Last month I went away to Prince Edward Island and basically told everyone I know (and people I don’t know, including the readers of this website) that I was going there to write.
“Yep, going to do some serious, major writing there,” I practically bragged to my neighbour.
“Yeah, I’m holing myself up there to write,” I told my hairdresser, dusting off my shoulders.
“I’m totally writing all the livelong day! HI HO, HI HO!” I screamed (well, wrote in CAPS letters maybe) at the top of my roof/Twitter/Facebook feeds.
And, after thirty-one days in PEI, I can report that I didn’t really write a lot.
Upon landing in Charlottetown and moving into my cozy rental cottage, I didn’t write because I had to buy groceries. I couldn’t starve because then I would die and so how would I be able to write? And of course I couldn’t write if that meant I had to navigate my foreign surroundings because, obviously, I needed to find these groceries that would fuel my creativity and these long days of writing.
And then there were all these wonderful shops and gorgeous scenic routes in town, and wouldn’t it just be a crime if I didn’t explore my new city? And then my friends came to visit, and I couldn’t just leave them alone, right? How rude! So we visited stunning beaches and walked many, many kilometres as we stumbled upon breathtaking dunes and cliffs and tasted wild blueberries and raspberries while we hiked in the refreshing rain.
And then, when they left, I finally wrote a little. But I also walked across enchanting meadows and hills and spread my arms wide like I was freaking Maria in The Sound of Music. I sat in my garden and watched the birds, I meditated on the boardwalk overlooking the ocean, I went to musicals (all Anne of Green Gables renditions, of course), I took a cheesy tour bus ride, and I treated myself to big, delicious meals.
Basically, instead of writing, I lived.
And as I was doing all this lovely living of life, I came to the realization that there was more in this big, beautiful world that I wanted to learn about and explore and enjoy and incorporate into my lifestyle, like nature, wildlife, animals and fitness. And then I came to this HUGE revelation, like a “Luke, I am your father”/the infamous Crying Game scene-type of revelation. I realized that writing wasn’t the end all be all for me. Not just in PEI, but in my life. WTF?!
For as long as I can remember, I have always been writer. I love writing. I respect it, admire it, and hate it at times. I am simultaneously frustrated and validated by it, and have, on occasion, derived sometimes orgasmic-levels of pleasure from it. It is truly my longest relationship. So for me to realize that I didn’t want to type on my computer 24/7, ceaselessly pitch and create something from nothing on the regular, felt like an immense betrayal. Not only against writing itself, but also against me, including the younger version of me who had set all of these goals and dreams for herself many years ago. I felt guilty. I panicked. I thought, “Is it okay for me to think this way?”
The short answer: yes.
Even though it still feels shaky to admit that I want to do something more with my life, I also feel excited and free because I realized something else while I was in PEI. I realized that it’s okay to change your mind.
Really. It’s okay to wake up one day and not like the plan you made for yourself. It’s okay to not like where you are and want something different. The coffee order, the paint colour, the career, the partner, what you’re wearing. It’s totally okay to change your mind about it all. It’s also okay to want that AND that. And yes, it’s especially okay to change your mind at the magnifying moment when you say, all Iyanla-style, “I want to change my life.” Changing your mind is a declaration of intense self-care, which means it’s absolutely necessary and vital for your growth and evolution.
There is no shame involved when changing one’s mind. No apologies or judgment, either. We make huge life decisions when we’re young, or inexperienced, and there’s nothing wrong with outgrowing old goals or values, and there’s no point in holding onto an outdated version of yourself simply because you said you’d be a doctor/movie star/mother last month or in your high school yearbook.
When we remain stuck to our expired belief system, to the tired relationship, to the job that no longer gives us that special ‘oomph,’ we get to stay miserable. We get to say, “I told you so.” We get to have stubborn pride that isn’t actually satisfying, but is downright obnoxious and super duper toxic. Loving and honouring our various talents, interests, curiosities, instincts and inner compass (which is almost always pointing in the right direction) is the best gift we can give to ourselves.
Change could be good or bad, but the best part is, you get to choose. You get to live a new version of you. And here’s another cool thing: often when we seemingly change course or direction, we find ourselves arriving at the same destination as before – we just needed to pick up some new things and/or drop off some old shit while on the way.
This is how I feel about my writing. I’m doing it, but I’m probably going to go about it in a totally different way now. Less extreme goal-oriented and firmness, and more gentleness and flexibility. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still writing. The day I stop writing is the day I stop breathing. It wasn’t all potatoes and ginger-haired children for me in PEI. I ended up writing a thoroughly detailed outline of my screenplay, in addition to thirty pages of a first draft; pages that will certainly need to be rejiggered, or trashed. Or not.