Today marks not only the celebration of St. Patrick and a culturally accepted excuse to take off work and slam beers at 9 a.m. but also one remarkable year since I committed to taking baby steps towards conquering the scary: blogging. (For those that started following my blog later in the year, Forty and Fearless was the first entry.)
I met my fourth decade with excitement of new adventures, new discoveries and a desire to shed a slowly less adventurous Jen. Writing through this past year has been an eye-opening experience and one that I wish I had started sooner, like exercising regularly and drinking strong black coffee.
It occurred to me recently while watching Twinkle Toes bend her body back like a pretzel while flinging her legs over her head, what happened to swinging backwards off the monkey bars with no hands? Where did the mogul jumps and back handspring attempts go? I used to have the nickname “Conan” in my circle of junior high friends for my beach volleyball serve. Yet if you had seen me this summer, you would have wondered if I even knew how to identify a volleyball.
My kids have watched a video of their Mom willingly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 14,000 feet. Would that happen now? Too much at stake. I wasn’t a mother then.
The last eleven years have been supporting my children’s efforts to be the best they can be. Yet too few times taking a step back and wondering, would they be proud of me and my efforts?
For example, watching Techno play basketball this season. Getting thrown to the ground, diving for the ball with the thud to prove it, being wacked in the face and injured in other ways countless times, all the while in front of crowds of people and all the while being scrutinized for his every move. Did he hustle enough? Did he defend the basket as he should? Did he pour every ounce he had in to the game?
I do not know if I would have the stuff he has to take those risks. Good for him.
I have a friend who is preparing to give cancer a one, two punch for the second time. Not a fair burden to dole out to anyone, yet she gets chosen to stand at the front of that line twice. I am so humbled. I met the surprise blessing of pregnancy at age 39 with nary a stitch of humor. And her attitude right out of the gates is one that inspires me beyond measure.
Ice just came through to the other side of a big life transition by starting a new job today. The first time in 10 years. He did it with faith, peace and an optimism of which I am in awe. His actions never made me feel anxiety about what the future would hold for our family. Only confidence that he believed something better was awaiting him and all of us.
After all, we have come to the end of our certification process for placement of our first foster (maybe forever!) child and THEN he loses his job?? This.Does.Not.Compute. There has to be a bigger plan.
So I was sitting in an office a little over a week ago reading an article while waiting for my mammogram. A Life Less Cautious: Getting up the nerve with help from an unlikely mentor And a quote from this essay just blew me away.
“My bravery ebbs and flows, but ultimately I always get back out there…the world opens its arms just as wide for the fearful as it does for the fearless.” ~Ellen Welty
I feel like the simple act of putting fingers to the keyboard has given me a place to sort out, organize, catalog and lay bare for the world the things that amaze and inspire me, make me feel inept and inadequate or call me to action. And in some strange way it has held me accountable for what I write and what I do.
Let me write it now, I am surrounded by courageous, amazing people every day who inspire me. Getting a whiff of strength and fearlessness from others can translate into action, ebb and flow as it might. And in doing so I am hopeful that I will find more ways to make life easier and more comfortable for those around me, strangers and loved ones alike. Because when I am fearful and edgy, I really am a pain in the ass. It’s okay, I know it.