To the young dad who took his little girl to the Ed Sheeran concert in Cincinnati last Thursday night…
I was with some friends tucked way in the back, behind where you were sitting on the lawn. As I settled in, I saw you and noticed you with your daughter and your black t-shirt, ripped jeans and pierced ears.
The music started and Ed pulled off a good show, but the show that you and your daughter put on was much more memorable to me.
The gentle way you sat there with your sweet little girl and experienced the music with her was heartwarming. She knew all the songs and I got to watch her sing and dance, all the while never losing contact with you, like you were home base. Clearly that’s what you are to her in more ways than one.
I noticed you held her up so she could see the jumbo screens. When you did, she looked you right in the eyes and sang to you. I could tell how much she loves you. You held her up for a long time; your arms must have been tired. But you held.
I noticed that you didn’t spend any time looking at your phone or drinking beer—which is what so many of your peers were doing that night. Instead you looked at your daughter and filled her up with a wonderful gift: Your presence and your undivided attention. You made that night all about her and she had so much fun.
Earlier when I said that I saw you, I really didn’t see you at all. I missed the opportunity the first time around. But you were kind enough to give me another chance, and as the night went on I definitely saw you. Your actions spoke volumes.
I could go on, but I wanted to just thank you for the show and for being a great dad to your adorable girl.
Ed rocked… but young guy who took his daughter to see Ed Sheeran, you were way better.
Listen to my radio interview about this blog post that aired on Cincinnati's Q102, 9.23.15.
TBT to a blog I wrote June of 2013. It took me two (LONG) years to get unstuck. Even with all the tools and knowledge and effort...I was a tough nut to crack. But I cracked and broke and honestly, I'm glad I did. I was like that fancy vase that only gets brought out on special occasions. The one that only sees the house when it's clean, the people when they are at their best and the food when it's company worthy. The vase had a skewed view of life and got wrapped in tissue and put away when the party was over. It wouldn't know what 'real' life was like because it never had the chance to be a part of it. I did that to myself. I protected myself not with tissue, but with a layer of distance from people because I was afraid they would see the imperfections and chips when they got too close. I told myself lies about other people's perfect lives and how mine could never stack up.
The blessing of being broken though, is that it's hard to hide. So I took a leap and bared my ugly scars. What I learned though, is that my scars aren't ugly. I know in my heart they are the most beautiful thing about me. And if I was uncertain, the outpouring of love and support I received after I debuted my scars set it in stone. Thank you kind people for lifting me up.
If you are stuck, take heart and stand tall. Please reach out to your people and share your struggles. Don't fear vulnerability. It puts you in community with others. Fear false strength that keeps you alone.
PS-Don't have people to call? Now you do...you can call me. :)
Stuck In My Story
Have you ever been in a rut? I've been in one for a while, but feel like I'm getting close to a transition. I'm on the cusp of moving in a new direction, putting a new spin on my life, but I keep falling back into a holding pattern.
So I go to that middle place for a while, then begin the climb again. Backslide, then climb. This holding pattern is no stranger to me and I'm learning, albeit slowly, about what makes it tick.
The holding pattern keeps things simple. 'Status Quo' would be its mantra. It has a negative attitude about change, and repeats 'What if?' constantly, like a toddler asks 'Why?'.
'What if I have to go back to work, I will miss out on so much at home.'
'What if we have to sell our house, won't neighbors judge?'
'What if we move to another state, will I be lonely and alone?'
'What if my writing projects aren't successful, will people think I'm a joke?'
The holding pattern can find a dozen reasons not to pursue something...it's too hard, you aren't smart enough, it will never work. It prevents me from failing and protects me from hurt. What I realized though, is that the holding pattern 'protects' me from success too. It holds me back from living a full life, from experiencing the highs along WITH the lows.
You guessed it, I am the holding pattern. Status quo? Yes please! Change? Yikes, no way! I seem to be my own worst enemy. I am living in this middle ground that isn't really living. I'm just sort of waiting, but for what, I don't know. I've been doing this for so long now, that it is all I know. I am stuck in my own story. Half of me is methodically working on getting unstuck, and the other half is feverishly putting on the brakes and holding on for dear life. I am at odds with myself. Fear is running my show.
I have spent years trying to figure out just who I am, and time after time have come up empty handed. I feel like a blank canvas that is being wasted. No masterpiece is being created. Instead, the space is being filled with scribbled out do-overs, well meaning to-do lists, missed opportunities and false images of what I think I SHOULD be. Precious time wasted...posturing and people pleasing, but not being me.
Time to stop the madness and put an end to my journey/quest/search to 'find' myself. A-hem, I'm right here by the way. I have the sole authority and responsibility toCREATE who I choose to be. This is purposeful stuff, nothing is floating out there somewhere waiting to be discovered. It is all right here, WITHIN me, waiting for me to tap in and start the show.
It is time to break free of my story and create a new one. I need to start answering the 'What if?' questions.
What if I have to go back to work? SO WHAT?
Seriously, millions of people do it everyday and live to tell about it. My world has become a tiny little bubble and breaking out of it would be good for me. Financial security is NOT overrated.
What if we have to sell our house? SO WHAT?
Downsizing is not a character flaw. I can make a home out of a cardboard box if I have to. I'm good at stuff like that. My family under one roof = HOME. Period.
What if my writing projects never take off? SO WHAT?
I have enjoyed every moment of these projects and experienced clarity and confidence in myself. Writing is cleansing for me...sort of like free therapy, and who would pass that up? Most importantly I need to remember who I am doing this for anyway. Oh yeah...ME.
So is being a failure better than living in the unknown? Uh, yeah. Trying is living, and the alternative is the holding pattern where nothing happens. I'm tired of waiting for my life to happen TO me, I'm ready to join the ranks of those that MAKE things happen. Of course I'm still afraid, it's just that now I'm ready. Ready for a challenge and change. Ready to embrace the unknown instead of obsessing about it yet avoiding it at the same time.
Remembering though, that Rome wasn't built in a day is key. This is a process of baby steps interspersed with some calculated leaps. There is a fabulous Theodore Roosevelt quote that resonated deep in my core. Before I share it, be it known that normally I am a sharer of quotes from inane things like bad movies, cheesy sitcoms ('We were on a break!') and pop songs, NOT quotes from past presidents. So you know this is going to be good. Prepare yourself.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, ...who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Wow. Teddy and I could have been friends. This says it all...the ones that make the effort are worthy of credit, EVEN IF THEY FAIL. And guess what? They will. I will, you will, we all will. Success wouldn't exist if there was no failure. And I love that he references the middle place, it is strangely validating, mainly because I have spent so much time there. But I refuse to be that middle person anymore, I'm hungry for the victory but i'm also ready for the defeat too. Mainly, I want to be in that arena.
I want to kick the unknown in the you know what, knock it to the ground and march my way into my wondrous future...flaws, fails and all.
No more holding pattern, I'm ready to fly.