Sometimes your only choice is to break the rules. I’ve spent a lot of time building a rule book for my life, and last week I felt the need to break with my own conventions to go outside the bounds and boundaries I had set. I can’t say why that impulse took over. I knew in my gut that the right thing to do was exactly the opposite of what I’d always done before.
The chance I took paid off in spades, and continues to pay off. It was a risk I’m glad I took. And I’m certain it won’t be the last. Sometimes the strongest move we can make is to let all of our vulnerability show. The reward is in the risk.
Like me, you might be in the midst of a transition. A change in job, city, relationship, or a new realization about the world and your place in it and the people around you. We know we’re going to stop doing something and start doing something else. Right now we’re in that in-between space. And that can be unsettling. It certainly is for me.
Honor that space, that pause. It’s okay to reset and reconsider and reconfigure. It’s okay to try something on for a while and see how it feels. You can also toss it away if it doesn’t work. It’s also okay to decide to not try anything on at all. You can just be. In the In-between, you can see your past and your future and decide if or how the two could and should relate to one another. This is your show and you can play if you want to, or not.
This is a special place and a special time to not compare options to one another, but to what you really want. I know how hard it is to enjoy this time. In many ways I just want to move on and get it over with. What helps me is to remember that this isn’t permanent, that nothing is permanent. This is a rare and precious occasion, and I want to make sure to treat it as such. It’s challenging and I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying.
A few times in our lives, we get the chance to take the long shot, the shot that seems improbable and the one we really want. Often we think about the choice between the short shot, the one that’s fairly easy for us to make and readily available, and the long shot. My advice? Take the long shot. The short shots will be there every day. They’ll even be there if we miss the long shot by a mile. There will be plenty of time for those short shots. When a long shot becomes an option, reach for it. Even if it’s a stretch, especially if it’s a stretch. Don’t think you can do it? Great! Go for it and find out. With the long shots, you’re going to learn. You’ll find out what you’re really made of and how far you can go. And those are very good things to know.
Whether we fall or fly, the first step is the same: we must leap. I’d much prefer to try and fall than wonder if I could have ever flown. Congrats to the Sing After Storms team on a wonderful opening. You said yes, took the leap, and you didn’t just fly—you soared.
To use a hockey analogy: there’s a time to pass the puck and a time to take a shot on goal. Though I initially intended to have someone else direct my play Sing After Storms, a set of circumstances arose that presented me with the option to direct the show as well as write and produce it. In my gut, I immediately knew that this was my chance to live this show in a number of facets, to immerse myself in what I can only imagine will be the most fulfilling creative project of my life to-date. It’s scary and thrilling, and I’m going for it. Let’s see how far this amazing creative team can push the puck across the ice.
Staying in our comfort zone feels so good. We know where everything is and we know how it all works. We have every confidence that we can succeed in our comfort zone and it doesn’t take that much effort.
But it won’t help us know how far we can go. It won’t give us a sense of our edge, nor of our potential. In our comfort zone we’ll never know just how much we can love and we’ll never know all of the beauty that lies within us.
The journey into the unknown, guided only by our intuition, is not easy. We get confused and lost. We sometimes feel unsteady and unsure. But what we learn is self-reliance and strength and courage. We find out what we’re really made of and what matters most. Out there, we have the opportunity to impact the lives of so many others. In that wonderfully complex and diverse world, we discover what’s possible. Go have an adventure!
“Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore
Here’s the one thing I know about getting the life you want – you must make room for the people and things in your life that matter in order to find them. To find peace, you must be peaceful. To find happiness, you must be happy. To be in love, you must love. Do the work that gives you joy so that you discover the work you are meant to do.
Making room often means taking a risk. We have to let some things go, we have to turn away certain opportunities, so that we have the space in our lives to receive the blessings we want. My very wise friend, Susan, once told me many years ago that I should never compare options to one another, but rather to compare each one to what I really want. It’s one of the truest pieces of advice I’ve ever received, and I try to live it every single day. It’s not easy, but my God is it worth it!
Yesterday I was reading an article in Intelligent Life, an Economist publication, entitled “The Uses of Difficulty” by Ian Leslie. He gives examples, mostly from the music industry, that depict challenges and difficulties as gifts that we should seek out, even create, for the benefit of our growth. At first glance this argument sounds like something akin to the benefits of brussels sprouts, but I was intrigued by the argument (and I happen to love brussels sprouts) so I kept reading.
In yoga, we search for that magical space between effort and ease. At first, I thought that’s where Ian was going but he took this idea to a whole new level. He presents scientific evidence that shows we actually benefit cognitively from doing things that are difficult, that do not come naturally to us. The benefits are so stark that he suggests purposely creating difficulty even when we find ease. This theory flies in the face of the idea that we should play to our strengths, or at least the idea that we should always play to our strengths.
This article also has the wheels of my mind spinning around the concept of short-term versus long-term benefits. Should we accept, even relish, short-term challenge because in the long-term it makes us more creative, intelligent, quick, strong, resilient, and, let’s face it, interesting? Is discomfort today worth triumph tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow?
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” – Connie ten Boom, Dutch writer
People are worried about me. Some are afraid I am not making enough money. Some are sending me job descriptions just in case I’ve realized freelance work isn’t for me and I’d like to go back to working in a corporate office the way I was 3 months ago. I appreciate their concern and always answer these concerns the same way. I tell them I am just fine, not to allay their fears, but because I truly am fine. This is the life I wanted and it’s working.
Yesterday, I secured a wonderful contract through June 2013 with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (JGCC) at Sesame Street to work on their National STEM Video Game Challenge. The JGCC is a digital media research lab within Sesame. (You can get more info on the program here – http://stemchallenge.org.) Pursuing my passion for tech that improves the world wouldn’t have been possible on this scale if I hadn’t taken a chance to go out on my own.
Yes, I still have to hustle. Yes, I am still working on lining up some additional assignments so that I can fully cover all of my expenses and not dig into my savings, but perhaps begin to add to those savings again. (If you can help on those fronts, I’m all ears!) I have all the tools I need to make this happen. I’ve been preparing for it all my life, and I know deep down that this is the path I want and need to take. I spent years acting on a plan to make this happen.
We can worry about tomorrow. We can let fear and anxiety stop us from doing just about everything. They are tough hurdles to clear, but if we are to ever doing anything extraordinary with our time, we have to go on in spite of fear. We have to gather our worries and burn them up to generate fuel for the work we are meant to do.