Challenging Yourself

Do you remember the last time you challenged yourself to do something you’d never done before?

If you answered, “yes”, was it scary, daunting, exciting, or maybe all three?

Often, I find that I like to stay within my comfort zone, that quiet place where I feel safe and warm. But every once in a while, I sense a need to step out of the box I’ve built and try something completely new.

One such opportunity came along while I was reviewing my email. I got an offer through Word Press, which is where my website is hosted, about an intriguing writing contest.

I’ve never entered one and wondered how it would work.

So, I investigated and discovered that it was organized by a woman named Lydia Lukidis and was titled the Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. Those entering would be requested to write a story of 200 words or less based on a photograph. Many choices were offered, and you would have a couple of weeks to complete your entry and then submit.

I scrolled through the photos and was immediately drawn to one provided by Danielle Colucci (for Unsplash). The photo showed a stone alleyway bordered by buildings along both sides, with a hillside in the background. One of the buildings has a porch light on which casts a reddish glow on several stones of the alleyway. It was taken at dusk with a fading blue sky and gray clouds. Although a story started to form immediately, it would not come into focus.

I tried and tried, but nothing would take shape and I found it quite frustrating until I realized I was trying to write it from my head and what drew me to the picture was from my heart.

So, I let go and sat back and waited for my heart to fill in the words. I found I had to walk away, think about other things, and then come back. Once I did, I could lean into writing what my heart wanted to say.

What came to me felt like a true story. It touched me deeply and I wanted to share it with you.

Will The Light Be On (my title)

She knew I had to leave. My family would starve without food. Without me.

I remember the last thing I said to her. I told her that I loved her and would be back soon. And then I kissed her, gently brushing my lips against hers and walked out of the door and her life.

She must have believed that I lied to her, because it’s been three years since I’ve seen her face, heard her voice, held her in my arms.

How could she have known that I was taken, forced into the back of a truck, and made to be another’s servant, working in their fields from before the sun rose until after it fell out of the sky.

They gave me only enough food for one day’s strength. What they did not know was, she was my food. She was my hope. Hope that I would one day see her again, be with her, marry her.

So, one day I ran. I ran so fast and so far, they would never catch me.

And now I am here, turning the corner to her street. If the light is on, I’ll know she still loves me. (end)

One of the things I learned during this creative process is that I cannot discover anything new if I remain standing in one place, locked into doing the same things over and over again.

I know that it takes courage to step into the unknown, but there is so much freedom and joy waiting there for us.

While checking to see if my contest entry was received, I found I have no record of it being sent. At first that really disturbed me, but after I thought about it for a few minutes, I relaxed and noticed that the real value to me was in accepting my own challenge, enjoying the creative process, and loving the resulting story that still warms my heart each time I reread it.

I hope you enjoy the story too.

Starving Your Inner Demons

Do any inner demons haunt you? Are they offering to rule your whole world for you?

If they are, what are you feeding them? Is their diet giving them their strength?

These may seem like unusual questions to ask, but there is a serious side to them.

Have you ever wondered how much of your behavior is prompted by your inner demons? Are you courageous enough to ask?

I don’t think I know anyone who is completely free. No one that doesn’t hear inner voices calling to them, asking them to come closer.

Perhaps, you are afraid to shorten the distance between you and these voices. That’s one way to approach things, but it has never worked for me, nor for others I’ve spoken with. Maybe you’d like to try another way.

I’ve talked before about the necessity of first feeling your feelings, because without doing so, you are running blind. You can’t see what is right in front of you. And you can’t follow any path forward.

Realizing that the feelings you are experiencing are there to serve you is one way to start. They are not in front of or behind you to threaten you. They merely want to walk along side of you and be acknowledged. They have a message for you.

If you gather your strength and release your attachment to your fear, your feelings will open you to a new perspective. And they will have a chance to deliver their golden message to you.

It is the same with inner demons.

We may think it wise to try to defeat them in battle. We may choose to pick up a weapon to hit them, but they become ferocious with us and will not back down.

If we tell ourselves, they are not there and try to ignore them, they bound around us and stare at us face to face. They taunt us and will not go away.

But perhaps we wish to alter our course and refuse to feed them. Maybe our choice is to without any food from them.

You may be wondering, how is this done?

I have my very own inner demons. It pains me to say so, but it is the truth. Maybe it’s the same for you.

My inner demons have various names. One of them is called abandonment, while another is rejection. They are sort of twins and often work together.

They say they are with me to protect me. I wonder who they believe they are protecting me from.

They cause a great deal of pain, for as long as I allow.

I need to repeat that last sentence, so you don’t miss it.

They cause a great deal of pain, for as long as I allow.

When they arise, sometimes out of nowhere, I now choose to stand still, open my eyes wide, slow my breathing and ask them to speak to me. They don’t want to. They would rather that I become angry, so that they can feed from me. Or withdraw, so they can have my energy. But I make them talk to me and tell me how my feelings of abandonment or rejection can serve me, rather than sap me.

No matter what they desire, I am still the one in charge, so they must share their wisdom with me. The harsh voices they use no longer scare me, because despite themselves they are here to help me. Abandonment tells me that I don’t have to feel or be alone. Rejection says that, although not everyone will hear what I have to say, there are those who want my words and my heart.

They have no choice but to serve me. Everything does, even them. Given no food or energy, they are starved for my attention and willingly lay down and go to sleep at my feet.

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