Here’s the understatement of a lifetime: change is hard. Change can also be exhilarating yet terrifying. To describe a recent change in my life, I’ve coined the term exhilerfying. Like your first grade teacher, let’s try it in a sentence shall we? Boy, it sure was exhilerfying to go cliff jumping! See? It just rolls right off your tongue.
Because I spent much of my childhood moving from city to city or home to home, change is especially hard for me. Even now, I get the itch to move quite frequently just because that was my initial software pattern. And if I get even a whiff of a probable life or circumstance change, I tend to panic and hug a cardboard box. Doesn’t everyone?
Sometimes, weirdly enough, we yearn for the past—not because it was better but because it is familiar—and even though it benefits us nothing by clinging to it, we cling nonetheless.
This past Spring, I felt a nudge from God to quit my part-time job assisting special needs families in our community and put more focus and time into my writing. I loved my job and my families but I really struggled with the decision to leave. It is rare to find a path in life that fills your soul yet blesses the lives of others but I had felt the undeniable urge to walk away to move towards a different dream.
I still remember the first time I ever made someone laugh in a creative capacity. I was typecast as a mother long before I became one and in high school I was Marian the librarian’s Irish mother in The Music Man. I tentatively improvised the delivery of a line on a whim and was pleased to hear the instantaneous and extemporaneous laughter from our beloved choir teacher seated in the auditorium. At the end of the scene when I asked if that was OK he replied, “Do it again.”
And so I have. I have asked myself innumerable times, “Am I so desperate for attention and applause that I catalog my life and print it for all to see? Am I a certifiable narcissist that uses my spare time to write about myself, my thoughts and my experiences to then hawk it to the world?”
But I also know that all gifts, skills and talents are given with the intent to bless the lives of other people. Sure it’s nice to garner praise and accolades but what we have: intelligence, aptitudes and abilities tend to fester or go in odd directions when we shelter or sequester them.
They need airing out every so often and that can be inexplicably petrifying because you don’t get to control how people accept your gifts—there are internet trolls that will eat you faster than a Red Vine, art critics who could care less how wet your pillow is in the morning and investors who truly only care about the bottom line being more black than red.
Being vulnerable means getting something out of your head and putting it into the hands of those who don’t necessarily have to be gentle. Yet, each one of us is a creator. I don’t care if you write code or decorate cakes—you create. Whether you build people or bridges, carve wood or minds, design masterpieces or workout sequences—each is creating and sharing beauty, truth and your unique view of the world.
My recent unbelievably small leap of faith led me to launch a website for my writing. For now, it will be a repository of my past and future columns as well as other items I might add in the future. As with all dreams, I can’t see the end—just the immediate upcoming step.
It is called www.thepartilove.com because there are so many parts about my life that I love. I kept finding myself telling people, “This is the part I love!” every time I’d get an encouraging email, or someone mentioning how something I wrote helped them, not because it stroked my ego but because it connected two people who on the surface may not seem to have much in common but who in reality, have numerous mutual interests and experiences.
I hope you feed your dreams. I hope the parts you love fuel your soul. I hope in this contentious season in our country you decide to seek and give good to those around you and not just those folks who think how you think, speak how you speak and do as you do. I hope we truly look at others as people—people who have gifts just like you, people who have dreams just like you, people who want to be heard just like you.
We all have exhilerfying dreams and wishes. Maybe you could listen to someone else’s today.
In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be hugging something corrugated and brown.