustration and disappointment when a submission to publishers has been rejected, or an agent has passed on a full manuscript. A few years ago, when I first started a daily meditation practice, I did everything: positive affirmations, visualisations, prayers to God. I had absolute faith that all would be well and my novel which was out on submission to editors would, as my agent suggested, be snapped up. As the weeks passed, I did not lose faith. I meditated for longer. Prayed harder. But it was not to be.

I learnt a lot through that experience. The most important lesson – we cannot impose our will over God’s (the Universe). And that is just as well because the great creator of all things has a much better plan for us than we can envisage right now. 

If you have submitted a manuscript or other creative project and experienced rejection then take that as a positive. It means you are not ready. Not because you are not good enough but because you are still developing creatively and your best work is yet to come.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 1994 film adaptation

 In the 1994 adaptation of Little Women with Winona Ryder, Jo’s father counsels her on the wisdom of selling her short stories to a magazine and settling for this as a writer. He tells Jo that writing is her greatest gift and not to squander that gift. He doesn’t mean that writing short stories for a magazine is unworthy, he means work at your writing, nurturing your gift. Maybe the Universe has greater plans for you. Be patient.

To have faith does not mean believing that your will – will be done. It means trusting that all that transpires is in your best interest. We cannot see the bigger picture. 

An author friend desperately wanted to get published. She experienced her share of rejection letters from agents, and disappointment when full manuscript requests did not lead to representation. We had several conversations about what was next. My friend decided that she would be happy to settle for a publishing contract with an independent publishing press, bypassing the need for representation by an agent. So, she sent her MS to several independent publishers and she also entered a national competition. My friend was a runner-up in the competition but this led to representation by an agent. Around the same time, one of the independent publishers came back with the offer of a two-book publishing contract. However, the agent secured a much bigger deal with a leading traditional publisher and my clever friend is now a well-known Times best-selling author. The moral of this tale? Trust that God/ the Universe has a plan for you. It is not for us to decide how bright we will shine but to step into the future that awaits us by being prepared and ready when the time comes.

The challenges that we face as we strive towards our goal test our endurance and determination. It is a way to prepare us for what lies ahead. The bible story of David and Goliath is well-known: how David the youngest and smallest son fought Goliath, a giant of a man, and won. In this bible story, David was bullied by his brothers. Maybe this experience hardened him and gave him the courage to fight Goliath. 

David and Goliath

Many years ago, I was recruited to lead a national project evaluating older peoples’ experience of services provided by local authorities, health, and social care. We were midway in planning and delivering this project when the commissioning agency changed as the result of a merger. As time went on resources were pulled from our project – team members reassigned, funding cut, infrastructure removed, etc. It would have been so easy to give up. To give in my notice and find another job. It was hard. Really tough. It became clear to me that the new organisation was not interested in the project. I was committed to seeing this project through to completion because I had consulted with an advisory group of older people who were passionate about shining a light on the inadequacy of services. I would not let them down. So, my team and I battled on to complete the evaluation and produce a national report. This report was challenged by government departments and the commissioning bodies as it was uncomfortable to read. However, the report was published in 2005. It made national headlines – front pages of all the tabloids. And resulted in a Department of Health initiative to improve dignity in care. That experience taught me to stay the course whatever obstacles are put in my way. As my mother always told me: Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Maybe this experience prepared me for life as an author.

So, if you are waiting impatiently for your dream to manifest reflect instead on how you are growing, changing, and becoming so that when you step into the spotlight you will give the performance of your life.

Why you are special

Do you sometimes despair believing that you have no chance of being seen when there is so much competition? Maybe you are a musician, a writer, an actor, or just applying for your dream job and facing one rejection after another. To keep on, keeping on, when it feels the odds are against us is tough. We may start out optimistic and full of energy but to survive one knockback after another requires resilience and determination. There will be times when we question whether our efforts are in vain, after all, there are a million others like us with the same dream. What makes us so special?

We are special because each one of us has been created to fulfil a purpose. We are unique; a precious part of the whole. Imagine the universe. A cosmic system of a billion stars and galaxies, containing all of the energy and matter that there is. Every tiny detail created to work in perfect harmony. It is magnificent – awe-inspiring, and we are part of that universe. 

When I was younger and had several knockbacks in my career, I remember walking on a stony beach. I picked up a pebble and questioned – why that pebble when it might have been any one of the million on that beach? It was chance, so what chance did I have of being picked for my dream job? 

As it happened, the job I thought was right for me was not. When I let go and trusted the universe, I was rewarded with a future that was more than I could have imagined. I truly believe that the great creator of all things has a perfect plan and we just have to let go and trust. So, shine bright and know that you are special. 

How to survive querying agents or a job hunt

Sending out a query letter to literary agents, or applying for a job that you desperately want is scary. You pin so much hope on your submission and feel as though you have handed over responsibility for your future happiness. It doesn’t have to feel like that. In my post, 5 Ways to attract what you want into your life I share practical steps on managing feelings when you want something too much.

Maybe, like me, you have been burned before and so are cautious this time around. My third novel is ready to submit to agents. I have had a literary agent in the past and lived through the anxiety and trauma of finding an agent and a publishing contract. It is not for the faint-hearted. This time I am in a good place as:

  • I am not attaching myself to one particular outcome
  • I am not looking for validation
  • I know that I have options and I am in control
  • I have faith that the right solution will find me so long as I am open to possibilities.

However, despite having done a lot of inner work to reach this healthier state of mind the prospect of seeking an agent and contract is still daunting. When something is important to us, we will always feel some trepidation. 

I have enjoyed taking regular runs for many years. When I was in my fifties, I experienced pain in my hips after a run. As a result, I gave up running for a few years. Then, a fitness trainer explained to me that if I prepared properly for a run by stretching and did the same post-run then I would not experience any joint pain. She was right. I am using this analogy to explain how the pain of trying to get a job or an agent can be avoided with proper preparation and after-care.

Before 

I successfully self-published my first two novels The Borrowed Boy and Just Bea, receiving great reviews and three awards. However, it is a challenge to reach the audience I would like to attract without a publisher and agent championing me and helping to promote my books. This is why I am going to approach agents and some independent publishers with my new novel. 

Before applying for a job, querying agents, or approaching publishers be very clear about what you want, why, and what a good fit would look like.

My goal is for my books to be visible to a wider audience of readers and to increase sales. I want to achieve this so that I can share my stories, engage with readers, and be heard. For me, a good fit with an agent would be one where there is mutual respect, a partnership with both parties listening to the other, an agent who loves and understands what I write. 

Just as the wrong job for you can be damaging to your career, so can the wrong agent. It is not a one-way street – you are looking for the right job/agent just as they are looking for the best person to employ/ sign to their list.

Do your research. Now you know your needs and what you are offering, invest time in finding potential agents/jobs that are a good match.

