LOFB - NoaIt’s scary to want to do more.

Part of looking back on your life is deciding whether you’ve done enough “I can’t believe I did that” and few enough “Wish I would have done that.” We are given new opportunities for new things to do and try and be every single day.

But what if you’re afraid? What if you are genuinely afraid to do something new? What if you are afraid to make that leap into the unknown, whether it’s a new job, marriage, life, goal?

There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s a response that your brain uses to tell you, “yeah no, something could totally go wrong here, you should watch out.” We should listen to the fear, but like soldiers in the battlefield, we can’t let it overwhelm us. We can’t let fear stop us from doing what we want to do.

I am a very quick adopter of therapy. I do not mind, at all, telling someone else my problems if they can help me figure out what the hell is going on that I can’t see. I figured out quickly that a therapist, or a good one at least, doesn’t fix your problems, they just happen to ask you the right questions to help you to understand and fix your own problems. They aren’t wizards who can fix you, or bosses who drive you to a goal at the risk of all else. They’re a little like shepherds–they’ll guide you away from danger but mostly, eh, you’re up to you.

I have always viewed therapy as a kind of super-charge for your life. Have a frustrating problem with yourself? Therapy can help you. Want to be a better version of you? Therapy. Need someone to let all your stuff out onto.

Y’all…therapy.

Therapy is a way to essentially turbo-boost your life. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself (in fact, you are helping yourself in the most way possible). It doesn’t mean you’re passing your problems off on someone else or blaming others. It just means a part of you is wearing out and you need a tune-up to run most efficiently.

You can’t drive a car who’s battery is shot and belts are shredded. You can’t life your life with your heart in pieces and your brain in tatters. Do what you have to do.

I would hope that those who need therapy are open to it. I would hope that you get the help you need to be the best version of you so you don’t have to look back on your life and say, “what if.” I would hope that when you feel out of sorts you talk with someone who can help so you can get back in-sorts and live your badass life, lady. I hope that when you’re feeling low, you talk to someone who can help you back to level ground so you can go kick life’s ass.

Don’t let fear cause you to look back one day in regret. You’re bigger than this. You’re gonna be ok.

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Let’s dance, shall we?

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LOFB - JenFor most of my life, I’ve been afraid to fly.

I had no trouble clambering aboard airplanes and soaring off to exotic destinations, and it was never a question of heights as I am the first to scale a rock wall or dangle precariously from the tallest tree limbs, but I was always terrified of letting myself fly.

For most of my life, I did what I was supposed to do.*

 

*Although my parents may beg to differ.

I stayed out of trouble, got respectable grades, went to college, got married, and had 2 beautiful children. I furthered my education, was never fired from a job, and I made sure that, like footprints in the sand, I did everything in my power to live a life that wouldn’t inconvenience anyone, and was easily washed away and forgotten.

I still live that way.

Sure, I have the periodic shenanigans, and odd run-ins with random hilarity, but by and large I live a life of little significance. My children. . .I am significant to them. My family and a few choice loved ones. . .sure. But I am one in a million other divorced single mothers; interchangeable, and easily replaced. And that’s not who I want to be.

Life is filled with responsibilities and expectations. But life is also like a Jersey tollbooth. . .it demands change. And I am ready for change. My life cries out for change.

We are all born with a wild spirit, and over the years that spirit gets. . .tamed. Our dreams shrink and our desire to shine is dulled. For years, I dulled my shine with self-loathing and alcohol. Them eventually, I threw myself into sobriety with as much zeal as I did drinking, and it wasn’t long until my desire to stay astride the proverbial wagon was as much an obsession as my previous urge to dive headlong off of it like a Mardi Gras Bacchus King with an inner ear infection. ‘Half measures’ are not a part of my vernacular, and the mere concept of ‘moderation’ has my tilting my head in confusion like a beagle during an air raid. So, rather than seek moderation in life, it was far more expedient to just put my head down and follow the common roads of life.

Not any more.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of being safe.

I’m tired of doubting myself.

I’m tired of always placing other people’s happiness before my own.

I’m tired of hanging my head and quieting my voice to avoid upsetting others.

We spend most of our lives like Mormon girls, crossing our arms over our chests and telling Life: “Pull the car over, Mister. I’m walking!” rather than throwing caution to the wind and going all ‘Girls Gone Wild’ on the freeway.

We are constantly in a desperate scramble toward the next purchase, the next diversion, the next bauble; spitting vitriol about the shackles of our jobs while clinging to them with a blind devotion that can only be described as Stockholm Syndrome.

We are constantly trying to make everyone else happy to the point of our own misery.

