The Shaky Life of the Nearly Courageous

“You are afraid to admit that you need me if I don’t feel the same way.” – The Proposal, Alternate Ending. (Can be seen on Youtube)

I am one of those people who jumps ahead to the last chapter of a book in order to decide if it is worth reading. I like to make sure the story has a happy ending before I invest my time. Ruins it for me in all honesty and I’m learning I can’t do that with life, even though I try.

I love the movie The Proposal.  I wanted to be that woman when I grew up. Not the needy one, but the one who had it all together and ran the world or at least a major corporation. Yep, never happened. Didn’t stop me from wanting it though. I can still remember being 22 and riding the train in Chicago wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit and reading the Wall Street Journal looking down on the people my age sitting around me in jeans and sneakers wondering when they were going to start being adults. I wasn’t an adult, I was a terrified kid living on my own in a big city for the first time, playing dress up and hoping no one noticed. Truth is, if it hadn’t been for the two people I let befriend me, I’m not sure how I would have survived. Even though I didn’t fully realize it myself, I needed them I just didn’t trust them enough to tell them that.

Everyone has trust issues of some kind, it’s just that some of us are better at hiding them than others. Mine happen to be glaringly obvious. If I’m not trying to read your mind and tell you what I think you want to hear, I’m being cute, trying to make you laugh, shaking like a leaf, or running for the hills. I used to think I had the whole world fooled until a friend pointed them out a few years ago. I am not amused, I mean it’s bad enough that I have trust issues, do they have to be so obvious?

Going from a mommy/garden blogger to a woman who writes about over coming fear, while still shaking in my boots, is an interesting journey. I’d rather learn in a closet, and then show the world how brilliant I am than learn in front of an audience. The only thing worse than my glaringly obvious trust issues is my pride.

Will you really like me and the things I’m doing if you know I am terrified every step of the way? That is a legitimate question for a recovering approval junkie like myself. That’s where my pride really takes a kick in the proverbial teeth. In the final assessment, I just want to be liked, by everyone, all the time even if it kills us both. Talk about an unrealistic expectation. I don’t even like myself all the time.

My journey as a Christian writer has had more starts, stops, skinned knees and bruised pride than I ever expected when I started back in 2002. My original post-children plans back then included being a deaconess or a women’s ministry leader, and when that didn’t turn out the way I expected I found myself doing a lot of soul-searching and sifting through a junk yard of need. I erroneously believed that if I could prove I belong than I can stop apologizing for breathing air. If I prove I belong, I can stop being afraid. That’s a lie by the way. The only way I can stop being afraid is to do the things that scare me the most.

I threw out everything, including my original blog during my soul-searching snit fit and started over from scratch.  No great loss I assure you. My original writings are nothing more than a mask. They are things I thought people would want to hear; 12 steps to this seven steps to that. You know the drill: How to be a better Christian, how to be a better wife, how to keep pretending.  Then I started reading books by people like Donald Miller and Anne Lamott and I discovered a whole new world. I discovered Christians who were willing to be transparent without apologizing. Their courage fueled mine. Granted, my original transparency contained more of what is wrong with my tradition and this world as I see it today than anything else, but it was a start.

I no longer cared if you liked me or not, I just wanted to be heard. Know anybody like that? People like that are really difficult to be around for too long.  One of my comedy friends remembers my porcupine self back then. I had a bite as she says.  I was sarcastic and nasty and ready to pick a fight with anyone and I picked a lot of fights. And if I wasn’t picking fights, I was stirring pots.  Once I started meeting people who loved me back instead of fighting with me, I really freaked out. Anger is a voice that I used for too long. Anger is also a mask for fear, did you know that?

“The hardest thing about loving someone is having the courage to let them love you back.” – The Wedding Date

Masks can be admired, but never fully loved.  Rather than covering up my fears with anger or over achieving, I decided to start owning them and writing about them. I had to unlearn everything I thought I knew about life and start over. Learning something new is awkward and challenging to say the least. I had to learn how to admit I need someone without being sure they felt the same way. I also had to find the courage to start letting people love me back. I’m not fully there yet, but I’m working on it.

Instead of passing on conferences that intimidated me, I started attending them. Instead of distancing myself from the people there, or faking my way through it to prove I belong, I owned my fears out loud and jumped in and risked letting myself be known. “I’m here and I’m terrified, but I’m here.” I did an open mic at a comedy conference and told a room full of professional comics, I’m scared to death but let’s do this. At which point I started hyperventilating and had to start over. I will admit that weirded people out a bit at first but then someone whispered in my ear later that night, “I’m scared too, nice to meet you.” and I made a new friend.

