A few years ago, I tried skiing for the first time. Although I lacked the basic skills to ever be called athletic, I felt inspired to learn something new and exciting. Also, with my boys recently taking up snowboarding and family located in a premier ski location (Park City, Utah), I thought “Why not?”
Remembering how inspired my boys were when I tried wake boarding a few years earlier, I understood the importance of teaching them to try new things. I can remember deciding to throw in the towel after experiencing one too many “water wedgies” that day when my son announced, “My mom is awesome. She never gives up.” The love and faith he showed in me left me with no choice but to continue. I knew if I was ever going to be dry again, I had to let go of my fear and let the boat do the work of pulling me up. Thankfully, it only took two more tries to reach my goal.
So here I was in Park City, trying yet another activity outside my comfort zone. I would love to paint a pretty picture of how it turned out but basically I sucked at skiing. I took some lessons and made it to the top of what was called the green run (about a 3 mile run for beginners.) The experience was a combination of letting go and being in the flow to sheer panic and fear. Between making an entire chair lift of people wipe out to considering faking an injury to get ski patrol to take me back down the mountain, I was locked into fear big time. Even with the abysmal results of day one, I showed up the next day to try yet again. With my son and husband by my side, I decided I could do this. After making the decision to “go for it” and get rid of the negative “mind chatter”, not only was I much more successful (albeit not elegant or graceful) but I was truly having fun. Unfortunately that only lasted for a few runs. After almost colliding with an out-of-control skier, I began thinking about all the things that “could” go wrong. It was amazing how quickly I went from adequate skier to disaster once I invited fear back into the story. The lesson I learned that day and remind myself of daily is how powerful fear is in changing our script. In contrast, my sons who never gave fear much of role (our many visits to the ER are proof of this) were on the double black diamond runs after only 3 days of snowboarding (ever) and having the time of their lives.
As graduation season is upon us across the country and within my own family as well (My son, David, is graduating with a degree from Penn State University this month), I am inspired by the well-prepared words of wisdom by some incredible commencement speakers at universities across the country. My favorite so far is by Jim Carrey, Comedian and Actor (I will post a link to his speech shortly) who also addresses the topic of fear and it’s effect on our life stories. Jim, along with many others, seek to inspire and assist our young graduates as they enter the next chapter in their lives. A prevailing theme in these speeches is that our graduates have a chance to make a significant difference in the world as well as in their own lives. They are the narrators of their unique and wonderful story.
What I’d like to share with my fellow Badass Nesties is that the advice given to the graduates embarking on a new chapter applies to you as well. If you are here, reading this blog, then you most likely are exploring the possibilities for the next chapter in your life. A chapter less focused on raising kids and more on you. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Mr. Carrey’s speech that I hope will inspire you on your path:
“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”
“How will you serve the world? What does the world need that your talents can provide?”
“Your need to be accepted can make you invisible. Risk being seen in all your glory!”
“Relax and dream up a good life.”
“You are not your story.” “If fear is a character in your story, remember you have a choice how much of a role (if any) it plays in that story.”
“Fear is often disguised as practicalities.”
“Now is all there really is. Decide if you are making decisions based on fear or love.”
“Dare to ask the Universe for what you want.”
“Life doesn’t happen to you, It happens for you.”
“You can fail at what you don’t want so why not take a risk on failing at what you love?” (This is my favorite.)
What strikes a chord with me after watching this speech is how much of my life story has been affected by including both fear and love as lead characters. Sometimes fear was an uninvited guest who I picked up from someone else’s story. At other times, I was the creator of the script. The consequence of letting fear play a lead role my story was regret and lost opportunity to be free and happy. In contrast, when love held the lead role, the story took on a fun and interesting narrative. It may have even included an unexpected thrill at making it down a ski run in one piece. As I write today’s blog, I’m “on the fence” about continuing my insurance practice or exploring a new career more in line with how I want to serve the world. As I think of what I really want to do and feel the excitement and joy in getting there, I am already playing out a script in my head of why it wouldn’t be practical or feasible. Sound familiar? So what is the cost of playing small and choosing fear over love? As Jim Carrey stated “You can fail at what you don’t want so why not take a risk at failing at what you love?” Hmmm..Sounds tempting!
As we roll into summer and find time to kick back and relax, I challenge each of my fellow Badass Nesties to consider how they would like the next chapter in their lives to read. Who will be your main character? Will you dare to ask the universe for what you want? Will you focus are where you want to go and not on what you fear? It’s your one life! Begin writing!
Love and laughter,
Jim Carrey Commencement Speech