I was recently at a follow-up appointment with my surgeon two weeks after undergoing hip surgery. The nurse who removed my stitches jokingly remarked that I had a few extra scars on my leg now and my days as a leg model may be over. I laughed because at almost 50 years old my days of being any kind of model have long been over! I looked at the collection of scars near my incisions from previous injuries and smiled to myself. Each one of my scars is a result of my refusal to live a cautious life. I have fallen down, had stitches in my leg, torn ligaments in my ankle, had surgery on my hand and shoulder to name just a few. I have a collection of scars on my heart, some thick like rope, some tender and barely discernable. Each scar permanently altered me in some way, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I have always been a risk-taker. Sometimes taking ill-advised risks, sometimes just following my heart or my gut. It hasn’t always turned out the way I wanted but it has always led me to my next level of growth. I’ve started businesses, sold businesses, left jobs, left marriages, spoken uncomfortable truths, traveled far and wide, had crazy adventures, and said “yes” to things most people would question. I’ve river rafted with my grown kids in a dingy designed for one and I’ve gone first in saying the hard thing. So many experiences have left their mark on me.
As I write this I am sitting outside on our beautiful acreage, overlooking the river and surrounded by trees. I have a beautiful and abundant life not in spite of my scars but because of them.
There is certainly a time for caution and planning. I am an advocate of both when they serve. But as we all emerge from 15 months of fear-based caution I wonder how many people will take that caution forward and let it rob them of living their fullest lives?
In my years as a leadership development facilitator, yoga teacher, and life coach, I have noticed a trend. Often careful people are anxious people. Anxiety is robbing so many of the lives they really want and anxiety is a problem that’s within our grasp to fix.
If we focus on all the things that could go wrong we are allowing our lives to be dictated by the energy of fear. The more catastrophizing we do, the more catastrophes we experience; mostly in our minds. But what we don’t get to experience is the joy that comes with exceeding yourself, taking on something new, being vulnerable, breaking glass ceilings, and pushing the limits of what’s possible for ourselves. When we spend our lives avoiding pain, we limit the amount of joy we experience.
I am not saying that there’s no place for caution. That would be foolish. But it’s worth examining your relationship with fear and risk as you go forward from our long enforced hibernation. Over the past many months we’ve been conditioned to fear and it will take something to reprogram ourselves. That’s why I’m sharing this. I wish for every human being to live a life full of vitality, power, and freedom. To do that you have to put your attention on what you WANT instead of what could go wrong.
What’s been on your bucket list? Who can you say “I love you” to? Who do you owe an apology to? What have you always wanted to try or do but haven’t because you have all the reasons in the world not to?
If the pandemic has taught me anything it’s that I am deeply grateful for every single adventure that left a scar. I’m glad I took the risks and have lived fully, scars and all. When I get to the end of my life I hope to be completely used up in all the best ways. I want to have given everything in my heart, created everything that my hands want to bring forth, and to have touched moved, and inspired as many people as possible. I know the cost of living such a life is a few bumps and bruises along the way and it’s a price I’m willing to pay.
My teacher Baron once said “Stop trying to do it right. Noone is doing it right.” Maybe your way is the perfect way for you!
I encourage you to step courageously into your future as the author of the greatest adventure of your life and when you’re done, you’ll have a few scars to show for sure but also a rich and beautiful story to tell.
What are you waiting for?