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River Beauty

Just Quit

The next prompt in #quest2015 comes from Charlie Gilkey, the brain and heart behind Productive Flourishing:

“Pursue knowledge, daily gain. Pursue Tao (wisdom), daily loss.” – Tao Te Ching (translated by Derek Lin)
We often think too much about adding new things, when the source of a lot of our growth is eliminating old things.
What do you need to STOP doing in 2015?
And what do you need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention?

Just Quit

Winter Path (Just Quit)One of my mentors once told me “Just quit.” No matter how I pressed for more, he shook his head and said the phrase I heard him say at the end of each of our times together, “That is all for today.” At the time, I was in a job that I had already identified as dead-end, so I quickly assumed that this was what he meant. Perhaps that was one of the layers of his intention. I can never really know. (I did quit the job.)

That mentorship was decades (might as well have been centuries) ago. Still today, his phrase often haunts me: Just quit. Each time, it takes on new meaning. Reading Charlie Gilkey‘s prompt brought it up again.

Over the years, I have quit many things. I’m glad to say that many of these have led to improvements in my life. I’ve quit habits, relationships, jobs, positions, and so on. Stopping yet another thing should not be a problem. Yet when I read this prompt, I noticed a significant reticence in me to approach it, ponder it, or write about it. Though I may uncover a few or dozens more reasons, for the moment, I’m noticing that this reticence comes from

  • what feels like a list of things I’ve already stopped this year: living in Pennsylvania; living alone; and having a workout gym in my home to name a few;
  • I continue to be on the cusp of being overwhelmed by adding the quest to my already long to do list;
  • the way that this quest towards next year shifted from being with a group of anonymous folk to a group of friends — including one of my creative coaches, Kate Arms-Roberts — making the process feel even more vulnerable than it did previously;
  • noticing a growing fear that “everyone but me” in this quest is a “real writer” (I’ve become a big fan of the visionaries providing prompts, such as Jen Louden, and my partners on the quest including wonderful writers Suzi Banks Baum and A.K. Anderson and so many more) adding to my fears and demotivations;
  • and my hesitation comes from a fear of facing that there are things I previously stopped doing that I now need to stop stop doing.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

One of the important things I want to reclaim is being outdoors. I’ve known how enlivening hiking, snowshoeing, staring at clouds, feeling the breeze, and so on are for me. I even wrote a blog about it already (and some time ago). So, it’s time to step back outside.

Stop This

What do I need to STOP doing in 2015? Staying inside, mesmerized by my computer or phone.
And what do I need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention? The way I stop an old habit or start a new one is by setting up practices. These are steps or stepping-stones along the way. Just as importantly, they are intended to become repeated experiences or at least lead to something that becomes an ongoing practice. And incremental practices are best. I’ve made my list of practices that will help to get me outside including dates (deadlines should be called “alive-lines” in this case), what I’ll make happen, and I’ll be adding to that how I hope to feel when the step is completed. I’ll be playing with these practices on my own, in coaching sessions, and with my partners and friends.

What do you need to stop or stop stopping in the coming year? And how will you “make it so”? I hope you’ll leave your answers to these or responses to my post in the comments.

Playful blessings,

River Beauty

16 thoughts on “Just Quit”

  1. Thanks for the shout out, Stan. This group is stunning and sometimes overwhelming. I often feel like my responses to the prompts are not enough. Not lyrical and touching, not beautiful, not poetic. But, for me, the phrase “hike your own hike” keeps popping into my mind. I can’t compare my hike to the person with long legs and an ultralight pack, so I should just keep on hiking. Also, I love this photo – where is it?

    1. You’re so welcome, Alicia! Yes, sometimes overwhelming. We agree on that, too!
      The photo at the top of the post is from a few days ago near my home in Ithaca, New York. The one at the bottom is from the Rogue River in Oregon, taken 2 Summers ago.

      I see you on the next hike,

  2. Stan- You captured so much in his post! I also have felt that self-conscious critique rising up, but then I realize *they are questing, too* and I know better than to believe anyone has it all figured out.

    Also the part about getting outside is going on my list, too. My body has given me lots of signs that we need to move more! Thank you.

    1. Marissa,

      Your words are like streams of cool water on a Summer day. Thanks for relating with my self-consciousness and more.
      Really appreciate you dropping by to comment and look forward to the continued quest with you!

      Playful blessings,

  3. First of all, Ithaca is one of my heart homes! I’ve lived there off and on since 1984. Lucky you to be hanging out there – good creative energy. If Diane Ackerman does any public readings of her work – go!

