Author of Your Own Story

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a lot happening out there as we enter into our 8th month of this pandemic. Whether we’re talking about the election, jobs, relationships, racial issues – there’s a great deal of uncertainty – anxiety as we’re faced with questions like “what happens next?” “Who are we when we re-emerge into this brave new world?”

Watching or reading the news, whether it’s from a major news outlet or a more easily digestible FB filter, it doesn’t look uplifting. Even Some Good News only had eight episodes before it was sold. Did the good news go away? Every day the news shows us a world that’s on fire both literally and figuratively. We’ve cloistered ourselves for months – afraid to move as we watch all of this unfold behind the lace curtains of our protected bubbles (if we’re fortunate enough to have them). We watch our nation struggle. We watch our friends and family struggle. We watch the social unrest and social injustice.

It’s easy to feel like the world has become unmoored.

We’ve changed our lives in ways we could have never imagined. We’ve lost that pep in our step. We approach life more cautiously – with greater trepidation – uncertain of our futures. It’s easy to feel helpless – to feel like you’re drowning and unable to make a change.

And that’s what I want to talk about. Change.

There’s a lot wrong in this world that we can’t fix, but what we absolutely can affect are things within our sphere of influence. I cannot fix complex issues like social unrest, but I absolutely can use my voice, and I can take steps at a local level to bring about change. I can choose to leave an unhealthy relationship, to find a more satisfying job, to ask for help when I struggle; that’s my personal sphere of influence. Your choices are within your own sphere of influence.

I know, change is scary. It represents leaving something comfortable – something familiar to step potentially into the unknown. It represents risk, and let’s face it, we can be pretty risk adverse. When confronted with the possibility, we run through the “what ifs.” It’s the “what ifs” that point to the possibility of face-planting failure that tend to get the most airtime in our thought bubbles. I mean, if we can just pump the breaks and sit in our comfortable world, even if that world is untenable, at least we aren’t risking the failure. Oh yeah, and we’re also not growing.

I think many of us have gotten into a bad habit of imaging the worst case scenario, but something I’ve started working on personally is imagining the best case scenario. What would it look like if I succeeded? What would it look like if I took the chance, put in the work, and then I was happy?

What would your life look like if you stuck your neck out and took that chance?

I sometimes think about the relationship I was in before I left it for Jay, and I did leave it for Jay. It was awful, but familiar. I was with a man who let me know regularly that I was a bad person and also that I was fairly unattractive, but hey, I’d probably make a good mom. Thanks? I knew that was wrong, that it damaged me, but it was easy – familiar. I was afraid that leaving would mean I was alone – that I’d lose my shot at having kids. I was afraid of all of the unknowns. The “what ifs” and a general sense of fear ground away at my resolve.

The chance I took on Jay was petrifying. It didn’t help that many friends and family members decided it would be a keen idea to compound that a bit, and honestly there were purely awful days. But in the end I had 17 amazing years with a person who believed I was great – who told me he loved me every single day. And on Jay’s last day, the one thing he did was make sure I was as protected as he could make me before he left. It was something the Victim Services volunteers kept repeating, “your husband really loved you – look at what he did to protect you.”

I can tell you this, when I decided to take that big risk, it was worth it – it was worth all of the years of laughter and love, and it was worth the sadness and heartache that followed. It was worth leaving a terrible situation with someone who was unkind to be in a loving relationship with someone who adored me – a person who built me up – a person who believed in me.

We need to stop sitting back and accepting where we are in our lives, because we’re too afraid, because we think we can’t affect change – that we’ll fail. We need to stop shouting into the wind hoping our voices will be heard or that someone will come save the day. We need to decide we are worth taking risks for – that we’re deserving. We need to decide it’s time to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and face our fears.

This quote has stuck with me since 8th grade (and I own that it may be a bit corny but it’s something I repeat regularly):

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Frank Herbert

Another quote I love:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

Are you going to sit back and let the world pass you by, imprisoned by self-doubt with a beer in one hand and a foot in the grave? What is holding you back from shining? From living your best life?

You are not a character in your own novel, you are the author. What is your next scene? Do you make a stand? Do you find your voice? your resolve?

Don’t sit on the sidelines hoping for change. Reach down and find your strength, find your voice, face your fears, and be the change. Identify the steps you need to take, the tools you need, and move forward.

Dare to imagine a world where you succeed – where you’re happy.

You’re worth it.

I’m worth it.

The Dare of a Dream

March from Selma to Montgomery – 3/25/1965 William Lovelace—Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Something I read recently stuck in my craw, and after much meandering in circles, muttering to myself, and scaring people in public places I was finally able to put my finger on what it was and why it bothered me.  It was the suggestion of “if you don’t like it, then leave”.  That battle cry for conformity.  Now as a Texan, you’ve probably picked up that I’m not always keen on those of an out-of-state persuasion with their carne asadas when we all know it’s guisada, their boosting the economy, their insistence that “oil” contains more than one syllable, but in truth the real issue is mostly with the mocking of the natives.  Sure, I’d like them to pick up and head out, leaving of course their boons, but that’s mostly that Texas pride rearing it’s incredibly gorgeous crown.  My personal cry for conformity is more of a “stop picking on Texans and accept that sometimes when you throw up condos where our favorite haunts used to be it makes us twitch considerably – it’s ok if we remember (with a considerable drawl) a time when you weren’t here and Armadillo Headquarters was.”

That being said, I’ve never seriously called for people who do not conform to my particular way of thinking to leave and here’s why.

We, as a global society, are at our absolute best:

  • When we do not conform
  • When we question established institutions
  • When we refuse to accept the status quo
  • When we demand change

As a nation our very foundation is based on those very ideals.

Those ideals:

  • Rid us of a monarchy
  • Put an end to slavery
  • Put an end to the notion that there could be 3/5ths of a person
  • Recognized Women’s Rights
  • Recognized Civil Rights
  • Established laws around hate crimes (to protect people who do not always conform to our personal race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or other prejudice)

And while we as a nation occasionally misstep, we keep questioning and we keep striving for the common goal of creating a better world.  Our first amendment gives us that right – to continue to have a public discourse, to disagree, to demand change.  We are not a hive mind.  We are a melting pot of individuals who bring to the table our distinct cultures, our distinct views shaped by our backgrounds.  We should celebrate our differences and how each of us, with our unique perspectives, add to our strength as a community.

And on this day I am reminded of people who challenged the establishment – who dared to have a dream.  And I am awestruck by their courage in the face of adversity that violently demanded they accept the status quo.

People who “didn’t like it” and chose not only not to leave, but to fight for change.