Some years ago I was mooching around in a quagmire wondering if I would ever 'do anything' with some children's stories I had written. Ben had mentioned a writing coach Julia McCutchen to me a couple of times and suggested I meet up with her. But because I am a stubborn mule and because he is basically family, I ignored this tibbit of gold and continued gazolloping about, feeling blue about these stories I had written and wasn't doing anything about. Eventually or maybe it's just that the timing was right, I got in touch with Julia and we met in January 2013. We ended up speaking about many things, children's stories being but one of them.
We spoke about getting published and the importance of cultivating a network around you and terrifying things like blogs were mentioned. And then Julia said something that is perhaps one of the most empowering statements that anyone has ever said to me: you are a creative woman Laura and I invite you to throw the net open on your life and see the yoga teaching, your events and the writing and being a mother as parts of you that are not separate to each other, but connected through their connection to you.
Because truth is, at least as far as I can see, we are all phenomenally creative. But what limits that creativity is partly our acknowledgment of it but also our limited exploration of it. How many of us are encouraged (really) to explore our creativity?
Over the next year I worked with Julia as my writing coach. Rather then focus on the children’s stories Julia encouraged me to throw the net open and include the other things in my life that I am passionate about and write about those in whatever way or style that came.
After a period where there were long gaps in my writing and normally during a moment snatched where I'd scrabble some things on the back of a book in an aeroplane, it felt exquisite to be writing so much. Not since I was a child have I allowed myself to write write and write.
During this process Julia encouraged me to step away from the results orientated part of me that wanted to know where I am going and trust the more expansive inclusive part of me, for which the end goal was not a priority. And so it was that writing coaching became life coaching. For in many ways Julia was asking me to step into my femininity. To say yes to the flow and expansiveness of life and say hey not now wait a bit, to the order and direction that I had come to favour.
This was excruciating at times. Not only where there parts of me that were chaffing at the bit to know where all of this was going, not just for me, but so that I could give a answer to friends and family who were asking with increasing concern what was it exactly that I was doing.
"Hey Lau, what you working on at the moment?"
"Um I'm working on my flow and trust in life.... Urr, I mean I'm working on some projects right now."
"Ah right, gotcha..."
As uncomfortable as it felt at times, it also felt intense and confusing. Not only with the lack of direction with the writing but all over my life as a first time mother, in therapy where I went once a week to see a woman (this was a period when I have definitely been guided by a lot of women in my life, a blog to follow!) to work on my dreams and then as a partner to Ben as we struggled to make our relationship work. I was being asked to throw the net open on my ability to be comfortable with where I was going in my life, even if it didn’t make sense to others. Or even to me.
Until one day I could take it no longer...
...I felt frustrated at the lack of any clear direction and that I couldn’t show anyone anything a bit more concrete. So on my last monthly call with Julia I said I can't take this anymore! I need to know, what’s happening here? And she said stop trying to be perfect Laura, just do it, do the blog. This was the Thursday before Easter Friday. 3 days later on Easter Sunday www.throwingthenetopen.com went live with An Unfortunate Predicament.
"The path is the goal." Chogyam Trungpa.
The original goal was to write with no clear focus of what I was writing. Don't limit yourself Laura, Julia advised. So I gave the blog the tag line - 'Stories for the child in every adult & the adult in every child,' which had originally been an introduction to the story about Sid and his unfortunate predicament but became a kind of reference point for me to write a variety of different pieces from short stories like The Habit of Remembering to more personal pieces like Being Deaf. I posted once a week, every Sunday for 6 months (with the exception of one when I went on holiday with Ben and Eve and decided to use it to really unwind).
And then the time came summer was moving into autumn (way to early this year) and it was time to harvest what was sown in the depths of Spring that fine Easter Sunday morning. In other words what was throwing the net open? Great that I was writing every week, but what was the focus? Why would anyone want to read these stories?
And so there has been more enquiring and head down and asking and doubts and humphs and hmmm's and then finally Throwing The Net Open, the vision of it and the why of it is clearer. Or at least a little less smudged. Hooray!
What Throwing The Net Open means to me
The Buddhists have a saying - "Don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.” It is one I often forget. You see throwing the net open is something that I have a changing relationship to. It is something that has gone from being an invitation, then an inspiration, and now a tangible way of life. The net is the boundary I set around my life in order to feel safe. This can be helpful at times. And at others, it can be a hindrance. Because as far as I can see I am my own jailor. Not my parents, nor my friends, or even the greater good. Just me with this one great big ol'barnacled humdinger of a net that I try every now and again to wrap around me, least life goes on a changing reminding me of something a part of me would rather I forget: this life - it just ain't up for controlling.