by Brian Andreas
I don’t know how long
I can do this, he said.
I think the universe
has different plans
& we sat there in silence
& I thought to myself
that this is the thing
we all come to
& this is the thing
we all fight
& if we are lucky
enough to lose,
& I sat there silent
because that is not
that can be said.
Not that long ago in the treatment room, my acupuncturist took my pulses and told me that my chi was stronger and more balanced than she had ever seen it. And its true, I was feeling more full, more peaceful, more aware of the great abundance in my life than I have perhaps ever. The situation of my life was not all that different than it had been a few months ago, but I am so fully aware of the gift of it all, it was not a surprise that my body began singing that tune. I felt so blessed that the Universe and I had worked together to heal some cracks in my heart so that I could begin to store a reservoir of energy to face whatever life would throw at me next.
You know what happened then? I immediately began to wonder when the next shoe would drop and tragedy would strike. I was certain the Universe had brought me to this pinacle of joy, only to rob me of it. I admit this sheepishly, but to be honest its true. I have programmed myself to believe that opening up to goodness means a sure fire punch in the gut is coming. I sat with that a while and got curious about it.
Max went on a long planned overnight trip this week to an indoor water park a few hours away with some of his best buddies from hockey. The trip is well chaperoned by people I love and trust deeply. For him, it was a holiday dream come true–an amazing adventure laid out before him.
Over the holidays Max and I had lots of opportunities for mom/son time. We spent hours reading together all snuggled up by the fire. Just as I would sink into the goodness of being his mother, fear would start to creep in. Foreboding Joy.
With this trip on the horizon, this trip so exciting and marvelous laid out like a gem I got fixated on the fact that this trip–this beautiful gift of a trip would be the thing that did us in.
I was certain that something was going to go wrong–horribly wrong. A car accident, a drowning, a bully or a sick man who would lure him away. He would bump into sharp corners of some sort and be wounded horribly. He would not come home. All these things do happen after all to families every day and the truth of the matter is we never know when life is going to shift and change or throw us a curve ball. We don’t know when we or our loved ones will breathe their last breaths. I tried to hold these facts without dwelling on them. I breathed and focused on the present moment. It seemed to help.
One night Max crawled into my bed, his room was so cold. I was awake and as I snuggled him and watched him sleep I felt that fear start to rise again. That panic that he would be taken from me. Visions of firey car crashes warred with my internal reassurances that he was traveling with a paramedic. I wondered whether it was my mother’s intutition that was telling me to not let him go, to slam the door on this opportunity and keep him safe by the fire with me. I then wondered whether this was my own difficulty sinking into the kindness and the adventure presented to him. This war was taking me nowhere good.
So late that night, I made a different decision. Instead of stepping on that rollercoaster, I stepped back and asked myself what on earth could this fear be pointing to. As I looked at his giant puppy ten year old self sleeping in heap and stealing my covers it was clear.
I love this child so very much, so deeply, so completely and with such abandon that my heart is completely and utterly exposed. And that is a very blessed thing. Being Max mom is the greatest joy of my life, a job that has new challenges and new twists and turns, a job that is ever changing. It is a job that I love with a passion so great, I sometimes think I will explode. And that is a blessed thing.
It was not his trip with the long list of possible (though not probable) tragedies that could occur that was scaring me. It was being this vulnerable. I sat with this fact for a long time. I wrapped my arms around my boy and I slept on it.
When I woke up, I realized that my vulnerability is what is saving me, what is healing me. When I sit, open in the classroom, letting myself be moved, I am practicing being vulnerable. When I marvel at all that I have, kissing each ordinary blessing in my life, I am being vulnerable. This vulnerability is terrifying and it is a treasure. It is what is opening up the deep well of energy and chi and goodness that I am drawing from. It is what is allowing me to sink even deeper. Its not a surprise that as I wake up to vulnerability I found myself struggling with it too.
