First post in what might end up being a short series …

But first I need to be all disclaimer-ey …

  • So I find most non-Jennifer-Louden-written self-help-ey books to be pretty insipid — but I adore Wishcraft by Barbara Sher.
  • You can download the ebook version at no cost on her website — If you do, you’ll probably want to print it out so you can scribble all over it.
  • Personally, I’d say: buy the book. Totally worth it.
  • My duck and I are going through Barbara’s wacky exercises and sharing that process with you. That makes this is a pretty atypical blog post, but what the hell.
  • We’re in Taos this week guest-teaching at Jen Louden’s fabulous Writer’s Retreat but I’m trying to check in here when I can.

Barbara Sher’s smart question:

Oh, how I love her. She says things like “Goals exist only to serve you and make you happy. You don’t exist to serve them.” She reminds us that goals can change. Even a lot.

Or that we’re allowed to yearn for many different, even conflicting things at the same time. And to bring in at least some aspects of these parts-of-who-we-might-be into daily life.

Anyway, in Chapter 4* she gives this terrific exercise called Five Lives And How To Live Them All:

“Think about it: if you had five lives, what would you do with each one?

I don’t mean if you were five different people. I mean if you could be you five times over and explore a different talent, interest or lifestyle to the fullest each time …

… If you could manage nicely with three lives, take three. If you need ten, help yourself. I just picked five because it’s a nice round number.”

*And no, I’m not the world’s biggest plagiarizing asshat for giving away her content. She lets you download the entire book for free.

So that’s the exercise.

You’re allowed contradictions. You’re allowed to put down whatever comes up. You don’t have to figure out how you’d be able to support yourself with it. These are just your ideal lives.

My five lives. (Okay, six.)

  • Exactly what I’m doing right now.
  • Full-time writer. Like, I get up and write for an hour the way I do now. But then the rest of the day is about writing too.
  • Full-time yoga educator / yoga professional. I’d be teaching pretty much exactly the same stuff I do now, but in the yoga world instead of … right here.
  • Dancer. Not the kind that performs. Not interested in that. But I would spend my days stretching and moving and creating choreographies and being with my body. Taking movement classes. Teaching movement classes. Turning on the radio and going crazy.
  • A monk? I don’t really know what to call this, but a life of seclusion and retreat.
  • World traveler.

What I’m learning/noticing from doing this ….

I actually do manage to incorporate more elements from my “ideal life” (whatever that means) into the one I’m actually living right now than I ever would have guessed.

That surprised the hell out of me, and it’s really, really reassuring somehow.

I know what’s important to me: writing, movement, working-on-my stuff, being quiet. But I don’t really give these things a lot of thought.

So … are there ways I can have more of this? Ways that I can make more time for it? Give it more conscious attention?

And I also have the strong sense that the more I bring in aspects from these different lives, the more whole I will feel right now.

So even though I’m noticing that there is a part of me who doesn’t believe that Writer Me and Dancer Me and Angel Refueling Station Me can co-exist … there is also another part of me who is really excited to see what happens if and when they choose to spend some time together.

Or to spend some time with me.

Do you want to play with me? Yay.

I would love it if you gave this exercise a shot. Not sure how useful it is without the context of Barbara’s amazing book, but you can definitely get cool stuff from it anyway.

And then if you want to share some (or all) of your results here, that would be really interesting — and fun!

And then I won’t be being all self-help-ey all by myself.

In terms of “comment zen” for these posts? I’m thinking, let’s try for less of the “this is stupid” and more of the “this is what I’m noticing”.

Because it’s really easy for me to start hating an exercise before I’ve really tried it. And I’m trying to just kind of throw myself into these and see what happens.

Wheee! Play with me!