because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

Pushing Through, a Lesson Learned by Elena Aitken

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Click on the teacher lady's nose to find links to other people who posted in this series.
Click on the teacher lady’s nose to find links to other people who posted in the #LessonLearned Series.

I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to all the writers who wrote posts as part of my Lessons Learned series this year. Each post has been beautiful; each lesson, unique.

Isn't she purty-ful? Yeah, well she's a great writer, too.
Isn’t she purty-ful? Yeah, well she’s a great writer, too.

Author Elena Aitken is the last writer in this series. And her piece arrived at precisely the right time for me. Because I am struggling with some serious writer’s block. Elena’s words are the greatest gift I could have ever asked for this holiday season.

If you don’t know Elena, you should. A busy mom, Elena is also a wonderful blogging friend and a prolific writer. I was fortunate to interview her when her book Sugar Crash was hot off the press, and she’s written a new book since then!

After you read her piece below, you will want to follow Elena on Facebook or on Twitter. Take a peek at her website if you’d like to subscribe to her blog. Her newest book, Hidden Gifts, would make a great present. Just like your words were to me today, Elena.

• • •
Pushing Through by Elena Aitken
When Renée asked me to write a piece for her Lessons Learned series, I said yes without hesitation because sure, I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. I mean, I must have something to offer. No problem, right?
Then it came to write it.And nothing.

A gentle nudge from Renée, “Don’t forget. You promised. Um, can I get that soon?”

“Oh, don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it. No problem.”

But…it was a problem. The thing is, ever since Renée asked me months ago, I’ve been thinking about what I would write about. I read all the other posts, and…I worried. I mean, what on earth was I going to say? What could I offer that this talented list of writers and bloggers hasn’t already said with more skill and grace then I could hope for?

I made notes. I stared at my computer screen. I started writing five different posts. I deleted five different posts.

And then, I worried some more.

I couldn’t think of a thing. Was it possible that I haven’t learned any lessons at all?

I was moments away from emailing Renée to tell her I’d changed my mind, and I couldn’t do it after all.

And then, there it was.

That voice in my head.

“Trust yourself,” the voice said.

Hearing voices in my head isn’t unusual for me. After all, I’m a writer. I hear voices all the time.

But, I’ve heard those two words before.

A lot.

• My dad said them when I was learning how to ride a bike.

• Ms. Montgomery, my junior high drama teacher, said them before I went on stage to perform my monologue.

• My mother said them when my twins were newborns, and I didn’t know the first thing about being a mom.

• My writing partners scribble them in the margins of my work when I’m wrestling with a scene, or a character that just won’t cooperate.

• My friend and training partner will say them to me when I’m nervous about a race and doubting my training.

• My husband says them to me when I’m struggling with a tough decision.

That voice in my head is a beautiful medley of all the voices from my life and its tune is constantly changing. But the message remains the same. And every time I hear those words, “Trust yourself.” Whether they are spoken aloud or quietly in my mind—I do.

Because I might not have the right answer, I could make the wrong decision, say something stupid, trip and fall, or make a mistake. But I might not. And when I shut out all the noise telling me what I should say/do/believe, and actually trust myself; it turns out that I know myself a whole lot better than I thought I did.

So, maybe I’m a slow learner, or maybe it’s a lesson worth learning over and over again, but it’s the most important lesson that I continue to learn.

What helps you push through to complete a project?

tweet us at @elenaaitken and @rasjacobson