Monday, August 15, 2011


"Anything is Possible" by Fee Harding

"When the elephant is young and relatively weak, it is tied to an immovable stick. So later, no matter how large and strong he becomes, he continues to believe that he cannot free himself. Many intelligent people are like curious elephants. They never question their self-imposed limitations." — from the film, Cold Souls, via this link.

I find inspiration all around me: in nature, in beautiful art, in music, in people that I meet and libraries of books that I see. I spend an embarrassing amount of time reading other people’s blogs, by which I find new artists to adore, discover places I’ve never been and now long to visit, and read about people who are living their dreams… or are well on their way. I feel inspired, believing I, too, can do this. I can write/travel/design/lose weight and live the life I’ve always wanted.

But then, inevitably, depression follows. I look at the inspiration that has piled up in front of me—a mountain with steps for me to climb, until I realize that there are no lamps to light the way. I cannot figure out where to begin my ascent to the top, or if I’ll ever be able to keep my footing. I am overwhelmed.

This “fall,” so to speak, from motivation has haunted me my entire life. I feel it creep slowly into my veins and take me over, and then I don’t know what to do; I don’t know if I can overcome any of my personal obstacles and take the first step towards creating a healthier and fuller future.

I remember watching Oprah many years ago (via her 20th anniversary DVDs) where she interviewed Rudine Howard, a young woman who suffered (and eventually died) from a severe case of anorexia. Actress Tracey Gold was also a guest, discussing her own battle with the disease, and what Rudine needed to do to overcome it.

Her speech was full of poetry and words meant to inspire, and her gentle urging of a woman so weak and scared was suitable for a show such as Oprah’s: “Make the little steps to fill your mind so you can fight back.” And then Rudine, through helpless tears—asked

“But how? How do you do it?”

Of course, no one had an answer. Oprah has spoken often about how this particular “Aha!” moment in her 1994 episode changed her and her show forever, calling “How?” the central question of life. When I saw it for the first time over a decade later, it changed me as well, and—for better or worse—altered the way I look at my own motivation and dreams.

Is inspiration enough? Is simply knowing that I can do something enough? Is seeing someone I admire or envy living their dreams (often doing exactly what I dream of) enough to get me to make a change? To take a risk? To try something terrifying? To question all that I’ve ever known and dive headfirst into dark and murky waters? To develop the work ethic/self-control/confidence necessary to take on my writing/weight loss/self-criticism and—finally—see that the journey wasn’t as arduous as I’d imagined?

I don’t have any answers. Only questions that stretch back in years and make my future a daunting and uncertain place.

Where does a writer who has never finished a story before get the nerve to tackle a multi-book saga? Where does a blogger without a niche or specialty belong on the web-o-sphere? Where does a girl who has an addiction to food learn to look at food a different way?

I feel just as stuck and immovable as that elephant tied to a stick in the ground; I don't see clearly the thing that's holding me back. But I want to. I want to pinpoint my self-imposed limitations and break the chain once and for all.

Then I can finally be free.

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  1. Stacy. I have so many feelings about this post and about what you're saying. I feel and have felt the same way so much of the time; you are not alone. Especially since I've graduated from college, I have been dealing with losing my direction, coming to terms with that and also trying to find a new one. My approach has been varied in dealing with this and sometimes I fall into the depressive, helpless feelings, too. What I'm working on recently has been a lot about Love (not just romantic love, but also love that encompasses how you treat others, yourself and the energy with which you approach life), accountability (I'm currently reading 'Life Strategies" by Dr. Phil, which has been an incredibly eye-opening and a HIGHLY recommended read) and doing things that make you afraid (I am so scared about moving to France). It's all a work in progress. Three years ago, I could absolutely NOT be in the place I am now. Some of the thoughts and changes I have made in the last three years were so small at the time, that I could barely even feel them until I'm sitting here in an entirely new head space. The changes in thought processes and action that were small are now significant. I don't know if you saw the Oprah with Iyanla VanSant. They had a whole conversation about their falling out and Oprah couldn't understand why Iyanla threw away the opportunity with her and the show and Iyanla said, "I couldn't receive it. I didn't know what it was." I can see know that so many of the blessings I had early on and throughout college were things I couldn't take in because I wasn't ready or able to receive them. I think it's important to understand that things can come to us and people can try to give us things or teach us lessons or change us and, even if it's what's best for us, we can't take it in until we're ready. What I'm working on now is to constantly be growing, constantly trying to take in and learn more, so when an opportunity arises, I will be able to receive it.

  2. This is so on the nose right now and incredibly moving. It's also a real tug at my gut. Even though our lives are so different right now, I still feel like I'm in the same place with you, struggling through the same mud. I love you. You're brilliant.

  3. This entry made me tear up a little. And that picture of the elephant is really heart-breaking!

    This is a beautifully written entry, and it's exactly how I've been feeling for a while. I'm working really hard to break out of it, but you're right, it's so easy to get bogged down into thinking things aren't possible. We just have to fight those thoughts. Hopefully we'll both accomplish what we know we're capable of.

  4. I also feel this way about my life sometimes. Being so curious and interested in other people's passions and successes is important because it allows me to dream up my own kind of happiness. I think the most tragic difference between us and the elephant is that we tie ourselves up to that wooden post. The elephant doesn't have a choice in where it goes, but we do. Getting what you want in life means admitting that you were the one who tied yourself to that post. In my personal experience of becoming a happier more productive person I've had to let go of my strange delusional responsibility towards making other people happy before myself. I think, this may just be in my case, but, I do think that we limit ourselves for the sake of other people's egos. The stress of having something we want that maybe others can't or don't have can be a sort of burden. Being successful at anything means eventual admiration or envy from others. Accepting that we cannot control what other people think of us is significant. It's cliche, but you really shouldn't care what other people think of you. Whether it's your weight, your style, where you went to school, your taste in art, where you live, etc. If you continue to build your eclectic self on other people's opinions you'll be just that, an accumulation of other people's identities.
    Stacy, I think you are already an incredible and unique person. As sad as it makes me feel to read this blog and hear you are not happy with yourself. I too was in your place at one point in my life and know I must be patient in the time it will take for you to accept and fully appreciate who you are as a person and a writer.
    Also, you and John need to move down to Los Angeles. Because, we miss you guys.