Monthly Archives: June 2018

A Rearview Look at Fear

One thing I love about taking time to wonder  as I work to embrace the word this year is how the most profound revelations come in the simplest of moments.

Take, for example, when I was backing up my new car the other day.

I have had the car about a week, and the entire reason I got it was because I was rear ended and my other car got totaled. It’s scenarios like this one that I recently experienced that do not make me a huge fan of driving. One might even say that I get a little paranoid when it comes to backing up, driving in big cities, on major highways, or other such things. (Okay, people have actually said these things because they might be true.)

I have let fear convince me to envision the worst case scenarios when it comes to driving. Sometimes it’s funny, but other times it’s just ridiculous. I have imaginary wrecks when I’m backing out of a parking spot at least a couple of times a month even though it’s never actually happened. Okay, okay, there was that one time I knocked my rear view mirror off when backing out the garage, but that was a long time ago.

Even so, it only took that one time to make me realize it could happen, so I hold my breath and/or work to not hyperventilate 8 out of 10 times that I back out of a parking spot or garage.

This is why I was delighted that my new car is equipped with a backup camera. This is the first vehicle I have owned that includes this feature, and while I’m still adjusting to it, I knew that it would be good for me to actually be able to see what is behind me since I tend to imagine a maze of fictitious objects are ready to jump out at me.

The other day I found myself in a tight parking lot and decided this would be the perfect opportunity for me to practice using the camera. There were actual cars, a tree, and a massive dumpster all hanging out in this parking lot, and prior to having the camera, I would have been tempted to just off-road my way out of there. I have tested the validity of this camera, however, so I knew it was okay to push myself. I backed up right towards that dumpster and didn’t even come close to hitting it, thank you very much. I even backed into a parking spot. Nothing insane happened, but I saw some realities I’ve been blinded to for a long time.

  1. The truth is the truth no matter how much you want to convince yourself that it’s not. There is a literal camera above the license plate of my car. It has a front-row view to any potential threat to the rear of my car. It even has lines that show where I need to use caution and slow down. Before having the backup camera, I had believed for years that I must be close to hitting something when I had never actually come close to doing so. My perception of the truth did not match reality, and this ties in nicely with the next thing that I realized from this simple little experience.
  2. Fear is a powerful and convincing force in this world. There are times we are all motivated by fear, whether they be irrational fears that become endearing quirks or legitimate fears that come from painful realities. No matter what kind of fear we are facing, it shouldn’t be allowed to become our decision maker. When fear rules our actions, we have lost sight of what is right. Fear is sneaky. It can take one element of truth in a messed up situation and twist it even further, thus taking us prisoner. Our actions submit to the twisted truth and we stop being as effective as we could be.

I started laughing about halfway through my time in reverse in that parking lot because I could see the truth for the first time. I have been a prisoner to an irrational fear for as long as I can remember, but one simple look at the truth set me free.

From one human to another, I’d like to encourage anyone else who gets hung up on the lies that fear feeds us every day to look for the Truth. It’s usually far more simple than the convoluted ritual we’ve grown accustomed to living out, and the result leads to being free to move in ways you didn’t yet know were possible.

 

Blogging Birthday Reflections

In June 2009, I started a blog. I had no idea what on earth that would come to mean to me, but it was a trendy new thing that a few people I knew were dabbling in, and I wanted a place where I could post pictures and memories of my newborn so that family could keep track of how he was growing while I could look back and remember what made those first months of motherhood special.

That blogging journey became a game changer for me. I never did become one of those famous bloggers with hundreds of followers. I haven’t earned any money from any of the blog posts I’ve written, and there have been many times in more recent years when I seriously considered shutting the whole thing down.

Even so, blogging changed me. It helped me see some really important things about myself. As I wrote more in the first few years of the journey, I learned how much I absolutely love writing. I came to see myself as a writer because I sat down and did the thing on a regular basis. I have always liked to write, which would explain the degree in English, but I began to see the a joy that could not be compared to writing the stories of my life as well as the lives of those I love.

Being a writer allowed me to connect with people in a completely different way. There are many people I have never met in real life that I now know and love because of our writing connection. This is a treasure that has brought me happiness, but even more surprising to me was the way I was able to connect with people I already knew. There’s something far more powerful in saying what’s in my heart through the written word. I learned that through blogging, and it slowly changed my life’s mission to a more focused one.

The momentum to write and connect kept growing over the first few years. I researched about writing and blogging all of the time. After teaching myself how to set up and maintain a working website and then writing an e-book, I scaled back a bit around the time that my daughter was born. It turns out there wasn’t quite as much free time when kid #1 stopped taking naps at the same time that kid #2 didn’t figure out how to be a good sleeper for the first couple of years of life.

As much as I grew to love reading about being a good writer and learning and practicing how to be a better blogger, I also started feeling the need to slow down in the virtual world so that my kids didn’t see me constantly staring at a screen. Several key parts of my little world started crumbling shortly after that, and that’s when I got really lost when it came to writing. I lost a good deal of my audience and didn’t feel that I was free to write openly.

Writing stories about real life is tricky business, and while I believe it is important to write through the hurts that inevitably come in life, it is even more important to know two things:

1. Your why
2. Your audience

My “why” for a very long time was personally working through some serious loss that hit our family. We were all devastated and changed forever. Parts of the narrative I was living were not mine to tell and could potentially hurt some of my remaining audience. I know that there are many wise words out there about the importance of being bold and sharing your voice in writing, but I also came to learn something even more wise.

There is a time to refrain from words.

Not completely, mind you. I wrote a lot of nonsense for myself. I read a lot. I sought wisdom from people I trusted, and when the timing was right, I shared pieces of my story with people I met along the way.

Blogging consistently might have faded, but now I was emerging as someone who knew what it meant to write, live, and share a story. So I began teaching again and have met many people who have moved me to laughter as well as tears with their stories, but most of all they have inspired me as a both a writer and a human.

So here I am, nine years after I sat with one hand holding a sleeping newborn while the other clicked on tutorials that could explain what a blog even is, reflecting on the journey and feeling challenged to push myself once again. To write more about what matters, and sometimes even about things that are just fun.  To put my words out there for an audience to take or leave depending on what they have going on. To do what it takes to be able to call myself a writer: write.

While it is wise to refrain from words for a time, it should never be forever. I have learned some valuable lessons in my time of not putting very many words on here, and it would be a waste of those lessons to hold it all in forever. So here we go. This is my rambling attempt to live out what I teach: Know your why and share your story, even when the draft’s not that pretty, because it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.