Diane Gottlieb writes open-hearted stories about people in pain who choose to grow.

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It’s Time

It’s time. A turning point. For women. For this woman.


What is it? How is it measured? Of course, we know we measure time by minutes, hours, days. But how do we judge how well we use those days?

Do we consciously know when “the time is right”—or ripe—for change?

Or does something deep within us, some seed or cell that has long been hibernating, germinating, finally unfold and push its way up and out into the sunlight?



What Stops You in Your Tracks?

I did a writing exercise a few weeks ago. It was in response to a prompt. (If anyone wants to try their hand at some biographical/memoir/journal writing but doesn’t know where to begin, I highly recommend Now Write! Nonfiction, edited by Sherry Ellis. It chock-full of wonderful writing prompts to get you going.)

I tried the very first exercise in the book. These were the instructions: Write down “Three Things That Stopped Me in My Tracks.” I had to record one track-stopping thing/event one day, another track-stopper a few days later, and the third, a few days after that. Then … find the connection between them.

On Tues. Oct 4, I wrote about one of my clients who kept changing her daughter’s appointment times. Actually, I didn’t write about her, per say, but about how I felt to be asked—several times—to make changes to my calendar to accommodate someone else’s schedule. (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t thrilled! Cranky and felt put upon was more like it.)

Thursday, Oct. 6, I wrote about Jeff Flake and Susan Collins—holding us all up, while they “carefully considered.” (Cranky and put upon once again, but sad and resentful, too—the stakes were so high.)

I did not make another entry until Saturday, Oct. 13. I had gone out the night before and had one too many beers. (I guess Kavanaugh and I have more in common than I’d like to admit.) In this entry, I questioned why I often indulge in excess—too much alcohol; too much sugar. What is it I fear?


What Do You Fear?

I had been warned (by Michael Steinberg—the author of this practice exercise) that finding that connection between the three events might be a difficult process. I was told to let my subconscious do its work. It did, but the process was not difficult at all.

 Time is what linked the three together. That precious commodity, time. There is a burning sense of urgency in each of my entries, and the irony that each one “stopped me in my tracks” did not go unnoticed.


Other Ironies in Life:

  • “You only lose what you cling to.”
  • “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
  • “Your comfort zone can be tiring sometimes.”

The first two are attributed to the Buddha; the third to Ahmed Mostafa. (I have no idea who he is—found the quote on Goodreads and loved it. I Googled him and came up empty.)

So, hats off to Buddha and to releasing attachment. We cling and cling and cling to anger and resentment, to our own opinions, and to ways of being/thinking/behaving that no longer serve us—or maybe never did.  In the meantime, time is passing. The minutes, hours, days.

Hats off, too, to Mr. Mostafa. Sometimes our “comfort zones” are exhausting.

Maybe it’s that exhaustion that we need to listen to. Maybe that’s our little seed, trying so hard to bud.


Another Irony—attributed to me: Exhaustion and urgency are often flip sides of the same coin.

Both are sensations, vying for our attention. Both tug on us in different ways. The Universe will pull out all the stops when it is in our best interest to change. The rest is up to us.

A look at my first entry: Anger at being asked to change my schedule.

Message to Diane: HELLO! You can always say, “No.”

Another message to Diane: Maybe it is time for you to examine what you value, examine where you spend your time.

Yes! I love my job—tutoring students in English. And I love the kids and the parents—even the ones who ask me to change their kids’ appointment times! I feel blessed and honored to connect with so many wonderful families and to help kids move beyond the goals they’ve set. But maybe I need to look at the other things in my life that I love also—my writing and reading and my honey and friends and kids (not necessarily in that order!) and take more time for those—Maybe I need to make a change.

Second entry: Anger at our current political situation

Yes! I am angry! But holding that anger will poison me—I need to take my positions to the voting booth, to my pocketbook, to joining with others who want similar change—and make the time to make phone calls, ring doorbells—whatever it takes.

Now to the third—ah the third: Excess. This one is at the heart. It’s about health—physical, emotional, relational. This one will take more courage—and self-acceptance—if I truly want to change.


One Last Irony: Change comes most easily when you’ve accepted yourself the way you are.

I have been dealing with “excess” since I was a little girl. Oh, how often chocolate has been my best friend, has brought me comfort, soothed my anxieties, stood in for love. And alcohol—the “take the edge off,” the “relaxer,” the “gift” at the end of the day. Hmmm. I hear how my words sound. Even writing them makes me afraid.

So time … and fear. I think they’re joined at the hip.

I think we’re onto something—something deep.

Some real rediscovery ahead!

I, for one, am buckled up for the journey. I will keep you posted along the way.

So … here are some last words for this week. What I’ve taken from this “Stopped Me in My Tracks” prompt: Sometimes we may feel dragged down, exhausted. At other times, we might feel like we’ve stepped onto a runaway train. There may seem to be no way out. But I have to hope that there is. As hard as it is to get off that proverbial couch or to step on the brakes, both are within my power, your power.

It’s time. To pause. Open our eyes. Let that seed inside of us sprout.

If not now, when? The clock is ticking.

It’s time.

I’d love to hear about your bouts with time … with fear. 

Is there a comfort zone it’s time to break out of?

What’s holding you back?

Here’s the link to Now Write! Nonfiction: https://smile.amazon.com/Now-Write-Nonfiction-Journalism-Exercises/dp/1585427586/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540122076&sr=8-1&keywords=write+now+nonfiction

See You Next Friday!


Diane Gottlieb


  1. Nicky Mendenhall on October 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Oh Diane – this is so rich and full I don’t know where to start and as time is limited, I will tell you that your struggle with excess is one I have also. Mine is not so much substances as being addicted to perfection. My analyst would tell you that I fight against being human and all that that means – having bodily concerns, having multiple feelings that I don’t want. I’m glad that we are working on the issue.

    I remember once you told me that my blog contained too many subjects – that you weren’t ready to jump to the next one when it came up. I felt a bit like that here. Just a comment because yours really helped me to feel I didn’t have to work so hard and could simplify.

    • Diane Gottlieb on October 26, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      Addiction to perfection! I am happy to say that that is one that I am not afflicted with–but so many people are! We will definitely explore that one in a future post!
      I did cover a of ground in this post! Thanks for your advice–I plan to take more time with each of these in the future!

  2. Greta Holt on October 26, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Writing is my time and fear monster. I feel competent in other areas, but writing demands creativity, dedication, and luck. A tolerance for rejection after great effort is required. Sigh. A writer keeps going ‘because it’s there.’

    On the upside, I’ve lost 45 pounds this year. Happy!

    Thanks for the great post today.

    • Diane Gottlieb on October 26, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Greta! I am soooooo there with you about time and writing–and rejection! Writing “is there,” but the whole painful/joyful process of creativity is still one of life’s great mysteries for me.
      Woohoo on the 45!! Your secret???

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