There are several ways you can achieve your goals. Be imaginative and brainstorm other options to get what you need. Getting an agent is not the only, or necessarily the best, outcome for me, it is just one.  I have other options:

  • Find an Independent Publisher to publish novel three and potentially my first two novels.
  • Enter competitions to attract an agent or publisher.
  • Rebrand my first two novels with my third and fourth to make them more marketable. This would include changing the covers to make them recognisable for the genre and my brand. Invest in advertising. 

I am excited about the third option and have a long-term strategy to promote sales. It is important not to attach ourselves to one particular outcome. This week I read a meme on Instagram God’s plans are greater than our dreams. This spoke to me as in the past I have found this wisdom to be true. I am thankful that I am not the creator of my future because what has unfolded in my life is more than I could have imagined or hoped for. 

 If an agent rejects our submission, it is because they do not think that we are a good fit. I know my shape and size – I am holding a jigsaw piece up to see where it goes. The agent is another piece of the jigsaw and they too know what they are looking for. It has to be a perfect fit for the author and the agent. That means trial and error before finding a match.

Christos Giakkus Pixabay

During 

You have applied for the job or sent out query letters now it is time to wait. You can check your inbox every few minutes or put the time to good use. I will be using the time to do a much-needed revamp of my website. I will also be plotting my next novel. By focusing on the next project, you can save wasted energy worrying about the outcome of your submission. When you get a full manuscript request you will need the distraction of a shiny new project to stop you from imagining every scenario from a harsh and crushing rejection to the opening night of your book to film premier. When The Borrowed Boy was out on submission to publishers, I wrote my next novel, Just Bea.

Focus on other options. You might well get the positive response you are hoping for but there is no harm in thinking ahead and planning the next steps. 

My daughter was recently disappointed when, following a lengthy recruitment process, she got the call to say that whilst it was a close thing, she had not got the job. On reflection, my wise daughter had come to a similar conclusion. A few weeks later, she got a call from the same organisation inviting her to apply for another job which they considered a better fit. I am delighted to say that she got this job and much prefers it to the original one.

After

You have had an interview or maybe you have been invited to meet with a prospective agent. Be fully prepared. 

  • Research everything that you can about their organisation and how they work. 
  • Clarify the questions that you will want to ask.
  • Be clear on what you would be expecting from your future employer/agent. 
  • Consider the terms and conditions that are acceptable to you. 

and you will be confident in your decision to accept or not.

If you do not get an offer then you know that you have other options. Do not standstill. Be positive and pro-active in improving your application/submission for next time, network, raise your profile on social media, improve your skills, try new things – a different genre, or short stories. Do not whine and complain on social media. Lick your wounds for one day if you need to but then get back up and out there. A positive, confident employer/author is more attractive and therefore attracts more opportunities than a negative one.

5 steps to attract what you want into your life

‘I want this more than anything.’

‘If this doesn’t happen, I don’t know what I’ll do.’

‘If only I got that promotion/job everything would be different.’

‘I just need to find that special someone and I will be happy.’

The drama and passion of these heartfelt pleas are fuelled by the media. We watch films and read books where life is simple. The geeky girl/boy meets someone who loves them just the way that they are, they fall in love and live happily ever after. A woman loses her job, her world is falling apart, but then she writes a book, and all of her financial worries are resolved. Then, there are the talent shows where an awkward-looking boy tells the camera that winning the competition would mean everything to him, and a few series later he is back as the star act, having achieved super-stardom. Real-life doesn’t make good telly and so stories of success, both imaginary and real, are dramatized and we buy into this. I have thought for some time that the romcoms we adore contribute to dissatisfaction in relationships. 

Albrecht Fietz Pixabay

1. Focus on what is within your control

Our dream is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. We truly believe that once that one thing we wish for happens our life will be transformed. For many writers, it is getting an agent or a publishing deal. We hold that heartfelt wish so tight, we clench it within our soul, willing it to happen. To relax that hold for one second feels as though we are giving up and reducing our chances of success. Everything depends on that wish coming true.

The thing that we long to happen, or fear will happen doesn’t change our life. There is a blip of happiness or despair, but in the scheme of things, it is a minor disturbance. Think back to the day you got your dream job, got married, or on the downside received a rejection letter from an agent or following an interview. You may have been happy or disappointed for a few days, or weeks but then life happened and soon you had another goal or dream. I can no longer remember my rejection letters or the jobs I didn’t get. 

The constant is the life you are living now. Your family and friends, the pleasure that you get from everyday activities, your good health. By focusing on what is beyond our control, changing another person’s behaviour, making someone like you – hire you – sign you, we are neglecting to change the things that we can control. If life carries on as normal after the blip, then we need to invest in making it a good life by appreciating what we have now and making the most of each moment. 

Noel Bauza Pixabay

2. Invite new opportunities into your life

This is a lesson that has taken me some time to learn, and I am still learning. When I was forty, I could see only one way to further my career and that was the next step up on the career ladder – a chief executive of a health trust. It had been my goal for years and I had made steady progress up until that point. I was shortlisted again and again but was disappointed when I received the news that I had not been successful and each time a different or conflicting reason – ‘too strategic,’ ‘not strategic enough.’ I didn’t know what to do as this had always been my goal and it felt too early in my career to settle for what I had already achieved.

I was in the depths of despair. I felt rejected – unworthy. Not good enough. I was blinded to other opportunities because I was too focused on that one outcome. A wise woman suggested that I was feeling discomfort as the job I had was no longer a good fit for me. Like an ill-fitting shoe, I had outgrown the role. This sparked my imagination and I wrote down all the things I enjoyed and was good at, also the things I didn’t like about my job. 

Unsurprisingly, the job I had set my heart on was not a good fit for me either. The result was a specification of my unique combination of skills, expertise, and experience. I used that to evaluate every job advertised within a salary scale that was acceptable. In keeping an open mind, I came across an advertisement that I would never have considered before. I wasn’t even sure what the job description meant, but it was a perfect fit with my personal specification and the employer thought so too because at the end of a two-day selection process I was offered the job. What unfolded from there was better than I could have imagined. I found the perfect career for me as one opportunity led to another.

Through this experience, I learned that my imagination is limited. The universe/God’s vision is greater. When I stopped hanging on tightly to what I thought should happen and opened my heart and mind to possibilities, I was led to the best outcome for me. 

Beate Bachmann Pixabay

3. Do not attach yourself to one particular outcome

You may be focused on bagging your dream agent, securing a traditional publishing deal, getting that promotion, or your ideal job and I wish you success. Keep working towards your goal and hopefully, your wish will come true. However, too narrow a focus might be blinding you to other opportunities. 

Try brainstorming all of the options. Be imaginative and open yourself up to the infinite possibilities for your success. Instead of focusing on one agent, try approaching several. Visualise offers coming in from four or more so that you have to choose. Submit to independent publishers. Enter novel writing competitions. Scatter these seeds of possibility and you may be surprised by what grows. 

Your future is waiting for you. It could be brighter and bigger than anything you have imagined, but you need to open your heart and mind to new possibilities and trust that what is right for you will find you.

Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke Pixabay

4. Open your heart

I know what it feels like to want something too much. It is a tightly clenched fist in the solar plexus, a lump of longing that takes up all the room in your heart. You are afraid to release your grip. As though holding tight to that dream will make it come true, and if you release your grip, it will lessen your chances of success. I have learned that this is not true and by wanting something too much we are driving away the very thing that we want. 

We have all heard the stories of a couple who conceive when they have stopped trying for a baby, the girlfriend who meets the love of her life after resigning herself to a future of singledom, the job offers that flood in when you have decided to become self-employed. 

When we are desperate for something we become tense. There is a physiological reaction that may lead to symptoms of stress, for me it is eczema and migraines. We become so focused that we have tunnel vision and miss the bigger picture. A tense, intense person, who is desperate for something, is not attractive and can repel the person that they want to attract. 

If you are in a furniture store and a sales assistant working for commission pursues you relentlessly, advising you of the features of every sofa you show a vague interest in, I suspect that like me, you will decide to visit another day or go to a different store where you won’t be hounded into buying something. 

Many years ago, I had a friend who following a divorce was desperate to find another man. This friend was young, attractive, and clever. She had a great job and was financially independent. She threw herself into the dating world with gusto, joining online dating agencies and requesting blind dates. I tried introducing her to eligible men but her desperation scared them off. Sadly, none of her would-be partners wanted a second date.

I am extremely embarrassed to confess that when I started out as a management consultant, I stepped out of a meeting to run after someone who I thought might be interested in hiring me. I cringe when I remember this. At that time, I was terrified that I would not attract any clients and, of course, I didn’t. When I relaxed and went with the flow, I had plenty of work. The more work I had, the more I was offered. 

When we are relaxed and content, we are open to new possibilities. We notice opportunities because we have an open mind and are more susceptible to ideas that come into our orbit. People are drawn to us because we radiate positivity. 

I know it is hard to let go of longing. Keep hold of your dream but try to gently release your grip. Imagine that knot of tension, softening. Breathing exercises and meditation can help with this. When I am meditating, I imagine a lotus flower opening up to the sun. It takes practice but you can relax your hold. 

Jplenio Pixabay

5. Trust the journey

I believe that our purpose is an idea that is sown like a seed in our heart. Our wish to be a writer, an artist, a chef, an acrobat is intense because we are driven to achieve our life purpose. But just as the seed has been sown, trust that your dream will come to fruition. Open yourself up to a greater power. Trust that what you need will come to you. Be relaxed and calm. Because then you will find the golden breadcrumbs that will lead you to your destiny- a chance meeting, an advertisement, an idea that comes from a conversation.

I previously published this post as Wanting Something Too Much Part 1-3. I have combined them here and renamed them so that they are more accessible. 

How to get Published Mindfully

I have brought together four blogs previously published into one guide and updated them with what I have learnt since. 

March 2019

It was Lent. My emotions were all over the place and my anxiety levels high. I had been plucked from the slush pile by a leading literary agent the previous year and after months of rewrites and edits, I was either on the brink of stardom or would soon be flung back into the sea. That was how I saw it then. All or nothing. My imagination would run away with me as I envisioned every scenario. It’s what we do as writers.

That day, I made one of the wisest decisions of my life. I committed to meditate every day for the Lent period. It is 2021 and I have continued to practice daily meditation. At first, it stilled my mind and helped me to manage fluctuating emotions, now, two years on I have greater insight, self-awareness, and positivity. My life has transformed. I am sharing my experience and learning with you so that you:

  • Are happy and fulfilled with where you are right now in your writing journey.
  • Are excited by the myriad of possible outcomes that will lead to your success.
  • Recognise and are open to opportunities when they present themselves.
  • Make full use of your time and energy to learn, grow and fulfil your potential.
  • Lead the writing life that you dream of.
Pixabay

March 2018

Eight hours after sending a query letter to my dream agent I received this response:

I’ve just read the opening of THE BORROWED BOY as your letter immediately stood out. I am absolutely hooked by your voice and the original premise, and I’d love to read the rest.  

Please do send at your earliest convenience – I’ll be waiting on the edge of my seat. 

Who wouldn’t be over the moon to get an email like this? I have read excited tweets from writers announcing their joy at getting a full manuscript request. It is something to celebrate indeed but important to keep present and not allow your imagination to run ahead.

I sent my manuscript after reading the whole thing through yet again. A couple of days later I received a response. I have included a few extracts from that email here:

Thank you so much for sending me the full manuscript of THE BORROWED BOY. It is absolutely compelling, one of the best novel openings I have read in a long while with a stand-out premise that really sets this book apart.

Editorially, I do have some thoughts …..

I would love to sign you to my list and work with you editorially, if you would be interested in editing along these lines? 

We work extensively editorially with a lot of our authors, to really make sure their books stand out and shine and are snapped up by editors – which this book absolutely deserves. So, I’d love to hear if you might be in tune with these ideas, and whether it’s something we can work on together. 

I’ll very much look forward to hearing from you.

Exciting stuff. Of course, I accepted and worked with the agent and editor to get it ready for submission. Each time I sent back a revision that had addressed all of the editorial comments I was hopeful that this was it. I had finally succeeded and was about to be launched as a hot new talent. 

So, with an agent and in-house editor’s valued guidance, I wrote and rewrote and rewrote again, each time getting more pages of comments. Then, just before Lent, I received an email that made me think if I didn’t ‘get it right’ this time, then I would have thrown away my one and only opportunity to get published. Terror. I was going to fail. 

Physical signs of stress which I hadn’t experienced for a couple of decades returned: eczema, IBS, migraines. I would wake up at three in the morning unable to go back to sleep. Relationships suffered, as I was irritable and over-sensitive.

Pixabay

Learning to let go

Then March  2019

I started with ten minutes of mindful meditation each day. Just keeping my mind from wandering or dropping off to sleep was a challenge. But I found with practice, that for just a few minutes, the constant noise of the voice in my head was silenced. You know how it is, all the what-ifs?

Mindful meditation made me feel grounded and focused, whereas before, my thoughts were skittish, either wildly excited that I was on the brink of success or full of doubt, telling myself that I was a fraud and my agent was probably regretting taking me on. The calm experienced in meditation expanded and I felt back in control.

 I realised that no amount of worrying about what might happen would make any difference. It’s crazy how our mind hangs on to something as if things stop happening when we stop willing them to. Accepting that I had no control and letting go was a challenge but those ten-minute meditations helped. 

Now

Looking back, I can see that my intuition was telling me that things were not right.

 I had invested too much in a particular outcome. I had no control over that outcome but it was just one possibility. My agent had not signed me or met with me. We had not even spoken on the phone. I greatly valued the editorial input but this was not enough. If I had been open to other opportunities and maintained a calm and inquiring mindset, I might have sown other seeds, entered a short story competition, started another novel, networked on social media. Instead, I wasted my energy in a constant state of anxiety and despair.

