“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

I was ready. It was time. I wanted to live my truth.

I had spent so many years ignoring my true desires, and what was in my heart. Instead, I followed the expectations of others. My family, my partner and what I felt that society expected of me.

I had a career that was financially rewarding, but I didn’t enjoy it, and I socialized with a group of people that I didn’t feel emotionally connected to.

At the time, I felt that I got a lot in return. I felt safe, secure and a part of something. Even though, it wasn’t something that I particularly believed in, or that was a good fit for my soul. From the outside, it looked like the perfect life.

When I began to awaken to this discovery, I didn’t realize what was happening. Now, I can see I was discovering my own truth, but at the time, it just felt uncomfortable and lonely.

When I made the decision to commit to my truth completely, and live life according to my passion and purpose, I felt so much fear. All the time.

It was a long time coming, and stepping into the unknown wasn’t easy.

Deep within me, I knew that I if I didn’t listen and take the leap then, I might never take it. And, I knew the ‘perfect’ time just did not exist. I did not want to waste any more time.

While some people encouraged me, others did not. That made me more fearful. I hesitated.

I decided that even thought I didn’t know how it would turn out, and I couldn’t control the outcome, all I could do was take a leap.

I began to study to become a psychotherapist, and over time began working as a psychotherapist. My emotional self was thawing out, and I began to feel my emotions again. The good, the bad and the sad. I was healing.

During this time of transition, on the surface, my life looked the same, but I felt very different.

The way I was showing up in my life had completely changed. I had awakened to something deeply authentic in me. To my creativity, wisdom, spirit, joy and love.

I didn’t really know why I was feeling different, but I knew I wanted to keep it up. I was catching on to a new way of being that was better than the past.

I felt open to receiving my truth and all the love in the universe. I began to feel a deep sense of peace within me, and I knew everything would be ok. I trusted that. I would always show up for me.

I allowed myself to be supported during this process. Both by professionals, friends and loved ones.

Sometimes we have to struggle a long time before we awaken and listen to the truth within ourselves. I know that I did.

Everyone’s truth looks different. And you don’t have to struggle.

You may come to realize that your life no longer works for you. Your job, your relationship, your community, or a combination of these things may no longer feel right for you now.

If you’re honest, some things in your life probably haven’t felt right for a long time.

When will you commit to your truth daily, so that you are perfectly aligned with love, consciousness and joy?

When I stepped into the unknown, I felt anxious and scared. That is my truth.

And now I am free.

To create a flexible future, based on love and desire, rather than external forces.

What about you? Is it time to live what’s in your heart? Here are some considerations on the path:

1. Turn towards your difficult feelings, instead of turning away — notice when you want to distract yourself by comparing yourself to others, working too much, exercising, watching TV, socializing, or by telling yourself that you are not normal for following your new path.

2. Be patient – take as much time as you need — you’ve lived your life in a certain way for a long time, and it will take time to learn a new way of being. Don’t rush it.

3. Embrace chaos – (and there will be chaos) — you may feel out of control and directionless sometimes, and this is to be expected. Welcome chaos, and within the chaos, there will be change.

4. Feel in order to heal — be open to your experience, and all emotions are welcome. The way you feel at any time won’t last too long.

5. Allow yourself to receive – open to your vulnerability and allow yourself to be supported by loved ones and professionals — people who will listen without judgement, take time to understand your struggle and help you make sense of what’s happening for you.

I’ve learned so much during this journey towards truth. I now take time for myself every day. I’ve added breathing, yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices to my daily life. I’ve established a practice of being with my feelings and feeling compassion and love for myself. I see so much love and beauty in myself, and within others as well.
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I spent hours reading and reading The Journals of John Cheever. I also read the A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf and Vladimir Nabokov’s memoir Speak Memory.

And in each of these personal works, I learnt hard lessons that helped me view the world a little differently.

Here are five of those lessons:

1. Discipline is more important than passion

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Anytime, I avoid writing because I’m tired, bored or devoid of ideas, I remind myself of the importance of discipline.

Almost every writer I’ve read about sacrificed to pursue their work. They rose early or worked late into the night and the wrote because they had to and not just when they were inspired.

Virginia Woolf wrote most mornings until the early afternoon. Today, it’s striking to listen to read about scribbles of pen on paper and page.

“I generally write with heat and ease till 12.30; and thus do my two pages. So it will be done, written over that is, in 3 weeks, I forecast from today,” she writes.