I used to believe people would think less of me if they knew how afraid I really was, then I realized that I’m not the only one who is afraid. Whether we admit it or not, there is something out there that scares all of us a little and that’s okay. Maybe that’s why my readership picked up so much once I started admitting, “I’m scared too, nice to meet you.”

Life lived under the covers of your bed isn’t life and it isn’t living. Don’t just write in a way that scares you a little, live in a way that scares you a little even if your fears and trust issues are so glaringly obvious that you have to shake. Even if your pride makes you want to run for the hills, hold fast. Shake until you stop shaking, close your eyes and breathe.

“You are safe. Let go of the past and remember what a wonderful woman you are.” Also from The Wedding Date (Hands down my favorite scene of the whole movie). 

New Book Release: Liar Liar by Sundi Jo Graham

What do you believe about yourself?

My friend Sundi Jo Graham has released a new e-book today called Liar Liar, which is a passionately written and honest short read. Sundi Jo covers so many of the lies we hear, tell ourselves and even sometimes believe about ourselves. Her manifesto takes readers from the beginnings of doubt and self-hatred to the solutions found in Christ and the Bible. While there are parts that are a bit in your face, her brutal honesty and lack of sugar-coating is actually refreshing. I think it’s a nice little read for newer Christians who struggle with their identity in Christ.

Taken from Amazon — If the words ugly, fat, stupid, and unlovable sound familiar to you, you are not alone. We let the world tell us who we are. We let family and friends speak lies over us that we start to believe. We let expectations of ourselves and others fill our minds so much that we believe the end will result in failure regardless of what we do.

“Liar Liar” is a manifesto about not only believing the truth about who you truly are, but also speaking that truth into reality. It’s a call to take the next step in your faith and take action with your words.
You can get your copy of Liar Liar for the Kindle HERE

To find out more about Sundi Jo, visit her at the following:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Let’s Hear it for Monday

 Last week is over. Hip Hip Hurray!

For anyone who follows me on Facebook, you know that’s a good thing. Last week was, well… not the greatest as far as weeks go. While my new estrogen patch might be helping with some of the more uncomfortable menopause symptoms like hot flashes and insomnia, I have discovered that it does nothing for my redheaded temper and walleyed hissies with a red rubber tail.

Last week was a red rubber tail kind of week.

Last week our circle learned that religion and politics do nothing to build relationships and that Christians don’t always know how to behave. A so-called called Christian watchdog organization is calling for a boycott on the Stop Bullying Campaign and my skull just split in half. Things like that make me want to stop telling people I’m a Christian. We even had a sand storm in Tulsa that made breathing pointless.

I ended last week emotionally and mentally exhausted. Fortunately for all of us, our oldest came home for the weekend and joy and order were restored. We watched Minding the Monsters by Jeff Dunham and laughed ourselves stupid.I practiced my banjo until my fingers hurt trying to learn a new G-Lick (Which my husband thinks sounds dirty, but really isn’t.) The Detroit Tigers won the Championship beating out my beloved’s White Sox by only two games. Having grown up near Detroit, I’m happy to root for my home team in the World Series. And we took our oldest out to dinner at a local hot spot and just enjoyed our time together before he had to head back to college.

All in all it was a great weekend.

Which brings me to Monday.

This week, my friend Sundi Jo is launching a new e-book and I get to tell you about it tomorrow. We have Halloween parties to attend, friends to visit, and goals to accomplish. While I’m not normally a fan of Mondays, this particular Monday is a chance at a do-over for the week. It’s a clean slate and we all need those once in awhile.


I Bonked, and I’m Back: Cycling Update, Unexpected allies and third base

Bonk : Hitting a wall, In endurance sports such as cycling and runninghitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity. (Source Wikipedia)

I’ve learned that nothing kills my personal enthusiasm for cycling like having a hot flash while riding my bike in triple digit weather. Puking at the top of the hill in front of my husband and the cars passing by on Sheridan Road is a moment I will not soon forget. Neither will anyone else, I’m sure.

Star date – 360 something since I bought my first road bike, and I’m still learning. I’m a newbie in the cycling world and I spend a lot of time trying out new things, asking questions and following teams and cyclists on blogs and twitter. ALL of my cycling friends are male. I do not know a single female cyclist. Even so, my hope is to one day run with the big dogs, or at the very least keep up with my friends who are already road warriors in my opinion. The problem with only knowing male cyclists is they don’t have the female answers I sometimes need. Or so I think. Men don’t have hot flashes while riding, and being able to relieve the call of nature anywhere they want, personal restroom stops are not as important. Cutting back on fluid intake because I’m unsure of where the bathrooms are, is not smart and can put you in the ER with a bladder infection if you are not careful. Don’t ask how I know that.

