Life’s Ebb and Flow

This song came to mind today. Since we now live in the age of technology, all it took was shouting out, “Alexa, play Looking for Space,” and in no time I had John crooning in the background of my life, as he so often has.

John Denver music takes me back to my teenage bedroom of the 70s, with the cedar siding and record player, where I played his tunes incessantly while dreaming of someday living in the wide open spaces, with their boundless freedom and connection to nature. If you ask what music flows through my veins, it’s this.

You would think at my age I’d be done searching for who I am. Not true. Life ebbs and flows. It breathes a living breath in and out. Knowing and searching. I’ve been many versions of myself. The dependent child. The dreamy teen. (And the angsty teen.) I’ve been the freedom-loving young adult. (Good times!) I’ve been the married, stay-at-home devoted wife and mom. I’ve been the working mom. So many iterations of me. But within all of them is the core girl who loves John Denver, who loves nature and peaceful places, who values being together over just about anything else.

But why this song? My subconscious has been dredging things up from my playlists lately. All of the songs are pertinent to my life right now. It’s like it’s trying to jiggle me awake.

Life is right now at an ebb stage. It could be due to the meanness of the past 4 years. It could be pandemic fatigue. It could be exhaustion dealing with the same dysfunctional cycles and misunderstandings. Or maybe it’s just that it’s just that way. Life is changing and morphing into something I don’t really recognize. I’ve tried to hold on to what’s known, but the elemental effects are taking their toll, eroding what I thought was firm ground. I find myself searching for new footing as the path slowly unfolds before me, wondering where it will take me.

The journey to this point has not been easy. I’ve discovered a lot about life. I’ve found that I am strong. I know who I can and can’t count on to help shoulder the burdens. I have learned that anxiety is a prickly bush, but it can be gingerly moved aside, and the trail on the other side opens up to beautiful vistas. I’ve found people who spread kindness and love. I’ve gone through my share of dark valleys, but the darkness of those valleys makes coming out into the sunshine all the more brilliant. I’ve discovered that radical acceptance makes things bearable.

Will I ever find my way? I don’t know. Probably not. But as long as I remain open and curious, I know I’ll treasure the journey. That being said, if you ever happen to be in the wide open spaces of the west and see an older woman with long hair and hiking boots setting her camera up for the perfect shot, that might just be me.

And you’ll know I have arrived.

Looking for Space
John Denver
On the road of experience
I'm trying to find my own way
Sometimes I wish that I could fly away
When I think that I'm moving
Suddenly things stand still
I'm afraid 'cause I think they always will
And I'm looking for space
And to find out who I am
And I'm looking to know and understand
It's a sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I'm almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
And sometimes I'm deep in despair
All alone in the universe
Sometimes that's how it seems
I get lost in the sadness and the screams
Then I look in the center
Suddenly everything's clear
I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams
And I'm looking for space
And to find out who I am
And I'm looking to know and understand
It's a sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I'm almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
And sometimes I'm deep in despair
On the road of experience
Join in the living day
If there's an answer
It's just that it's just that way
When you're looking for space
And to find out who you are
When you're looking to try and reach the stars
It's a sweet, sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I'm almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
And sometimes I'm deep in despair
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
Like an eagle
I go flying
High
Songwriters: John Denver

Fear of Failure, Success, and Perseverance

What is the key to success?

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

I’ve spent a lot my life honing my skill at flying under the radar, of going unnoticed, blending in. I was the teenage girl with the long bangs hanging in front of my face, hiding. I was the girl on the bus with my nose in a book while the social dramas raged on around me. I’ve been the wallflower by choice, afraid to join in the game. Until lately.

The name of my blog reflects my challenge. Views from around the corner is where I began this journey and was meant to highlight this apartness. It’s a safe space, but it’s an empty one. Nothing is required of you when you are the onlooker from a distance. Nobody notices you. And that’s always been okay with me.

But I’ve gained a little courage. I’ve put myself out there. It was so hard at first. People who operate in the normal realm have no idea what it is for someone who suffers from intense anxiety and fear of failure to take this step. I’ve written before about the nerves that came with publishing that first blog post. I’m talking stomach in knots anxiety. Hot flushed face, trembling hands anxiety. I had to walk away numerous times. Did I really want to do this? Finger hovering over the enter key for what seemed like eons. Walk away again. Ask myself again. Then finally, just taking the plunge and walking away with a feeling of horror at what I’d just done. Oh, the mental anguish! And this all from the comfort of my own home!

