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Rude Awakenings

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My friend and mentor Linda Joy has a phrase for when something unexpected happens: She calls it being hit by a cosmic two-by-four. I recently experienced one of those in a big way that may very well change the course of my life. It certainly will change the subject of what I am writing about.

For those of you who regularly follow my blog, you know that I often write about body image, emotional eating (and ineffective coping mechanisms), dieting, and media influence. I am so committed to these topics that I have spent the last 15 years of my life conducting scientific research on them. I was so sure that this was my path in life that I have been working on a book tentatively entitled Diet Is a 4-Letter Word: The Psychology of Eating for the past nine months. I had the book proposal and two samples chapters written, with four follow-up books planned, but had been frustrated by the lack of time to work on my book.

Ever the advocate of problem-focused coping, I recently enrolled in Lisa Tener's Bring Your Book to Life course. I hoped that the accountability she provided would allow me to make substantial progress on my book and that her insights as an author would help me land a decent book deal. Easy peasy. Or so I thought.

In my first session with Lisa, she led us through a meditation on the call. Although I meditate daily, it had never occurred to me to meditate about my writing. As I had skipped my meditation that morning, I thought, "Oh good! This will be my meditation today!" And was it ever.

I found the meditation itself very easy and calming. It was similar to previous guided meditations I had done -- journeying down a path, past a meadow, into a forest. The difference was what happened next. The purpose of Lisa's meditation was to meet our writing muse. Not only did I meet my muse, but what she told me rocked my world.

My muse said very simply, "You're writing the wrong book. The book you thought you were going to write is not the book you're supposed to write. It's way too academic and you are writing for the wrong people." I wanted to argue with her. I had just spent nine months preparing for and writing the book proposal and sample chapters. What did she mean I was writing the wrong book? I had just been awarded a six-month sabbatical to write the "wrong" book. She told me that the book I would write was about learning to love, accept, and trust myself again. That in the book, I would tell my story about all the times the universe sent me wakeup calls (aka cosmic two-by-fours) and I ignored them. That this book would be a healing force in my life and through my own healing, I would help others heal, too.

I was stunned. I let that insight sit with me for a few days, avoiding doing any sort of guided meditation. I was convinced it had to be wrong. So I did it again. Not only did I get the same message, I wrote the outline for my new book in the span of 15 minutes. It never takes me less than an hour to write anything, much less outline an entire book. If that wasn't a cosmic two-by-four, I don't know what was.

So I'm writing a new book. I haven't completely given up on the first book. After all, I have a number of people who are counting on me to write that book. But for now, my focus has to be on where my heart and soul are taking me. Apparently, that's in a different direction from where I thought I was going. And I'm okay with that. Sometimes life's little curveballs put you on a new path. But that's why I meditate. That's why I write. That's why I am trusting the process, knowing that everything will turn out as it should. So you may notice a change in my blog post topics. Yes, I'll still be blogging about stress reduction; after all, finding out you are doing the wrong thing with your life is nothing if not stressful. But you'll see a lot more from me about healing your past and trusting in the universe to see to your future. You'll learn how I cope with this latest cosmic two-by-four as I go through it. And hopefully you'll learn something about yourself, too. Until next time, trust in yourself. It will all work out just fine.

For more by Mary Pritchard, Ph.D., click here.

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