Photo- Deborah Klée

Learning to be patient

Then April 2019 

I sent the next draft of my novel to my agent and tried hard not to stress about her response. I knew, in my heart of hearts, that if this draft of my novel didn’t meet with my agent’s expectation, then we might well be saying goodbye. Although I had been working with this agent for over a year, I still hadn’t signed a contract, met her, or even spoken on the phone, although her in-house editor did have a very helpful phone conversation with me early on in the process. This agent is one of the best, many of the authors she represents are international bestsellers. Her agency was growing and changing. It’s no wonder that she could spare me little time and was slow in replying to emails. 

Writer friends cautioned me but I was willing to accept these terms as I was gaining a lot from the editorial comments on each draft of my manuscript. In my head, I likened it to dating. The same feelings of excitement and apprehension as I waited impatiently for her reply.

Now

I realise that I was looking outside of myself for affirmation that I was good enough. I had invested this agent, who I hadn’t even met, with responsibility for my happiness and fulfilment. Only I had that power and I was woefully neglecting myself. Today, I am happy with who I am and where I am in my writing journey right now. Through meditation, I feel real gratitude for all that I have achieved and the myriad of opportunities that are waiting for me. Every day I sow new seeds of possibility through the connections I make, the actions I take, and the conversations I have. There is an abundance of possibilities waiting to happen.

Photo by Deborah Klée

If that one thing would happen – my life would be different.

Then May 2019

I needed meditation more than ever. By now, I had progressed to longer meditations. 

Tara Brach www.tarabrach.com generously shares hour-long seminars on meditation practice. I would listen to these whilst ironing or making the evening meal, headphones on. In one of these seminars, she said something that struck a chord with me. I’m sorry but I can’t remember which one it was. Anyway, it was something like this: 

We believe that if this one thing would happen, maybe meet the right man/woman, get a promotion, or in my case get published, that everything in our world will be better. We give this monumental importance. Just as we do in fearing something really bad. But, when this ‘thing’ actually happens it’s just a blip up or down in our state of being. Think about it – that job you finally got, getting pregnant, meeting the man or woman of your dreams. Or, the bad stuff, being made redundant, having your manuscript rejected. There’s a short period of euphoria or depression and then life resumes. It doesn’t change everything. 

So, when my agent responded in May to say that she loved the changes that I had made to my manuscript and with just a couple of tweaks, she would be excited to send it out to publishing editors, I was of course thrilled. My journal reads, ‘It has finally happened. I have reached a milestone – jumped a hurdle. My novel is to be sent out to publishers and an amazing agent wants to represent me.’ I checked that she really was my agent, just in case I had been deceiving myself, and she confirmed that she was. I told my writer friends on Facebook, did the edits, and sent it back. My agent said that she would send me her marketing strategy and so I waited. 

I don’t know whether it was Tara Brach’s influence or my meditation practice but I was very calm. I think as writer’s we take tiny steps. I imagine us all hiking up a mountain, the path curving around and upward, like a spiral. Each step is small, it’s only when you look down that you see just how far you have come. 

Maybe, it’s watching or reading about dramas, great personal success stories, that we crave the elation of those dizzying heights. The reality is, change is more often gradual. But that doesn’t make for a sensational story.

Now

By being present I have found joy in everyday things. As a result of lockdowns, we have all learnt to appreciate the things that we once took for granted. When we are impatient for something to happen, we miss what is happening right now – the lessons we need to learn, the actions we need to take today to bring us closer to our goal. 

Your B Pixabay

Meditation to help generate new ideas

Then June  2019

Through meditation, I was able to be more productive whilst waiting for responses from my agent. Before I started my meditation challenge, I was just too critical of my work afraid that I didn’t have anything else to offer. Now, with the benefit of meditation, my mind was more open to new ideas.

 I found an excellent meditation for creativity and on one occasion, I did it before going to bed. At around four in the morning, I woke up with so many ideas, I jumped out of bed and wrote them down. My second novel came to me so fast I couldn’t stop writing. I forgot to worry about not receiving a publishing plan from my agent. Until July when I prompted her.

Now

That second novel was Just Bea. Meditation has become part of my creative process. Early morning meditation, writing morning pages (Julia Cameron The Artists’ Way), and running all help to stimulate ideas.

Meditations for disappointment

Then, July 2019

If hearing the news that my novel was ready to go out on submission was a high, then it was followed by a low. Apparently, there had not been a great response to ‘the pitch.’ It was going to be a challenge to find a home, as it wasn’t ‘on trend’ right now and editors were being cautious in the current market. This was before the pandemic and I suspect times are even tougher now for debut authors. Meditation came to my rescue again.

Whatever you need meditation to help you with, type it into the YouTube search engine. It’s an amazing resource. I typed in guided meditation for disappointment and found a guided meditation for healing disappointments. 

I have used it again and again. It’s very effective.

Now

I have learnt not to attach myself to one particular outcome. It is hard not to but the truth is that we do not know what our path to getting published will look like. Whatever it is it will be right for us and will happen at the right time. I believe this 100% and have absolute faith that what is for me will find me – so long as I am open to receive it.

Jill Wellington – Pixabay

Attracting abundance

Then – August 2019

My agent’s marketing strategy was to first send my novel to one of the big five publishers on an exclusive. This means that they have first refusal, rather than having to bid against other publishing houses. 

I overdosed on meditation. Instead of driving myself crazy imagining different scenarios, I meditated with vengeance. I meditated to invite abundance into my life. There are lots of meditations on using gratitude to create abundance, the theory being that when you are thankful for the good things in your life you attract more. I had a lot to be grateful for – my ‘cup over-floweth.’ In fact, I felt as though I already had too much and I was wrong to want more. But I did. I desperately wanted a publishing contract. 

Some of the meditations on abundance are about using meditation to create prosperity and wealth. I avoided these at they didn’t sit well with me. I was struggling with my faith as I felt I was being punished for seeking fame and fortune. That I had already had more than my fair share.

Now

I truly believe that we never have too much. We have enormous potential and it is our responsibility to use it to make a difference. I am grateful for the wonderful life I have lived but as long as I am still on this earth I have more to achieve. My heartfelt desire to write and to be read was planted in my heart for a reason. The universe is abundant. My success is not at the expense of another. There is more than enough for everyone to achieve all that they dream of. In fact, we are all interconnected – made of the same stuff. Together we are changing the world – making it a better place. 

Photo by Edana Minghella

Trusting the journey

Then- September 2019

It didn’t work. By September, the editor who had my manuscript rejected it and from her comments, I don’t think she could have read it. But there was a plan. My agent resolved to get my novel into the hands of the right editors and proposed a list of thirteen. We waited until after the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. And waited.

I really believed that good things were going to happen for me. I had absolute faith and confidence. When I wobbled, I repeated my mantra, The right thing will happen at the right time in the right way. You are exactly where you are meant to be right now. I had reason to be optimistic, I had a brilliant agent and my manuscript had been sent out to a number of publishers. There was nothing I could do except concentrate on writing my next novel, which was progressing well.