I want to learn and therefore I read whatever I can find, and since I can only find male bloggers about cycling, I read them. While I do receive instructional benefit regarding diet, and how to avoid bonking I must confess, if I read one more cycling blog on the benefits of “man-scaping” for cyclists, I’m going to throw up again. While I realize that male cyclists who blog about cycling need to cover all bases, I really wish they’d leave third base out of it. But they can’t because it’s important to their over all health.

In my pursuit of cycling knowledge, I discovered that the universe is shrinking. I know this because I once saw my gyn’s name fly across my twitter screen. It seems he is an avid cyclist and I was following his racing team without knowing it was his team. Once I cleared the coffee spray off my screen, neurotic un-following and mass apologies quickly followed. Chalk one up for neurotic boundaries. I’ve been flying solo ever since and that journey has had more ups and downs than the hills on the trail I ride.

My husband purchased a bike this summer and I’m excited to have a riding buddy. He’s also taught me about shifting gears and powering through hills. The only real downside is the only time we could ride together was for 30 minutes in the morning. I push harder when I ride with him and I built muscle riding the hills. The downside is losing out on the cardio benefit with those short rides. While I haven’t lost weight, I have gone down a full clothing size. That’s a plus. Now that it’s too dark to ride before work, I’m back riding solo. Not wishing to ride alone, I got pissy and blew off September. Not surprisingly, my weight has plateaued again.

A friend from Colorado reminded me that if it’s important to me, I’ll find a way, if not I’ll find excuses.  It’s time to get back on the bike. For safety purposes, I’m hitting Riverside trails where there are people. Safety in numbers and all.

I’m also back to reading blogs, and asking questions.

Of all the people I thought to ask questions of, my doctor was the last person on the list. I didn’t know how to start the conversation – oh yeah I saw you on twitter and found out you ride — (that just sounded creepy to me) and I wasn’t sure that I want him in my personal life. I mean, he’s seen me naked, you know?

We run in adjacent social circles, have for years. How we’ve never run into each other is beyond me. Now that I’m cycling, our circles are intersecting more and more. I was worried that I’d crossed a personal boundary by following his team and tried to extract myself as discreetly as possible. Turns out I was worried for nothing. Having a doctor who is a cycling enthusiast can be an asset. At least, it’s an asset when I’m not being whiny or trying to make him laugh.

I do not suggest telling a man who just completed a 400 mile bike tour that you are working your butt off and still not losing weight as it’s all laughably relative at that point and it just sounds whiny. Just sayin.

Opening up and telling him what I’m attempting has been beyond beneficial. It also turns out that third base is important, especially if I want to ride more than ten miles at a stretch.

Three things I did wrong my first year out:

1. Hydration Hydration Hydration. — If I’m avoiding fluids because I’m afraid of being a water hazard he can fix that. I’m not alone on this issue. Many women wrongly adjust to their circumstances by cutting back on fluids and that is the worst thing you can do to yourself and your body. And trust me on this Bonking sucks.

2. Get fitted for your bike. – Form is important. Bikes are not a one size fits all. There needs to be a balance between the seat and hand rails in order to take pressure off your spine, shoulders and nether regions. A good bike shop will do this for you in no time at all.

3. Wear the right clothes. I’ll be honest, I avoided cycling shorts for obvious reasons. I think they look ridiculous and I’m attached to looking “cute” while I sweat and puke. Good quality cycling shorts come with much-needed padding in the right places if you know what I mean. Your seat is important. Chaffing can be avoided with the right gear. Your thighs will thank you. The right shorts make all the difference in how far I can ride. Being comfortable has now outweighed the whole “do these make my butt look big” issues in my brain; of course they do, accept that and move on. The trick to remember is don’t wear panties with these or you defeat the purpose and get out of those shorts as soon as possible after the ride to avoid unnecessary infections. Also a good chamois cream with anti-bacterial ingredients does not hurt.

Lastly doc put me on an estrogen patch to help with those hot flashes and night sweats. I presently believe that an estrogen patch is to menopause what a morphine drip is to pain — No more insomnia, hot flashes or night sweats. Does wonders for our married life as well. The mood swings, however, have more to do with my personal temperament than my hormones though so I need to work on that.  Comes with being a redhead.

Getting and staying in motion is important to my overall health. It impacts me physically, emotionally, and spiritually and that is a good thing.

Happy riding you guys!