In February I went to a yoga and meditation retreat in the mountains of Costa Rica. When I say “in the mountains,” what I mean is that our retreat center was perched on the side of one, and we were issued bamboo walking sticks upon our arrival to help us navigate the terrain. (Don’t feel sorry for me—the views, the food, and the retreat itself were fabulous!)
On one of our hikes, a fellow participant remarked, “Every day you should do something that scares you” (paraphrasing Eleanor Roosevelt). On that particular day, squeezing my body between massive slick and moss-covered boulders gave me a frisson of fear. But I took the sentiment to heart and pondered it over the rest of the trip. I began to notice when the women around me pushed outside their comfort zones. Another participant who knew I was a singer asked me to learn and then teach a particular chant to the group. I said I would help, but encouraged her to lead it. And she did, beautifully, though she trembled a little.
I have been called to step outside my own comfort zone lately. My friend Tiffany, whom I met years ago when we were both devotees and later teachers of YogaRhythmics®, has a knack of calling me to higher ground, not only by her own example of living an authentic, juicy life, but by invitation. Help lead a “Writing as Spiritual Practice” group at the National Cathedral? “Sure!” Join a yearlong art journaling group with women who are actual artists? “Sure!” Then, “wait . . . what? I’m not an artist!” But I now have the privilege of witnessing other women’s art and adding my own collages to their journals.
Lately I’ve also been asked to speak about writing, and I’ve said yes, though I dislike public speaking. The most recent example was an invitation to present at the Pennwriters’ daylong conference in Leesburg earlier this month. I chose to make it a workshop rather than a presentation, as I had the first—and sleepiest—slot after lunch. My workshop, “Journal Your Way to Success,” was about using your journal as a tool to support your writing. I had never attended this conference before, so I didn’t know whether it tended to attract more beginning or advanced writers. Preparing for the conference was agonizing, and I wondered why I had agreed to it. And then the day itself came. I was ready, it went without a hitch, and I’m glad I did it. Not only did I honor my commitment and reaffirm my own capabilities, I also met some inspiring people I would have never met otherwise. Multiple payoffs for one act of courage.
Why am I writing about this? Because writing also calls for courage. There may be other things in your life that call for courage, too, but daring to embrace the creative life demands it. I’m saying it’s normal to be scared, to wonder if you have anything original to say, to wonder if you can pull it off. But I hope you’ll do it anyway.