I am a bit of a control freak. This served me well in the past, as I founded two successful businesses but I needed to learn to let go and trust the process. My daily meditations now included ones to help me do just that.

As weeks passed without any news, I managed my anxiety by imagining that I was in a rowing boat. I pulled the oars inside and lay back to allow the boat to take me along the river. When the boat got caught on reeds, I waited patiently knowing that the flow of the river would dislodge us and carry us to the ocean. It was a soothing thought.

‘If we haven’t got an offer by Christmas, we’ll meet to discuss the next steps’, my agent reassured me. So, there were next steps. This wasn’t the end of the journey. Equipped with positive affirmations, I clung to the sides of that little boat and willed the river to carry us onward. 

Now

I am truly grateful to that agent for believing in me. She was true to her word and despite having a very full and busy list she brought my MS to the attention of publishers. I wasn’t wrong to have faith in her and to stay the course. However, I did need to do this mindfully and this is what I learnt through meditation. Looking back, I wonder whether this happened for a reason as my experience in 2019 strengthened me. I became more resilient and self-sufficient. I have learnt to be happy and content whilst losing sight of my goals. 

Larisha Koshkina – Pixabay

A revelation

Then January 2020

As I waited and meditated, I realised that I hadn’t fully understood the law of abundance. I was using meditation to wish, like a talisman. If I meditate enough, my wishes will be granted. It was no different from the early days, before meditation when I constantly fretted about the future. 

Meditation taught me that abundance is about inviting what we need into our life. When we are very still and not distracted by our noisy thoughts, we are more observant of things that come our way: the comment made by a friend, a social media message that attracts our attention, something we thought might come in useful but had forgotten. These are like breadcrumbs that lead us to the right path. When you are curious and open to ideas and opportunities, things start to happen. Meditation helps you to see more clearly, to understand what you truly want, and opens your heart and mind to receive what comes your way.

I started out wanting validation as a writer. By picking out my submission from the hundreds that are sent to her every week, my agent had done just that. The wonderful rejections from top publishing editors that glowed with praise were also validation.

What I truly wanted now was to reach out to readers, in the hope that my stories would have some positive impact. I wanted to connect with readers in a meaningful way. Fame and fortune were never my goals. 

Maybe, I was just preparing myself for disappointment but it didn’t feel like that. I didn’t want to rely entirely upon this one agent, who despite her best intentions to serve me, was incredibly stretched as a result of her success and brilliance. How could I be open to new possibilities, if I wasn’t looking around me and making connections?

What next?

Eventually, I was forwarded four rejections. Two of them gave such glowing reviews that for a while I pinned these above my desk. However, the bottom line was, they didn’t know how to market my novel. I didn’t hear anything from the other nine, maybe my agent did but she never said.

I had completed a second novel, which would be appreciated by fans of the first, but I suspected, would have the same problems with marketing. 

My agent and I agreed to part company for the time being, so that I could pursue other opportunities to get my two novels published. 

Photo – Deborah Klée

Reaping the rewards of meditation

At the start of my meditation journey, I would have been devasted to think I no longer had an agent and was back to square one. It was my biggest fear. Now, it was liberating. I had been set free! No more waiting for responses, waiting to be chosen. I chose ME. And it felt really good.

It was then that things started to happen. New people came into my life to support me, I came across resources and ideas that excited me. I realised then what inviting abundance into my life really meant. 

Now

In August 2020 I self-published The Borrowed Boy. It has received three awards to date and great reviews. In February 2021 I self-published Just Bea. I commissioned the same editor who worked with my agent.

As an Indie author entrepreneur, I started a weekly blog and a YouTube channel and Podcast Castaway Books.

I have written a third novel Misdirection and will be submitting it to agents and publishers this summer.

I have loved every moment of my writing life. I’ve met some amazing people through social media and feel as though my world has opened up – and that’s in lockdown! 

Daily meditation and journaling are integral to my writing life. I’ll just keep on working, sowing seeds, and trust the creator of all things to give life to those that are meant to be.  I am finding joy in all that I do and have stopped feeling anxious about what may or may not happen.

I hope that some of what I have shared speaks to you. 

How to stop self-sabotage

If you had suggested a year ago that I was self-sabotaging my chances of success in securing a publishing contract I would have denied it vehemently. I had done everything in my power to make that dream come true. I had an agent and my novel went out on submission, there was nothing I could do to influence the outcome. All of that is true. However, I have come to recognise a pattern of self-sabotage when I am striving for the things that I want most in my life. I hope that by sharing this with you I might help you to recognise similar patterns of behaviour in yourself. 

We may not understand why we self-sabotage, but to achieve our dream we don’t have to. We just need to become aware, to observe with compassion, and by fractionally changing our direction of travel – steering that cruise ship one degree East, we can end up in a different place. 

Understanding my behaviour and its impact has been a gradual process. In an earlier blog on How to stay the course and succeed I described how early signs of success and encouragement have led me to overreach in the past – trying to run before I can walk and then throwing up my hands in frustration when things don’t pan out as I had hoped. This is an over-simplification of a complicated thought process but it was the beginning of my growing awareness.

Couleur Pixabay

Is there a goal, an elusive dream, that you have failed to achieve despite doing everything within your power to make it come true? If you are a writer, it may be getting an agent or a publishing contract, but it could be anything: losing weight, finding a loving partner, getting a promotion. For me it has been, getting into OT college (age 18), getting a promotion (age 39), getting a publishing contract (recent years).

Every time that I was bashing myself against an unyielding wall, I thought I knew why things weren’t happening for me. I blamed other people, my circumstances, an unfair system. I would have done anything within my power to achieve my goal and had proved that through my hard work, determination and perseverance, so it had to be out of my control. 

If I had kept an open mind and gently looked inward, not judging myself but with patience and kindness, I might have discovered how some of my behaviours were having a negative impact. These are the patterns I have observed in my behaviour:

Rushing off an application/submission 

Have you pressed send on an important job application, competition entry, or query letter and then regretted being so hasty because you could have done a better job? I do this all of the time. I put it down to being efficient and getting a job done or being an impatient person. Neither of these is completely true. I am meticulous about writing a professional report for work and I am a perfectionist when writing and publishing a novel. So why do I dash off an application/submission when it is so important to me? I am protecting myself from rejection. If I get a negative response, I can say it is because I messed up my application. When we want something too much, we fear disappointment and so we take control – in this case, I was taking control of my failure.

Another move is to say, ‘I don’t know whether I want this job or not.’ I have heard myself and members of my family claim this when applying for a job. The line that follows is, ‘So I won’t be disappointed if I don’t get it.’ We are telling our loved ones please don’t pity me or be disappointed when I’m rejected. We don’t want to let them down. But by going into an interview with this thought, however peripheral, we are sabotaging our chance of success because the lack of interest will be apparent. I have done this myself. I even got the feedback that I was the best candidate on paper but I came over as not wanting the job. 

