Where’d My Mojo Go?

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Where’s it gone? Where’s my fire? Waiting around for a lightning bolt of inspiration is not the answer, so this morning I sit rubbing my mental sticks together hoping for at least a spark, maybe enough to ignite a long-burning flame. I know what it takes – I’ve done it. For years I had disciplined practices for yoga, for writing, meditation. Had. I have no idea what happened. It’s been awhile and have no excuses, no good reason.

I churned out a complete manuscript while Molly was still living at home. I made her breakfast, her lunch and took her to school each morning just after 7. I did all this and still managed to write – as if in a trance, for an hour. I did that. I marvel now. Now, I go to work at 8 – giving me almost another hour and my daughter’s away at college so time is all mine. Plus, I have my own little room to write in. There’s no reason I couldn’t get in a few yoga stretches and a page or two.

Instead, I sleep a little later and when I do get up, I dawdle away my precious daybreak reading other people’s blogs or worse, scrolling through Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. Really. I admit this shamefully. Instead of doing what I know makes me feel centered and purposeful and healthy – writing, yoga, meditating – I aimlessly fritter away my time with mental junk food.

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Why is it so hard for me to get back into that magic zone? I know I’ll be happier, so why don’t I just do it? I have piles of books to inspire and guide me. In the dark moments before falling asleep at night and rising in the morning, I sometimes mentally write a post, start an essay, another book – and poof! – by the time I get back here to this chair, it’s gone. I know the trick about scribbling notes. Trust me, I have plenty of scribbles. But I’ve still got to put my ass in the seat and lay down the words, take my spot on the mat and stretch out my achy hips. And I’ll feel better.

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It takes regularly sitting, breathing, focus, writing, breathing. Writing becomes like a┬ámeditation only my fingers move. And don’t, don’t move away from this screen, this lovely clear, empty, distraction free space. No emails, no news – that’s the end. That’s what sucks away the morning, leaving me no richer, providing no sustenance.

It’s discipline – practice. Life feels much better when I have a practice in place. I carry the focus, the story, the posture with me throughout the day — a rich, quiet center that feels like the true me. I move through the day carrying whatever story I’m telling, with a sense of my body moving, standing tall, stretching, breathing, being in the world — not just within the parameters of my working hours, ringing sales at the cash register or staring at computer screens to answer emails — but a rich interior life I get to carry with me. The life that doesn’t pay my mortgage but sustains me just as much.

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That’s what I want back – that sense of who I really am in the world. That’s why I write, stretch, sit, breathe – a way of being that gives me joy. It has to do with seeing more than what is apparent – that which is only visible if you pay attention both inwardly and out. When I have a practice in place, I feel an incredible awareness of time and space with every breath. How delicious breathing becomes!

I know this — so why have I slipped? Why is it so hard for me to get back in the groove? Now it’s colder and darker in the mornings – even more of a challenge to crawl out from between the sheets. But that’s just another excuse. I have no good answer for losing myself like this.

I feel like I’ve come clean here, confessing to you – and it feels good. Having spent many years reaping the benefits of the AlAnon rooms, I know the power of ‘admitting’ and I suspect, I’m not alone. Any one else with ‘mojo’ problems out there?

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12 Responses to Where’d My Mojo Go?

  1. I have the same Mojo problems, Tricia. And less excuse for it, since I’m “retired”! I could write all day, 8 hours (or more) a day, 6 days (or more) a week, but I don’t. Like you, I get caught up in blogging, emails, online articles, 24-hr news cycle, books and magazines, cleaning, gardening, etc, etc.But I’m working at creating a more consistent writing practice. And I suppose that’s all we can do. And maybe, like you are doing, admitting our short-comings, remembering the joy of writing, and letting that motivate us. And also, remembering that all writers have struggled with this. We are not alone.

  2. Tricia, with every sentence of this post that I read, I kept saying to myself: “yes, this is me as well.” My son is away at college as well, yet I too get out of bed later and spend WAY TOO MUCH time online. I am a piano teacher and though I spend time daily at the piano with my students, I’m finding it difficult to commit to regular time at the piano alone for my own musical soul. Why do I self sabotage this gift by distracting myself with other things?? The 64 million dollar question!!!

