Be scared

Actually, I don’t feel like being scared.

I’m done with being scared.

And lacking confidence.

And feeling worthless.

Granted, it’s been a long time – abut 20 years, in fact – since I didn’t wake up in a state of self-loathing, but still. I have no desire to go back there.

So when I prompted myself to Be Scared, it brought back some of those memories, and they weren’t pretty.

I thought about the Past. Was I truly scared back then? Or just insecure? Was what I felt typical of young female anxiety or something more?

What was I afraid of?

Disordered eating is ugly, but in any event it really doesn’t matter now.

I am a survivor.

If I ‘have’ to feel scared today, then it’s going to be about diving off a boat in three weeks to swim a mile across the Columbia River. It’s about boarding an airplane to land in Detroit in the middle of the night with a two-year-old and a five-year-old. It’s about being unemployed in a dismal economy and yet — the truth is that even that doesn’t scare me today. Despite the disappointment I feel at the crumbling of the organization for which I was employed, I feel incredibly liberated and delighted to have the opportunity to explore new opportunities.

I’m going to join the PTA.

I’m going to write more.

I’m going to try to eat my toddler’s toes during tickle fights and games of chase.

I’m going to introduce my kindergartener to a world of letters and stories and dreams in books.

So in my week of words, I’m not sure I captured the essence of what it is to Be Scared. Because I’ve done that, and been there, and I don’t feel Scared anymore.

I feel Strong.

Imperfect.

Struggling – yet -

Motivated.

Creative.

Loving.

and

Loved.

Who Are You?

Who are you?

This question is prompt #1 of 14 days of the Scintilla Project. Scintilla means  a tiny trace or spark, and that’s what the prompts are… just starting  points or ending points, to spark a blog post.

My first reaction to this prompt was to scream and run away.

Hmmm. That’s interesting.

What could possibly be so bad about me that I would cringe at a three word prompt?

I could take the easy way out, and say I don’t really know, it’s uncomfortable to write about me, blah blah blah.

Or I could practice honesty.

This is a quality I’ve found to be somewhat old fashioned lately, and yet deeply appreciated by those who are either the receiver or the practitioner of the concept.

Deep breath (I am so fond of deep breaths). Tonight, I will write about what I am, instead of what I am not.

I am… a woman, not yet middle-aged (right? I’m only 38 so double that and …).

I am the eldest of three girls, youngest of none, and parented by two, together.

I am… a wife to a man I met at not quite age 25, unexpectedly, in a country foreign to my own. I am still in love. Despite, or due to, our history together.

I am… a mother, to two gorgeous, delightful and utterly maddening boys under the age of five.

I am… a public health professional… but I don’t work for government. Enough said.

I am… a grown-up child.

I am… still the person I was at age eleven who promised to become a writer when she grew up.

I am….a lover of sunflowers and calla lillies, wine, Mexican food, language and culture, backyard gardens, and reading day and night.

I am… a woman who loves running more than most anything, even when I’m not running (and lately, that’s the sad situation).

I am…a friend to many, and a deeply grateful friend of many.

I am… a lover of life, in the wake of tragedy, and a concubine of its unexpected joys, undesired sorrows, and its unparalleled truths.

Are you a rock or a diamond?

Note: I wrote this post last night. This morning my foot feels a thousand times better (thank you, Moses!) and my kids slept through the night. WOW! Good morning world! Nice to see you again!

Sometimes I read someone else’s post and it resonates so deeply within me that I have to remember to breathe, and take in the courage and vulnerability of the words, and read them over and over, and think, why didn’t I write that?

This post at Momastery made me feel that way. And when I read about the blogger, I found we have more in common than I would care to admit. Often the biographical sketch behind the photo of a writer comes as a surprise to me. How can someone so funny and charming and intelligent and beautiful on the screen come from such a dark place?

How?

How how how?

I wonder if anyone would be surprised to learn that my professional bio is in many ways a complete opposite of my personal bio (strangers, I mean. My friends know me).

Like how I’m seen as well organized and calm and patient in the office, reflective, extremely attentive to detail, and observant. At home I’m a bit different. I chase children around wiping their bottoms and noses, grump around doing endless loads of laundry, or ignore the chores in order to read and write both creatively and for pay. I obsess about work outs that I may or may not have completed. Yeah, I’m not always so calm and centered on the home front.

I am having lots of fun with my kids these days, however, and this morning I woke up with one of them snuggling warmly by my side, quietly playing. My heart filled with wonder and amusement as I observed this tiny person who I created with my husband of seven years, partner of  thirteen(!). But wonder quickly turned to stress when I looked at the clock and realized we were late, late, late. Within 30 minutes I shooed my family out the door, slammed a cup of coffee, skipped the shower, and joined a meeting for which I was the facilitator (thank God it was a conference call and not held in person).

The meeting was very productive, even fun. The boys made it to school. The sun even came out today. But still, by mid day I felt tired and unsatisfied, knowing I would return to a house filled with undone chores and probable chaos.

