Bravery is a rubber band

Or, if I'm so brave, why do I feel so scared?

Or, a tale of expansion and contraction.

Or, everything is a cycle.

 One of the bravest things I've ever done - first steps into my own studio

One of the bravest things I've ever done - first steps into my own studio

It's natural to feel tired. This is something the 'coven' and I have talked about a lot. I'll tell you more about them another day. They're awesome.

Society sells us the myth that sleep is for the weak. Not exercising? Wake up an hour earlier. Want to write a novel? Wake up an hour earlier. Look at your heroes, they only need four hours and wake up fresh as a daisy!

Nope. Not buying it. Medicine tells us that most of us are chronically sleep-deprived. Anxiety and depression seem to be on the rise. Sure, some of the perceived increase may be increased reporting; we feel more able to talk about mental well-being these days. Even so, the increase is real (2013 Salon article with sources). People need rest. It's not a choice and it certainly isn't a weakness.

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Flowers bloom in spring. Fruit follows the flower. Seeds follow the fruit, and hopefully, they travel. Then nothing happens, or so it seems. The seeds find somewhere to land and settle into the earth, waiting until the conditions are right. They soak up moisture and the goodness of the earth. They wait for warmth. And so it all begins again.

You're the same. I'm the same. We push and grow and create this big, wonderful thing. I'd love to hear about it, your last big thing. And then sometimes, we collapse in a heap. Maybe disappear into a book. Maybe binge watch something you'd hesitate to name aloud. Maybe sleep and wake and eat and be with family and then sleep again. It's natural. It's right. It's what the seeds of the next big thing need. 

And yet we question it. After a big push toward the deadline, we are wiped out. In the wee small hours we question whether we can even hack it. Come on, it took so much out of us, we're exhausted. At least, I know that's how it goes for me. The thing is, hard work is hard. It can be fulfilling and inspiring and even energising at times, but it is hard. Rest is the flip side of work. It's a cycle.  

Bravery is like that too. The energy it takes to take that step, make the leap and feel the wind on your face needs a counter. For you that might show up as fear, as questioning, as a few faltering steps after the big one, while you second-guess yourself. For me it showed up as hibernation, in the form of a lot of rest, and feeling unable to deal with much social activity at all, for months. 

It took friends to point out (and yes, more than once) that in the past few months I had expanded in a number of ways. I'd accepted work that was new to me, signed up to opportunities that felt outside my reach, committed to renting a studio, travelled a fair amount, opened my heart completely to experience Squam without holding myself back in my typical ways. I even fought a feral cat in the interest of getting him to the vet (and he won round one - I have the scars to prove it, and yes, I took my antibiotics too).

So yes, I see it now. The cycle of expansion (bravery, action, being seen) and contraction (rest, doubt, stepping back). It's part of the great glorious way of things.

I want to hear how it is for you. Are you in a resting, fallow place right now? Or are you bursting with the energy and creative push of the next big thing? Either way, you've got this; you're right where you should be.