Celebrating Fears Faced

When I was in high school, I was accepted as a Rotary exchange student and was invited to go to Belgium for the year. I let the fears of others rule my decision and I stayed home.

That is one of my biggest regrets in life.

As I matured, I began to realize that letting fear stop you from taking chances means giving up on a lot of dreams and on living. I tried, when faced with fear, to push through it and face the fears. I wasn’t always successful, but I grew stronger and more courageous with each attempt, or so I thought.

Yet, something shifted again after I became a mother. Suddenly fear has control over me again, and more often than not I give into those fears. Fear of trying to publish. Fear of making friends. Fear of taking chances. I think this new hold FEAR has on me has something to do with the fact that my life is not my own–my decisions affect Nathan and Sarah. I can’t just pick up, take off, and take chances.

Yet, as I approach this birthday (Eek! The actual day is tomorrow) I find myself yearning to become the person who does not let fear stop her anymore. After I graduated from college and was on the job hung (following a one year internship at a theatre) I had two interesting options on the table:

  1. The more practical option of working for a Canada based Arts Administration Organization that sent people throughout North America to help arts organizations with reorganization and planning. This would have probably led to a solid career in Arts Administration and or Arts Advocacy (one thing I would still love to do ) and–more often than not in recent years ;)–I’ve thought being Canadian wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
  2. A job teaching at an English conversation school in Okayama, Japan.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time (or even just the first of the celebratory posts), you know where I ended up.

In Japan in my early 20s.

Yet, the decision to go to Japan was not an easy one. It was a fear-filled one. It took some words of wisdom from one of the actors at the theatre company I was working out to help me make a choice. He said,

“There are no wrong decisions. There are choices that can go badly, but they always lead to the next decision.”

I tried to make those the guiding words of my life. This doesn’t mean we never make mistakes, but if we face those mistakes head on–despite our fears–we will make it through to new opportunities, new decisions, and new moments to face our fears.

So today I celebrate the moments in my life when I faced my fears and moved through them. Among those moments, I celebrate the day I got on a plane, headed for a country I’d never been to a job I never thought of, and cried my way from Boston to California before sitting in sleepless fear from California to Japan.

I hope someday to be that courageous again.

Celebrating Friendship

Today I celebrate #31 on my list of 45 things to celebrate about my life, by looking at the people in my life.

If the people you choose to spend time with–the friends you make along the way–reflect who you are as a person, then I can’t be too horrible. I’ve been honored to become friends with some truly amazing people throughout my lifetime, despite the protective wall I’ve put around myself because of poor friendship choices I made in the past. I guess we all learn as we go.

Anyway, a while back I started writing a series of posts trying to celebrate some of these amazing people, particularly the women, but for some reason I let that series fade into the oblivion of my blog. I’d like to refer you to those posts again:

Those posts just skim the surface of the incredible people I count among my friends. The list also includes:

  • Heidi, a talented and passionate high school English teacher in Durango, CO who I count among my best friends and miss very much. She taught me about what it means to fight through the hard times, to challenge yourself and the world around you.
  • Kristie, another talented and passionate high school English teacher. (I’d love to have Heidi and Kristie meet, they would love each other). I led you to her blog post a short time ago, and now I would like to lead you to another. Any young person would be lucky to have a teacher have as wonderful as she is. She has taught me about the power of passion and what it takes to create a life full of purpose and joy.
  • Jesse, a man who showed me that it is possible to pursue art, care passionately about the world, and do something to make a difference. You can find more about him in my posts about Slovakia and Dramatic Adventure Theatre.
  • Mary K, Jesse’s soul mate, my soul friend. She has taught me what it means to live with a full and caring heart.
  • Christen, who I met through Jesse and Mary K. She is one of those people who combine beauty (inside and out) with compassion, intelligence, talent and an amazing attitude toward life.
  • Mike. I only actually met Mike in person, once, at our farewell party when Nathan and I left Kansas. ¬†Leaving him and his fabulous (new) wife Lily, is one of the big regrets I have about spending such a short time there. They are both talented and wonderful people who challenge me to question what I believe and think on a regular basis, in a really good way.
  • Barb, another brilliant women who has no fear about fighting passionately for what she believes in, especially when it comes to the rights of children to an education that suits their individual needs.
  • Amanda, an incredibly brilliant and talented woman who has taught me about pursuing dreams and setting goals for oneself, even when others say “No, you can’t do that.”
  • Beth. Someone who has known me for a long, long, long time. She has shown me how to stand up for family, and what it means to be a lioness of a mother.

My list could go on and on. With each name I write, I think of another. There are many now, that I count among my friends and yet I’ve never met in person. Those are the friends I’ve made through this blog. You can find stories of most of these people sprinkled throughout my blog. They are the people who’ve helped me become a better person. They are the people whose friendship makes me want to be a better person, or strive to achieve even in a small way the things I see them achieve each and every day.

So today, as part of my celebration, I celebrate them as well as all those friends whose names I missed, but whose lives have enriched my own. Thank you friends. I love you all.

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Who are the people in your life that you would like to celebrate? Who makes your life richer just because you’ve met them and count them as friends?

Embracing My Birthday Month

This month it’s official. There’s no going back from middle age.

Meanwhile, however, my mind does not feel anything near how old my body is. In order to accept the inevitable, and embrace the reality that more years simply means that I have lived life in a fascinating way, I’ve decided to create a slide show, celebrating me. The challenge to this is that I can’t seem to find a lot of pictures from my early years, but here goes.

Enjoy or ignore as you see fit. I may add more images as I find them

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