Breaking Your Holding Pattern

Do you ever feel like you’re a rat running in a wheel with the same old routine every day that you just never seem to get out of?

Several years ago while in grad school, one of my instructors sent me an evaluation on my writing that included the following comment, “While you have made some progress with your work here, I don’t think you have done anything yet to surprise yourself.”

I was stunned and speechless. I also felt naked.  Later I was even pissed!  Then I allowed my ego to soften…

More than angry and offended, I was surprised that my instructor had seen through me.  She was right. My life for the past few years as a wife and mom and teacher and administrator, etc. was far too predictable and my creative work was reflecting it.

I felt like a plane stuck in a holding pattern hovering over some unknown territory that just might be new and exciting, but I could not seem to get myself there. 

All this was happening smack dab in the midst of spring with everything blooming and blossoming and fragrant while I felt worn and withered and stuck.

Not knowing how or where to move, I wrote the following poem:



dewless grass,

balding dogwoods,

limp lilies,

sterile bunnies stuffed 

with corner store chocolates

and tattooed eggs.


how?  to chart new territory at 45

when all i can see is the charted,

the me i’ve all ready been and done overtime

crumpled shells of used breasts,

remnants of tattered apron

strewn about my feet bound

for somewhere i am struggling to remember

to long for, the spring of my life

compass rusted, needle arthritic,

my shoulder, blue-black bruised,

the stone to roll away.                                                 @ 2013, Tamara J. Madison


Yeah, not at all fun or fruitful!  I felt rusted and used like I had given my life away to everyone else but myself. 

Upon returning to my studies later, I realized that I had a pretty decent draft of what could be an exciting poem.  By honestly confronting myself and my surroundings and recording my findings, I had begun breaking my holding pattern!

Once my holding pattern was broken, I had the courage to confront and tackle a family story that had haunted me for years.  The result was the flourishing of a bold new style of writing and performing for me.  You can check it out here.

I am excited and grateful to say that I have not returned to that old holding pattern since.

So what to do when you need to break out of your own Sisyphus Cycle?

1)      Write it out. Be brutally honest! What does you holding pattern look like, feel like?

2)      Do something different!  If you always bought grapes, buy mangoes instead!

3)      Stop thinking your next move to death! Just MAKE YOUR MOVE! 

4)      Take note of what does and does not work for you and act accordingly.

5)      Trust yourself to make adjustments and corrections as you go along.

It is not about being perfect! It is about “being your most authentic self.”

Remember that we are not just ethereal beings or cerebral beings; we are fleshy experiential beings as well.  Feel your way through and enjoy the process!

What holding pattern will you break for yourself? What new territory will you boldly explore? I wish you great courage and mad fun in the journey!

I look forward to hearing from you!

As always,

Be Joyful,

Be Creative,

Be Inspired,




  • LaVerne C. Hall
    LaVerne C. Hall
    Thanks my Dear One for the inspiration, your influence and motivation. You are a "kick starter!"

    Thanks my Dear One for the inspiration, your influence and motivation. You are a "kick starter!"

  • Tamara
    Awww! Thank you, LaVerne! I am your reflection!

    Awww! Thank you, LaVerne! I am your reflection!

Add comment