Sometimes light begets dark, and hardship, loss and heartbreak brings hope, healing and inspiration. My guest blogger today, Margarita Tartakovsky, shares her wisdom on transforming pain and difficulty into courage and inspiration. Thanks so much Margarita!
Both of my blogs were born when my dad died.
I had always wanted to have my own body image blog, but as a flawed perfectionist – flawed because I’m not a perfectionist about everything; you should see my desk right now – I did a lot of thinking before launching one. Like two years of thinking. I did launch one, which had a title, tagline and about page. But that was as far as I got. Fast forward to this summer, after I’d written for about a year for Psych Central’s World of Psychology blog, I decided to send my blog proposal to the boss and give it a shot.
And, in November of 2009, Weightless was born. My second blog, Self-ish, had a bit of a rockier start. More like an elevator. Up went a post. Down went my motivation – with months in between posts. And so this continued, until the WordCount Blogathon, when I just decided to go for it again and just write.
So how does inspiration come from grief? Honestly, I’m not sure. I just know that I desperately wanted to distract myself and cope with something I had no control over. Working – healthy or not – was my way of dealing with what was happening and what eventually did happen.
But I did learn a few things. Here are three.
- I got one step closer to being fearless. I’m a worry-wart so my list of fears is endless: snakes, being good enough, producing great work, not making it as a freelancer, the future and swimming in dark, glassy lakes. After one of my worst fears had already occurred – the death of my dad – almost everything else just didn’t seem so scary. Suddenly being myself, being honest and starting my blogs wasn’t so terrifying after all – not by a long shot. I still get insecure before I press “publish,” wondering if a post is helpful, if it even makes sense. But I remind myself that I have to be fearless, even if it’s in the little everyday things. It’s what keeps us moving.
- I realized that what-ifs are pointless. While this is by no means an incredible a-ha moment, it’s one that I have to keep reminding myself of. The what-ifs that I used to have were usually false, and the what-ifs that never came to mind came to true.
When my dad first got sick, we figured it was like his usual once-a-year pneumonia. He’d go to the doctor, take his medicine, and promptly get better. We never thought, “What if we’d be planning his funeral a few months later?”
My what-ifs before my father’s death were of the not-good-enough kind. They weren’t “What if I get that great gig,” or “What if I become a truly successful freelancer.” Nope. They were mostly negative and perfectionism-prone. In fact, I’d rattle off a list of what-ifs like a robot.
Today, I try to work on my what-ifs because here’s the thing about them: While it’s good to prepare for the worst possible situation – like trying to plan for potential problems when starting your own business – truly expecting these what-ifs can crush creativity and inspiration. It feeds anxiety, while it starves movement.
And, no matter how many what-ifs we can come up with, we’re no fortune-tellers; we can’t forecast the future. And that’s OK.
- I started to breathe in the now. I used to be a big-time planner, always thinking toward the future. (Or I’d be pondering the past.) You might say that planning is a good thing. Planning gets you an editorial calendar for a blog or a week’s worth of meals. Or a great vacation for a great deal. But it also means that I was thinking ahead, and thinking little of the here and now, little about taking in the moments.
Many of my planning propensities, however, vanished when something I never expected to happen did.
Instead, I started living more in the moment – where I’m pretty sure happiness resides. Where you smell the smells. Where you observe your surroundings. Where you breathe in the air. Where you notice the little – but equally beautiful – things. And where you can find the good stuff, like inspiration.
Margarita Tartakovsky has a MS in Clinical Psychology from Texas A&M University. She is a beautiful blogger who writes Weightless for Psych Central and has her own blog on self-improvement called Self-ish.