Thorben Ki Pixabay

Ignoring advice

It is annoying when someone suggests that we do something a different way, or learn new skills to achieve our goal. It means that we are not as ready as we believed ourselves to be. There is a knowledge/skill gap and as we look into what seems to be a gaping hole, we lose confidence. What if we are not good enough? We aren’t that person. We don’t fit. We will be found out. Instead of filling the gap and adapting our approach, we close down. I know that to be commercially successful as an author I need to be more genre-specific. I have spent years denying this and justifying why I can’t make my writing fit into one genre. The result is that whilst I can write books that are well received with great reviews, I will never achieve my dream of reaching a wider audience of readers until I learn to adapt. 

‘I can’t.’ ‘I’ve tried.’ ‘It doesn’t work.’ How often have we cried out in defeat instead of knuckling down and doing the work: Learning a new skill, Trying a different approach? Sometimes we have to take what feels like a step backwards so that we can move forwards. 

When I finished writing the first draft of my first novel, I sent it out to an agent and got a very encouraging response. It was a revise and resubmit letter with pages of comments to inform the rewrite. Instead of doing the work, I abandoned the manuscript and started on a new project. I threw away a golden opportunity. I justified this later by saying at that time  I didn’t understand the implications of this positive and generous response. I misinterpreted it as ‘You are not good enough. Try again.’ This was what I was telling myself not the agent. For some reason, I did not think I deserved to be taken seriously.

There are lots of reasons why we might self-sabotage and our ingenious minds find subtle ways to do this. The good news is that as soon as we become aware of these patterns of behaviour we start to change. 

Don’t beat yourself up if you think that you are self-sabotaging. You are just protecting yourself. Be kind and compassionate to the part of you that believes you are unworthy, is afraid of failing, disappointing others, or feels a bit overwhelmed by the idea of success. 

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut believing that this is all we can have – if we expose ourselves as self- sabotaging then we have to accept that we may have wasted opportunities and that can be painful. I believe that the right thing happens at the right time. It may have taken me longer to get to where I am now but that is because I had to work through those experiences.

Changing my behaviour will not happen overnight but I feel as though my compass has been reset. I am cruising towards my paradise. I just had to change course a fraction. 

Five ways to get what you want

Through prayer and meditation, we learn to ask for what we want and need, and teachings tell us that we will receive. But how? You might ask. If only it was that simple. I think it could be that simple; if we learn how to stop putting obstacles in our way. 

There are different sorts of asks and I have described these as three wishes: The Heartfelt wish. The Fairy godmother request, and the one-minute miracle.

The Heartfelt wish

There are the big asks, for example, to become a published author, or to get the career progression we long for. I know all about those longings. The hours spent in meditation and/or prayer, writing in my journal. In my lifetime, I have had three big asks. When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to train as an occupational therapist. It wasn’t just a career option, to me it was as much a dream as the contestants on a TV talent show seeking fame. I really, really wanted to get accepted for training. As it happens, my application was rejected, as I hadn’t chosen the right options to study at school. I left school without taking my exams, and then a miracle happened because I was called for an entrance exam and interview and got a place as a result of an administrative error. It wouldn’t happen today, but I qualified and worked for twenty years in the NHS.

In my thirties, I was frustrated because my career in hospital management was not progressing in the linear route that I had planned. It took a while before I realised that my destiny was another path, one that brought me greater satisfaction. 

And then, there was my dream to become a published author, and my writer friends know all about the angst of that longing.

Curtesy of Sarah Ritcher Art Instagram

The Fairy godmother request

These are the cries for help when we face an impossible task because we don’t have the skills, time, or money. We all have different skills and knowledge. When we don’t know how to do something there is always somebody who does, but we have to ask. It is not a weakness to ask for help, and most people are glad to assist, so long as it is not always the same person and we reciprocate by helping others. 

A few weeks ago, I was feeling exhausted mentally as I had worked hard on getting my debut The Borrowed Boy published and then preparing my second novel, Just Bea for publication. My cover designer was ready to complete the full cover and needed my blurb for the back of the book. I had written so many versions of this book blurb over the past two years, but I couldn’t get it right. I sent my final attempt to a couple of writer friends, both of them said it needed work. I went to bed feeling overwhelmed by the task as I had nothing left to give. 

The following morning, I opened my emails to find that my wonderful writer friend Ellie Holmes had taken my poor attempt and like Rumpelstiltskin had spun straw into gold. The perfect blurb was waiting on my computer in an email that she sent at around 6 am with a message that it had come to her during the night. What an amazing friend!

Curtesy of Aline Dassel Pixabay

The one-minute miracle.

You know the every day asks: Please let me catch this bus. Let there be a parking place outside the school. My grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis and lived alone in a ground floor flat. She didn’t have any family living close by and depended on care services for meals, getting dressed, etc. My grandmother told me that whenever she needed help with something, she would send up a prayer and within minutes a kind neighbour would happen to drop in as if in answer to her request. The angels appear exactly when needed.

I have experienced a few of these angels myself. In my blog, Life changing decisions I told the story of how a stranger came to my rescue when at nineteen I flew from London to Arizona to surprise a pen friend, forgetting that I only had his PO box number. I found myself in Tucson at 3 am, 80 miles from Bisbee where my friend lived, with no phone number or address. 

I believe there are five rules to getting what you want.

Big or small the same rules apply when asking and receiving.

1. Ask and believe

When you ask for something, whether that is through meditation or prayer to God, the universe, your guardian angel, or whatever power you believe in – have faith. Believe that you have been heard and that your needs will be met.

2. Forget about timing

Your request may not be answered immediately and you may think it never will. Be patient and trust that the timing will be perfect. Not a moment too late or too soon. 

3. Relax and be present

Let go of anxiety and be tranquil knowing that your prayer will be answered. It is only when you are relaxed and calm that you will recognise when it happens.

4. Expect the unexpected

The manifestation of your desire may not be in the way you perceived it to be. Be open to new possibilities however unlikely they might at first seem. 

5. Give thanks

Remember to give thanks. Show your gratitude by helping others. Pay it forward.

I hope that all of your dreams and wishes come true.

How to stay the course and succeed

Ambition is great, it drives us to achieve our goals but it needs to be tempered with patience if we are to keep on track and avoid crashing. This has been a hard lesson for me and although looking back on my life I ended up in the right place, there were times when I caused myself unnecessary distress and almost sabotaged my chances of success as a result of my impatience. 

A pattern that I recognise in my behaviour starts with a heartfelt wish or passion. I put everything that I have into achieving this goal. Early achievements indicate that I am on the right track and I have what it takes. This is all good. We are inspired by our dreams to find our life’s purpose. The little markers of success along the way, for example, praise from a line manager, achieving a weight loss goal, or winning a writing competition, are like flags waving us on. There is a moment of realisation as we start to believe that we can achieve our dream.