But do you know what? It got easier. Each time I did it I felt the same fear, but the amount was diminished. And I liked what I was doing. I was writing, something I’d always felt a passion for, but never shared with anyone. I got feedback, mostly good, but some of it with a critical eye. This was hard, but when I removed my ego from the equation, I could see that it was necessary for growth.

Trying became fun. I wrote about the world. I tried fiction. I honed my poetry skills. I interacted with other writers, reading and engaging with their own thoughts and reveling in their wordcraft.

I put my photography out there. (It’s my other passion.) I inquired at the local gallery, and they accepted my art. It’s been hanging in there for 2 years now, and I’ve become an integral part of a great group of local artists, managing the social media accounts and website presence. It’s a co-op, so I work there. I still feel a knot in my stomach when people wander over to look at my photos. Will they like my art? Feedback has been important in feeling grounded. Imposter syndrome is real. I went from feeling embarrassed when talking to people about my photos to being excited when telling them how that one picture ended up important enough to me to be mounted on the wall. This usually related to the quality of the light or the ambiance of the moment/location. It’s become a shared experience more than an offering on a pedestal of judgement. I do still feel humbled when people walk to the register with something of mine. I probably always will.

There are always chances to try new things. Sometimes we try and find we want to give up. Is that okay? Maybe. Depends on if you’re giving up out of fear or disinterest. I’ve found that perseverance comes with caring about what I’m doing. If it’s important to me, I keep going. Some things are going to fall flat. It happens to everyone. Thankfully, I’m at the point I can mostly just shrug and move on. Every failure is a step toward success, and every success beats back the fear of failure. How will we know if we don’t try?

Are you struggling with putting yourself out there like I did? I encourage you to take that first step. What are the things you’re passionate about? You’ll never know success if you’re not in the game.

What are you waiting for?

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

This is my mantra.

I’ve not always been a particularly fearful person. I climbed trees as a kid. I hike alone. I frequently travel by myself. I don’t avoid airplanes. I talk to strangers and approach dogs.

Yet when it comes to opening myself up, I’m a coward. I’ve been that way most of my life. One of my ten defining moments (thank you, Dr. Phil) was in a middle school class called “Creativity” when my teacher Mrs. Marshall wanted to hang my poem on the gallery wall. I was proud of that poem. It came from my heart. But because it came from my heart, my heart would be pinned up on that wall, exposed to all.

I said no.

I’ve always wondered if the trajectory of my life would have been different had I said yes. It’s an easy thing to say no. It’s safe. Nobody can hurt what they don’t know is there. But what if I had said yes? What if my poem being on display would have resulted in support and true praise. Would I have been inspired to keep creating for others, instead of just for myself?

I’ve written before about my first blog post, how my finger hovered over that enter key for what seemed like hours. My stomach did flip-flops. I knew I would feel exposed, all my tender parts wide open to the predators. But that’s not what happened. People were supportive and encouraging. I became a part of communities. And gradually I built confidence.

My battle with fear began after a battle with cancer. There’s nothing like facing your own mortality to help you reevaluate your life and choices. That’s when I took on the mantra, “what would you do if you were not afraid?” And I started doing those things. I went back to school and became a teacher. I took on my first class. I spoke up at meetings. I created a blog. And life became deeper and richer. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my life of being a mom to my kids. I’d just been doing it from a blind, a bunker, looking out and staying hidden.

To this day, my kids know me best. It took a lot for me to open up to my adult friends. It took a long time for me to participate in book club conversation. (I wear anxiety like I’m holding a squirmy toddler.) But every time I did it, every time I let myself feel the flip-flopping of my stomach and the hot flush of embarrassment, it got a little better. Brick by painful brick, I built my confidence.

I still battle fears. I don’t like opening myself up to being judged. That’s my kryptonite. But I find joy in my journey and where I am now on my life’s path. I have a blog. I have my art in a gallery. I have art online. I still hope to write a book.

Good things are out there.

What would you do if you were not afraid?


If you are interested in checking out any of my photography or art designs, you can find me on Fine Art America, Redbubble, and Zazzle. Thanks for stopping by!