Listen to me read the post:
I came here, to the lake, feeling discouraged and a little burnt out from putting so much free content into the world. This is the time of year I have to be the most active on social media because we are marketing our Fall programs, both online and in-person. I always find myself getting knocked off my equilibrium in times like these. I start seeing social media as a monster with insatiable hunger and I am one of many who are chained to the beast and must never stop feeding it lest it turn toward us to make a meal out of our bodies. The beast keeps changing its algorithms, which means that we, its feeders, need to keep finding new and novel ways to satiate its hunger. If we don’t, we can’t pay our bills and capitalism eats us alive. (Yes, I can be a little dramatic sometimes.)
I came to the lake because the lake and the woods nourish me. They help me remember who I am. They ground me and help me return to more embodied presence. Here, I can disentangle myself from the beast and remember that no beast will ever determine who I am.
But the complicated truth is that I also came here to write. I’m at the lake not just for self-care, but to pump out more of that free content that I keep sending out into the world – content that, while generous and emerging from an open heart, is at least partly for the purpose of encouraging people to sign up for our programs. And so, even though I am disconnected here, and I am reminded of who I am, there is still a thread that ties me to the beast and, especially at this time of year when my business partner and I need to make enough money to sustain us for the year ahead, I can’t be fully free of it.
This morning, I went down to the dock to watch the thick fog begin to lift off the water. The world felt mystical and I was happy to be part of it. I’d already written one post upon waking, and I was feeling good about the work I came here to do, but I was still feeling some of that niggling dread that comes from being tied to the beast. I longed to be free, to write what I want, without the beast smacking its lips as it looks over my shoulder.
At the dock, I chatted with a woman and the two children who were with her. I told her I envied her dry folding lawn chair – I hadn’t thought to bring one from home and all of the wooden outdoor furniture at the rented cabin was wet from the overnight rain. I asked her about the children and discovered they weren’t hers – she was watching them for the friend she’d come with who was back at their cabin. I told her that I’d come here for a few days to write and she worried that the noise of the children might be a distraction for me. I said, no, I miss the happy sounds of children and it doesn’t bother me.
As I walked away from the dock, the mother of the children arrived, carrying her morning coffee. We chatted briefly and then I went back to my cabin. I covered one of the wet chairs with a garbage bag and set up my laptop on the small outdoor table with a view of the lake.
Twenty minutes later, a voice called out from the path beside my cabin. “Sorry to disturb you…” the voice said, as the mother of the children appeared around the corner, “but my friend said you hadn’t brought a lawn chair and that you’re having to sit on wet chairs. We have an extra chair so I brought you one.” She placed it on the small deck, and I thanked her.
“I have an odd question,” she said. “My friend told me you’re a writer and I’m wondering… are you by any chance Heather Plett?”
“I am!” I said. It’s not often that I get recognized, so it still delights and surprises me when it happens.
“Oh!” she said. “I’m on your mailing list and I’ve responded to your writing a few times because it means SO MUCH to me! Sometimes I feel lost and you say just the things I need to hear and I don’t feel so alone anymore. I’ve read your book too. I am SO grateful for what you write!”
“That means a lot to me,” I said, meaning it more than she could have imagined. “You’ve given me renewed energy for the writing I came here to do.”
“I’m learning to hold space for myself, just as you write about. This morning, for example, I had to take a break from my children so that I could take care of myself.” I told her how glad I was to hear that she was doing that. “We moms need to resource ourselves,” I said.
We talked for a few more minutes about the challenges of motherhood and then she turned to go. “I don’t want to take too much of your time,” she said, graciously.
To that woman, who gifted me far more than a lawn chair, I want to say THANK YOU! You were far from a disturbance this morning, you were a messenger. You reminded me of the real reason I do this work. You reminded me that my words have value and purpose and they are not simply fodder for the beast. You gave me hope in a moment of discouragement.
I will keep writing for you, dear woman, and for all of the other people who need a lamp to be lit so that they can find their paths. I will keep writing because other people lit lamps for me too. I will do my best to make peace with the hungry beast so that my words can land where they need to, and I will remember that even hungry beasts have soft, vulnerable hearts that need to be tended.
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”― Rainer Maria Rilke
P.S. If a writer, artist, musician or content creator of any kind is creating something that inspires you, makes you laugh, challenges you, or makes you feel less alone, tell them! They might need to hear it.
If you want to dive into more of what I’ve created, consider joining us for the How to Hold Space Foundation Program. It starts the week of October 23rd.
Some of you have asked me to add a tip jar to my post, so that you can offer financial support when something I write moves you. Here’s a link for that purpose.