In the past, this has been the point at which I start to sabotage my chances of success. It is a critical stage where patience is essential if we are to keep on track. 

Have you heard of the Terrible Twos? It is an expression used by parents to describe the developmental stage of two-year-old children who are prone to temper tantrums. At this age the child wants to be independent and can become frustrated when they discover that they do not have the motor and cognitive skills needed to achieve a task. The child might imagine themselves doing this activity and cannot understand why it is not possible. 

This is me. In my mind’s eye, I am already capable. The passion to achieve deceives me into believing I am ready. When the world does not recognise this and give me what I want I throw my hands up in despair. Then comes the self-doubt. The resentment and feelings of not being good enough. What a waste of energy and unnecessary grief. I get there in the end but looking back on my past experience I can see now that there is an easier way.

It is hard to stay present when you are used to striving for success. The business world teaches us to inflate our achievements to show that we have reached or exceeded targets. I am incredibly tough on myself, setting unrealistic goals of what I expect to achieve on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When I fall short, I berate myself for failing and work harder. The result is inevitable:  Burn out. Poor decision making, and shoddy work as I am not taking my time. 

When we let go of trying to control and trust the journey, we get there a lot faster. The passion that is currently driving me is to publish my books and reach a significant number of readers. In March 2020 when the UK first went into lockdown I had not published any books and I didn’t have a social media presence. In eight months, I have published my debut, The Borrowed Boy, and my second novel, Just Bea, is in the process of being formatted for publication. I started this blog and have posted weekly. I have over 1k followers on Twitter and host a weekly tweet chat Friday Salon. I have also filmed a pilot for a YouTube programme Castaway Books. It’s exhausting just reading this.

This week I had a reality check. There is no hurry. Everything will unfold in its own time. Writing this blog brings me great satisfaction as I am developing self-awareness and making valuable connections with readers. I love hosting the Friday Salon tweet chats as it feels as though I am meeting with writer friends in the pub. I am learning new skills. Last week I was amazed to find myself editing a film for YouTube. 

When I relax into enjoying my work with no expectation it becomes a pleasure. I can savour each moment, immersing myself in the task without keeping one eye on the clock. I still have a diary with daily goals but they are more achievable. Every day, every hour I am learning and growing. Like the two-year-old, I do not yet know what I don’t know, but as I try things out and practice new skills I am discovering. It is a joy to learn, and the connections I am making with people on this journey are enriching my life. 

In my blog on Learning to be patient, I spoke about the lessons from nature. That we have what we need to become the person we are meant to be but just as a plant develops through the seasons so do we. We cannot rush nature. 

Be patient. Trust the journey. And have fun. You are exactly where you need to be right now. And above all be kind to yourself. 

Learning to be patient

Patience is a virtue, but not one that comes easily to me. I know that I am impatient, not with other people, just with myself. I want to achieve everything yesterday. However, there is a positive side. My impatience has served me well in many ways as I am motivated to succeed, work hard, and I am very productive. Great attributes in the world of commerce where we are expected to go faster and faster. Not so good as a writer because creative work has to unfold in its own time, and we have no control over when and how our work will be received by the world. 

Everything has a season. A beginning, a middle, and an end. And then a new beginning. When we live in the moment we treasure the beauty of each day, the changing colours of the landscape, and discovering new shoots in the flower bed. We are part of nature. There is a season for all that we achieve, and just as the flower bed goes through change, so do we. 

It is good to have a goal. A vision for our future. However, when we are willing that future to happen before it is time, we can stunt our growth and slow down the process. This is because we are not allowing change to happen. We are not relaxing into the now and being mindful of the lessons that are there for us and the opportunities. Instead of growing, we are expending our energy thrashing against the unfairness of life. The result – what we want is pushed further away because we are not ready to receive it, without change.

Like most writers, my goal is and has been for many years to be a successful published author. I approached this goal as if it were a work project over which I had some control. I studied what I had to do, went through all the steps, submitted my manuscript to agents, got myself a first-class literary agent, and submitted to publishers. At every stage of this process I was impatient: Each time I sent a manuscript out to agents I counted the days until I received a response. When my agent was reviewing drafts, and when editors from publishing houses were considering our submission. It was hard. My health and well-being suffered. I felt out of control. As a management consultant used to working for myself I railed against this lack of autonomy and was overwhelmed by a feeling of helplessness. 

I told the story of how I changed course, and decided to become an indie entrepreneur in my blogs Meditation challenge parts onetwo, and three. The path I was following was not going to get me to where I wanted to be. Since deciding to take the self-publishing route I have had to learn new skills and try different things to market my novels. This is exactly where I need to be right now. I love that I have discovered blogging. By sharing my experience with other creatives, I have deepened my understanding and self-awareness. I write to connect with others in a meaningful way and I have found that blogging and other social media platforms such as Twitter have enabled me to do this in ways that I had not believed possible.

If my debut novel had been published last year through the traditional publishing route I would not have had that experience. My life is richer as a result. Now, I embrace what each new day has to offer. I honestly love everything about my working life as an author, and I know that I am growing and changing. Instead of worrying about the future, I am delighting in the small changes in my life, much like the gardener who enjoys watching the flower bed for new growth. 

The creator of all things has sown a seed of desire in our hearts. We must pursue our dreams but recognise that for our dream to unfold it needs to be nurtured and given time to grow. Just as our creator sends the sun and rain to nourish the earth, we too will receive what we need. When the season is right we will enjoy our harvest but creation cannot be rushed. It is not easy to be patient when you are burning with desire, but creation as magnificent as you must be honoured with time, care, and above all patience. It will happen when the time is right. 

Wanting Something Too Much – Part Three

This is the third blog on Wanting something too much. 

In part one, I described the blip of happiness or despair when the one thing we want, or fear finally happens. Often, it is not life-changing in the way that we have imagined and life resumes. My message is to make sure the life you live now is a good one, and don’t hang all of your hopes on that elusive dream.

In part two, I reflected on outcomes. By attaching too much to one outcome, we can become blinded to other opportunities. When we have an open heart and mind we invite new possibilities into our life and in doing so, find the best outcome for us. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I know what it feels like to want something too much. It is a tightly clenched fist in the solar plexus, a lump of longing that takes up all the room in your heart. You are afraid to release your grip. As though holding tight to that dream will make it come true, and to release your grip will lessen your chances of success. I have learned that this is not true and by wanting something too much we are driving away the very thing that we want. 

We have all heard the stories of a couple who conceive when they have stopped trying for a baby, the girlfriend who meets the love of her life after resigning herself to a future of singledom, the job offers that flood in when you have decided to become self-employed. 

When we are desperate for something we become tense. There is a physiological reaction that may lead to symptoms of stress, for me it is eczema and migraines. We become so focused that we have tunnel vision and miss the bigger picture. A tense, intense person, who is desperate for something, is not attractive and can repel the person that they want to attract. 

If you are in a furniture store and a sales assistant working for commission pursues you relentlessly, advising you of the features of every sofa you show a vague interest in, I suspect that like me, you will decide to visit another day or go to a different store where you won’t be hounded into buying something. 

