Monthly Archives: April 2011

Trust Your Instinct

“Trust your own instinct.  Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s.”  ~Billy Wilder

This reminds me of the Green Day lyrics from the song, “She:”  “She’s figured out that all her doubts were someone else’s point of view.”

I remember the first time I heard those words I thought, YES!  Screw them, I’m going with my gut.  I’m tired of being fed doubt.

I then proceeded (continued?) to make all kinds of wild mistakes.

But once you’ve been fed the doubt, once you’ve had enough authority figures tell you, “You’re just going to screw that up” or “You’re not certified” or “Here, lemme just do that for you,” it becomes so hard to accept the value in risking an individual approach.  It takes extra courage to ignore the naysayers and insist on participating in your own way.

The temptation to give over a learning opportunity or to turn away from the chance to tread the road less travelled is overwhelming for me.  Because guess what, if I do it some bossy person’s way, or just let them do it themselves, and there’s a mistake?  Then I’m that happy little thing called BLAMELESS!  And in our litigious, gossipy society, isn’t that the best thing of all to be?

But then there’s the part where we’re on our death bed and we’ve lived a spectator, cookie-cutter life, blameless and yet there was no point in our even being alive.  Do you really want the life that flashes before your eyes to be a sitcom rerun?

It takes a lot of quieting to get past the voices in my head shouting that I can’t do something, a lot of paying attention to hear the little voice of my own mind that says, “Hey, wanna try this?  It just might work…”

A lot of courage to face the music if it doesn’t work.

But if I don’t walk my own path… that mistake might be even harder to live with.


A few years ago my husband introduced me to the idea of having “tentpoles” for a vacation, big events, outings and activities that sort of define the entire period of time.  Myself, I am fine with spending every day at the beach building sandcastles, but I generally defer to his wisdom, and (almost) never regret it.

For some reason I never got a visual on that word.  Yesterday I finally did.  The tentpoles are the things that hold up the big canvas for the circus that is life, so it doesn’t fall on your head and suffocate you.  Which is how I feel when my life starts to overwhelm me.

At those times, I feel a horrible panic, a gasping for air, a sense that the world is crashing down.

Yesterday it occurred to me that I need tentpoles in my daily and weekly life.  I need to acknowledge that the elements of my routine are holding up the rest of my life, and allow them to reassure me and give me space.

I made a couple of lists, which is my favorite way to organize. (Of course there are lots more things I do every day and every week, but these are the ones so far that make me feel like I’m gettin’ ‘er done…)

Daily Tentpoles:

  • Tea/coffee and read something inspiring with my husband
  • Morning and evening sun salutation (yoga)
  • Storytime with the kids
  • Evening show or movie with the family
  • Yardwork

Weekly Tentpoles:

  • Tuesday – Coffee/Brekkie with friends
  • Thursday – Playgroup
  • Saturday – Farmer’s Market, then library
  • Sunday – Phone call to Mama

I want to add blogging to my daily tentpoles.  I’ve got some ideas on how to add content even if I’m not terribly inspired that day, such as doing a Top Five post, a blast from the past journal entry, sharing a blog link, an anecdote, tripping on a good quote or meditating on some engaging topic.

Do you have tentpoles that hold up your day or week?  Are they things that weigh heavily on you if you don’t do them or are they things that lighten you if you do get them done?  How often do they change?

The Last Breath

When I die, I will let go of a breath I have been holding for a very long time.

The base of my neck will unknot, releasing my fear of error, criticism, and failure.  

My shoulders will relax, letting go of the fear for my children, for their safety, health, and happiness. 

My hands will unclench as I stop clinging to my possessions, those objects of use, nostalgia or monetary value that absorbed my attention, whose loss I daily feared. 

The small of my back will lengthen, unfurl, finally free of the crippling anxiety of rejection.

My brow will smooth out as the unbearable tension of a world plagued with every kind of crisis no longer belongs to me. 

My jaw will loosen, dropping to let fly all the angry, sad words I held on to year after year, the stream of letters soaring harmlessly up to the stars for their amusement, to be remixed as a satire of Life on Earth.

My lips will unpurse, widen into a smile of relief as the last puff of air escapes.

For now, I keep inhaling hope and desire — the inspiration to continue to live fully with every breath I take.