Into the Deep End

My son is learning to swim. He is now able to cross over the ropes into the deep end (closely supervised!) without a life jacket. He boldly jumps in and bubbles back up to the surface wearing expressions of excitement, uncertainty, and a little bit of fear. He takes a breath, puts his face in the water, swims to the edge, climbs the ladder and goes in again. His strokes are still clumsy but he is making great progress.

As a writer, I’ve been avoiding crossing over to the deep end. It’s safe over here in the shallow end where my feet can touch the bottom, writing about topics like laundry, cooking, great deals I found on Amazon, and what I’m reading. Every now and then, with great trepidation, I move a little closer to the deep end and publish something that requires a bit of vulnerability, but not quite over the ropes, where I’m more susceptible…..to drown. 

I have poured out my heart writing pages and pages about anxiety and panic attacks, feeling isolated without a circle of friends, introversion, dealing with life’s unexpected curve balls, not living up to expectations, and abandoning crazy dreams for something safe…..all the topics that require me to drift into open water allowing all my imperfections and struggles to be exposed but I have not published them.

Brene’ Brown, vulnerability expert, says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” 

So I am just going to have to jump in and experience the uncertainty and fear along with the excitement because I feel called to share. Maybe what I write will resonate with at least one person and let them know they are not alone.

And if I feel like I’m going under, if the vulnerability feels too heavy, I’ll just take a breath, put my face in the water and swim….even if my strokes are clumsy.

Deciding to Live in Color

Making a career change had been floating around in the back of my mind for several years; but, I had a good job with a secure paycheck, it was my security blanket. It seemed reckless to think about giving that up. Unfortunately, my security blanket was starting to suffocate me. In the middle of my 20th year as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools, the stirring in my soul for something different became uncomfortable. My job was lacking in providing me any creative outlets and as a supervisor, I was working less with the students and more at my computer churning out reports and preparing paperwork for meetings. Much like the man in the short film “Alike,” I felt like I was turning gray.

My career had been a good one. I enjoyed the people I worked with and the students I served, but I couldn’t ignore my desire to write and connect with people about issues other than speech and language disorders. I needed a place to dump all the words and ideas from my head and send them out into the universe. Like Rachel Hollis says in Girl, Wash Your Face, “So I have two choices, I can write down words and send them out into the world and hope they find a home. Or I can hide my light under a bushel because I’m too afraid someone won’t like the glare.” I wondered, “What if God has given me a light to share with others?”

It was a big decision and a big move, so I prayed for guidance. I was excited thinking about writing. It would allow me to be creative, interact more with my writing groups, have a flexible schedule, work from home, and take better care of myself and my family. I prayed for God to send me signs to know if I was making the right decision and folks, its started raining signs.

First I got this in my Facebook feed and then I came across the same quote on an actual sign in a store!

and I started reading this…

and then I came across this…

Maybe the Heavens thought I wasn’t getting the message kinesthetically or visually and I needed a sign in audio! In this podcast, Emily P. Freeman discusses ending her career as a sign language interpreter to write and she references Greg McKeown’s book!

I pondered……”What is essential? What is the next right thing?” I was feeling pretty certain that it was time for me to make a change, but I was scared. For several months, I let fear push me around like a playground bully and all the “what ifs” took over. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I quit and end up regretting it? What if I fail and let everyone down and look like a fool? What if….what if……what if? It was making me crazy until I changed my perspective with the help of Emily P. Freeman.

The Next Right Thing was being published as a book and I was accepted to the launch team. This gave me the ability to read the book before it was released. The information I gained was invaluable in helping me make my decision.

After a lot of pondering and thoughtful prayer, I finally made up my mind and got my husband’s blessing since writing isn’t always a lucrative career and I wouldn’t be bringing home a steady paycheck. Even then, I sat in fear, scared to turn in my resignation and seal the deal. What got me moving was something I read in The Next Right Thing. Emily writes, “If God has something to tell you, and you continue to place yourself before him, he won’t let you miss it. As you take your next right step today, trust that God won’t let you miss your own future. Follow the arrows.”

I trusted God, followed those “arrows” and I did it! I will not be returning to my position next year. It still doesn’t seem real. I’ve never not worked at a job where you clock in and out and have a steady paycheck since I graduated from high school almost 30 years ago. (Um….except for the 6 months when I opened an art gallery which was a total blast creatively, but a complete failure financially.) You can read about that here. I lost money but I gained so much more and have no regrets about that adventure.

Its been only weeks since my last day of work; yet, I can already feel color washing over me, filling me up. I’m coming alive again! I want this color to overflow to my son, my husband, and others around me. My husband, who is a mostly serious man, likes to say I live in a world of bubblegum and bobby socks. I guess I kinda do; but, I LIKE it here! I think we should all try to LIVE IN COLOR!!! I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and your responsibilities out the window. I’m just saying, don’t let years pass by before you stop the color from draining. Find a way to do whatever it is that fills you with color.

By the way, I’d love to know what that is and if you’re not doing it, what is holding you back?

Until next time……be well!

Lori

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