Shimmy Like a Paleo Goddess
Just prior to Christmas, a writer friend told me it was time for me to write something new. I’d been editing existing manuscripts for so long, things were stale. She challenged me to write 500 words a day from 1st January and she suggested that I write about my transformation over the last 12 months – the Paleo, the weight loss, the belly dancing, the becoming me. Her suggestion was to create a character going through a similar journey. Not to plan the story, just to write. I came up with the working title of ‘Shimmy like a Paleo Goddess’ because both bellydance and Paleo have been an epic part of my transformation.
When someone asks why I write fiction, I usually say because I like making things up. I like being in control of my own story universe, even when the characters start misbehaving. I like the infinite possibility, I like that the story could take any turn and is only fixed in a reality of plausibility rather than based on actual events.
I opened a new Word doc on New Year’s Day and started writing. No character appeared to guide me through the story. The story pouring on the page was mine. I couldn’t hide behind a character anymore. It was time to be real. It was time to tell MY story.
Here is that beginning:
I’m not sure how it began. How it triggered. I wanted a new beginning. I was tired of being stuck, doing the same old, same old, and reaching the same outcomes. I needed a new life. I needed a reinvention but not just another mask, another persona, another way to fit in with the crowd. I needed to find the real me, the one that was being masked and number through chocolate, through busyness, through procrastination, through unworthiness. I needed to coax her out and make her shine. She’d been walked upon and used, and was spending all her time hiding out, soothing herself in comfort food and retail therapy. Hiding out with only her cat and television for company. Burying herself in mindless TV shows. Living vicariously through someone else’s fabricated, televised reality instead of going out there and creating her own. Drowning in clutter. Saying yes to everyone, keeping busy doing voluntary work instead of tending to her own creativity instead of feeding her own soul.
There were slow, gradual movements towards self-love and re-establishing her worthiness. Venturing back out into a social life – but a safe social life amongst couples and friends, where she spent the night with her head focused on trivia, instead of the big picture, the big questions of life, the questions that really count.
Over a few years she learned to shimmy and sway, dancing to a different kind of music, allowing the beat to move through her and find expression in her body and soul. She developed a girl crush on her beautiful, wise and patient teacher – only a goddess could turn her two left feet into a body that moved with grace and rhythm. She also joined a women’s only gym working on her fitness and stamina but each of these activities, while surrounding her with the support and love of a sisterhood, also cushioned her from the harsh reality and risk of getting involved with a man once again.
She was too afraid of hurt, of rejection. Just not ready to go there. Not ready to deal with the complexity of sex and relationships. No one would want her. So she wouldn’t put herself out there. That would only prove her story and provide more evidence for her argument. There’d been too much rejection, too much abandonment, too much hurt for her to ever take a risk again.
She busied herself with volunteer work, making herself important, fulfilling her need to be needed, fulfilling her need to be wanted. She held on tight to this work, convincing herself that no one else could quite do it the same way and taking on more and more work until she barely had time to breathe. It wasn’t just for one organisation. She piled them on, adding several executive titles after her name, convinced that if she didn’t put her hand up (and keep putting her hand up) no one else would.
On the surface everything seemed fine – she was busy, she was social. From the outside it seemed she had a rounded and fulfilled life. A decent day job, friends, social life, a half-arsed writing effort. But deep down she was empty. Craving connection. Craving creativity. But too afraid to risk it all.