Anything Could Happen

Woohoo! Here we are at day two of Living Wide’s Soundtrack for Successful Failure. How’s it going so far for everyone?

Today’s song came to me when I was at a really low moment a few months ago. As you all know, at about that time, I made a pretty bold decision to walk away from something that was safe on paper, for something that could have completely blown up in my face. I needed to do something radical, and it terrified me.

Now, I am a firm believer that songs have a habit of coming to us just as we need them, and that’s what Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Could Happen” was for me; a right place, right time kind of song.

I’m not sure if it was the instrumentation, the melody or the lyrics really, but it was infectious, and it made me start thinking things could get better. Even when at my lowest, there was always hope.

Sometimes that hope is bright, and sometimes that hope is single grain of sand that is irritating enough to eventually produce a pearl. Regardless, it’s hope.

“Anything Could Happen” reminds me that there are no limits other than what we put on ourselves. Anything, truly anything can happen in this life, it’s just a matter of being open to it.

Remember, I’m open to commentary and your suggestions as well. Be sure to bring them on.

Turn the Page

So long 2012. Can’t say I’m sorry to see you go. To be honest, you weren’t all that bad, but nonetheless, don’t let the door hit ya and all. Buh bye.

Normally, I’m a little sentimental about a new year. I usually try to be positive and think about all the good things that have happened over the course of the previous 12 months. And don’t get me wrong… good things have happened. I was able to leave a job that was not the right fit for me anymore, and walk into a new position that seems much better. I also got accepted into a pretty great grad school program and started taking classes. Not to mention, my friends all hit major milestones, of which I was able to be a part of.

But ultimately, 2012 was the cap of a trying set of years that I am very ready to leave behind. In frankness, Living Wide came along directly in the middle of that season. We’ll call it the brush fire season. Why, you ask. Well, the brush fire is an interesting phenomenon. Pretty much every year, the air gets a little too dry, and the sun a little too hot, which results in a brush fire. It generally rips through everything that is old and decaying, scorching the earth until it’s barren and unrecognizable. In the end, it is so damaged, that most believe, there is no way it could ever recover. But then, something miraculous happens… things start to grow. The land pushes back against the devastation and trauma it endured to become fruitful again. In fact, new things emerge that simply couldn’t have grown unless they were exposed to fire.

It wasn’t until recently that I started to feel that way… fruitful again.

I’ve taken the time to look at who I’ve become over the past few years, and frankly, for a time, I haven’t liked her. She was complacent, afraid, trapped, easily convinced, misguided, weak. She wasn’t brave… not in the slightest. She lacked many things, most of which, was a spine. Harsh words to speak about one’s self, but that doesn’t make them any less true.

If you’ve been following along on this journey, Living Wide started with a death. A very unexpected death of a man who should have had many more years left to live, but didn’t. Who managed to live more life in his time on Earth than most people I know and seemed to have a blast doing it. As I watched those who cared about him say goodbye, I knew that the woman I saw reflected back at me in the mirror every day was a degradation of who I used to be, and it was time to reclaim her.

In 2013, that journey continues. This year, I turn the page.  I’ve decided I will be braver. That I will push out of my comfort zone and stop worrying so much about what is the “right thing to do.” The times I’ve rejected that “right thing” and flung myself blindly into my faith in the Lord, I’ve been rewarded more richly than I ever thought possible. So, in 2013, there is no “right thing,” there’s only the horizon.

Tell me who you hope to be in 2013? Leave a comment.

Releasing Fear

Whenever I see a bunch of balloons I can’t help but smile. They are brightly colored sleeves, floating atop equally colorful strings, designed to delight and inspire wonder. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of a bouquet of balloons lifting you from your life and carrying you, just like Dorothy, to a land of wonder far, far away.

When I was in grade school, I remember a day when they assembled all of the students on the playground. Just prior to the gathering, they’d asked us all to write down something we wished or hoped for that we would like to share with another person. “Think big,” they instructed us. “Think about what you would do to make the world different, better.” Lofty instructions for a group that ranged from barely able to read to the borderline between childhood innocence and adolescent angst.

I remembered agonizing over what I was going to write. I wanted it to be something inspiring. Something that the finder would remember all of their life. In truth, I cannot recall what those words of wisdom were, but given my age, I’m sure they had something to do with chasing rainbows.

What I do remember, however, is the sight of hundreds of red balloons bobbing in the wind as we waited for the release signal. I remember the sheer joy of seeing those balloons soar into the sky as we all cheered. And I remember watching mine as long as I could, hoping that the right someone would stumble across my message.

In a way, that’s kind of what it’s like to release fear. Fear’s stranglehold can be debilitating. It can rob you of your confidence and slow your momentum to a crawl. But more importantly, it can severely hinder your choice to live wide.

I am guilty of letting fear snake into my life. Being Type A, I most definitely fear failure. I am frightened by the prospect of poor planning or my lack of accuracy in predicting the outcome. But, can anyone “by worrying add a single hour to [our] life?”* Why do we cede control of our minds to the murk and mire that is fear? Why do we not release it and watch it float away like a scarlet balloon cast against a pale blue sky? Why do we grip it just as tightly as it holds onto us?

It’s not often [I need to get better at that], but when I am able to release my fear to a power far greater than me, I feel an indescribable relief. It’s almost like an elephant, rising from its seat upon my chest.

Take a moment to give shape to your fear. What does it look like? Now pour that anxiety into a bright red balloon. Picture it floating lightly inside a helium-filled orb begging for your release. It’s just waiting. All you have to do is let go. Relax your fingers and let the string pull free. I promise, the relief you’ll feel watching your worry float into oblivion is far greater than the anxiety of refusing to let go.

*Matthew 6:27.