As a mother of small children, I watch a lot of animated movies. Have you seen the movie The Princess and The Frog? The main character, Tiana, is a hard working woman who has a constant need to prove herself. She gets transformed into a frog along with a frivolous prince and they embark on an adventure in the bayou in order to become human again. Along the way, they both learn a valuable lesson about what they truly need and how it differs from what they want.
The little frogs encounter Mama Odie, a voodoo priestess, who guides them towards their destinies. She sings a gorgeous song about getting what you need instead of what you want. During the song the prince realises that he needs Tiana but Tiana doesn’t have any revelations. At the end of the song, she thinks the message was to dig a little deeper into her reserves and work even harder towards her goals. I got a flashback of the song and the scene where Tiana just doesn’t get it. What prompted the flashback was reading some of my goals towards the end of last year. My health had been deteriorating for months, with mainly symptoms of fatigue and headaches. I thought the problem was motivation and I thought if I could just set the right targets, I’d get there.
My revelation over the past few months has been that my days need more writing in them. And yet I’ve let my inner critic bully me into believing that my book is rubbish and that no-one will want to read it. I think I’ve been procrastinating by arranging too many social outings and not only has it tired me out, but it has also distracted me from making progress on the work. My idol, Elizabeth Gilbert, has often mentioned that quality is not our responsibility; we just have to show up and do the work. As I’ve mentioned, I’m working through the creative recovery program in the book the Artist’s Way. The book has taught me that showing up is the most important thing I can do, even in the face of negative feedback and the Wet Blankets who will try to squash my dream.
So perhaps my lesson from the past few weeks, feeling that my health is slipping backwards after all these months, is now clear: DO MORE WRITING. This morning I spent about ninety minutes on my book and it felt great. The quality cannot be guaranteed yet but that’s not my focus. Right now, it’s my job to show up and write. For hours if I can. And how do I feel? Great! I want to feel like this every day and this thought has made me more resolved to finish this book.
I saw my doctor this morning and he confirmed that I’m now in remission officially. I have been working towards this point for a long time and I have been worrying about my health and my constraints a lot. Last week’s setback of feeling so tired and feeling like I’m losing ground was perhaps a lesson that needed to come before the remission confirmation. Maybe I needed to feel that tired again to remind me that I don’t just dive into life again full steam ahead because it won’t serve me.
So perhaps I got what I needed, and not what I thought I wanted.