Whoah friends. This has been a WEEK. I got back late in the evening from my magical horse whispering trip and went straight from the airport to a fancy dinner with a bunch of actual film directors. Not only did I have major impostor syndrome, but someone had spilled a whole bottle of orange juice on me on the plane, and I kept wondering if I smelled citrus-y. My legs were still sticky. They all knew each other.
Then, the next day, we had the totally surreal experience of seeing the documentary we made about our family premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival.
Naturally, we were super cool and calm and collected and took all the red carpet stuff in stride.
JUST KIDDING! We were total dorks!!! We got THESE amazing snaps!
You’re welcome. They were just too hilarious to keep to myself.
Here’s the thing. Nick and I might not be cool or nonchalant, but damn we are doing some brave things right now. As Brene Brown puts it, we are IN THE ARENA.
We sat in that room full of actual film directors and explained that we had made a really tender and personal documentary about our OWN SELVES. Then we sat in a dark theater and waited in terror to see if people would laugh at the first funny line– because oh my god, what if no one laughed?!??! What if they looked at their phones?!?!?! What if they LEFT?!?!?!?
(It was all okay, even wonderful– they laughed. No one left. And they cried. And yep, I cried too.)
Then this week we outgrew our venue for a private screening we’re doing for friends and family, and we ended up moving a complicated event to a totally new space….on five days’ notice. And Nick had his own whole complicated emotional roller coaster of a week.
And this coming Monday? Day after tomorrow? Well, we basically take off our clothes for the whole world.
Which is to say that we are sharing our 19-minute short documentary ONLINE. Where anyone can see it.
All you lovely kindred spirits can see it (and I hope you will! I’ll email you! and please share it EVERYWHERE!).
But also– the mean, angry people can see it. The haters, the trolls, the people who threaten my sweet husband and even sometimes our children.
So it feels scary. Like really, really scary.
And exactly what we want to do.
People sometimes look at me and think it must be easy for me to do scary things. That I must be a naturally fearless person. But actually I am afraid of EVERYTHING. The dark. Ghosts. Phone calls. Airports. Paperwork. Bugs. Writing sales emails.
I was a scared little kid, and I’ve grown up to be a grown-ass woman who still feels scared a lot. But I just decided that even when I was scared, I didn’t want to feel SMALL any more. So a lot of the time I feel BIG…and also scared.
I felt scared after the earthquake, when I moved from Tokyo to Portland with my little girl and a suitcase. I felt scared starting a brand-new career as a coach when I was a single mom with very little money in the bank. I felt scared every time I launched a new program or course or offering and it didn’t sell (which happened a LOT, fyi). I felt scared when I fell in love with someone who had four kids and lived in a different country. I felt scared by every bit of paperwork that had to do with me immigrating to Canada. I felt scared when my beloved realized he was transgender, and we decided to share this truth with our community and the whole world. I always feel scared every time I submit a piece of writing, or a pitch for a grant or a talk or a partnership. I feel scared because I have five kids and a husband who can’t get life insurance. I was terrified when we got the grant to make this documentary and I realized we actually had to now go MAKE a documentary. I felt scared when the filmmaking process fell apart 42 different ways behind the scenes and I had to be braver than I knew I could be. I felt scared walking into that theater because I had tried to make the best film we could, I really tried, and I’m proud of what we made. That’s much scarier than only trying halfheartedly.
Incidentally, I also feel scared about a new thing that’s brewing inside me, a new way of doing my work, and how vulnerable I feel about sharing it with you all this autumn, and how much room there is for me to fall on my face in a very public way. I’m scared about a new dream for my family that is calling to me with immense sweetness that seems almost impossible to pull off. But that I’m totally going to try going for anyway.
So what I’m trying to tell you is this:
If you’re scared, it’s okay. You’re in really good company. All the interesting people do scary things, it’s just that (I think) most of them lie a little bit about it.
And you just keep building new muscles. So even as you casually do things now that scared you last year, you’ll find new things to scare yourself with.
Let me be clear: the scariest things aren’t always big and public. Sometimes it’s scary as hell to let ourselves just rest after years of hustling. Sometimes it’s frightening to greet our own emotions in all their intensity. Sometimes it’s hard as hell to say the truth out loud about what we really want. Sometimes it’s terrifying to give ourselves the support of a coach or a therapist or a class or a vacation instead of just beating up on ourselves for not being able to do it all perfectly already all the time.
Sometimes it’s scary to admit what we long for, because the distance between where we are right now and where we want to be seems so vast.
But I know that I have never been as hurt by the things I went for and didn’t get as I was by the things I was too scared to even let myself dream of.
So you just tell the truth and don’t quit. Even when you’re scared.
When the little pip in your solar plexus cries, “Onward!” you let yourself take that next step forward, even if you shake while you’re doing it.
I’m dreaming bigger dreams, dearheart. Some of them are big dreams about things getting smaller and simpler and quieter; some of them have lots of noise and moving parts. But I’m trying to stay big and soft and fierce and tender and just grow into a bigger and bigger fucking cathedral that has room enough for all of it. Because we really can grow big enough for all of it.
May your dreams be big. Or may they be perfect and tiny. But either way, don’t be afraid if they scare you. They can still take you to some pretty cool places.