New Year’s Resolution

At a past book club meeting I was conversing with my fellow girlfriends about this-and-that and at one point someone said, “I don’t get why people take notes in their books. What are they writing? I never write in my books.” To which I replied, “I do.” All conversation ceased and eyes loomed over me. Less than gracefully I mumbled out something that was supposed to sound like this: “I like to keep track of characters or make a comment about my thoughts.” Apparently, I was the only one. The moment passed and we moved on to another topic; however,  I will admit, I walked away from that conversation feeling like a square peg.

I tend not to follow the trend, whether I like it or not. My recent books have included E. D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy, Punished By Rewards by Alfie Kohn, and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Sometimes I think I can pull it off and talk about the most recent episode of Mad Men or who won what at the Academy Awards but it is quickly revealed that I didn’t see the show and then I become a silent head nodder, never a duller moment.

But here’s the rub: all these things are what make me who I am. My problem is I have trouble owning my opinions. Mainstream or not, trending or not, hipster or not; I have difficulty claiming my opinions with confidence. There’s an unfounded and overriding fear within me that if I say my non-mainstream point-of-view out loud the person won’t like me. In truth, the majority of the time I’m pretty sure most people could care less about what I think, and even if they did, it’s still my opinion and I still need to claim it.

To ring in the New Year, I’m throwing caution to the wind, going out on a limb, taking the bull by the horns, and saying my opinions out loud. And there will be no fine print. No flimsy explanation for why I have this or that opinion. Just me, revealed.

2015 New Year’s Resolution

1. Being confident in my opinions and decisions. *no fine print

I love reading about history.

I strive to live a minimalist lifestyle. 

I want to be a writer.

I love being a stay-at-home mom. 

I’m considering becoming Montessori certified. 

I’m considering homeschooling my kids for a few years using a Classical Education model. 

Yes, I am aware of a few conflicting ideas in there. Did I say they would all make sense? Nope, but that’s me.

Out of My Comfort Zone

I believe being uncomfortable from time to time is healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I like a routine. Daily patterns that serve to keep me on track and a bedtime that doesn’t push the early morning hours are my warm blanket but I have certain fears that I think need frightening.

For example, I’m irrationally scared of water. I think it stems from growing up by the ocean where the undertow took a few lives every year but I can be found playing it safe even in a calm and peaceful lake. I’ve realized I like to challenge this fear and do crazy things like kayaking or water skiing. It’s exhilarating to prove to myself that I can overcome. That it will all be okay.

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Before heading off to college I remember telling myself I wanted “no regrets.” There may have been a few unimportant decisions I regretted in college such as the 15 pound Doc Martin shoes and overindulgence at the frozen yogurt machine but for the most part I did it right.

However, when I think back on it all there was one big regret. During graduate school we had to find, apply, and interview for our internships independently and I had done so, making sure to include my highest hopes position and a back-up, just in case. When I got a call from a skilled nursing facility, one high on my rating scale, I happily accepted. However, a week later the university hospital telephoned. This was my highest hopes probably-not-achievable position and one for which many students competed. I asked for some time to make a decision because I had already accepted another.

Uinta Mountains

In the end I declined. At the time I was satisfied with my decision but looking back, I was intimidated. The hospital internship involved severely impaired patients of which some would probably die. It also involved work with tracheotomies which in my field is the only way you could actually harm or even kill a patient. The true wrinkle was that it involved a presentation to the entire rehab staff which included the medical director of the program and a few physicians. Public speaking is my Mt. Everest and that coupled with my inexperience in my field got the best of me. Sadly, this was the true reason I turned down the position. And I believe the loss of this experience set me back. To this day I am insecure when working with tracheotomy patients and I deeply regret not gaining that learning experience when I had the opportunity.

Fast forward seven years. Moved, married, two kids. After having kids I decided to be a stay-at-home mom for a few years. During this process I’ve learned new things about myself of which I had no prior knowledge, one of them being that I like to write. I started journaling, began a blog (thank you to each and every one of you who follows), and have been to a couple of writing “drop-ins.”

I’ve also discovered that writing scares me a bit and this is so perplexing to me. I desperately want to tumble out my thoughts and share my stories. But that’s when the rock in my stomach forms. I get nervous and think no one will be interested in what I have to say. I couldn’t decipher why I was feeling this way and then it hit me: I care if I fail. I would love for my writing to be more than a hobby but nothing in my past has told me I’m a writer. But why not? I’m capable of putting words on paper and in this there is hope. Possibility.

This coming week I’ll be attending my first writing shop and am anxiously awaiting the experience. I’m going to enjoy the challenge and seeing if it takes me beyond this keyboard and into unknown territory. No regrets.

Sunrise over Monterey.

In the end, running from your fears always catches up with you. In my second pick internship, the scapegoat one, I experienced everything I was running from: public speaking, tracheotomies, and sadly, dying patients. I survived it all and I’m an improved clinician as a result. We are made better for stepping out of our comfort zones. It prickles the skin and tingles the nerves but what would we be without something to propel us forward and push those limits?

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately?