She used the term "leaning into the fear of it," which struck a chord with me. I immediately high - fived her. "Fear" has been a running topic throughout this blog: after all, I entitled my first post "Just Another F Word." This was almost two years ago, when I struggled with anxiety and insomnia, feeling stuck and unsure. I knew then something had to give to break through the whole "what do I do with my life" crisis.
I remember feeling like a tool, bemoaning this esoteric concept of "what does it all mean?" (remember the movie High Fidelity? Despite the self-centeredness of the main character, I love his honest acceptance of this state of mind), From the surface I had/have a lovely life: business, kids, beautiful house, husband who loves and nurtures me. I’m not too much of an ass to take it all for granted.
But when I turned 40 I started to take a cold, hard look at why I felt unhappy. Joy has to come from within rather than outside of ourselves. Deep in therapy, I learned how to highlight issues and communication barriers that traveled with me through childhood and my marriage. As I started to realize breakthroughs in this area of my life, it uncovered an open canvas to the next step. I considered the possibilities and felt instant fear.
We tend to sense fear and immediately run from it. It's easier to do that than welcome fear into our lives. What I experienced in mid-2014 was a reawakening of my concept of "vision." My 30s revolved around motherhood and survival, starting a business and keeping things afloat enough to provide a safe haven for our kids. Now that we bought our first house and the business experienced a boom, after all those years in the "trenches," now I needed to examine why I let lingering discontent affect my happiness. Where was my sense of purpose in this life I created?
Enter Fear. According to Mastin Kipp, creator of the website The Daily Love, “what you are seeking is within you." Mastin sees fear as a catalyst to move away from a vision of what our lives SHOULD look like. Fear can be a springboard towards a life of "greater and greater abundance," which we'd never experience without first confronting fear.
Abundance doesn't necessarily mean wealth and material possessions. It means abundance of spirit and emotions, finding your calling and pursuing it. Brendan and I have always believed that tomorrow, if life took a U-Turn and was taken from us, we would endure. Not only endure, but thrive again. Material possessions mean little if you are living a life of purpose.
In knowing this, my malaise came from a place of not knowing my own worth. I believed in and supported his vision 100%, but what was mine? Mine involved leaning into the Fear of the unknown, of failure and rejection. Fear and failure only mean that an effort is being made. I feel a twinge of fear every single time I teach a yoga class, and now, before I go into a room with a patient. The Ego loves to ask "who are you to be doing this?" I know I have found my path when this question comes up in my consciousness, when I feel slightly nervous before doing something I know I should be doing.
Fear has, in a way, become my barometer for living a life that matters. The trick lies in finding a balance between running into it Full Throttle and avoiding it completely. By jumping off a cliff not knowing how deep the water is below, we risk too much. We don't want to experience excess Failure, to the point where it completely stunts our growth. But running from the faintest whiff of fear keeps us from the "what if" question. What if that Fear means something greater?
Getting outside of what we know, our comfort zone, should be a little scary. If you get to know yourself well, your strengths and weaknesses, you can look at the fear and make a plan. If a certain vision or idea keeps creeping up, pay attention to it. If looking at this idea makes you feel excited, a little scared, look at it. Trust it and start a dance. A dance of leaning into it as you become more familiar with the changes you will be required to make.
In my case, it meant letting go of old concepts of age and what I "should" know or not know. Of seeing my failures as signposts away from something that didn't move me forward, and towards something better. Once I started to do that, no joke my anxiety loosened up. It shifted. It changed from an anxiety of purposelessness, of being in a rut, to one of healthy fear and excitement. I found / am finding ways of leaning into the fear. To trust it and know it will transform into inspiration and abundance.
I sleep great now. Not just because my kids are older, that thanks to my hubby my hormones are on point, or because my nutrition has never been better (thanks, IIN). But because I am writing, I am doing, I am creating, I am embracing the fear of branching out on my own. I see my purpose as a beacon and feel happy knowing that I am reaching for this light. In small ways, in daily lean-ins towards fear.
Thanks to my friend for inspiring me yet again and helping to reiterate that Fear is an F word of possibility. F bombs can be amazing catalysts of change that should be thrown around, to create some noise and a little bit of a mess. Towards places of abundance and possibilities for greater joy.