Looking Ahead

December 31st: Looking Ahead

I think most of us give at least some thought to what they want from the year ahead, even if we don’t write down big, lofty lists. It’s a good thing to do, having goals and ideals. Taking stock of where we’ve been, where we are, where we’d like to be. For me, at least, one of the joys of life is working towards achieving or changing or reaching something. I know not everyone is this way, and that’s fine too.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of what my goals and hopes for 2020 are here- that’s not what I want this space to be about, and anyway, I haven’t quite worked out all the details just yet.

But I will tell you this- in the year ahead, I intend to be very brave. Braver than I’ve ever been before. Strength? I’ve got that attribute down pat. But bravery is another matter entirely. The difference being, of course, that a strong person can deal with whatever life throws at them when they need to. A brave person gallops out to meet the challenges where they live. I am going to be brave this year. I am done waiting to see what life might come up with- I want to make my own path.

We should never aim to be fearless- fear is an important instinct, and we need a little of it. But we can name our fears and face them, taking ourselves out of the passenger seat and getting behind the wheel, where we belong.

Whatever life holds in store for us in the weeks and months ahead, my wish for myself and for everyone who reads this is simple; May you have more good days than bad. May you always find the silver lining. May you do the best you can at everything you try so that you end each day feeling proud of your effort. May you choose to be in the driver’s seat of your own life. And may you be very, very brave.

Happy New Year to you.

What If’s

December 2nd: What if’s

I have been beset with the “what-if’s” the past few days. I’ve been having such a lovely time with my life lately- enjoying friends and family, reveling in my clean little house, feeling quite content with my lot in life.

Suddenly, the idea of tossing everything I know up into the air and moving as far across the country as I could possibly go without leaving it altogether…seems terrifying! What if I’m making a giant mistake?! What if I’m horribly lonely? What if, what if, what if…?

Luckily, I remembered some very important things. And I asked these new “what-if’s” of myself: What if you stopped looking at everything as if it were the last thing you would ever do, and remembered that your life is made up of many parts, this being one of them? What if you remembered that you can, despite what the old saying tells us, come home again? What if you have the time of your life? What if, a year from this day, you are sitting at your desk, looking out of a snowy window, thinking “This is the most wonderful thing I have ever done?”. What if you just see how it goes?

Because I do, indeed, still want to go. I’ve checked in with myself, over and over again, and yes…the answer is still a resounding yes.

I’m scared to death. I’d be a fool not to be. This is a really big thing I’m planning on doing. But when I think back on all of the really big things I’ve ever done, they were also the greatest things I’ve ever done.

Look- we get one shot at this life, at least, as the person we are this go round. I have no idea who I’ll be next time, or if I’ll come back at all, or if I’ll be the sort of person that wants to do crazy things like pack up shop and move…everywhere. So, sure, fear is natural. But you cannot let it stop you from living the biggest, best, most joy-filled life you are capable of. So, I’m turning those “what-if’s” around, crossing my fingers, and forging ahead. ‘Cause what if this is the exact right thing? How will you know unless you try?

Fear

October 31st: Fear

Ha, I just realized this is a perfect topic for Halloween! Fear! But, as I stood brushing my teeth a few minutes ago, wondering what I was supposed to write about today, and the word “Fear” popped into my head, it wasn’t the monsters-lurking-under-the-bed type of fear that was calling to me. It was more the “Oh my God, what am I even doing?!” type.

You see, even earlier this morning, I booked two round trip flights from SFO to Boston Logan for my daughter and I, for March, to go look at possible places in Maine…or possibly New Hampshire…where we might want to live when we move next year.

I think what this did was, it made it a little more real for me. It’s one thing to daydream about something in a far-off, someday kinda way. To talk about it, say it like you mean it, picture it in your head. It’s another thing entirely to take steps towards that idea becoming a reality. And that is what I am doing- not just making plans but following through.

Now suddenly…I am kind of freaking out. Here are some things that popped into my head after hitting the “complete your flight reservation” button.

“What if there is a snowstorm and I’m too scared to drive?”

“What if I hit black ice and kill both of us?”

“What if it turns out that I HATE the cold?”

“What if I run out of money?”

“What if…what if I am making the worst mistake of my WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE?!”

You see how that snowballed? (no pun intended, but absolutely delighted by it anyway)

So, here’s what I have to say to myself: If there is a snowstorm, you don’t have to drive. You’ll make alternate plans. You can’t control black ice, but you can drive slowly and when it’s light out, and you will be cautious. If you hate the cold, guess what? No one is forcing you to do ANYTHING. You are allowed to change your mind. You will not run out of money. And the worst mistake of your life? Seriously? Have you forgotten where you came from? Settle down.

It’s normal to be afraid when you are making big, or sometimes even small, changes in your life. There are no guarantees that things will work out the way you want them to. I know this. I also know that sticking with the tried and true, while safer, isn’t the way I envision living my life. Knowing this, it will be necessary to accept that I will have moments of self-doubt and fear. And that’s okay. I will press on anyway.

Today, I hope that if you are being called to take a leap of faith, but you are allowing fear to stop you, you can start to see that your fear is not a red light, but a yellow one- at most. Fear asks us to slow down and pay attention. In most cases, it doesn’t mean to stop completely, to give up, to turn around. Fear is a helper, if you let it be. Rather than run away from it, see if you can acknowledge it, hear what it has to say, and if there is space for both your aspirations and a healthy dose of caution. Just make sure fear isn’t hogging up more room than it should. It likes to spread out when you don’t keep an eye on it.