I had a long and heartfelt talk with a dear friend last night and we talked about many things. Not *shoes and ships and sealing wax and whether pigs have wings, but of life and fear and challenges and changes. We distract ourselves often so as not to face these things, but there they are, all the same.
I have been a writer since I first learned how to write, and my best communication is done through writing. I am not a good speaker, and am an easy crier as well, which doesn’t help me communicate any better. Hence, I write my feelings out. Writing is easy to edit; spoken words are not.
This friend of mine gently pointed this out, and while my preference for communicating is to write, hers is to talk. We had a heartfelt meeting of the minds, cried a little, shared a lot, and at the end, we both promised each other to reach beyond our comfort zones. I’ll call more, she’ll write more. Per Neale Donald Walsch, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I couldn’t agree more.
She also mentioned ‘being our own cheerleader’. That comes when no one is around, there are no distractions, and friends and family have their own issues that take up their time–that’s when you’ve got to pull up your pom-poms and wave them like mad. We have to cheer ourselves on, but before we can do that, we have to face what’s bothering us.
If you are anything like me, you squirm and wriggle away from unpleasant things. You’d do anything to avoid unpleasantness, and trust me, I know all about distractions to keep out of my own head. Just show me a mental mess I really need to deal with, and I’ll take anything on to keep from facing it. Some of my favorite avoidance tricks include:
- Brushing our only long-haired cat. He hates it, but it keeps me busy.
- Cleaning the bathroom (what a metaphor for cleaning up your own s***!)
- Making jewelry.
- Going out to lunch.
- Complaining and sighing (loudly) about all the work I have to do.
- Filing paperwork (just about as exciting as watching paint dry).
- Looking for (and finding and cleaning up) hidden spots of dried cat vomit under the bed.
- Organizing my jewelry.
- Deciding I need to make chicken soup from scratch.
- Playing my ukulele.
- Going for a “nature walk.”
- Clearing off the entire kitchen counter top area, and then cleaning up everything that was on it.
- Organizing the fruit in the fruit bowl by color.
…and so on, just to keep from looking too far inside at what really needs fixing. Fear of what might happen is my biggest downfall. Despite all my cheery talk of being positive and proactive, I often find myself stuck like a fly in amber emotionally–I can neither move forward nor back. The only way I can pull out of this is to pretend that a friend is sitting in front of me, worrying her head off. I tell that friend that worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair. (Sure, you’re doing something, but you’re not getting anywhere.)
Then I take it a step further, and admit to myself that I am that friend, and take my own advice. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn’t.
So, I thank my friend for reminding me to go straight to my virtual pom-poms, avoiding my usual time-suck of distractions, and just face it, already. Good friends don’t always agree with us; sometimes they tell us what we need to hear. Hearing becomes doing, and doing becomes cheerleading.
Today I am dusting off my pom-poms.
*From “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll (from Though the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872).