We are so busy living for other things, other pursuits, other people, that we don’t even recognize the sound of Death banging on the door like a Jehovah’s Witness on crystal meth until it’s too late.

I don’t want that life any more. Because that life isn’t really. . .living.

I want to jump on the back of a Harley and ride off where the day takes me.

I want to stroll, laughing, on a nude beach.

I want to eat ice cream for breakfast and make nachos at 3:00am.

I want to make love in the middle of the day, then lie in bed laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.

I want to take my heart out of its gilded cage and place it, trusting, into someone’s hands.

I want to fly.

I met someone a few months ago that encourages me to unfurl my wings. He makes no false promises, speaks with unflinching honesty, and loves me with a purity and intelligence that I never dreamed possible. We know that nothing is 100% sure in life, but we also know that this life is the only one we have, and we are living every second of it with an intensity that would eclipse the brightest star.

Together, he and I are veering off the common road and soaring headlong into the unknown.

Sometimes, I get scared. I still hold back and second-guess myself, and see every quiet moment or tense disagreement as ‘goodbye’, but I’m learning. . .I’m understanding. . .I’m flying. And I’m trusting that every time I take that leap of faith and soar, my wings are growing stronger and stronger.

Fly.

Do it now. Try it now. Live NOW! Because before you know it, you’re going to be sitting in a pair of Depends, gumming your 4:00 Early Bird supper, tapping your toe to a Musak version of Mr. Mister’s ‘Broken Wings’, and wondering what the fuck happened to your life.

Your dreams were not meant to be stifled, and your heart was not meant to be cloistered.

Fly.

Just. . .fly.

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LOFB - NoaI don’t have a lot of regrets, really.

I’m able to look back at my life (short as it may be thus far) and realize that the things I fucked up I fucked up for a reason, even if it was my fault. I realize that I made dumb choices sometimes. I realize that I am more foolish than I pretend to be. I realize that I rush things.

I’ve also learned to forgive myself these mistakes because fuck, I’m a person and I am not perfect.

How did that happen, though? My past is the same, nothing has changed but my mindset.

I started to focus on my life as it was at the moment instead of what it could have been, which is some hippie bullshit that helped me more than I like to acknowledge.

When I get down, I start to think about what my life could have been. If I had only worked harder, not laid around watching Venture Brothers (which is currently on in the background right now as we speak). If only I hadn’t wasted my time on school. If only I had not pushed down my desire to write in my teens and early 20′s I could be published by now.

If only.

If only.

If only.

I realized that the answer was that my life could always have been better in some way. I’m fortunate in that I love who I married, I love my job, so at least I have that, but I had my regrets about not being further in my career than I wanted.

If only.

I lived angry at myself for all my stupid failures.

Until I got sick of it and realized that I was wasting my goddamn time regretting instead of just getting. I could spend all my time working instead of being sad. I could look at the life I wanted and do shit to get there instead of moping the fuck around my house and being sad that I wasn’t there already.

I started being more functional. I started working smarter. I started being happy in my daily life instead of filled with anger at every little failing. I started forgiving myself for wanting a day off and procrastinating some. I was easier on myself, and as a result, I got better.

Hippie bullshit.

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It’s easy to think that when you fail, you’ve come to the end of a road for yourself. We equate failure with the end, mistakes with never being able to look back. We feel deep shame in failure, despite knowing that life goes on after mistakes are made.

There is no shame in failure because failure is not always a stop sign.

Sometimes failure is a detour sign. Sometimes failure is just letting you know that hey, this thing you love and are good at is great, but not for here/rightnow/thesepeople/inthisformat.

Persistence in what you love and are good at and the wherewithal to realize when failure didn’t mean the end is what gave us Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and Jon Stewart and the incredible pop culture vehicles they drive and are going down in history for.

Splitsider has an excellent piece on their early (and huge, public) failures that led them down the path they should have always been on. Check it out:

Carson, Letterman, and Stewart: Three Early Failures and the Lessons Learned From Them

“In 1995 David Letterman was the king of late night. Johnny Carson had retired three years earlier, and while Jay Leno had higher ratings, Letterman won the Emmys and the respect of critics and viewers. Wearing a blazer and holding a lit cigar, Letterman sat next to Jon Stewart on the final episode of his cancelled MTV program: The Jon Stewart Show. They discussed Letterman’s career, Stewart’s future, and cancellation. Letterman told Stewart, “Cancellation should not be confused with failure.”

In the last 50 years, three of the most popular talk show hosts have had shows that were cancelled before they hit their stride. Carson, Letterman, and Stewart were given their own shows by networks who hoped viewers would see the talent these entertainers contained. But all three of them did not realize success until their first shows were taken off the air.”

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