Last week, I talked about reading as refuge and shared a few of my most treasured reads. I’d love to hear about your favorite books! Reply to this email and I’ll anonymously add them to the forthcoming Second Breakfast reading list.
Sometimes things come easy—almost effortlessly—and then sometimes they feel like an uphill slog. You know what I’m saying? In these slower winter months where everything requires a bit more effort, I’m guessing you do. We can slog together!
Even though I love to write (I better love it because I’ve made it both my living and my hobby), sometimes it feels very hard to do so. This week is one of those weeks.
It feels like my brain singlehandedly tacked up an “out of commission” sign, left my skull, and is vacationing in like, Bora Bora, or something. The thought of my brain sitting in a kayak with sunglasses and a bathing suit on makes me chuckle—and honestly, good for my brain for taking a break. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence…but it’s a great indicator of how kooky I feel, and if this newsletter isn’t honest or authentic, then it’s not good, so the brain-on-a-kayak sentence is staying).
It’s also not at all surprising given that I’m currently in the glorious no-mans-land of being in between jobs, with no work or responsibilities in sight, and I think my body is taking a much-needed exhale after nearly two years of hustling to build and sustain my full-time freelance writing business. I’m starting a new job in March as—you guessed it—a writer, and I’m very excited, but being on the cusp of a new job and feeling like you can’t write your personal Substack cues a bit of panic.
As of 10pm last night, I still had a blank Word document and no new edition of Second Breakfast in sight. This morning, determined to excavate the thoughts I know to be flowing around in my brain and form them into words and phrases that are reasonably interesting or insightful, I woke up when it was still dark, made a pot of coffee, shoved my contacts into my unwilling eyeballs, lit a candle, and settled into the cozy stillness that is unique to winter dawn. I read one of my favorite writers for inspiration, spent a lot of time looking out the window as daylight made its appearance, and laughed at my ability to constantly find ways to put pressure on myself.
I once heard that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to, within reason, “stick to your own deadlines”—even if you crawl to the finish line with a half-ass, cobbled-together result. Because some effort is better than no effort, and leaning into discomfort can make you more resilient. You have to go uphill to go downhill, and shying away from hard things won’t make them go away. Really digging into the disgruntled writer trope here, aren’t I?
So just as the blinking cursor mocked me into considering that maybe I should just take the week off from this newsletter, snow started to fall. This may not seem like a big deal, but in Seattle, snowfall is very rare, and I am also someone who is easily and gloriously awed by nature and its constant cues. In an instant, as I watched these fat, fluffy flakes mosey through the sky, the word “gentle” popped into my head—which then reminded me of a previous newsletter in which I talked about how Second Breakfast’s word of the year is “gentle.” Specifically, being gentle with ourselves and others, and knowing that our lives are full of many micro and macro seasons that, regardless of the mindset they put us in, are always temporary.
Ugh. Isn’t it great when our words come back to bite us in the butt?
So instead of being hard on myself, I’m just showing up as I am, with what I can offer at the moment—slogging and all. I’m showing up for myself. But I’m also showing up for this community, who for some reason unbeknownst to me, has signed up to read my writing every week?! (Will never not be grateful).
While me writing this newsletter today is not a particularly noble feat, it’s a reminder that:
We should probably take the same advice we give to other people. (Why are we always the rudest to ourselves?!)
Things will get done, in some way, shape, or form.
Most people, no matter what they do or don’t share online or tell you personally—are probably struggling in some way and could use a little extra grace.
It’s also okay not to slog, but don’t neglect yourself or your joy in the process.
So here I am, nearly 800 words later, having written an entire newsletter about how writing came very hard to me this week. The irony!
Thanks for being here; you’re so appreciated.
Until next week,
This is my favorite piece that you've written for Second Breakfast. I will be forwarding this to a dear friend who is struggling with a major art project. She gets stuck and beats up on herself as we women do.❤️