You may have noticed that I have been posting less often the last few months. I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve just been immersed in related writing projects. I’m moving toward the finish line for publication of my third book! There’s still a lot of work to do. I’m meeting with a graphic designer to get the cover together. I’m meeting with a group of friends by zoom every other week to comb through the manuscript for errors in spelling, grammar, and flow. This attention is helping me become a better writer, and I am very grateful for the support.
Over the winter I spent dozens of hours preparing and submitting a grant application to help me fund publication––thousands of dollars that don’t exist in my current budget. I knew that getting the grant might be a long shot so I didn’t hold my breath waiting. Actually, I applied a skill I learned during my cancer journey. There were many times when I had to wait days or weeks for biopsy or other test results, results that could change my life in a heartbeat. The skill I learned is a bit of a mental trick: I accept that the results are an unknown, and I sit with the unknowing. If I spend all my time waiting for the results in a state of distress and the results are positive, I will have wasted all that time being stressed out when I didn’t need to be. If I spend all my time waiting in a state of distress and the results are not positive, then I will have wasted all that time feeling bad when I could have had just a little more time feeling good. Either way, stressing out is wasting my time and energy. Accepting the unknown as it is allows me space.
I applied that skill to the two months I was waiting to hear about the grant. Last week I found out that I was not chosen. Even though I tried not to invest emotionally in the outcome, I have to admit that I am disappointed. Yes, yes, there were positives to having gone through the grant protocol. It was a good exercise in getting my publishing process organized and on track. Feedback from the grantors is an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. The feedback showed that I had actually done a good job on the my proposal, but my request had gotten buried in a deep field of applicants (almost 80 people applied for 12 slots). I can hang my hat on those mental reassurances, but they don’t really help me feel better.
Well-meaning friends have offered the tired cliche, “everything happens for a reason.” I don’t actually believe that. I don’t believe that there is some puppeteer in the sky organizing every individual human action all day long. I do believe that interconnected events happen and then we choose how to respond. We can react with ego attachment or we can place them in a bigger picture.
Being disappointed is a normal ego reaction. Of course I would have liked to have gotten that money to help me move forward. When I look under that disappointment I find that there are deeper feelings. Not being chosen triggers a sense of failure in me. My brain knows that this is silly thinking. But my heart is vulnerable from a long history of being told that I’m not good enough, that I’m not important, that I take up too much space. I’m not going to tell that small person inside me that those are not valid feelings. I acknowledge that this is a learned response to family and cultural voices.
I also acknowledge the voices of my ever-true support team––my Teachers. Their “bigger picture” comes from a vantage point that I can barely even imagine. They’ve inspired me to see the beauty and positivity of human existence. They’ve shared amazing gifts with me. When I remember my purpose in sharing those gifts I have confidence that I’m on the right path, no matter what that happens to look like in any given moment. Whether I receive one picky-oonie grant or not, hahaha.
[Coincidence? After writing this post I looked at my Holiday Mathis horoscope: “When it comes down to it, your life won’t be all that different because of a few thousand dollars. Decide to feel rich and act in kind.”]
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