I used to believe that trusting the Universe was foolish, After all, what’s a good mind worth if you’re just going to throw logic away and believe everything will work out okay? It’s taken 52 years and a heap of effort to discover that happy people are trusting people – doesn’t make them stupid or less worthy of a good life – it is simply a fact. Marshall Crenshaw has a song, “Cynical Girl,” about a girl who “harbors no illusions and she’s worldly-wise.” I pretended I was that girl for a very long time. It was boring and I missed out on so many adventures – including failures – because I chose the safety of a cynical attitude.
When I chose sobriety in 2015 I had no idea I was responding to an invitation from the Universe to trust and live. Everything that happened in my life before I chose sobriety felt like either a punishment or reward instead of simply life. Giving up a chemical dependence meant surrendering to the illusion that I had any power whatsoever over what happened to me and those I loved. That’s frightening! But I also discovered that my husband and I had been risk-takers all along. We were living and thriving in spite of minor scrapes and bruises along the way. It’s weird when you stop numbing yourself from pain because it’s almost like you start expecting painful experiences without fear or dread. Once you accept what is, the energy that went into numbing and denial and supporting beliefs that no longer serve you is free and available to use. And life gets fun again, even the messy parts.
So, here is a short list of 6 messy risks I have taken (all of them affecting my family, so I give them lots of credit) that have been worth the short-term pain:
- Change careers even after you have an established one – mostly my husband has done this (a couple of times!) and I have been the “best supporting” character, but I have done a smaller version of this myself. After raising kids, I have had a series of very low paying and stressful jobs that have all provided experience and skills leading to the satisfying “big” job I am in today, at exactly the moment I am ready for it. But also, THIS BLOG. Cheeky Street started out as what I thought was the pursuit of a new career but has become something so much more important to me. It’s a creative outlet for me, plain and simple. I am proud of it and happy to let it just be without pushing it to grow into the next wildly successful online endeavor in the history of the world. It meets a need in my life and that’s good enough for me.
- Connect with new and different people you haven’t been in contact with – it’s all part of learning about the open-heartedness “thing” I have been given the chance to build a relationship with a first cousin I never knew growing up – and her family – and it’s been the sweetest journey. My cousin reached out to me for a connection and taking the time to discover a part of my family I might have never known is nothing short of a miracle. It’s just beautiful and my gratitude for this opportunity overflows.
- Get off anti-depressants – This will not be the case for everyone, but I am one of the fortunate people who once held the belief I would always need pharmaceutical “support.” I have had the good fortune to work with a psychologist who supports the belief that we can learn to manage our emotions and life without taking anti-depressants. After 25 years of believing a pill was managing my emotions, I am completely off all forms of chemical “therapy” and feeling happy, healthy and capable of handling life sans pharmaceuticals.
- Trust your child’s journey – Without betraying his privacy, I will just say my son has had an unconventional experience with traditional education and I have learned to respect and trust his instincts as well as advocate for him within an educational system that still barely tolerates kids who are different.
- Ignore criticism from people who haven’t been where you’re going. As a former miserable practitioner of people-pleasing, permission-asking, approval-seeking behavior, this is huge. If they AIN’T doing what you’re doing then why do you care what they think? Keep moving forward.
- Sell the Baby Grand Piano – we literally did do this in order to catch up on some bills and pay for a nice vacation to Lake Michigan, but I am also speaking metaphorically. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are weighing you down from the past, especially if getting rid of them will provide something valuable for your future.
Cleo Wade is a newly discovered (by me, anyway), poet and Millenial Muse. I love reading her work, just as I love interacting with and learning from today’s young people. They aren’t blindly pursuing the things my generation valued without first examining the true costs to their mental health, the community and environment. I find them all very refreshing and look forward to learning more from this younger generation. They give me hope for a kinder world committed to social and economic justice. Turning the world over to the next generation is just a natural next step in my list of “risks worth taking.” How grateful I am to have had the luxury of choosing each risk. Every single one.