Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating, by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road he wants to go, I would only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
I was sure I’d lost my zest. I was pretty sure my gusto had flown the coop.
I tend to expect a lot of myself in terms of creative work. In the past I’ve enjoyed a high output of words and never thought that would change.
Until it did.
Last year, my body delivered its opinion of my expectations and how I handle stress by planting me in the hospital (10 days in March). I’m still working on the necessary lifestyle adjustments it was clear I needed, including my attitudes toward my own production. Overachievers beware.
I came out of the hospital with two goals: make meaning and find middle ground. So I started a course to become a creativity coach and I got some accountability for my expectations. It’s a good thing I did because November brought the removal of my cancerous thyroid (great news) and the issues of adjusting the replacement hormone, which is a surprisingly long process. Fatigue on a whole new level, folks. If I had gone through that without someone reminding me it would be a good idea to “adjust your expectations, Robyn!” I’d have fallen into my old ways pretty fast.
Mind over matter and “just do it” have been a big part of my life until this past year. I’ve got a whole new level of compassion and empathy for people struggling to get their creative work done. I’ve got a whole new picture of what we do to ourselves with unrealistic expectations, both high and low. I’m navigating toward that middle ground.
So it seems the zest is still there. The gusto hasn’t flown away. I have good habits in place and a craving to put words on paper. Not long ago I complained to my coach about not getting thing done well enough or fast enough. She laughed and pointed to the task list I sent her, reminding me I was getting things done. And I do. I’ve had an enormously productive six months.
Just not the way I used to.
And I need to be okay with that.
Because I still have my zest.