I had a war with the weather…again. It was a miserably cold and rainy day and this immediately beat me into submission. My emotions were all over the place and I just about let it win by feeling absolutely horrid. After a short bout of whoa is me I forced myself to put on my running shoes and brave the weather by doing the opposite of what I felt, by running in the pouring rain! When I came back drenched it was like I was a new person – full of energy. Because I was bursting with creativity, I even wrote a new song. In that moment I built the foundation for a fortress.
Nowadays I love running in the morning, especially when it’s cold and rainy. It’s about pushing yourself to do something you know is important even when you don’t feel like doing it. I’ve beat this love for it into myself because it doesn’t come naturally. So running is like a fortress to me, one that I build around myself one log at a time. This fortress keeps me from entering an existential crisis every time my emotions try to dictate to me how I should be feeling – especially when I’ve received bad stimulus in the form of some setback, whether it’s a rejection email or some disagreeable person or the numerous commonplace hurdles associated with being not only an artist, but an entrepreneur too.
Out there in the world there are many things to feel whack about, but it’s a different story when it hits closer to home. When it hits your finances, your health, your family, your relationships or even your soul, it’s easy to get into a rut of self-pity (and trust me, I’m a pro at this – or at least I was ’til a little while ago). The best response I know is to build fortresses into life, structures that only you have the key to open or close. These fortresses are not dependent on the approval or support of others, because it’s nobody else’s responsibility to manage or maintain them.
For most of my 20’s I had no fortresses, only spur of the moment decisions led on by the predominant emotion of the time. If I felt happy, I was happy. If I felt angry, then I ran with that. If I felt sad, I was really sad and spent years in and out of depression just cruising and letting my emotions steer. My whole worldview was dependent on the approval of others, usually those closest to me. When I didn’t get it from them it sent me into a war with myself and a running internal dialogue that wouldn’t let up ’til I started building fortresses. Writing this is a miracle.
You have to choose what emotion you’re going to let run rampant and here’s the buck: building your fortress implies action – not just positive thinking. It takes the work of building it each day ’til it becomes something you actually want to do, and when you don’t – it FEELS wrong. When no-one’s sitting on your head to get work done, with no micro managers or bosses to hound you – you must build the fortress.
Over the last few months I’ve built several fortresses log by log:
Fortress 1: Quiet Time (5am to 6:30am) – Study, Meditation, Prayer and/or Worship
Fortress 2: Run with my dog (7am to 8am) – I get a great deal of joy taking my dog with me, running is his favourite thing.
Fortress 3: Newsletter (Friday morning) – Writing
Fortress 4: Personal Development (Saturday morning) – Reading, Revisiting Goals, Reviewing Progress
Prototype Fortress 1: Piano Practice (8am to 9am)
Prototype Fortress 2: Vocal Practice (10am to 10:30am)
Every other fortress not mentioned is built around the above on a weekly basis and I can move the other constant fortresses around to accommodate that particular day’s priority. If I don’t lay that day’s log for any reason, that’s okay too – I can always resume the next, provided I don’t put it off for too long.
I’m writing this at 3:30am and I can tell you that up to 30 minutes ago, I didn’t feel like doing it either. But since I committed to send out communications every Friday morning, writing this is important – regardless of how groggy, moody or otherwise exhausted I feel. I’m up this early because I won’t have time later to get this mail out, so I really don’t have another option. I’m building my fortress not just because I have to, but because I want to.
What’s your fortress? Let’s discuss in the comments below.