There are a handful of truly brilliant bloggers I read regularly. Today, Joel Runyon’s Two Part Guide To Doing Something Awesome popped up in my mailbox. I was not the least bit surprised to see that Part #1 was to do stuff that scares you, and that he referenced another of my faves, Steve Kamb (who actually says SH** instead of stuff). I have been doing a lot of things that scare me lately, things I didn’t think I had in me, that I never thought I could do. Nothing crazy like juggling chainsaws mind you, but running with scissors for sure — and it feels f***ing awesome (read the link, expletive required here).
In addition to this blog, I also just started writing two books. Since a single blog post takes anywhere from 20 minutes (Luck of The Irish) to 11 days (Ready To Fly), it could be a while until we need to call the printer on either of the novels. But in the midst of it all, what once intimidated me now sets me free. Writing is cheaper than therapy, and I enjoy it a great deal more.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that one of the books is all about fear. Specifically about overcoming it, confronting it, and recognizing the shackling effect it has on most of us. But it doesn’t have to. Lyrics from an Eagles’ song say it all, “…so often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key…”
Sadly, the fear of what people will think, that we will be alone, that something AWFUL will happen is so debilitating, we freeze and stop moving forward. I will never forget the reaction of an professional consultant as I was divulging some tender yet relevant details. It seemed safe enough, a phone conversation — if she laughed, judged, or otherwise ridiculed my situation, I’d never have to see her again, so I boldly shared. Her reaction shocked me, she applauded my bravery for being so open, for sharing the information and trusting her with it. I was stunned as she related similar situations, I was not alone, she too had similar experiences, and wouldn’t it be great of we could all just shake the facade of “everything is fine” and really help each other through the challenges we face. I continue to meet people who are open, share their stories, and learn that being vulnerable, being truly authentic about what life is serving up is incredibly liberating, not to mention necessary.
So back to fear, and fearing less. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about the hair standing up on the on the back of your neck kind of fear when you pass a dark alley — listen to that fear, follow your instinct and common sense in matters of personal safety. But the other kind of fear is different. Launch yourself past the voices that say you can’t do it, you’re not enough, etc. Look that fear in the face and call it the bully that it is. With that, I’m off to the pages of the book for a while. It’s a bit daunting at times, but I’m not afraid to write about it.
Why Is Not The Question, It’s The Answer
OK, so if you are reading this, you probably know that I only recently started this blog. Granted, the first post took a couple of weeks to get off the ground; but now it’s moving at a pretty awesome pace, thank you very much. I have no idea what a good amount of traffic should be on a blog (I’m solidly in triple digits now) and, hey, who cares, right? Well, someone (who shall remain nameless because they might feel stupid after they read this) asked me, “Why are you writing that blog anyway? Who reads it?” (Yes, yes that is a slathering of superiority covering anyway that you heard.)
Here is where the English major in me needs to make an overt swap of a misplaced interrogative adverb in favor of a far more useful noun. I write this blog because it offers a place to express the shit that rolls around in my untamed brilliant head (OK, still not completely sold on brilliant, but I’m gonna hold out hope a certain someone was right, even just a little bit). So, I tried to explain that it was a way, not a why — that I really think I am not the only one who wonders some of the same things I do, or questions the same things I do, or that just needs to blow off some parenthetical steam. And, well, if I am the only one who reads it, OK. (But I am not, so there.)
(For the full effect of her next query, picture a squished expression of whatever combined with I’m too ignorant to even know the difference between an adverb and a noun, let alone that WHY can be both.) “And that language, do you know how many times you said fucking in that one post?” (Well, yes, now I do — nine.) “Why did you need to be so vulgar?” (Um, because it caught your attention, made my point, AND I warned you.) Needless to say, I changed the topic as quickly as I could and made my exit.
Because I don’t think she will ever read this (and if she does, possibly all the better), I’ll tell you I feel sorry for her. She’s too uptight to be able to unleash anything uncensored that might be trapped in her head. And so instead she judges me for doing it (and most likely others too). I’m so happy to be (almost completely) on the other side of being affected by the judgement of others, that I can stand confidently in my own skin (freckles and all). I have no idea if what I write strikes a chord with those who have read it. I can only tell you that another part of the why behind the writing is a hope that it might inspire someone else to find their voice, to speak their truth, and to tap into their own untamed brilliance.
The Audacity To Be Awesome
Well, I survived the first leap of faith. As of this morning, 44 people (not counting me) have actually read my first post. And, wait, even better — THREE have actually commented (and said nice things!). Imagine that, I might actually be able to do this (well, at least those three people might be willing to read the next post — I could just be kidding myself, but I’m writing this one anyway).
So, this leads me to my next thought, which is my ambition to be awesome. OK, not like in that narcissistic, “Look at me, I am so awesome,” Paris Hilton kind of awesome. No, I am talking about the Julien Smith kind of awesome. The man is a fucking genius (click the awesome link, read the article, fucking was necessary, and I might even need to say it a few more times, so prepare yourself). I think I may actually have awesome in me somewhere, crumpled up in one of these boxes of shit in my head. I just need to let it out and stop worrying about what anyone else thinks about the crazy ass things that fall out of my mouth. The filter is gone and it feels fucking awesome (hey, I warned you).
The problem previously, the biggest fucking roadblock to my impending awesomeness (yes, it is a word) has been the yardstick I’ve been using to measure my potential. My first yardstick was handed down by my mother. It had a pointedly-worded mantra shellacked in big, bold, nun-induced cursive letters across it which said, “You never do anything right, if only you would try harder you might almost be worth something — but in the meantime, don’t even bother because you suck and you’ll never amount to anything.” Would have made for a snazzy cross-stitched throw pillow, eh?
I managed to ditch that one for a while, but then, without even realizing it, I traded it in for my not-fucking-soon-enough-ex-husband’s yardstick. He and my mother could have stitched their pillows together — we’ll leave it at that (for now).
I know it happens to others as well, and it kinda pisses me off to see it in action. A friend of mine is an artistic genius — fucking awesome if I do say so (again, warned you). But, he is so afraid to put it out there that this beautiful stuff just sits, collecting dust while he laments his possible wasted potential. Really, ya think? Another friend recently said he didn’t know what he had to offer and some bullshit about shoes he didn’t think he could fill. He’s another fucking awesome human being that needs a new yardstick, or at least to stop worrying about filling shoes. Wear your own fucking shoes, they fit just fine — or, follow my daughter’s lead and just go barefoot everywhere you can (even when you are not supposed to — I do love being a rebel). Imagine how much more we could accomplish, how much happier we would be if we just used our own measuring tools — our own assessment of what was good, perfect, or even just enough — instead of the expectations imposed by anyone else.
So, my new yardstick is my own. It is a beautiful mess of glitter, duct tape, and brilliant quotes tacked all over it to encourage me to have the audacity to continue to try, to do and be whatever I think I can, whatever I want to be. I can only hope it’s fucking awesome.