J is for Just Do It

J

Whatever it is that you want to do, just go for it. Do it. Move. Take action. Stop talking about it and take that first step. Yesterday in my Trauma, Disaster, and Crisis Counseling class, we watched a video about the Oso landslide. We talked about the September 11 terrorist attacks, and Brussels, Paris, Turkey, Pakistan.

The take away from all of this? Life is short. Unexpected shit happens. Don’t put off until tomorrow (or someday) what you want to do now. Don’t listen to the naysayers, especially the one that is usually the loudest, the one in your own head that says “you’re too old, too broke, too tired, too fat, too busy, too whatever.”

No one is going to intervene on your behalf to suddenly make your dreams come true–or usually that is not the case. If you want to write a book, you’re going to have to sit down and write. Want to run a marathon? Gonna have to get out there and train. Have the urge to see the world? You must book the tickets.

I know taking that first step isn’t easy–if it were we would all be out there living our dreams, and I would have no justification for pursuing my dream of becoming a therapist–no one would need me if everyone just did what they wanted to do. But we don’t. We don’t just do it when we want to make positive changes, nor do we just stop doing the things that make us miserable. This Bob Newhart video is a classic and one of my favorites. If only it were this simple!neuralpathways

Instead we take the path of least resistance, living the status quo, afraid to rock the boat or upset the delicate balance. We live in fear, unable to extricate ourselves from what seem to be proscribed paths.

And, it’s not our fault. We are creatures of habit. We get used to doing things a certain way, and our brains form neural pathways, well-worn grooves that make our responses and actions more automatic. If we’ve developed a habit of getting up every morning and reading the news on the interwebs but what we really want to do is develop a morning meditation practice, we’re going to have to work at it. We’ll have to focus on retraining our brains to not reach for the laptop or the smartphone. Just like walking in the woods–it’s a lot easier to take the defined path than it is to bushwhack through the underbrush to get to our destination.

The good news is that we can build new pathways. Our brains can rewire, thanks to neuroplasticity.

It takes effort to forge new trails, but if the old paths don’t lead to where we want to go, we have to get out our machetes and go for it.

The First Time

Beyond Belief Contributors:  Cami, Pam, Susan, Colleen, Elise

So, Readers, the reading at Elliott Bay Book Company was fantastic! The first time was all I expected it to be ~ magical, terrifying, exhilarating. Every last one of us did ourselves proud—Cami, Susan, Colleen, Elise, me. At first, I didn’t think anyone was going to show up, and I wondered if we’d still carry on with the reading for a crowd of six, five of which were us, one of which was The Little Woman. 
But then Greg—our Elliott Bay liaison— told us to wait til 10 after the hour and sure enough, next time I looked up, the place was packed. And while I definitely know that a full house is the better than an empty one, I had a small moment of panic.  That panic I wrote of last week—the fear of being seen.


I had practiced my reading the night before with TLW who told me that I needed to be more passionate in my delivery.  So, I had that in my head as I stepped up to the microphone there in the basement at Elliott Bay Books (what is it with basements as reading areas?).

I intro’d my reading with the story of the Jehovah’s Witness flyer with its metrosexual Jesus that arrived on my doorstep the same day I got my copies of the BB anthology in the mail.  That got a good laugh—a good sign.  And I tried my darnedest to read with passion.  (TLW reported later that I nailed it, passion-wise). Still, I was nervous, nerves that come from the fear not just of being exposed, but of being misunderstood by strangers and misinterpreted by those closest to me.

Anne Lamott advises to “write as if our parents were dead” and that seems good in theory, but it’s scary in reality.  My story paints a rather unflattering portrait of my parents, and this is one of my primary anxieties—both that my parents will be hurt/angry/sad that I wrote so honestly about what transpired AND that the audience will think they are bad people with whom I’ve severed all ties. 

That’s ME! At Elliott Bay Books!
So, it was with great relief that an audience member asked The Question—the one question I hoped hoped hoped someone would ask:  “How is your relationship with your parents now?” I’m happy to report that I have solid relationships with both of my parents and that we’ve all come out the other side of this crazy religious nonsense.
And really, that’s the best part of my story.