What a treasure it was to stumble upon this. I have bumped into the work of the marvelous Brene Brown before and yet as I sit in my pajamas waiting for Max to come home, it resonates at a level so much deeper than before.
I am aware of how I protect myself from this vulnerability by refusing to open up entirely to the love and goodness in my life. How quick I am to slam the gates around my heart and what it has cost me. And I am making it decision, right here, right now, to practice vulnerability, over and over again.
The Ted Talk takes 20 minutes but it may just change your life.
**Thinking with love of K. and others who are sharing this journey with me. We are all walking it together. Holding hands will make it easier.**
Christmas morning found me in my pajamas, cooking pancakes and bacon and brewing a pot of coffee while Max and Juan played the boy’s new video game downstairs. It could have been a scene from the movie I used to play over and over again in my mind during the early months of our separation, the movie entitled, “If Only It Could Work Out”. So funny that we ended up here even though we haven’t really ended up anywhere near what I thought “here” would look like. Two separate homes. Custody agreement and child support.
Its been almost 7 years since we separated. Max doesn’t remember what it was like to live with his dad and sometimes he cries that he just wants to know what its like to have both parents in one house. I know that feeling of wishing my family to be whole too–that sense that THIS is not how its supposed to be. That sense that families are SUPPOSED to be together in one house or that parents are SUPPOSED to work it out for the sake of the children or that we are SUPPOSED to be rewarded for hard work with “happy ever after”. I once held onto those old stories too.
And yet, if life has taught me anything these past seven years it is that there is no “supposed to”. There is simply life, marching on, throwing curve balls and opportunities to learn new ways of being. There is no happily ever after but if we can let go of the SUPPOSED TO there are plenty opportunities to be happy right now.
The definition of our family is constantly shifting. Truth be told, every definition is really simply a story, made up, self constructed. We are just three people, two adults and one wise, funny, brilliant and gorgeous child doing our best to make it through life peacefully. Connected to one another in a thousand different ways that matter. (Disconnected in some other important ways too!) Juan and I are both profoundly awake to the fact that whatever we did to one another in marriage and divorce, the best thing we ever did bring this amazing child into this world. We have found a way to let the rest go so we can both bathe in that sweetness. We have found a way to dance a new dance so we can both be with our son and witness his glory on this most magnificent morning.
We have done Christmas lots of ways, but recently have found a way to a shared Christmas morning. Of being together the three of us around a tree because there is no where else any of us wants to be right at that moment than together. Next year it could be different.
I called the boys to the table and served up the breakfast on the Christmas plates that someone had given us a few years after our wedding. Its lovely to have this ritual now, this simple way of celebrating life, despite what it threw us.
Next year may bring new challenges to navigate, new rituals, new dances. Truth it, despite every tradition faithfully executed, its always new. Each of us is always showing up new and that means new dances every time. And so while this Christmas morning was pure sweetness, I simply breathe and let go of any attachment to the fact that this is the way it is supposed to be.
After all there is no way it is supposed to be. There is only just the way that it is. There are ten thousand ways to be a family–joyously, painfully, brokenly, messily, lovingly a family. Every one of them is perfect.
Every glorious one.
Hello….Hello…Is anyone still there?
I know its been awhile. Its been a wild and wooly fall and I’ve missed you.
The last several months I have had to let go of a lot to make space for this dream I have been living. Unfortunately, some of what I have had to let go of is writing–or at least writing that isn’t being handed in for a grade.
But I haven’t given it up completely. And so today, with several final papers handed in, and others printed out, stapled and tucked safely inside my school bag I can take a breath and return to this page. Hello again. Have you missed me?
Our life has been turned upside down and inside out by my decision to go to school. Max and I both have had to learn new ways of being. Homework side by side, he now needs to wait for me to complete my thought on paper before I can look up to help him. Each minute of our waking time needs to be used wisely for work, or school, or chores and so we linger less at community gatherings and leave lots undone. The house always looks like a bomb went off and sometimes we have to reach into the dirty laundry basket for clothes. Mornings are a bit harried as we both have school that starts exactly at nine. There have been more life solutions that feel as though they are held together by duct tape. Max has had to do more on his own. Its been a change.
