4.29.2011

Soul Stories: What I've learned.

Looking absurdly happy during the recent 4-miler race.
Well, it's been quite the semester. I started out in a leotard and I'm ending up pulling the white cat hair of our second cat off my running shorts. Here are some things that got me out of my comfort zone over the past three months:

  • Ballet classes (especially the jumps!)
  • Running. Almost every single time I leave the house to run, I am scared of it. So, new runners, don't be faked out by how excited I am to sign up for races. I am still scared.
  • Cooking lessons. Or should I say, the food I cooked before cooking lessons made me uncomfortable? 
  • Uhhh does wedding planning count? Because then I would include keeping on a budget. 
  • Adopting a second cat. 
  • Applying to speak at a conference this fall about user experience design.

And coming soon, three 10ks in the month of May!

What prompted me to dive into the notion of discomfort, though, was Ingrid Betancourt's book about being held hostage. And as I read Matt Long's book about being hit by a bus and A Rope and a Prayer about being kidnapped in Afghanistan, I found the underlying stories resonating. These people dug deep because there was one goal: to stay alive.

And suddenly we're full circle to the running conference from last week, aren't we? That when we are focused on a goal, we find reserves of energy in depths we did not know existed. When our life has direction, we stop sweating the small things and start feeding the only thing that matters.

Of course, I didn't spend my semester in life-threatening situations. But I do know that the biggest challenge I faced with all of the things listed in those bullet points above was: am I the kind of person who ____? Who does ballet? Who runs? Who knows enough to speak at a conference or get married? The hardest thing about all of these actions was not the action itself, but the mental barrier of getting over feeling like a fake, like a hack, like someone who did not belong.

I found myself saying "well, why not?" about each one of these things. Am I the kind of person who learns to cook on the internet? Well, why not? Did they give out permission slips for that sort of thing when I wasn't around? Obviously not. So I gave myself permission. I gave myself the go-ahead to wander into any sort of classroom or arena and say "me too, I want to try this."

And I suppose, when it comes down to it, my ability to give myself permission to try it all, the whole damn buffet table of life, is what I feel hums deep in my soul. Whatever a soul is and wherever it lives, mine is one made of possibility and opportunity. And so long as I continue to feed it, I believe it's going to take me wherever I want to go.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Very inspiring and beautiful post! I'm so glad I keep reading your blog

~Linda