Lean In: What To Do When You Get Stuck

Lean In: What To Do When You Get Stuck

I had a beautiful aha moment while dancing the other night.

I’ve been in a challenging time lately. (Who hasn’t?) There has been a pause in the usual flow of my work and creativity. The gods or my own spirit have conspired to create a reset for me. It’s uncomfortable, confusing and scary.

I believe it’s also necessary and ultimately highly beneficial. But some days I have to hold onto that belief like a rope flung out onto dark waters where I am struggling to stay afloat.

I’ve been doing my best to go with it, to not rush to answers and leap into hasty action. I’m practicing resting in the gap, allowing what’s transforming in me and my life to take its time and reveal itself. I want to make space for the caterpillar of the old way that’s now turned to goo inside the chrysalis to emerge eventually with wings.

Sometimes it feels great, a relief and an intriguing adventure. Sometimes not at all.

My old habit is to try to figure things out and then work harder to make stuff happen. But I’m doing my best instead to listen for my true heart’s desires, see where my energy wants to flow, what wisdom is emerging, what gifts are coming.

And not panic.

Last Thursday I went to the weekly Contact Improvisation jam here in our town. Contact Improvisation is a dance-art form I have loved passionately for over 25 years and have also taught for years. But I haven’t been doing enough of it lately.

There I was, dancing with inexperienced dancers, which can make for awkward, difficult dances. So I went very slowly. I paid close attention through my body. I leaned into the point of contact. If I got to a place where it felt difficult to move, I paused, patiently listened to the sensations, leaned in to the moment and the contact. And always, a way to move opened effortlessly.

Then, it hit me. That’s all I ever have to do!

If I’m stuck in a situation in my life where I feel paralyzed, confused, where I don’t know the way forward, all I have to do is slow down, listen deeply, lean in.


That’s it. I don’t need to puzzle it out, rush to a remedy, freak out. Just pause, listen, lean in. And the way opens.

Years ago, when I was writing my first novel, I got stuck because I needed to create a crisis scene to move the plot forward and reveal something about a key character. But I couldn’t figure out what or how and had been stalled for weeks.

Confessing this to a friend on the phone, he gave me the assignment to write the scene three different ways in the next week, to come up with three totally different solutions to the plot problem I was needing to solve. And then choose the best one.

This freed me. Instead of trying to find one perfect answer, I could experiment. Also, coming up with three totally different ideas for this major turning point in the book, writing three big crisis scenes in one week, was such a tall order, that it paradoxically re-opened my creative flow.

It worked! Because I leaned into the problem.

So, if you find yourself stuck in some area of your life—in the midst of an art project, a relationship, or work, or an old pattern—try it.

Slow down, instead of hurrying to solutions. Lean in to all of the uncomfortable feelings, to all that’s arising within and without.

Listen, pay attention to your heart, soul, to the signs, the natural flow and wisdom of Life. It’s always there. Just waiting for us to get quiet enough to hear and follow.

Be patient. A way will open, a natural movement forward. Then, go with that.

Let me know how it goes for you. I’d love to hear. And let me know what opened up for you in reading this by commenting below. Thanks!

To your flowing life,


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