Starting fires


I did not expect my word of the year, build, to set a fire. The plan was to:
Build heart and head space.
Build credibility.
Build conversations that build community.
Build something that lasts.

As fortunate as I feel for this freshly built space in my heart and head, it has come at an infernal price. I was not prepared for the classroom. Or for the freedom found in facing the fear.

Fear kills more hopes and friendships and good beginnings than any other thing in my experience. This new year revealed how fear drives aggression or the consumption of others’ aggression. Surprisingly, I learned in this season that I am a consumer of others’ aggression at the cost of my own unique voice.

So now what?
I am not yet fully vested in the emancipation from what others think or say. The adventure of moving toward freedom that engenders confidence in being and away from the capricious confidence of what I can do or deal with has begun. It has finally begun.

I feel a tiny shoot of something green and glorious growing toward the surface. Growth in the resolution to contend with my stuff. To sit on a floor littered with expectations, disappointment and something akin to despair and deal with ALL the muddle. Then I will let it go. Not to forget, but to release the pain and anger and fear and fear and fear.

As that not-yet-known-but-seen thing grows, the calendar signals the next season of building credibility. I have an inkling of what this may mean: listening for and learning my own voice. This is no new age woohoo. It is part of our human intelligence, a gift of mystery, to be aware of, hear, trust and follow our own intuition. Our own Jiminy Cricket.

Fear of what people may think is being replaced by a tiny yet growing awareness of my own voice.

When we learn to hear our own voices, to trust them, and take the risks of being wrong or right, we grow in responsibility to ourselves. We operate in our strengths instead of operating in what we think will please others. “My buck stops here, all the best to you.”

Though it made me very productive for other people, I will no longer take responsibility for things that are not mine. I will grow my own garden, help where needed. Help. Not do.

A responsibility to overcome the fear
Of being alone, rejected, abandoned.
Of not being enough or overmuch.
Of being invisible, never seen.
Lost among others’ voices.
Laughed at and treated scornfully, excluded.

These fears are born on playgrounds and in houses where there is no shelter. Though we age out of the playground, many of us know those wounds and cliques prevail.

Which is why in this waning season of quiet sleepless nights, I am grateful.

I’ve learned so much.
My cup is full of people to love.
My heart is opening, space is being made.

And this season has produced something like hope.

A few changes you may notice:
New days ahead deserve a fresh canvas.
I am laying my story of the past to rest, all those terrors, regrets and shame. I practice laying them down. If they persist, I’ll sit with them for a while and lay them down again. And again.

A persistent fear explains why I do not compete (except in sports).
When I was a kid, I loved pink. But liking pink was scorned in that space. Anything that was “girly-girl” invited more danger and was “rivalry” to one who vampirically consumed others to limit the “competition.” As I address the fears which have kept me from wanting to be seen, I slowly walk into the more overtly feminine part of my inner life. I do this for me. Courage, confidence and heels…maybe.

I’m saving money to help me dream a little.
A cute home next to a nearby running trail is available and I do not have the 20 percent needed to make a qualified offer – yet. I’m working on it. Hopefully for my friends, it will sell before I raise the 20 percent. So walks, kayaking, wine on the porch and other frugal adventures will replace some of my splurges of late.

Standing for something important.
Instead of marching for a valuation of life greater than a gun lobby, I recently caved into fear of ridicule and cruelty. I failed to let my feet follow my heart. I apologize for my failure to stand with the very diverse group marching for something so important as human life. I will be braver next time and call for back-up if I waver.

So goodbye quiet beginnings. Hello classroom of building credibility, cultivating responsibility to myself, and learning to listen to my own voice.

Derring-do, friends. And happy new day.

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