Several years ago during a really intense “burnout” in life and work, I decided to re-design my life. I started with a list of “What’s Important”, I quit my job (an independent mom at the time, with a bit of savings but no other sources of income), and having no real idea of what would be next, I let that list be my guide.
My list included eight things that were (and still are) the most important things to me, in my life. Core values, if you will. I’ve written and done several conference talks on the subject, so I’ll keep it brief here sharing just the list and not all the stories, and I’ll say that this list has been the compass that has guided me on some magical adventures.
My “What’s Important” list (created January 7, 2013):
1. Be the best mom I can be.
2. Be the best girlfriend I can be.
3. Become a better human being.
4. Spend every possible breath with people I love,
doing things I love.
5. Create more space in my life.
6. Write more. Write a LOT more.
7. Contribute something positive to the world.
8. If it seems scary, go for it
This list has led me to where I am today and I’m quite certain it will continue leading me to places I never thought I’d be.
Today’s post is about number eight.
Something I loved as a kid was roller skating. When I started this post, I’d not had roller skates on my feet since I was about 15 years old. I dated a kid that worked at a rink then. When we broke up I just never went back. I lived pretty far away, anyway, so it was easy enough to avoid. But when I was little, our neighbors used to take all the kids in our neighborhood to the rink every Tuesday night. We’d all pile into their station wagon and listen to awesome music (including the theme song from the Lone Ranger), and we’d skate until it was time to go home. I had my own skates which meant I was pretty committed, and until recently I’d truly forgotten how much I used to love roller skating.
In the past couple years, my daughters have expressed interest in skating, Zia in particular, so I take her and her best friend Gigi every now and then on Sunday afternoons as frequently as I’m able to. I usually sit at a table and field customer service emails for Picture This Clothing from my laptop, we stay for about two hours, then pack it up so I can get other non-office work done. This year Zia wanted a party at the skating rink for her tenth birthday, and she wanted me to skate just one lap with her.
I will be 44 years old this year and I’ve avoided skating for a multitude of reasons - you know… like falling and never being able to get up again. Honestly, I’m terrified of falling. I was fifteen years old the last time I had skates on my feet. But for Zia’s birthday I decided I had to at least put skates on and see what happened. There’s no shame in hugging the wall for a lap, right?
So I walked up to that skate rental counter, got some skates, put them on and stood up. I’m 5’11” by the way, it feels like I’m going to bonk my head on the disco ball and if I fall, it’s a long way down. But guess what? I didn’t fall! I was a little wobbly for a minute, but it all came back… my years of accumulated Tuesday skating-night skills and driveway circles were still in there! I skated without the wall! I skated lap after lap and I felt this freedom and joy and I tell you, not only did I love it but I need to do it again. Now when I take Zia and Gigi skating, I’ll be right out there on the floor with them, feeling the breeze of freedom and the joy blowing across my face.
I’m still scared I’ll fall one day and hurt something enough that I won’t ever put skates on again. But doing something like this that was really scary and held me back in a way that seems so small and trivial reminded me of number eight on my list. Usually, my mind is my biggest obstacle when it comes to doing things I want to do. Every time I push myself a little to do something that scares me, I break through a mental boundary. My world becomes a little bit bigger and my mind a little more open. I feel stronger and more aware that I am capable of so much more than my mind will typically allow me to believe. I remind myself that fear is real, and human, and it’s not about overcoming the fear but rather holding fear’s hand and doing it anyway.
What scares you? What do you do to overcome scary stuff?