Many years ago, I had a friend who following a divorce was desperate to find another man. This friend was young, attractive, and clever. She had a great job and was financially independent. She threw herself into the dating world with gusto, joining on-line dating agencies and requesting blind dates. I tried introducing her to eligible men but her desperation scared them off. Sadly, none of her would-be partners wanted a second date.

I am extremely embarrassed to confess that when I started out as a management consultant I stepped out of a meeting to run after someone who I thought might be interested in hiring me. I cringe when I remember this. At that time, I was terrified that I would not attract any clients and of course I didn’t. When I relaxed and went with the flow, I had plenty of work. The more work I had, the more I was offered. 

When we are relaxed and content we are open to new possibilities. We notice opportunities because we have an open mind and are more susceptible to ideas that come into our orbit. People are drawn to us because we radiate positivity. 

I know it is hard to let go of longing. Keep hold of your dream but try to gently release your grip. Imagine that knot of tension, softening. Breathing exercises and meditation can help with this. When I am meditating, I imagine a lotus flower opening up to the sun. It takes practice but you can relax your hold. 

I believe that our purpose is an idea that is sown like a seed in our heart. Our wish to be a writer, an artist, a chef, an acrobat is intense because we are driven to achieve our life purpose. But just as the seed has been sown, trust that your dream will come to fruition. Open yourself up to a greater power. Trust that what you need will come to you. Be relaxed and calm. Because then you will find the golden breadcrumbs that will lead you to your destiny- a chance meeting, an advertisement, an idea that comes from a conversation.

I have devoted three blogs to this topic and could write more. Longing for success is the bane of creatives. Learning to attract what we need into our life is an important lesson for all of us.

Wishing you all a plentiful harvest. Namaste. 

Inviting new opportunities into your life

Wanting something too much – part two 

My heart aches for the creatives who share their heartfelt wish in social media with longing and desperation because I know how it feels to want something so badly. 

Changing career

This is a lesson that has taken me some time to learn, and I am still learning. When I was forty, I could see only one way to further my career and that was the next step up on the career ladder – a chief executive of a health trust. It had been my goal for years and I had made steady progress up until that point. I was shortlisted again and again but was disappointed when I received the news that I had not been successful and each time a different or conflicting reason – ‘too strategic,’ ‘not strategic enough.’ I didn’t know what to do as this had always been my goal and it felt too early in my career to settle for what I had already achieved.

I was in the depths of despair. I felt rejected – unworthy. Not good enough. I was blinded to other opportunities because I was too focused on that one outcome. A wise woman suggested that I was feeling discomfort as the job I had was no longer a good fit for me. Like an ill-fitting shoe I had outgrown the role. This sparked my imagination and I wrote down all the things I enjoyed and was good at, also the things I didn’t like about my job. 

Unsurprisingly, the job I had set my heart on was not a good fit for me either. The result was a specification of my unique combination of skills, expertise, and experience. I used that to evaluate every job advertised within a salary scale that was acceptable. In keeping an open mind, I came across an advertisement that I would never have considered before. I wasn’t even sure what the job description meant, but it was a perfect fit with my personal specification and the employer thought so too, because at the end of a two-day selection process I was offered the job. What unfolded from there was better than I could have imagined. I found the perfect career for me as one opportunity led to another.

Through this experience, I learned that my imagination is limited. The universe/God’s vision is greater. When I stopped hanging on tightly to what I thought should happen and opened my heart and mind to possibilities, I was led to the best outcome for me. 

The best outcome for you

You may be focused on bagging your dream agent, securing a traditional publishing deal, getting that promotion, or your ideal job and I wish you success. Keep working towards your goal and hopefully, your wish will come true. However, too narrow a focus might be blinding you to other opportunities. 

Try brainstorming all of the options. Be imaginative and open yourself up to the infinite possibilities for your success. Instead of focusing on one agent, try approaching several. Visualise offers coming in from four or more so that you have to choose. Submit to independent publishers. Enter novel writing competitions. Scatter these seeds of possibility and you may be surprised by what grows. 

Your future is waiting for you. It could be brighter and bigger than anything you have imagined, but you need to open your heart and mind to new possibilities and trust that what is right for you will find you.

Wanting something too much part one

‘I want this more than anything.’

‘If this doesn’t happen, I don’t know what I’ll do.’

‘If only I got that promotion/job everything would be different.’

‘I just need to find that special someone and I will be happy.’

The drama and passion of these heartfelt pleas are fuelled by the media. We watch films and read books where life is simple. The geeky girl/boy meets someone who loves them just the way that they are, they fall in love and live happily ever after. A woman loses her job, her world is falling apart, but then she writes a book, and all of her financial worries are resolved. Then, there are the talent shows where an awkward looking boy tells the camera that winning the competition would mean everything to him, and a few series later he is back as the star act, having achieved super-stardom. Real-life doesn’t make good telly and so stories of success, both imaginary and real, are dramatized and we buy into this. I have thought for some time that the romcoms we adore contribute to a dissatisfaction in relationships.

Our dream is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. We truly believe that one that one thing we wish for happens our life will be transformed. For many writers, it is getting an agent or a publishing deal. We hold that heartfelt wish so tight, we clench it within our soul, willing it to happen. To relax that hold for one second feels as though we are giving up and reducing our chances of success. Everything depends on that wish coming true.

My writing buddy achieved what seemed to the outside world like an overnight success. I know that she worked hard to develop her writing craft over many years and when success came it was well deserved and well earned. This friend won a novel competition and a couple of years later her internationally best-selling novel was advertised on posters at airports and railway stations. Of course, she was giddy with excitement as she was swept up in a whirlwind of success, but soon life settled back into a routine. ‘I am often asked how I feel about my success, and that it must have changed my life beyond recognition,’ she told me, ‘but it hasn’t. Not really. I was happy before and I’m happy now. Apart from being able to earn a living doing something I love, nothing much has changed.’

I have another friend who was over-joyed to be signed by her ‘dream’ literary agent certain that this was it – her passport to the glittery world of becoming a published author. Fourteen months later, she is still waiting for her agent to find a publisher and one heartfelt wish has been replaced with another.

The thing that we long to happen, or fear will happen doesn’t change our life. There is a blip of happiness or despair, but in the scheme of things, it is a minor disturbance. Think back to the day you got your dream job, got married, or on the downside received a rejection letter from an agent or following an interview. You may have been happy or disappointed for a few days, or weeks but then life happened and soon you had another goal or dream. I can no longer remember my rejection letters or the jobs I didn’t get. 

The constant is the life you are living now. Your family and friends, the pleasure that you get from everyday activities, your good health. By focusing on what is beyond our control, changing another person’s behaviour, making someone like you – hire you – sign you, we are neglecting to change the things that we can control. If life carries on as normal after the blip, then we need to invest in making it a good life by appreciating what we have now and making the most of each moment. 

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