Taking Chances

Stone on Canvas Yesterday, I scared the bejeezers out of myself. Yes, myself. I have no one to blame but me, which is nice in a way. The fewer involved in a messy situation, in my opinion, the better.

It really wasn't a big deal. I just took a chance on something I've had cooking in the back of my mind for a while now. And while the actual action itself wasn't that significant (it wasn't the cure for cancer), it did leave me feeling vulnerable...and tested my courage to act on something in which I had little control over its success or failure. I just had to put it out there and wait to see what happened. In the end, all turned out well. But I'm still quivering a bit on the inside from the whole experience.

The wonderful thing was I reached out to two beautiful, artist friends, Christine and Ann, who I knew would not only encourage me in my action, but also catch me should I fall. They would have been there had I picked up the phone and said, "It failed. I suck. I want to crawl under a rock." They wouldn't have patronized me or babied me. They would have empathized and then told me to get back on my horse. And should I have gotten pouty and reminded them that I was vegan and didn't ride horses, they would have stomped their feet, pointed a stern finger at me, and firmly told me to BUCK UP and move on...which is what I totally would have needed to hear.

But above all, I knew their opinion of me did not change simply because I reached out for their support and reassurance.

These friends aren't my "Minnesota friends." They are my "California friends." To me, there is a difference. My Minnesota friends have been with me FOREVER. They've seen the good, the bad, the ugly, the super drunk and obnoxious. They've seen me poor and young and inexperienced and stumbling along life's little path. They've seen me get married, get my first job, buy my first house, and change my hair style a couple of times. They know my history and I can't fool them--even when I'm fooling myself.

My California friends get me as I am today...in pretty decent shape. I have a few nicks and dents but for the most part, they see the confident, enthusiastic, stable person that I've worked to become the past 41 years. Why would I go and mess with that picture of me by willingly admitting that I was afraid of doing something that wasn't a big deal?

I'm not a poser. I never try to pass myself off as someone I'm not. However, I have in the past put on a brave face in order to save face. Or I've passively accepted someone's version of me because it was easier than dealing with my version of me. And there has been a time or two where I've avoided doing something because there was a chance it would reshape an image of me I wanted to keep in tact.

What I've learned from all this is that it's exhausting. It's exhausting to keep fighting back fears that want to pop up. It's exhausting to carry the weight of confidence all the time. It's exhausting to hold up expectations and constantly push aside emotions. When I became proactively unemployed nearly six years ago, I knew I was stepping into the unknown and into a world of chaos that would leave me feeling like an 18-year-old college kid trying to pick out a major. What the heck was I going to do with the rest of my life now that I walked away from the one I just spent 36 years building?

But I had no idea how much, in this new journey, I would need friends whom I could trust with my fears, my wild ideas, and my frail ego. I figured after four decades of working on myself, I could do anything and do it all alone. Until yesterday. Somehow, by expressing my concerns aloud to Christine and Ann, I released them--or at the very least, tamed them. And I got to pull strength from a community of creative people who are on a similar path as mine. They didn't offer solutions. They knew better. All I needed was a knowing nod and a gentle push. They held my confidence for me when I was just too tired to do it myself.

I've told lots of people I feel 2012 is going to be a special year. That has mostly to do with the fact that I've committed myself to pursuing my marbling. For real. As an artist. The discipline, the history, the goal to "bring marbling to the masses." I am putting my heart and soul into it like nothing I've ever done before. This will not be the last time I call upon my "California friends," or for that matter, my "Minnesota friends," who play a different, but still vital role in my growth as a person. Even at this stage in my life, I really do feel like I am starting new, starting fresh. I feel I have a lot to learn about me.