I'm looking at the date of my last entry- March 21- and thinking about just how dramatically life has changed in the months since then. Jessie and I have grown closer and into a 'We' more than we ever knew we could. Early in April, we went to Florida for a couple of weeks after the sudden and seismic passing of her beloved father. Nothing in either of our lives could have prepared us for that, and yet there we were. That kind of trauma has a gravity, a weight, a density that makes everything around it heavy. Grief has a way of moving in and taking up residence in your life that forces anything not easy or self sustaining out. Just... out.
If a coffee date or a conversation or a project didn't give life, didn't bring ease, if it demanded any mental, emotional or spiritual energy at all, it simply didn't happen. For weeks, for months, and I think for the rest of our lives, we will make space for grief in everything we do. The amount of space that grief takes up will change; sometimes that space will grow and sometimes it will sit quietly off to the side, but it will not be predicted and it cannot be ignored. Grief is present, it is part of the new normal for my sweet partner. As we do our lives together, as her partner, that grief will take up space for me, too.
After that, it took months to find some reasonable new rhythm for life. We're still, some days, feeling our way in the dark. The loss of a parent is inevitable, and yet it is a kind of loss for which you cannot prepare. Neither of us could have known what it would demand of us, neither could we have known how we would do our lives after it happened. This project, like a few others, fell entirely off my list of priorities. For weeks. we were in triage. All we could do was stop the bleeding. Patch wounds. Try to survive.
I remember now how much I love this project. I remember how I love this blog, and the podcast, and the possibilities. I'm also challenging myself to be completely honest, completely vulnerable, completely brave. The truth is, I named this project Begin Again because I was beginning again in my own life and felt desperate to know I could do it. I wanted to surround myself with people who were makers, creators, and visionaries. I wanted to hear their stories and convince myself that I could do it, too. I could start from scratch. Just like these people who motivate me started something new, I, too, could begin again. I needed to know that was possible, and I needed to know there were a bunch of us doing it together.
Starting this podcast and blog was my way of not letting myself off the hook. I knew then and I know that that my work in the world means something to people, because I devour the work of people who are showing up in their lives the way I want to show up in mine, but I didn't feel qualified to make my own story or perspective the center of my work. "I'm not a therapist. I don't have a master's degree. I haven't been certified..." I gave value and meaning to my excuses, and in doing that I began to believe they were valid. I believed that without a certification or degree, I couldn't start doing my work the way I wanted to, the way I saw myself doing it. Getting started with this project was my way of saying, "Even if that is true, I can at least do this. I can talk to other people, people who are qualified, people who are worth trusting..." Starting this without a plan, without a real strategy, with just an impulse and a decent microphone got me out of my fear. It catapulted me onto the path. But, I still felt 'unqualified'. As soon as I ran out of interviews, I stopped uploading episodes. I stopped writing. There was plenty to say, but I allowed myself to believe my voice wasn't (fill in the blank) enough.
Then, we went into the grief bunker. Even when I had the time and desire to get back at this, I didn't. I lost momentum. I chose to believe I didn't have what it took- the time, the strategy, the business acumen. I let it go.
I started looking for full time work. I created this imaginary income threshold and decided that I could do the things I love once I got there. Once I got a salary and benefits, I could do what I love. If I could just hold out, focus all my energy on reaching that threshold, then I could create again.
That's what we do, right? We look at our calling and we say, "But I'm not qualified/ smart/ interesting/ confident/ recognized/ established enough." We look at the people who are doing what we hope to do and compare where we are NOW with where they are after years of movement and work towards where they are when we happen to discover them. This is such a tired, boring old way of putting off what we're created to do. It's possible to waste decades of our lives with this kind of thinking. But how terribly unoriginal. How uninspired and used up these excuses are!
In all my excuse making, every door I try to kick open gets closed. Every box I try to force myself to fit into breaks. Every job I try to secure makes me feel small. Not doing the thing that makes me come to life is. not. working.
Friends. We cannot wait until we cross imaginary thresholds to do the work that brings us to life.
Writing, podcasting and storytelling, interviewing, speaking and teaching are what make me feel alive. This is the work I'm meant to be doing right now, and I believe now that I am uniquely, specifically qualified to do it. You know what else? YOU are uniquely, specifically qualified to do the thing that makes you feel alive. That little seed of a dream in your heart? That vision you see for your life? That reality you can taste and smell and feel is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER? The only thing standing between you and that reality is your decision to move toward it.
The world does not need us to reach an income threshold. The people who believe in you do not believe in you because of your tax bracket. Your fulfillment does not depend on the number of dollars in your bank account or the number of letters after your name. The world needs us to be fully, completely, boldly ALIVE. People need YOU, they need ME, not to be comfortable and secure but to be AWAKE.
So I'm showing up. I'm committing to myself to do the work that makes me feel alive; to listen and learn and take up space in the world doing what God has put it in me to do. If this year has proven anything to me, it is that we do not know what kind of time we're working with, here. We only have today, and the stakes are too high to waste the time we're given.
Let's reset, today. Let's set our sights on love and positivity and create the reality we know is possible. Let's drop self-limiting beliefs and focus on the good shit. That's how I choose to live.