Cheever bemoans his lack of discipline throughout his journals. However, in an entry written shortly before his death in 1982, he recognises he possessed this essential, and now-departing, personal strength.

“I have climbed from a bed on the second floor to reach this typewriter. This was an achievement. I do not understand what has happened to the discipline, or character, that has brought me here for so many years,” he writes.

2. It’s productive to have a side-interest or hobby

Yes discipline is important, but not at the cost of day-to-day life.

For a long time, I thought there was nothing more important than filling a blank page with sentences.

Now, I spend time swimming, running, reading, working, eating, meeting friends and sit quietly.

I do other things that aren’t writing.

And I’m OK with that.

Even if you’ve found a passion, side-interests are essential.

When you’re in danger of burning out, taking time pursue a side-interest will stoke the embers of what inspires you.

Woolf chronicled her long walks while Cheever wrote dozens of entries about swimming, cycling, and meeting friends.

“I do have trouble with the dead hours of the afternoon without skating, skiing, bicycling, swimming, or sexual discharges or drink,” he writes.

Nabokov had little time for eating, socialising or drinking coffee with friends.

Instead, he loved to solve chess problems and study butterflies. Both of these interests informed his work. And his novel, Zashchita Luzhina (The Luzhin Defense), features an insane chess player.

He writes in his memoir, “And the highest enjoyment of timelessness…is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love.”

If you’re having trouble finding a side-interest or hobby to complement your passion, exercise is the most simple and effective change you can make to your life

3. Even the greats are insecure

I don’t like writing posts like this. I worry how people will perceive me, and if I’ll upset or offend anyone.

I’m insecure, but (sometimes) I write these kind of posts anyway.

Virginia Woolf taught me even the greats were insecure about their work and that if I didn’t worry, then something would be amiss. Criticism can even help writers improve their craft.

She writes, “What is the use of saying one is indifferent to reviews when positive praise, though mingled with blame, gives one such a start on, that instead of feeling dried up, one feels, on the contrary, flooded with ideas?”

Cheever wasn’t one for paying too much attention to his critics.

He almost never re-read his works or the reviews about them.

That said, even Cheever occasionally dreamt (worried) about how people saw him.

He writes in his journal, “…and last night I had a dream that a brilliant reviewer pointed out that there was an excess of lamentation in my work.”

One way to overcome insecurity is to practice expressing gratitude.

I try to do this by thanking those who take time to read or even share my work, and by appreciating that writers today have more places to express themselves than before.

4. It’s natural to consider mortality and death

Several years ago,I became a father for the first time.

It was a happy time but after my son was born, I dreamt about death and how my life would end.

I knew I wasn’t depressed but, for a while, I worried there was something wrong with me. Then a friend (also a recent father), confessed the same thoughts.

As we get older, it’s natural to consider mortality and death. To pretend death isn’t exist is to live in ignorance of the bond we all share.

There are echoes of death in Woolf’s, Cheever’s and Nabokov’s memoirs, and these echoes show it is *unnatural* to never consider our place.

In the opening pages of Speak Memory, Nabokov unpacks the notion of time as a single linear event. He challenged the reader to see not just the end point of life, but the beginning of life as well.

He writes, “….my mind has made colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life.”

Rust Cohle would agree.

5. There’s a place for happiness and sadness

The journals of Cheever, Woolf and Nabokov taught me that keeping a journal helps identify negative patterns, thoughts and behaviours.

Woolf writes about her depression at length. In 1934, she describes the period after she finished her experimental novel the Waves.

“I was, I remember, nearer suicide, seriously, than since 1913.”

John chronicles his alcoholism at length in his journal and towards the end of his book, it’s hard not the feel the same sense of relief as he does upon *finally* becoming sober.

I don’t want to be too morbid here.

The journals of these authors aren’t all filled with dark life lessons and lamentations. Nabokov writes at length about his love for his mother and father, his son and Russia of old.

And I’ve yet to read a more powerful personal mission statement than Cheever’s aspiration:

“To write well, to write passionately, to be less inhibited, to be warmer, to be more self-critical, to recognise the power of as well as the force of lust, to write, to love.”

And Finally…

I’m not going to lie and pretend there’s something in these journals for everyone. These are just lessons that authors John, Virginia and Vladimir taught me.

Perhaps they affected me because I’m interested in the lives of other authors.

I feel as if I know them because their problems and struggles are one-part unique and another-part universal.
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