Monday, June 16, 2014
So here is how it went down. I was 22 and was offered a job at the Houston Chronicle writing a kind of "gossip column". It was to be benign, not a biting column, just tennis tournaments, parties, all the fun things that can happen in a big city. I could not wait to tell my parents, this was the best! My mother took in the news and said, "How much does it pay?" Well, it was a contingency thing, I told her, if it worked out pay would follow. But in her one sentence I didn't just hear, how much did it pay, I heard loud and clear from a life time of listening to what I couldn't do...foolish girl you have no real talent, this is just a pipe dream, you need a paycheck, a sure thing...how long you will continue hoping this works out? Find a real job. This is a waste of time, they are using you. People like us don't do things like this, dreams are for other people.
I walked into my room and threw my purse through the window.
I didn't write again for a long, long time. In fact....34 years. My parents weren't bad people, they thought by steering me into a sure thing I would have an easier life. And writing was not a sure thing. Sometimes we have a kind of Stockholm Syndrome going with our families, just go along to get along. It was so much easier to find a job and forget about writing, and it was easier....frustrating but easier. But so much harder to ever start writing again. I wrote here and there.....long letters, letters to the editor, letters to friends...never anything serious because I would not give myself permission to write. There was always something more important to do and sitting down to write was a luxury I would not give myself. If I would even get close to a typewriter (an ancient machine we used a while back) I couldn't do it. I wanted to be a writer but never gave myself permission to try I would always hear my mother's voice and I agreed, dreams like that don't happen to people like us.
Then my friend Ann McMullin sent an email about a woman's column in a Utah newspaper. She said she sounds so much like you and I know you will enjoy her writing. I found her right away and her columns made me laugh, cry and think.....I was an immediate fan. I went to the archives and read every one of her columns. She was open and honest in a way I didn't even know could be done. Her voice was so clear....I loved it.
We became cyber friends. At least that is what my children called it. I commented on her columns and she replied to me, which evolved into writing emails...lots of emails. She was so supportive and kept saying to me, "you have to write, you have to write" I cannot even explain the process I went through to just let go and do it. My family was incredulous...what's the big deal? Just write. It did sound simple...but I was paralyzed with fear. I was afraid I couldn't do it and besides there wasn't time to just sit down and write, so I convinced myself there was no point in even trying.
But my cyber friend kept encouraging me and it took a long, long time to believe her. We wrote to each other for years...through some of my most challenging personal times. And all through this she would continue to tell me to write. And I thought, I will, I will....some day. The longer I put it off the more I could say it was too late, and then I wouldn't have to let go and do this scary thing. Facing fear is harder than anything I have done and I have a lot of fears. I admit that right out loud.
Then one day I started a blog. All the insecurities were there, all the reasons not to write were still there. But I finally did it because Ann Cannon told me I could. Even though thoughts raged in my head that I could not write, I kept writing because Ann Cannon said I could. You can read her columns here, she is the most entertaining of this genre anywhere.
I wish I could do that cool thing where you just put in the name and the link is there when you click on it, but my computer skills have not reached that point yet. )
Along this journey I have encountered lots of people with the same thoughts in their heads that I had. For all kinds of reasons. The greatest battles people fight are in their own minds when they cannot realize their incredible worth. It is so easy to listen to the voices of the world telling you that you aren't good enough and that you literally cannot do it, so you might as well give up and not even try. It is easier....but there isn't a single bit of worth in things that are too easy.
There is a quote by Marianne Williamson that I have used it over and over.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"
This quote speaks to me in a way no other does. I allowed my fears to shrink me and I stayed shrunken in so many ways for far too long. It takes a concerted effort to do hard things and face fear. Start looking at yourself the way God looks at you and you will fly!!
Ann Cannon convinced me I could fly....I am so grateful I finally listened to her. Love you Ann.