And yet life is change. Life is always changing and school has been a gift that has called me to witness it shifting so.
When I decided to go to school I imagined that I would blog about it frequently, sharing pearls of wisdom that I had taken in and digested. Looking back now I can only smile at that intention–the hubris inherent in it. This school is nothing that I can distill so neatly. For what I am learning, along with history and anatomy and theory is the art of being. And that my friends is the Dao that cannot be spoken.
I am finding myself being completely broken open. Sitting quietly in a chair with tears streaming down my face, only to be laughing in the very next moment. I am being moved beyond words. I am noticing a softening in myself, a loosening of places that have always felt tight. I am smelling things as though for the first time, and digesting ideas (some long cherished) so completely that they no longer live in my brain but reside in my bones.
I am doing it all in community, in a group of people who don’t rush in to fix me when I cry. They don’t ask me what is wrong or try to fix my messiness because they know that I am perfect exactly as I am, tears and drippy nose and all. In fact, knowing that we are all perfect exactly as we are is an entrance ticket to this world I inhabit. Don’t dare pick up the mantle of healer until you know that there is nothing to be fixed. Instead be there to fertilize the soil, bear witness to the flowering, assist with the pruning and kiss it all. That is how the healing happens.
As the fall has shifted to winter I have experienced exhaustion, fatigue, a sense of desperation and terrible gut wrenching fear. And as each of these have surfaced I have let them move through me completely. No need to stuff, repress, reframe or even understand. It is simply energy in motion. I have faced some really dark places–moments of intense loneliness and moments when I thought that I would not be able to keep carrying on with this schedule and yet even in the darkest hour never have I regretted the choice to walk this path. I have never doubted walking this way nor have I doubted that walking this way will lead me home..
I have learned that I can keep going if I simply do what is in front of me without worry about what comes next. I have also learned that when I give up the fight with what is (the worry, complaining or stress over what to do) and simply focus on what action I can take to keep moving that we keep marching ahead. And I have learned that putting lots of reminders around to keep me in practice.
I have often operated from a place of deficiency–no enough rest, not enough time, not enough money, not enough support. I have been a fight with the “not enoughs” for so long. So now, I write this message on my hand and remind myself to pay attention to the abundance of ways that I am being held by the universe. The squeeze that has been this trimester, the relentless pace and constant shifting has been teaching me to find space in the chaos to breathe. That space is the place I call peace. It is always there. Finding that peaceful space to inhabit no matter what comes, that is the art of being.
It is possible. If I have learned anything in the last 10 days, than I have learned that even though things may seem very stuck for very long, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, if you keep taking small steps, things can start to happen. If you knock on the door long enough, it just may open. After months, years, of feeling stuck no matter what I did, I am finally starting to feel some movement in my life and I am still awash in wonder that yes–it can happen! It is happening! Its happening NOW!
Some of the biggest and most important shifts, the ones that really get things going, they are the small ones. The most unlikely of events can set a whole amazing chain of events in motion. The lucky break with the insurance adjuster, the paperwork that finally gets done, the deals that once sealed open up new pathways. Small shifts that create new spaces, new paths to walk down. It need not be an earthquake to move and shake. Sometimes big movements come from the smallest of shifts.
In the space of ten days I have learned how to be my own fairy godmother. I have learned how to save myself through my own divine magic–not through big dramatic changes but by tiny almost inconsequential actions. But I have also learned that I have lots of help and support in weaving my magic. Masters and assistants have presented themselves at every turn, the minute I declared myself the magic-maker all sorts of help showed up.
Here is what I learned:
Be fierce when it comes to protecting your heart.
Do a lot of very mundane things. Even if you don’t think you have the energy. Print, file, search, sign. These little movements create big waves that carry us far.
Listen to your intuition and start paying attention to how much you really do know in your heart of hearts if you only dared listen. All those times you said, “I knew it…” They weren’t coincidence.
