I had a dream the other night that I was dancing with someone. I don’t know who the mystery man was, but I could tell he was an expert dancer. I took a few ballroom dance lessons back in the day, before kids made it hard to do those sorts of things. I could probably remember the basics, but I am definitely no expert. In my dream, I remember thinking that I wanted to impress my dance partner with my dance skills, but I quickly realized that he outranked me by a long shot. So I closed my eyes. I closed my eyes and just let him lead me. I gave up control of the situation, took a firm grip and just held on for the ride. It was a very vivid dream, and I remember feeling a little scared and a little vulnerable to be just blinding following along as my partner expertly led me through a series of complicated steps. But I also felt a huge sense of confidence in this unknown partner. I somehow knew that he would not lead me astray. He would not run me into a wall or another couple. He dipped me and I knew that he wouldn’t drop me. It was an amazing feeling to utterly surrender and totally trust; to totally give up control and still know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would be o.k. And the thing is, even though I didn’t know the steps, I stayed right with him. I didn’t fumble or step on his toes. Once I relinquished control, it was as if I were an expert dancer too. That dream has really stuck with me. I don’t like the unknown. I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen next week or a year from now. But I have this amazing dance partner in God. He is an expert dancer and He’s directing every step. All I have to do is close my eyes, take a firm grip on His hand and trust. I will be open to the possibilities that He will put before me, and I will push past the fear that wants to keep me rooted to the spot. I still feel scared and vulnerable at the prospect of continuously giving up control, but I also feel this confidence and trust that God will not lead me astray. I have the freedom to dream a little bigger and embrace the future knowing that God Has me. Today, next week, a year from now. He has me.
I started this blog with the intention of living my life out in the arena. I wanted to live my life daring greatly, no matter what the outer critics or my internal critic said. It’s been a long time since I have written anything. Almost a year! In my heart I like to think that I am continuing to dare greatly in my life, but the truth is that I have been letting fear run the show lately. I’ve been cowering in the wings, watching with admiration as others put themselves out there. Fear has infiltrated many areas of my life. As I look at the broad world, I have lost sleep over the racial tension that is going on in our nation. Black against white; police against civilian. People being gunned down in the streets and clubs. I am raising two mixed race little boys in this world, and I am scared for them. I don’t want them to live in fear, but I want them to be aware that we live in a world wear evil prevails and they need to be aware. How do I maintain that balance? It’s a heavy load to bear as their mother.
In my own immediate little world, I find myself stuck with this fear of writing. When did I turn into such a scaredy cat? It’s like all of a sudden the thought of putting myself out there is this monumental thing that I can’t get passed. Even the thought of finishing this post and pushing the Publish key is making me squirm. I find that I will find anything and everything to do instead of writing. Work? Sure I’ll work more hours! Gilmore Girls…gotta finish the series before the new episodes come out! I really have to keep up on the mindless games that I play on my phone too. These are all my forms of numbing out so I don’t have to write and face the things that are going on in my head and heart. Even though these things seem harmless, the consequence of numbing out is that the things that are going on in my head and heart stay in there. It turns into a poison if it doesn’t get out. For me, the poison has taken the form of depression, which is not something I gave dealt a lot with in my life. I don’t like the feel of it. It robs me of my joy.
My boys and I recently visited my brother out East. It was a great trip. The boys loved seeing his chickens and seeing all of his Amish neighbors. I loved smelling the fresh country air. While we were there, he told us the story of a professor he had who encouraged his class to ask questions. If someone says, “That was the best pie I’ve ever had”, the response should be, “Compared to what?” The boys got a huge kick out of this, and ever since, they are constantly asking me “compared to what?” We laugh about it, but I find myself asking this question for real. I face the fear of being lonely. I think that there has to be more to life than this season that I am in. I have found myself lamenting that I don’t have a stronger connection with my husband. Those old questions start popping up. Maybe I married the wrong guy. Maybe we would be better off as friends than married. Maybe I just have unrealistic expectations? Compared to what? Compared to all the posts on Facebook of course. People are all so happy. They all married their best friends. They all look forward to the next 20 years with joy and happiness. Am I the only only one who feels a twinge of sadness when I think that the next 15 years might be the same as the last 15? And fear plays a huge role as I fight the need to speak my truth with this; the need to dare greatly in my own life.
So, I guess this blog post it me putting my foot back in the arena. Fear be damned. I will embrace it and lean into it. It’s always going to be there, but it doesn’t have to have the upper hand.
There are some places in the world that seem to inspire creativity. For me, two of those places are Paris and New York. I’ve had the privilege of visiting both cities more than once, and there is something magical in the air. Paris has always been intriguing to me because there are so many great authors who went there for periods in their lives to write. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and James Joyce all roamed those streets and sat at Parisian cafés to write. I actually read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, a memoir about his time writing in Paris, while on a train to Paris. How cool is that? New York is teaming with creativity of every genre you can imagine. There are performers on many street corners and subway platforms. Dancers, musicians and artists are putting themselves out there for people to see. Actors go there to get their big break on Broadway or television. These people all have one thing in common. They are brave enough to unleash their creativity on the world, come what may. I have always felt like if I could spend a decent amount of time in one of these places where magic is in the air, maybe some of the creative magic would rub off on me. You see, I never thought of myself as a creative person. I thought to be considered creative that I had to know how to draw or play an instrument, or really like to do arts and crafts. I believed that I had to be able to create something in the traditional sense to be a truly creative person. What I am discovering is that every single person walking this good earth is creative in some way. We all have ideas that want to land on us and be realized through us if we are willing to say yes. I shudder to think of all the opportunities that I have wasted because I dismissed them on the basis that I was not creative enough to tackle it. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were to realize the nature of the creativity that lives in each and every one of us and act on it!
I only recently started writing on a more regular basis. I still don’t know that I would call myself a writer per se, but I’m ready to take the plunge and embrace my creativity and surrender to what it wants to do through me. Now if I can just push past my fear. I think fear inevitably comes along for the ride when it comes to expressing creativity. Here are some of the fears that I have to push past:
- My story is not original.
- Other people who are experienced writers or storytellers would be able to tell the same story so much better, so who am I to attempt it?
- Who am I to think what I have to share is important, or that anyone would be able to relate?
- My story might make people uncomfortable or (heaven forbid) not like me. I want people to like me!
- I’m not organized enough to be a writer and balance my kids, my job and my husband. It’s just not the right season to start this creative venture.
I could go on, but you get the drift. Creativity is scary. I think that’s why I find it so remarkable when I see people who are brave enough to dance on a street corner, or get up in front of a crowd and share their story. Imagine for a minute what life would be like without those people’s creativity. It would be so dull and boring, wouldn’t it? Life would be monotone and mundane. Creativity adds vibrant color to this world that we live in. Creativity adds vibrant color to my everyday life when I am daring enough to let it flow through me. I am imagining my life going forward as I embrace my creativity. I challenge you to imagine where creativity will take you too.