Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Andretti, Puccini, and 120 MPH With Your Hair on Fire

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“By taking out your heart, the Enemy takes out you, and you are essential to the Story.”

– John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

Does 100 mph with your hair on fire seem slow? Like when you’re used to flaming down the road at 120?

I hit the brakes the other day, stepping down from one of those 120 mph, hair-on-fire, all-consuming, calendar-cramming, adrenaline-rushing responsibilities. Among other things, I suddenly realized my favorite season, autumn, skidded onto and off the calendar while I wasn’t looking. Buried in meetings, agendas, conference calls, planning, coordinating, meetings, schedules, and more meetings, I missed it. And I don’t want to miss it again.

Looking back, I’d gotten so used to careening around at warp speed, I couldn’t remember what a fire extinguisher looks like, let alone how to use one. I didn’t realize how fried I really was until I exited the kitchen. Throttled down. Left the race track. Traded Mario Andretti for Giacomo Puccini. Like:

Swiss Cheese in Death Valley

Since then I’ve learned the value of saying “No.” Of not hitting the after-burners. Not immediately diving into more up-to-my-eyeballs responsibilities. To be deliberate about rehydrating my heart, which was starting to resemble unrefrigerated Swiss cheese in Death Valley. In August.

Short Answer and Chances

Why take time to brake, switch gears, power down? Short answer: Because I’m more productive and effective when I’m running on a full tank instead of fumes. I’m better able to serve others when I’m not burnt out myself.

Are you?

If you’re a writer, chances are good you’re also a reader. Tell me now, isn’t there something soothing and settling about immersing yourself in a good book? Something delicious and delightful about being lost in a good story?  (Okay. It may not be quite as good as getting lost in an Olympic-sized swimming pool of Hershey’s with almonds, but you get the idea.)

The Picture

Know what?  Drinking in the wonder and richness of the written word on a regular basis again, my Sahara-dried out heart is gaining new strength. Becoming more supple. Fresh. Joyous. Elastic.

Sun sets seem more vibrant. Cinnamon spice more fragrant. Quilts are downier.  Music more moving.  Even brussel sprouts taste better. Friends say they see signs of actual brain activity. The fam says…. well. Never mind what the fam says.

Anyway, I didn’t realize how much I missed reading, writing, and all things bookish until they came back, long-lost loves welcoming me home

Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask for anything in return; they never went away, never, never, not even when you treated them badly.”

– Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

Old wellHas the Creative Well Run Dry?

So writer, let me ask: Are you burnt out to a crackly crisp? Running around at 120 mph with your hair on fire? Thinking it all depends on you?  Has the creative well run dry?

A suggestion: slow down. (The world won’t stop revolving. Trust me on this one.)  Trade Andretti for Puccini.  Or whatever resonates beauty, joy, gratitude and grace to your soul. For me, it’s books, reading, writing, and soaring arias.  For others it might be walks on the beach. Starlight.  Bubble baths. Playing catch with the kids. Calling up grandma or gramps. Rock-climbing. A fully loaded supreme pizza. Getting a cat. (Nobody’s perfect.)

The point is, take time to care for your heart. And be intentional about it.

This may seem counter-intuitive to some. Even selfish. In truth, it’s one of the best things you can do not only for yourself, but for others. Particularly if you’re a writer. There’s not much inspiration in charcoal.

Now if I could just figure out what to do with this singed hair.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

Do you know a writer who’s worn out, fried to a crackly crisp? Share this post with them and give them a boost. 


Catch us next time for Books to Grow By: How Many Have you Read?

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