Believe in your own ability to release and heal. It doesn’t need to be dramatic or big or torture. Its OK if it is, but understand that it can be easy too. Embrace it when its easy. Its no less valuable to simply just heal.
Hold someone’s hand. Even better, hold their head in your hands.
Marvel at the miracles of babies. Remember when they weren’t even a thing and recognize how the universe makes huge changes in no time at all.
Recognize yourself in strangers. Listen to what they say when they recognize themselves in you.
Say what comes into your heart, especially if its kind.
Lots of big but small changes over here. In the space of seven days I have welcomed a new housemate, signed my student loans, completed a level of Reiki certification, let go of my old car and am almost there on finding a new one. I feel as though i am being swept away on a tide of goodness and grateful for the ride.
Tell me something good, or maybe something sticky. Tell me anything at all. I will tell you more later.
Its been one of those summers. Transition and excitement and change and full catastrophe living. In some ways its the price to be paid for living the dream. Its exhausting dodging all the curve balls that get thrown this way. Like my car.
Not that long ago, I declared on a summery eclipse night that I was ready to let go of my old crappy Mazda and make the space for a reliable energy efficient car. My sweet car wasn’t always old and crappy. She has served me well for 12 years. But the repair bills have been higher and more frequent than I’d like. I use packing tape to hold one headlight on and the body–well–the body has seen better days–to many urban parking garages. Twice this summer, the Universe has prompted me to let her go–first when someone backed into me in a pool parking lot. And then again on Tuesday on the way to Max’s swim practice when I got into another fender bender. The insurance company says her current worth is likely less than the cost of even the minor (but necessary) repairs and so more than likely when I meet with the lovely insurance adjuster, he will tell me that I am driving a drivable “total loss”, cut me a check and take her from me at last.
Unfortunately, the money I will get wont buy me a good car and I don’t really have much cash for a new used car. I knew a new car was on the horizon but I had been hoping and praying that this baby would last as long as I needed her to while I lazily flipped through Consumer Reports and diligently put the right amount aside. I didn’t want to face this problem urgently. Do we ever want to face any problem when its urgent?
This has been another blip in a long line of summertime happenings that have left me feeling panicked about my financial plan for the fall. Just when I had it all figured out, practically to the nickel, a new car throws everything into a tailspin. This despite pulling out every trick I know to figure out how to live on just 60% of my old income (or rather add to it) and create some cushion in case life gets nutty.
What’s almost comical is that I can’t quite seem to catch a break. There is a long tale of woe about a car my folks want to give me that ended in heartbreak and rust. And just a few weeks ago, not long after I declared myself ready to get rid of the car, I got a phone call. I had (hold onto your hats) won a car–a hybrid no less. Never a winner, I had won a sweepstakes I had entered at a hockey game some 8 months ago. I barely remembered doing it. I never thought much about the car. Really I just wanted to get Max a Red Caps towel to twirl at the game so I filled out some card, barely noticing the shiny Hydrid vehicle being hawked, trading the info I assumed would go to a marketing firm for a terry cloth freebie. Yet, here, as my old car was falling apart, a new one. The entire time I listened to the spiel I kept interrupting trying to find the catch. There always is a catch with these sweepstakes–a timeshare to buy or a vacation to take. And then, it came–the kicker. For some dumb reason, in order to win you had to be married. It was in the fine print on the damn card I didn’t care about filling out but did. I explaining to the kind man on the other end of the phone that I was no longer married. He then politely hung up.
When I was trying to decide to go to school so many people told me “Leap and the Net Will Appear”. I am not sure exactly what I thought it meant. I suppose I thought it meant something like a Fairy Godmother would appear out of nowhere who would secretly behind the scenes pull a few strings to conspire along the way to smooth the way and make it easier for things to fall into place. Interestingly enough though, this summer has been an exercise in the exact opposite. Every little step along the way seems three times more difficult–like walking into a blizzard wind. Each problem has required me to stretch myself. Learn something new. Go to some new uncomfortable place.
