27 April 2018

stretching and growing

How are you stretching yourself and growing as a human being? This is the great question for all of us who primarily have first-world problems to tackle. Basic necessities are all met? Check? Then, how do we continue to challenge ourselves and keep life interesting? Definitely a luxury question, but one that bears consideration.

My birthday was April 15th, and my "new year" is off to a great start. I'm learning to ride a bike (finally), am loving my acting class, booked a commercial a month after I started taking classes and actually started shooting on my birthday, am in a children's picture book writing group, an adult fiction writing group, and a book group, and of course, I have a fabulous husband and two generally wonderful children. So, life is perfect, right?

Of course not! Ha! As if.

No, no. Despite all of the many things I'm supposed to be grateful for, I feel like I constantly want more. Primarily in the form of career success. I want to work! (And have intelligent conversations with adults!) And be good at something and be successful in it. Not that crazy for an adult to want such a thing, of course, but then I feel guilty for having such a good life and wanting more.

It's not greed, though. I want to make a positive difference in the world. I want to empower people! I want to be a better person and inspire others to be their best selves, too.

So, we must toss away the embarrassment and the guilt and just GO for it, whatever it is that we're craving. And maybe some would say I'm too old or too impractical to be pursuing dreams at my age, but who cares, right? I'm not getting any younger, life is only coming to an end more and more rapidly. If I want to do anything, now is the moment to get going. And a year from now, I'll be so glad I pushed myself to ride a bike even when my five-year-old is better than I am at it. "Mama, I'm not used to going so slow!" Right. I'm working on it!

More than that, I'll be able to say I gave it my all. What are all the crazy impossible dreams I want? And then, what do I need to do to make them less impossible? For example, I'm taking my first singing lesson because I'd love to be in a musical, and I hear you should know how to sing. :-)

I auditioned for a lead role in a zombie TV show knowing nothing about the genre but excited about the possibility of working. It turns out I'm terrible at being a zombie killer type, but it was a great stretch to try it anyway. It also turns out I don't like gory zombie killing shows, plus the character was supposed to be 12-19 years younger than I am, so it wasn't a good fit for me all around, but again, I'm glad I tried.

Oh, and the incredible art in the photo above was done by Ben Young, and I really fell in love with his work. I came across a photo of this piece because I'm painting a large painting for my bedroom and was researching images of ocean and sky for inspiration, and again, stretching myself, I haven't painted in years and am self-taught, but hey, it's fun, and as I tell my five-year-old, the more you practice, the better you get.

So, I want to be a better painter. Better start painting. I want to start practicing piano again, so I just printed a free PDF of Pachelbel's Canon in D, which my daughter loves. (Awake at 2am this morning and unable to sleep, I heard her also wake up and say, "Alexa, play Pachelbel's Canon in D." I guess it helps her get back to sleep.)

It's humbling to start at the beginning or to try to revive a nearly dormant skill, but that's where we find our joy in life, right? These are the moments where we experience flow, where time disappears. I rode on a nearby bike trail for the first time on my birthday and could ride straight and flat where there were no people. The next time I rode on the trail, I was able to start going up and down and turn, and I even started using my backpedal brakes. I rode the whole trail (about a 2-hour ride), only getting off for two steep downhill parts, and I felt like I'd accomplished something. It may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but it was progress on my terms, and I was beaming like a proud puppy afterwards.

So, let's find our challenges so we can continue stretching and growing! What are you going to do to stretch yourself and grow? Or as I've included in my email signature since 2004, what would you do if you had no fear? What would you do if you knew you would be successful? Or as I asked when I used to hire baristas and bakers for my coffee shop, what would you do if time and money were no object?

And then, finally: how can we get a little closer to making our "impossible" dreams a reality? What tiny, totally doable steps could we take to get closer to our ideal lives? Maybe anything is possible if only we keep working at it, and the only way to know is to try...


  1. As always, you are such an inspiration! I am so incredibly impressed by all of these creative cliffs you're diving off of...and all at once! And as a lover of the zombie genre, know that I would have happily watched you kick undead butt! Speaking of, thanks for this kick in the butt of a post! And for painting an adorable picture of your daughter asking Alexa to play a beautiful classic over Justin Bieber! Hahaha!

  2. Aww, thanks, Niko. You inspire me in so many ways, too. :-)
    (And that's so funny about the zombies. I guess I'm more cupcake baker than badass.) ;-)