Lately, I’m not feeling much up to the challenge, and so later in the day I had a full work up done at the lab… thyroid, metabolic panel, Vitamin D, etc. Hopefully they’ll find a reason for my fatigue. Or maybe five years of sleep deprivation just does that to you. Or maybe it’s lack of brilliance in my life.

The discrepancy between my personal and professional lives may come down to the concept of brilliance. Having it, not having it, wanting more of it. It’s such a shiny and beautiful word. What does it mean?

Brilliance takes uncut stones dug from the earth and turns them into diamonds.

I want more brilliance in my daily life. Not Hollywood movie star type brilliance. Not high school prom queen brilliance. And not neighborhood stay-at-home-mom or working mom-does-it-all-how-does-she-do-it type brilliance.

No. That’s not what I mean.

I mean brilliance, as in I just want to shake off my tired skin like a snake (and my mom keeps giving me expensive eye creams for Christmas, so I know she’s a supporter) and reveal a shiny happy person inside. I want to shape up, trim up those parts of me that need it, and compete in a triathlon in August 2012. I want my foot to go into overdrive healing and begin intensively training for something. And by training I am seeking brilliance. I am not seeking to become less visible, you know, like when I was anorexic at age 14, or bulimic at age 18, and thought that what I wanted was to become smaller in order to feel better — when what I really wanted was to disappear.

(Holy Mary, I’m glad those days are nearly twenty years behind me!)

This is different.

The Free Dictionary defines brilliance this way: The state or quality of being brilliant, as:

a. Extreme brightness.
b. Exceptional clarity and agility of intellect or invention.
c. Splendor; magnificence.

I sure would benefit from more brightness during these dark days of winter, when I rise to darkness, pull back the curtains and look up at the…. dark sky.

I could use more clarity and agility of intellect (Not to beat myself up, but couldn’t everyone? After all, I watched the Republican debate on Saturday night).

I certainly welcome splendor in all its shapes and colors and shadows.

In seeking brilliance, I want to move in such a way that only by participating fully in the struggle do you get what you want. I want to really, really take on that which scares me the most. I want to mentally push myself. After my eldest bumps his head after careening around a corner in slippery socks for the umpteenth time (“I’m just skateboarding, Mama”), I explain that he only has one brain and it’s his job to protect it and I’m worried about permanent damage. Well, studies suggest that people who engage in regular mental and physical exercise are at far less risk for brain damage, dementia, etc. At this point I’m taking no chances.

I’m not seeking brilliance to impress anyone. Not my family or my friends. Not my paparazzi (I have paparazzi? Of course! They are my children, obviously, my superheroes in training, and they follow me everywhere).

At the end of the work day, I reluctantly I left the calm of my office to head for the chaos of my dark purple house. But before that, I made a wise choice by stopping in to Working Class Acupuncture. Treatment # 2 for my sore foot left me in a state of deep relaxation. Taking an hour for myself in between work and home was absolute bliss.

The name of my acupuncturist is Moses.

Seriously.

Moses was a Hebrew prophet who led the Israelites from Egypt across the Red Sea. He was a powerful leader and deeply committed to ensuring his people’s safety.

I know that I’m getting a little carried away here. But maybe that is exactly the point. In order to seek brilliance, we must go beyond our usual routines. We have to stretch, both literally and figuratively. We have to reach that point where it hurts, and then settle in, a little uncomfortable but motivated and eager to move forward. We must experience the pain and discomfort in order to enter that place where we begin to recognize who we truly are and who we might become.

I know I am flawed. I also know that I am privileged. I am free to make nearly any choice I want and have it turn out the way that I think it could turn out. This confidence comes from deep within my soul. It was also gifted to me by parents who believed in me from the beginning. I am grateful. Not everyone starts out with the same possibilities.

And so here I close. I’m excited to move forward into the unknown and establish some tangible goals for the year ahead that include rehabilitating my foot and so much more.

Today I am a rock. But I could become a diamond.

Anyone who may wish to join me for the journey, I welcome you. And those of you who aren’t are board but perhaps glanced twice at this post, your interest piqued, thinking, hmmm, maybe that’s me, too… I welcome you. Let’s embrace our commonality in the struggle that involves work, parenting, and life. Let’s identify something for which training is required and find brilliance together.

I am considering registering for the following brilliance-inducing events in 2012. After my MRI (scheduled a few days from now), I’ll let you know which one I select and how I begin to train.

http://www.nodm.com/ (this half marathon just look amazing!)

http://www.trifind.com/re_63809/2012Rev3Portland.html (this would be a significant challenge for me considering I run and swim but do not bike and in fact, would require purchasing a decent road bike)

http://www.active.com/running/corbett-or/multnomah-falls-trail-run-2012 (another potential beautiful run, easy distance)

http://hoodriver.org/cross-channel-swim (I completed this swim in 2010… it was beautiful, relaxing and fun, and I’d love to do it again)

Linking up with Thoughtful Thursday! Found the Marbles