Weekend Prompting: “They tell me I can’t…”

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Here’s me, putting my money where my mouth is! Every Friday, there will be a prompt to lead us to the weekend. I would love to see your responses or thoughts about process in the comments. Or, even better? Leave us a link to your own blog and response there! I challenge you to sit, breathing just like you do, and just see the world around you. Just a few minutes, a few breaths. Then, set a timer or page limit (for however long you want), and WRITE! Just put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard). Don’t stop. Don’t think. Just ground yourself in the prompt. Come back to it if you need to. But, for all that is good in this world, tell us your story.

Where did this week’s prompt come from? One of my friends, I think it was writer M. Fenn, coined the term brain weasels, after a conversation about those damn thoughts you can’t get out of your head. You often tried to whac-a-mole ’em, but that doesn’t work. I don’t know how it got to brain weasels instead of moles, but, so it goes. Starting after the launch on August 1, my brain weasels went in to OVERDRIVE. I swear. All I could think of were the ways they were telling me I couldn’t do this. I wanted to hat tip to them, to let them have a say, at least for a moment, because fighting them wasn’t helping. This prompt was born.

This was a two page limit for me.


They tell me I can’t do this, because I don’t know enough. They tell me I can’t follow such big footsteps. They tell me that this doesn’t matter and I am a fool for trying. They tell me I can’t because that’s all they know to say. They tell me it won’t work and walk all over the carefully laid words I’ve put up as a safety net. They are the first to call me out on what I can’t do.

But, those damn brain weasels don’t seem to remember all of the times I could and all of the things I can.

I’ve tried to reason with them. I’ve tried to talk sense into them. I’ve tried to whack them down and they keep popping up, snickering ringing in my head. They tell me I can’t, over and over.

They are broken records, scratched and scored and I could break them over my knee, try to stop the record ever playing again.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling brave, when I dont’ feel like fighting, I try to pull the brain weasels into my lap, stroke their soft fut, tell them I mean no harm, but they need to stop their tales of I can’t. They need to see all I’m capable of. I want them to know more than a rubber mallet and me chasing after them with rage on my face.

Because that’s not who I am. That is not my role and that is not what I want to be remembered for.

They tell me I can’t do this.

I run my palm flat along their fur and feel trembling. I feel muscles tense, in fright or flight or fight. The weasel doesn’t know what to do. The weasel is stuck in perpetual “I can’t.”

What if you can?, I whisper.

I want this to be different, I really do. I don’t want to keep chasing down and wrestling weasels. It takes too much energy I want to put elsewhere. But, I understand the weasel’s fear. I feel it.

But giving in to it means that nothing will ever happen. It means that the world will keep shrinking and these things I have to give the world? They’ll shrink too. I won’t know if I can’t until I try.

They keep telling me I can’t and I don’t want to keep arguing. I’m finding it’s counterproductive and destructive.

That’s something I can’t keep doing.

So, instead, I keep trying to work on those brain weasels. Keep reminding them that growth is scary and I’m doing the best I can. That, yes, these are huge shoes, but these feet walk me to the next place, the next word, the next dream, and I can’t give those up – not for them, not for anyone.

There’s a gentleness about it, the soothing tone for a child who wants to stay up past bedtime, who is rubbing tired eyes and crying because of what they think they’ll miss by going to bed.

There is gentleness now, when I remember that they’re a part of me, a terrified part of me who sees what required and wants me to stop. And I know where it’s coming from. I know this where I’m meant to be.

I can’t turn back. I can’t stop.

The pull is too great. The stakes feel high, but I can’t stop, even if I wanted to. This feels like everything.


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