I’m leading a group on the Enneagram at my church these days. It’s been enriching for me to delve more deeply into the work. I’m learning more about the various personality types and enjoy helping people both understand themselves more deeply and see the significant differences between us, in terms of our perspectives, capacities, challenges, and gifts.
In the process, of course, I’m being reminded about aspects of myself as well. One of the paradoxes of my particular type is that we can be profoundly creative at our most healthy—and struggle to create when we let our emotional coping mechanisms take over.
For example, I’ve previously mentioned those many writing ideas I’ve had. I will be attending the Women Writing the West conference here in Tucson in late October, and have a brief opportunity to meet with an agent or editor to pitch a project. I am finding myself feeling paralyzed when it comes to choosing a project to pitch. Should I aim for a selection of these blog posts, focused on a particular Western-oriented theme, given the nature of the conference? Should I gather together some of my poetry, following the same idea? Should I pitch something that will likely require inclusion of my photographs, understanding that this makes for a much more expensive printed book, or use the opportunity to learn about electronic publishing so I might include my photography? Do I worry about which of these might be most lucrative, or focus instead upon what I believe to be most valuable for potential readers?
I am writing this post at 4:30 am because I’ve let these questions, and more, keep me awake. Naturally, this is probably not the best or healthiest way to proceed. Some days are like that. Accepting this fact is part of having compassion for myself. And, learning how to be a healthier version of myself can allow me to better handle these questions—to avoid taking them into the territory that I call “spinning,” where I mentally go in circles, returning to the same questions again and again, without finding answers.
Which is why I am sitting at my computer, typing this at 4:30 am. I have learned that the best way to stop spinning is to get up and do something different. If I am still feeling wide awake when this is done, I will probably edit a client project for a while, then return to bed and hope to sleep in, or take a bit of a nap later. (One advantage of the freelance life is that afternoon naps are sometimes possible!)
Self-understanding is helpful in many aspects of life—most definitely including the spiritual. Much of my work is inherently spiritual—the content, my perspective, my reliance on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide me and those with whom I work. That can lead me, in less healthy moments, to take my relationship with God for granted. When I find myself awake at 4:30 am, it’s also a reminder that I need to make time for God in my rhythm of life—no matter the hour.
Maybe, before diving into client work, I’ll go hang out with God for a bit.