My very caring father lives in New Delhi, India. Each month, without fail, for the past ten years or so, I get these amazing packets from him. Yes, he still uses snail mail and sends me treasures each month. Each packet has clipped stories. When he first started sending it to me, it was all food news from local Delhi papers. The stories varied from being about the newest restaurant to open in Delhi to the health benefits of drinking tea to how to eat like a Maharaja.
Then the stories began to change. I had changed careers and was writing now and he began to send clips of my stories published there, any mentions of my work, stories on career changers, stories on people building their dreams, and of course, a ton of food stories from the local papers and magazines (which I loved getting).
Opening the envelope each month is like getting a Christmas present: I have no idea what I will find, what will inspire me, which new eatery will make me want to get on a plane and head back. I love that he sends me real paper that I can touch and feel and smell and not email forwards (which I tend to delete).
About five years ago, I remember, a package came, just as the one before it and the one before it. I remember one small clipping, it was a cartoon, about six inches by six inches.
The cartoon showed an old man sitting on a stone talking to a young child.
The child says, “Grandfather, there are two wolves knocking at my door. One is the wolf of abundance, pleasure, blessings, generosity, wealth, and bounty. And the other one is the wolf of anxiety, grief, sadness, lack of abundance, stress and pressure.”
The child continues, “They are both knocking hard, Grandfather. Please tell me who will come in? Who will win and gain entry into my home?
The grandfather answers, “Which ever one you feed.”
As a writer in an industry that is rapidly changing (I checked and half the publications I used to write for are gone or going away), it is easy to focus on what is not there. It is easy to let the stress in. It is so easy to say that the writing markets are gone, that there will be no work, that the new editors at my favorite magazine would not want to work with me. I could say all this and did and created all the excuses in the world about why work would be hard to find. My negativity was fulfilled by the Universe: misery attracted misery. The more I thought about lack, guess what I got? Lack. I wasn’t able to sleep, my writing lacked sparkle, my spirit lacked vibrancy. It was easy to focus on the stresses and worries about the bills that needed to be paid.
Instead of worrying (which I do oh so well), I began to focus on what I could do well. I began to relentlessly send out letters to editors, I went to NYC to meet editors in person, I read as many magazines as I could and tailored pitches, I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote some more. Instead of focusing on the magazines that were shutting down, I focused on the magazines that were thriving. I focused on what I could do instead of what I could not.
Years later, I landed features in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, MORE, Prevention, and many others.
I chose which wolf I was feeding.
Interestingly, when my stories are published, I always get a few emails telling me how lucky I am to have my name in these publications. No doubt I am lucky BUT and this is the big BUT – this luck did not just show up at my door one day. I have relentlessly pursued my writing dream sending hundreds of introductions to new editors, sending query upon query upon query. I learned to take rejection in stride and keep working on my dream. I learned (and am still learning) not to listen to nay-sayers who say it cannot be done. Let me share this with you: it took me five years of relentless trying to get an essay published in Bon Appetit (it is in the March 2011 issue). If that is luck, then yes, I guess you can say I am lucky.
Success, abundance, prosperity, love, [insert your own need] comes from what we choose to let inside our minds and then let out as actions and thoughts. The key word here is choose. No way our lives are easy, things are rough with most all I know, but how we choose to react to it, who we let in the door, is our choice.
So tell me, who is knocking on your door today and which wolf are you going to feed?
While you are here, click here and get Excuses Begone! by Wayne Dyer. It feeds the wolf of abundance.
(PS – Thanks, Dad. Love you)
(photo from istock)