    Thank you for writing so honestly about this — it’s time for me to come clean in my life as well. Best of luck in pursuing your practice(s) and taking back your mojo!

  3. Tricia says:

    Deborah – I find comfort in knowing you’re in the same wrestling match!

  4. Tricia says:

    And you too! More good company here. We should make a Mojo-Retreat!

  5. I am newly retired and have wasted the last 8 weeks doing just what you do Tricia. Every word you wrote applies to me. I retired because I had lost my mojo. Since I have retired these past 8 weeks have been a dismal failure. I have a patient publisher (for how long?). I seem to take longer to do everything. It’s as if I am working on slow time. Before I retired I was operating on an average of 5 hours sleep. My main goal is to get back to 8 hours – just achieved in the past 7 days. I am giving myself until February. My daughter is coming back from a posting in Geneva for Christmas. Then I have to leave my house and move to a smaller one with my 2 ageing pooches. So much to do to re-order my life. Finances have yet to be sorted (that’s early 2015). So much to do before I get a clear run at the rest of my life.

  6. Tricia says:

    All these changes sound exciting, though stressful. I think taking longer to do everything is a good thing, really. Why not? I like that “get a clear run at the rest of my life”. Best of luck with the moving bit especially – one of life’s greatest stresses!

  7. Tricia, I feel the same way . . . the sad truth is that it is much easier to break or lose habits than it is to adopt them. Also, I know I don’t have as much as energy as I did during my child-rearing years.

    I have recently done two things that I hope will help me get back in the groove. I signed up for a 4-week writing class that meets once a week on Wednesday evenings (And I hate going out in the evenings.) It requires that you write a story EVERY day — the prompts are emailed to you each morning at 6. I also prepaid for some yoga classes. I am hoping these things will make me accountable to myself — I don’t want to waste money! I’ll let you know how it goes. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself about the mental junk food. I often find real nuggets of inspiration from Twitter and Facebook. I think the trick is to set a timer (10 or 15 minutes, max) and then log out for the day. Good luck!

    P.S. I love the photos of your writing space!

  8. Elissa says:

    I love this post. Thank-you for this post! It describes what I imagine to be everyone’s struggle — describes it with the most amazing clarity and honesty. You have captured our moment in time with such grace and elegance. I recently discovered a lovely book I would like to recommend to your readers: The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche — a very useful book about the intersection of Buddhism and science — a 21st century primer for the pursuit of happiness!

  9. maryadler says:

    I am where you are now. Stalled and stalling and vowing to focus my energy on the activity that grounds me and makes me happy. Writing the sequel to my mystery novel. I am plotting and researching and trying to be organized by the time my husband and his friend go away the friday after Thanksgiving. I figure alone with the dogs I should be able to get some momentum going. ­čÖé
    Thank you for the wonderful post. And may your mojo return post haste.
    Mary

  10. Lea Sylvestro says:

    And of course, this was a wonderful, honest, piece. Have you read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird lately? I’m pretty sure that within those pages she describes the same frittering of time on the way to writing…up for a coffee refill. A catch-up call to a friend. A quick walk to get the blood moving. Hmmm..better get those dishes done. We all do it. Today is my writing day…it’s 12:03 and I’ve changed the sheets, put in the laundry, called my Mom, checked emails, and read your blog. I think we all do it and it’s good to read your piece and have a partner in procrastination. But, you are also in a partner in all of those other elements you describe – feeling stronger and more self-true when a solid piece of writing is underway. XO

  11. Sheila donohue says:

    Tricia, perhaps you could just consider this period as fallow time. Even the most productive fields need times of rest. Take care, and by the way, your pictures are lovely, Sheila

  12. Me too. Me too. Ever since we moved to the farm I’ve been unable to find a practice, a rhythm for my day that allows for writing. I truly think it’s not the farm but Facebook, which is highly addictive and does hold some great encouragement. I love to read it and when I’m tired can spend a whole day reading it, instead of getting outside, playing with the ponies, writing.

    So thank you for this honesty. I wish we could form some kind of support group for getting back to our practices.

    Love the pictures of your writing space and house. Mine is all cluttery. Bookshelves. I tell Bruce to make me bookshelves!

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