I am beginning to believe that, “Leap and the Net will Appear” means
“When in a free fall-the Universe may toss you some rope and whisper that its a pretty good time to learn to weave.” The magic must come from within.
Living on the edge, pushing toward my dreams means full catastrophe living. Being willing to walk on the edge and embrace the worse case scenario with calm and confidence and the full belief that whatever disaster comes our way, I will discover a way to solve that problem. It may involve my brain, my intuition or maybe just hard brut work but I will magic my own way out of it. Bibbity, bobbity boo…
And yet, at the same time, I know that the law of the Universe is that we are all interconnected. I am deeply powerful, but I am not alone. I will find allies and guides and and even net weavers who will support me, magicians assistants and wizened old mentors. I need to open to the resources that will appear. Friends and family who know how to buy cars, or rent bedrooms or market wares will show me the way. There may be partners who want to join me on my journey who won’t solve my problems but who will invest something (money, heart, ideas) into my quest. I have to keep believing that the resources I need to weave this net will appear and that I will know exactly what to do with them when they show up. Even when in freefall.
Over the South pole today we had a solar eclipse. I mention it because it explains a whole lot of crazy that seems to be going on around. Lots of shaking things up and separations and releasing of old to make way for the new. The energy of the sky has been one big clearing, a massive spring cleaning of our homes, our lives or souls. Have you felt it? I sure have!
I have been taking comfort in the energy of letting go. Even if it means sitting empty for awhile–especially if it means sitting empty for awhile. There is something about opening to the infinite possibilities of what this moment holds when we let go of what happened in the past without holding any expectations of the future.
Sometimes in order to stretch far, to grow into our next phase we need to untie some knots–the ones that are holding us tight, keeping us reigned in, giving us a short leash. Sometimes untying knots means we need to go over old ground–but then having covered that ground, we need to kiss it and let it go forever, turn our backs and march forward into the future. Tonight is a perfect time for letting go of all we don’t want and for saying YES with arms outstretched for all we want to welcome in. For the next several weeks the universe will continue to support us in clearing out whatever we are ready to let go of!
I am letting go of my sentimental attachment to my crappy falling apart car and opening up my heart for some energy efficient clean and neat little mode of transportation. (I hope she comes quickly!)
I am letting go of friendships that no longer serve, the ones where my openheartedness was never really appreciated and instead opening up to the ones who love me for my messy vulnerable self.
I am letting go of any remaining fear about walking the path in front of me and instead opening up to the wild and wooly adventure thats been calling to me for years.
I am letting go of stories I wrote about not having enough and instead and opening up to the abundance laid out before me.
I am letting go of rushing and feeling pressured and tortured by time. I am instead opening up to time as a friend and hoping that in the slowing down I will experience infinity and experience the sense that everything happens right on time.
I am letting go of being a martyred single mom and opening up to all the ways that my ex wants to support Max.
I am letting go of the words, “I have to…” and opening up to the words, “I get to…”
I am letting go of worry and opening up to total faith in the process of my life. I have always risen to the challenge of my life. It has taken me this far and as I type this, with the feet of the most beautiful boy in my lap, that this far is exactly where I need to be.
The other day, a colleague asked me how the walk was going on the path to going to school. I confided that half the time I am feeling like a strong warrior-woman, marking bold steps, striding forward and that the other half of the time I was feeling completely undone whether by fear and a sense of “What the hell I am doing?” or just sheer exhaustion from the effort.
“You mean thats not normal?” she commented with a laugh. “Sounds like a regular ol’ day for me!”
Truth is I have been feeling a bit tender lately as I navigate this swing. I have been feeling strange and freakishly fractured even as I felt strong and powerful, and I have been longing to feel whole and solid again. And so it was that her off handed comment caused a warm wave of comfort to envelope me. I had been feeling a bit crazy. But she reminded me that no–I am not a lunatic. This is the way, even if we are private about it. It is. It is. It is how we grow.
