It’s a crisp October morning- the first it’s really felt like fall in temperate Tennessee. The tiny house on the East side of Nashville I’ve rented since May looks like it’s exploded in just the two hours my two and a half year old son has been awake. Toys, spoons, mini trampolines and maple syrup are strewn across nearly every room, “On The Road Again” is being repetitively sung at the top of toddler lungs- ukelele in hand, our dog is barking at a fly that’s buzzing around the window, and in the midst, I’m attempting to, with one hand put on mascara, and with the other, answer an urgent work email. This is my day...Actually, this is my day every Sunday through Wednesday.
Thursday through Saturday night, I’m, for all intents and purposes, free. Free of yogurt splashed across my clothing. Free of sing-songing potty commands. Free of endless hours reading and re-reading “Thomas The Train”. Thursday through Sunday I can have whatever I want. I can meet up with friends. I can write, play music, go out, explore, even go away if I want to.
But I don’t want to. Because the moment I no longer am obligated to cut peanut butter and jellies into fours, or make Teddy Ruxpin talk, or sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” 6 times before bed is the exact moment that all of those things transform from burdens- imperfect, exhausting inconveniences- to blessings; the things that define my day, that most drain and fill me in ways I can’t even comprehend, let alone start to try to explain.
I got an email from a young woman the other day asking me to blog about starting a new life...specifically a new life in Nashville (I'll get to that), but it got me thinking about "beginning again" in general.
Anyone who knows me (or follows my blogs) knows that the last year or so of my life has been transformative, to say the least. Emotions and circumstances I use to avoid like the plague- fear, hunger (literal and figurative), pain, heartache- have become some of my favorite things to embrace. I know that sounds crazy.... My "favorite" thing to embrace is heartache? Really? Why?
Embracing things that make us feel yucky isn't easy, but the answer for why it is absolutely necessary is pretty simple: When something hurts, it moves you. No one likes to stay in a place that is painful, so action is easy to take.
The caveat: So many of us, when we feel pain, recognize the immediate need to move, and logically, the quickest place to move TO is where we've moved FROM-- it's familiar, the path is known. Even if where we've come from is mediocre (at best) and toxic (at worst), we know how to get "home", no matter how much we DON'T want to be there, and the pain of being scared, uncomfortable or hungry for more is hard to move through, and impossible to stay in. But, the trick to turning surviving into thriving is in recognizing the "fight or flight" instinct and to choose FORWARD MOTION. No. Going. Back. Ever.
Whatever "hurt" you end up experiencing, you're experiencing because at some point, for some amount of time, you decided that what you had was no longer enough, was no longer acceptable or no longer bearable. Whatever "hurt" you have, you chose it. I remember before I set many changes in motion in my own life, I read and embraced an important quote: "You will change when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of growth". I didn't know the specifics of where I was going, or what I ultimately wanted, but if someone had told me that 5, 10 years from that moment I would be doing the exact.same.thing I would have been horrified. So, change was the only option. I chose change. I chose hurt.
My parents are two of my greatest role models and some of the most successful, generous, lovely humans I know. When I was recently home visiting, I came across an old letter from my grandfather. It outlined a challenging time in my mom's life. She was about my age. Things were far from perfect (the details aren't important). And if you met my mom- a 55 year old dynamo who has a great body, and looks like she's in her 30s, an incredibly successful career doing what she loves, gorgeous homes and a happy, healthy family- you would never guess that there was a time in her life that was anything less than perfect, let alone a struggle. But there was.
So often, we see the END result of someone's success, someone's story and we fill in the blanks. We see their road to their "happy ending" as being a steady, uphill climb to a beautiful summit, but that's never the case.
It's been four months since I made the very conscious decision to leave a perfectly mediocre job in Corporate America to pursue my passions, to do what I love, and to feel great about my life.