    Second, as someone who could easily be construed as a “real” writer (MFA, published, etc.), I want to assure you that the only real writers are people who are writing and reading. Plenty of folks who have all the little writing merit badges on their sash aren’t actually writing. So don’t worry about it.

    Neil Gaiman says that there are two steps to becoming a writer: write something and finish it. I’d add, be sure to read a lot of great writing by other people.

    I am with you on the step away from the computer and get outside intention. Looking forward to what springs forth in you.

    1. Erin,

      First, I agree about Ithaca! I love it here and you’re welcome to drop by any time. I had a gig the last time I saw that Diane Ackerman would be speaking, but I’ll keep an eye out for the next one.

      Second, I know you’re both real and writer partly because I have read your writing. For today, I’ll accept Gaiman’s judgement and say that I’m a writer, too. Just want you to know that I’ve been spreading the word about your beautiful posts on Twitter and mentioned your “Blank Page” post in mine on the heart-leaps prompt.

      Third, I look forward to whatever Springs (Winters, Summers, and Falls) forth from me and truly appreciate your support by dropping by.

      (Everyone!! You must visit Erin’s blog:

      Playful blessings,

  4. Oh Stan, thank you too for mentioning my writing and for running with this pack of creatives. Stopping negative habits makes me yearn for a new habit. I was at Mohonk with JD and the Tracking Wonder crew in October. There we did a Zen walking meditation daily. While I walk every day and have experimented with walking meditation, this really clear direction of intention has vastly helped me slow down. I tend to get revved up and excited outside, leaping and seeing, just like you on your video. So….might I suggest checking out this practice? It can take 10 minutes of your walking time, but in terms of managing overwhelm and comparison which I deal with also, this quiet space is becoming something I crave….a habit worth developing. You can still hike your own hike, as A.K. offered so brilliantly, but incorporate an enriching practice. Sending you love from the Berkshires, S

    1. Suzi,

      You’re quite welcome. Thanks for the walking meditation idea. I used to do this every day. I still do it on occasion, but it does not have the power for me that it once did. Things that quiet and slow me down are easy for me. It’s the ones that enliven me that are much more challenging.

      Still, I will do a walking meditation this weekend in the snow in honor of your recommendation! Thanks for dropping by and see you along the continued trek.

      Playful blessings,

  5. Wonderful post, Stan.

    What unites the quest pack is not talent, but the desire to lean into the wonder. In other words, you’re with the right people for exactly the right reasons.

    I so agree that incremental practices are best, too. I had already cheated by asking two questions rather than one, but the quote I selected from the Tao Te Ching rings so resonantly for me because it focuses on “daily” loss rather than big resolutions or cold turkeys.

    Hike your own hike. (Hat tip AK)

    1. Now that I know you honestly walk the talk, Charlie, I’m even more impressed with your prompt. And a big yes to Alicia’s “hike your own hike” since it carries not only your assurance about “right people for exactly the right reasons”, but also gets me outside. 🙂

      And honestly, having you drop by to comment on my post is an honor and a superb example to me. Thank you.

      Playful blessings,

  6. Stan,

    I love the clarity in this post–and I too need to simplify and get moving. I was so desperate for so long just for time to write, that sometimes I sit too long on my stool in front of the computer. I need the ruminative motion of walking…it clears my mind, and nature never fails to deliver such soothe with her beauty. I love my mind for how it helps me write, but it can also shut me out of the sensory world if I’m not careful. Thanks for the reminder….

    Also loved Charlie’s line about “leaning into wonder”…that’s what we are bonded over here…I’m loving that goal.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and responding, Tania! This quest has been very inspiring for me and introduced me to excellent writers like you.

      A big yes to “leaning into wonder”…

  7. This all resonates so, so deeply with me. Every bit of it. Thank you for sharing. I too am struggling with this quest, with its massive overwhelm of amazing people. Introvert freakout!! But I’m so glad that I’m here, and that I get to both grapple with ideas and sit back and benefit from the grapplings of others.

    1. Hello, Brenna,

      (Gulp. Another “real writer” commenting on my blog.) Yes. As I see it, we’ll get something from it if we put something into it. And the connections are wonderful. You, for example. Your writing is stellar. You are witty, eloquent, gutsy, heart-filled, devil-may-care, and just good at writing/blogging. So glad to meet you.

      (Now, everyone go read Brenna’s blog!)

      Playful blessings,

  8. Hello Muz4now – well after reading your post which I thoroughly enjoyed – & the very easy on the eye presentation just maybe I should stop now lol… On my first attempt at WordPress you put me to shame, but I figure I can only try again- everyone has to start somewhere I guess.

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