I am reminded of the thousands, no millions, of women — soul sisters all– who are right now navigating similar changes and transitions. Rearranging our lives in ways that provoke excitement and anxiety and honest-to-goodness wiped out “sleep for hours” kind of exhaustion. All of us in one way or another can feel splintered and pull apart. Whether we are transitioning into partnership or widowhood, motherhood or empty-nest, setting up a home in a strange land, or learning the curves of familiar terrain when the people we love no longer populate it, navigating career changes or discovering a new power deep inside us we all every day experience a mix of fear, strength, faith, exhileration and exhaustion in different combinations.
Taken together, while moving forward, its called courage. Extraordinary every day courage. And it, and the accompanying tenderness from the rollercoaster ride, well…its normal.
A friend recently send me a link to a post about Akhilandeshvari, the Hindi goddess of “brokenness”. Rather she is the goddess of “never not broken” as in “Broken as a normal every day state of being”. Not the kind of brokenness that leaves us helpless–but the kind of brokenness that happens when our life is shattered and as we pick up the pieces and rearrange them, we create something amazing and beautiful. Broken as in transforming. Broken as in making ourselves and our lives over and over again.
The state of being broken is not a condition of weakness but a condition of transformation and strength. I love that there is a goddess devoted to this state. It reminds me that what I am going through is so normal, so ordinary, so every day and therefor so holy that we need a goddess to help us hold the space, to inspire us and to carry us through. That is it not a negative state but one of profound and positive power. I am part of a chain of women that not only reaches across the globe but reaches back into ancient history. I am one of millions of us who are “never not broken”. It is a condition that is normal.
That knowledge helps dispel fear and helps me stand strong. I anchor myself in the knowledge that “All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Sometimes, before I sleep, I feel a long line of wise women touch me on the shoulder, each one of them whispering, “This is how we know strength, when we allow ourselves to be broken. Only then can we rearrange our lives in a powerful way. This, my dear child, this is normal”.
2. Assume success. Take a moment to imagine what success feels like. Close your eyes and let it wash over you. Know that you are successful right NOW and that is all that matters.
3. Clean your office. Throw away everything that doesn’t serve any more.
4. Refill prescriptions. File insurance claims. Make lunch. Take the car in for service. Pay attention to the details that help life run smoothly. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
5. Take a walk.
6. Camp out at the school silent auction to ensure that the little boys who make your heart sing score the winning bid for a night at the movies with their Math Teacher.
7. Cry when you need to. Cry until you find yourself laughing.
8. Schedule dinner with an old dear friend and be prepared to laugh until you cry.
9. Embrace the fact that the brokenness is what saves you. Revel in the fact that you are never not broken.
10. Go to bed early. Sleep as late as you can.
11. Drink water. A lot of water.
12. Hold a warrior pose as long as your legs will allow you. Channel that warrior energy.
13. Play guitar. Even if its awful and you can’t really make it work because you are so distracted. Keep playing anyway. Come back to the notes. Stay with them. Over and over. Softly. Loudly.
14. Tell a friend everything you have done to make your dream come true. Report the facts without analysis about where its getting you. Know that every step you take is carrying you somewhere.
15. Take a shower and feel the cool water running down your back.
16. Make a list of everything you are ready to let go of. Prepare to let it go.
When I was a little girl, I was often afraid. I was afraid of missing the bus, afraid of upsetting my parents, afraid of not doing things right. I was afraid that the kids who said they were my friends didn’t really like me. I have no idea where it came from. My childhood was far from scary. I am not sure how much people knew how scared I felt. I can’t say whether I hid it well. I just remember fear being a constant companion, an imaginary friend who stuck to me like glue.
My fear protected me. I didn’t do a lot of dumb things kids do because of a healthy dose of fear. But at the same time my fear held me back. There were a lot of healthy and exciting things I wanted to do but never tried for fear of being bad, fear of looking dumb, fear of simply failing, fear that if I tried I might just drown.
