Please fit your oxygen mask first…

In the last couple of days, I’ve been itching to say goodbye to 2010 and greet the new year. And I’ve been thinking about what I will do differently in 2011.

Last January I did Margie Lawson‘s Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviours course. But already I need a refresher. Those behaviours (or dragons) are still hanging around and taunting me, often getting in the way of the writing or editing. In the last 8 months or so , they threw a lot of challenges at me: dealing with relationship breakdowns, moving house, losing my furry friend of 16 years — these all  became excuses not to write or edit.

I joined the email alumni list of Margie’s course and last month this little gem popped up in the email:

When it comes to helping others….I am all for it. I do it regularly. But you know what I keep in mind? Okay, so most of us have flown somewhere. And the flight attendants always talk about safety measures, show you how to put on your vest and inflate it, etc., should you fly over water. But the part that sticks out in my mind is if the cabin pressure drops, the masks lower, and if you are with someone who needs help, what do you do first? You put on your own mask. make sure it is secured properly, and THEN help the other person. I don’t think this is selfishness. It is just smart. If you are really going to help others, you have to be in good shape yourself. And for writers, that means writing. Do it first, then move on to others.

The analogy was provide by Colleen Shine Phillips and really struck a chord with me.

In the  last 12 months, I’ve been fitting oxygen masks all over the place, but rarely getting to my own. Whether it was my work with RWA or my other writers group, whether it was helping out a friend, or sending comments on facebook, or driving up and down the road searching for my landlady’s wandering dog, I was putting everything before the writing. Yes I hit crisis mode, and I had to solve some of those crises before I could settle down and write, but even when I was settled, I found excuses not to write.

Writing is breathing. It’s a simple as that. And in 2011, I am choosing to breathe. I am choosing to write. I am fitting my oxygen mask first, before I help others.

What will you do for your writing in 2011?

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15 Comments

  1. Great post! And good timing! I just saw this course was on offer and am contemplating enrolling! you obviously think it was worth it? Happy New Year Diane! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Hi Rach,

    It’s a really good course: looks in detail at your self-defeating behaviours and gives you strategies for dealing with them. I am still battling quite a few dragons, but now I recognise why. I wrote this blog at the end of the course http://dianecurran.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/diane-v-dragons/.

    Happy New Year Rach.

    Reply
  3. Wow! Amazing analogy. I think my mask has had a knot tied in it for the past four months. Got myself in a right tangle emotionally. So first I shall unknot my mind and hopefully breath for the first time in a while. Thx Di. Happy New Year.

    Reply
  4. Suzanne

     /  January 1, 2011

    This really resonated with me Diane. Thank u for the post from someone who has a very bad history of putting everyone else first before themselves. And considering my age, I’ve got a rather large number of years of bad habits to eradicate . I’ve still got a long way to go but at least I am now making sure I give myself some ‘me’ time every week.
    I guess its a matter of being kind to yourself and then to each other.
    Cheers

    Reply
  5. Love the analogy, Diane!

    Reply
  6. Cath Evans

     /  January 1, 2011

    Fantastic Diane. Yes, I did that course too… and dragons still abound in my life, although maybe smaller ones!!

    My plan for writing this year is to believe in myself and my writing. A few little goals (like contests to enter, query letters to write) but the main one is believing … and now breathing!

    Happy New Year!!

    Thanks, Cath

    Reply
  7. Thanks Diane! I read your blog and then I enrolled in the course 🙂

    Reply
  8. Great post Diane! This really resonated with me, thanks for sharing.

    Happy New Year!

    Reply
  9. Great analogy, Diane, and an important lesson for all writers. I call it judicious selfishness. Your post made me feel better about being self- er, I mean, focused! You have to give your own writing precedence part of the time. Life and family are important, and come first in emergencies, but I’ve seen so many people do wonderful things for others and leave themselves standing on the sidelines. My writing takes precedence till teatime, with odd breaks for domestic quickie jobs, then dh takes precedence.

    Reply
  10. I frequently fit other oxygen masks before my own. Your post reinforces what every writer should do and it inspired me to make sure my oxygen mask is secured first.

    Thanks,

    Suz 🙂

    Reply
  11. Great post Diane. Here’s hoping we can all get a 2011 where we put on our own oxygen masks on first 🙂

    Reply
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