And the truth is, it's harder than I ever imagined. Not the making money part (although, that's no piece of cake either). You see... a weird thing has happened since leaving the world where I dreamed about writing music, blogging every day, making delicious healthy recipes to release a cookbook, workout religiously, launch businesses, talk to people, change the world...I stopped dreaming. I let action outweigh the want, and "how" was suddenly a much bigger question than "why". At first, I blamed practicality, and the culprit of most paralyzations: fear. I told myself that NOW was the time I finally was allowed to ACT and I was ready for it-- dreams no longer necessary; I'd spent almost a half a decade sitting in my uncomfortable office chair in a tiny office dreaming, and now, there was no need for it because they only required ACTION that was now available to be taken, to come true.
But I'm here to tell you I was wrong. I've been doing this "dream achieving" thing totally backwards. Because, as action became more important than the core of why I even had the guts to TAKE action in the first place, I forgot what I was even doing. What did I want? I knew, and have known, unequivocally, what I DON'T want: I don't want to die with stories untold inside my heart. I don't want to live a passionless existence where when people ask you how ANYTHING is- your job, your marriage, your life- your answer is always "ok. good". I don't want to be chained to a place and time every day where only a percentage of it will be efficient or productive, and the rest will be spent wishing I had the time and option to seize my true desires.
So, now is the time. The time to sit and be still, and tell my heart I'm still listening to what it wants, and to try to suck less at honoring it. Here's what I've come up with so far:
I have lots of unfinished business with lots of things- half-baked ideas that could be delicious, songs-- hundreds and hundreds of ideas, verses, lyrics, melody lines that are in voice memos on old hard drives, emails I've procrastinated sending, people I've avoided reaching out to, blog ideas I haven't written. And so, I guess I start there. The longer I live (which, let's face it- hasn't been that long), the more I'm convinced that life, and success, are the continual commitments to starting again. It seems counterintuitive: Start. Again. Wouldn't it just be better to continue until you're done? I guess. But what if you want a life, and a legacy where there is no "done"? Because, I think that's what I want. When I've written the song I love more than any other I've ever heard anywhere, I want to write the song I love more than that. When my body is the fittest and healthiest it's ever been, I want to challenge it to be and do more than it's ever done. I want to create, I want to innovate, and I want to never stop learning, growing and challenging myself.
I want to live my life moving forward. But I think sometimes the idea of "moving forward", full-speed-ahead seems so daunting. Where do you even start with that? No one that has changed the world has set out to "change the world". They've set out to change themselves, or right a wrong, or be better. So, I guess that's my ground zero: Being better. Righting Wrongs. Changing Myself. Or...most importantly...Remembering Myself.
I thought about running some kind of challenge with myself to put all these goals in place, but, let's face it, structure and I don't always get along. I am- fortunately and unfortunately- a true artist, and there is no faster way to self-sabotage than to over think things- and I can over think things like no other. Instead, I have some standards I'm going to start holding myself to, and some goals that are personal or professional that I'm going to start trying to achieve.
The goal I want to share with you today, I'm doing. A few months back, I was lucky enough to have blogs published by national sites, and I loved it. But I was writing to write- I wasn't writing to feel, or to release a truth that could no longer be contained. THESE blogs are my heart, and probably overshare what I think and feel about life, love, fear, and all that nitty gritty stuff. But it's these blogs that excite me, rev my engines and help me to see the bigger picture. I think by returning to these, it will help me help others to see the bigger picture, too.
I have lots of ideas spinning right now, and the unfinished business I mentioned is a big part of those ideas. And I will share them, but not all at once...because, where's the fun in that?
Instead, I want you to know (yes, you) how much I appreciate you. Because if you're reading this, whether we've met in person, or you found me somewhere else, you're invested in me. In some way. And I believe there are two ways to power change and growth in the world, and in our lives: The first is through fear, and I don't want that power. I don't want to return to a life I constructed because I was afraid I would never get the life I actually wanted. The second is through love. I believe love is the most powerful energy we can give or receive, and it's the little pieces- like reading a blog- that fuel those fires, and ultimately provide the support, enthusiasm and courage needed to truly become better, do more and live authentically. Thank you, for that gift. I'm ready to remember how to dream again, and do what it takes to make them come true.