“Once you make a decision, the whole universe conspires to make it happen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve become pretty good at hiding behind my computer screen, typing away and “exposing” myself. I’m also pretty good at writing letters and emails to friends about my thoughts and emotions and sending it to them. I’m much less comfortable picking up the phone or meeting face to face and saying those same words, of showing my vulnerability in person.
It’s been a whirlwind since my last post Whisper. If you missed it, you may need to read it for this post to make any sense. Ever since I heard that whisper in my ear telling me to write and let my kids see me writing, I’ve had this burst of inspiration. From that whisper on, it seemed like everything I came across or read confirmed that yes, I should write; and I should keep submitting what I write, regardless of how many potential rejections I might get. For example, I came across a new Mile Markers post from my guru Kristin Armstrong, that said, “if you don’t ask the question, the answer is always no.” I then read a post by Mark Nepo about how fear makes us blind…how fear makes us avoid situations and avoidance is the same as being blind.
There is a stage show in Los Angeles called Expressing Motherhood, in which essays about motherhood are shared by various local writers. I’ve been to their shows a few times, and absolutely loved hearing the array of stories. I think the first Expressing Motherhood show I went to was a few years ago, just about the time I had started experimenting with writing. While over the last couple of years, I sometimes briefly contemplated submitting a piece to them, I would always dismiss the thought. I didn’t want to stand on stage and read my piece to a live audience of people I don’t know…. that seemed petrifying. And anyway, nothing I write would be good enough to be accepted. In December, I saw a post that said they’d be considering submissions on January 15th through 20th for an April show. I again dismissed the passing thought of writing for them….. giving in to fear over exploration. Then, after the Whisper, another little incident happened with my daughter, and I suddenly knew what to write. I of course took the idea on the run, where I do all my best writing, and then came home and furiously tried to use my post-run adrenaline rush to get it down and submit the piece before I had the chance to have fear make me blind again.
I never expected that my piece would have a chance. I was shocked to hear that it was one of the ones chosen. But why am I so surprised? I come from a family of writers. My father, my uncle, my sister, my cousins…. all write beautifully. But growing up, because I was the science and math girl, I didn’t even consider that maybe I could write too. Just recently I’m realizing that while my style may be very different from that of some of my family members, it doesn’t mean that mine doesn’t have its own value. Now that I think back, I remember a first attempt at writing a tween novel when I was a tween myself. And then after that, it was over 25 years before I tried to write again shortly after running entered my life…..
In the last few weeks, I’ve submitted 5 pieces to various places…. 3 accepted, and 2 rejected. The site that rejected me keeps rejecting me, but you know what, in his very last speech as president, Obama said, “Show up. Dive in. Keep at it.” So I’ve taken that to mean that he is directly talking to me. When a girlfriend asked me to sign up for a triathlon with her this March, I said yes, despite being terrible at both bike riding and swimming. I don’t want fear to make me blind to whether triathlon may be something I enjoy.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole writing thing since the whisper. I don’t think that the whisper in my ear was from some higher power…. that whisper, as real as it seemed, was coming from somewhere inside of me. And like the Emerson quote, once I decided to hear it, everything lined up to get me to where I needed to be. I chose to look at everything around me; whether it was Kristin’s writing, Nepo’s musings, Obama’s sermon, or finding an old Expressing Motherhood coffee mug in a bottom drawer; like they were signs pointing to which way I should go.
Our stories make up who we are, and in the act of writing them down, we actually remember details that we hadn’t thought about; we have realizations about the big impact that seemingly little occurrences have had on our life. When we share our stories, we share ourselves. So I am most definitely going to continue to write my stories down; some to share with the public, some to share with a few people, and some that I will write down just to get them down, and probably not share with anyone. Those I will hold on to, and maybe pass down to my kids in twenty or thirty years…or whenever the time seems right. I actually remember an instance almost three years ago when I wrote something, read it to two close friends while crying, ripped it up right after, and deleted it from my computer; wanting to erase any evidence of having thought the words I wrote once I got them off my chest. I wish I had not ripped it up. The person who wrote that two and half years ago is in a completely different place today than she was on that day. At some far away point, I may have wanted to share it with my children.
Right now, I’m pretty petrified about presenting this piece in front of 350 people, mostly strangers. But really, what is the worst that can happen? Like Kristin Armstrong said, if you don’t ask the question, the answer is always no. So I’m taking my worst fear, and a little inspiration from Barack, and I’m diving in…. head first.
********Another post I wrote and had published this month is What Pediatrician Mothers Want You To Know on Kevin MD. While this is a medical site, my piece is really about being a mother. You may also enjoy my latest post on Women’s Running Magazine called 10 Reasons Why I Run. In other news, my 13 year-old is running his first half-marathon with me on February 12th, and our Saturday morning long runs together have been the real highlight of the last month. (If you hover over any links in black, they will lead you to other posts. I encourage you to also consider reading the Mile Markers one in the second paragraph; at least that one I can guarantee you’ll enjoy.)