In Chinese medicine they say that fear is the energy of water. Think of wild rapids that make your heart race, or dark murky depths that press on your lungs. Think of rivers that flood, or hurricanes that sweep us out to sea. We can’t control water, no matter how we try. It scares us. Because it is that strong.
The other energy of water is strength. Think of the power of water as it moves, carving canyons, changing coastlines. Water which turns deserts into blooming paradise. Water which sustains life.
Fear and strength are two sides of the same coin. To stand in the energy of water is to know both fear and deep unyielding strength. And we carry the potential for both when we face any great trauma, challenge or transition.
One of the ways to frame the story of my life (and maybe yours too) is a journey of understanding both sides of the energy of water. Sometimes it seems as though in the beginning I only knew fear. But in the last decade or so of my life, I am coming to embrace the quiet, fierce power of my strength, of knowing that no matter what comes I am going to be OK. And that strength is what has been allowing me to transform, to move beyond my fear and into my real potential.
Sometimes I feel nothing short of wimpy. A career change should be no big deal to a woman of my age and experience. And yet as I am readying myself to go part-time at work, to enter school I am feeling wave after wave of fear. Its exhausting. The fear–it is making everything so hard.
You would think that at this point in my rather mature life that I would have the where with all to make this shift without much issue. But, the truth is, nothing can trigger these fears, like money issues.
From the beginning of my working life, I have never made enough to create a cushion, the kind of cushion that I tell myself would help me feel “safe” about making a leap. First a teacher, then a government staffer, then an activist, I have always worked for “just enough”–the desire to help and do something meaningful always trumping my desire for money or material things. There were moments when I felt more comfortable than others, but truth is every raise came just at the right moment as my expenses increased.
While I have never been motivated by the prospect of accumulating money, I am a creature of certain comforts. I like the convenience of having a car (even if it is a beat up 14 year old one). I cherish the protection of my house. I like being able to eat meat when I want to, and to be able to serve a variety of organic foods. I like being able to offer wine to my friends and I like being able to buy new sheets for my bed every few years. Most importantly, I like being able to give Max a chance to do the things he loves–like playing hockey and swimming and camping in the woods. I can’t imagine living without health insurance. And these things, alas, they do require money. And I am afraid, deeply afraid that if I make this switch all this is going to blow up, the fragile balance I created will turn upside down and we will end up homeless or hungry.
When I first became aware of my desire to do healing work, years and years ago, I told myself I needed to wait until I could get ahead, until I could save something–someday. When Juan left me, and my finances took a tumble I told myself I needed to wait until I found a partner to provide a safety net. All of this waiting was born of fear–and my attempts to hold her at bay.
But after years of waiting for circumstances to change, it is clear to me that they won’t. As much as I would like a plan that will allow me to put fear aside, I can’t run away from fear. I am going to need to stand in her. And the only way to do it is to embrace her other side–strength. But I don’t know how to be THAT strong. I don’t know how to be fearless. I never have been.
When I was reflecting on this to Bonnie, my very wise friend she said to me, “Its not about completely dispelling fear for strength…its about moving the line–and you my friend only need to move it a little.” I didn’t know what she meant.
“When you were small,” she told me, “you were like 80% scared and 20% strong and so most of the time that fear stopped you. As you grew up, went to college, as you became a mom, as you lived through your divorce you transformed your fear to strength because you had to. It was the gift of your journey. You moved the line from 80% scared to 60% scared to 52% scared. That’s where you are right now–you are 52% scared and 48% strong. Problem is that 4% differential might just stop you now. That would be the greatest tragedy. So instead you just need to move the line. Not much just a little bit.”
At that moment it hit me. I don’t need to be fearless to do this. I don’t need to be bold beyond measure. I just need to be 52% strong.
I think sometimes when we look from the outside we see women who have moved mountains and assumed that they were fearless. I think, I am beginning to see, that most of them may have been 52% strong when they got going. They had just enough strength to not let the fear paralyze them And that was all they needed.