Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reflections: Owning Up to Fear

Try as I might, I can't be happy with a comfortable life. For some, this is "The Good Life" but not for me. All my life I've pushed the limits. Tried new things. Felt butterflies in my stomach and gone for it, whatever it was. My greatest fear? I fear not feeling butterflies in my stomach. I fear leading a life firmly within my comfort zone.
 
Framed Butterfly
 
Last week, PJ of A Girl Named PJ asked her readers, to share their fears after she shared hers. Her fear confession was inspired by a Fear Confessions series she had stumbled across on Paper Fort Studio. Over the weekend, while cubes was at Pycon and I was hanging out with Gates, I pondered her question: what are you afraid of?
 
First a silly fear that I've never told anyone and that frequently has me waking up in dread in the middle of the night. I fear being in a head on collision with Gates in the car. I've never been in head on collision. I have though been rear ended a couple of times, both times while stopped due to a road closure or a red light with a car ploughing into me at 50+ mph. (In one case a father was turned to face his wife and child in the backseat and in another case a drunk driver failed to see the stopped traffic as they crested a hill.) In my dream we're stopped waiting for a traffic light on Highway 1 and a car ploughs into us and pushes us off the road and down a ravine.
 
Past that obviously irrational fear, I wondered what are my everyday fears? It's easy to answer the unknown. Most of my fears stem from lack of control, not knowing exactly how something will turn out. I used to be afraid of sautéing (still am a little afraid of deep frying) and of braising. A cooking boot camp for our mini-moon and recent practice have tamed those fears. I once was afraid of driving a car with a manual transmission. Buying Ghost, my 2004 S2000, cured me of that fear.
 
Perfection Is Your Arch Enemy
 
At Alt we heard "Perfection is your arch enemy." With the blog and my interactions via social media, I think my paralyzing fear isn't perfection, but rather finding the sweet spot between not perfect and good enough. In trying to hard and not trying hard enough.
 
With this blog, I fear failure. For me, failure has nothing to do with readership. It has to do with not meeting my own expectations. Where this blog is today is so far from where it was when I began. Initially a photography blog, it was pretty much all words. (Yeah, I know, ironic.) As a photographer, I didn't want to use someone else's image and I was afraid of reaching out to other photographers. Then I took my first Blogging Your Way class and added related posts to my template. The particular widget I chose uses thumbnails, so every post now needs at least one image. There are days I struggle to find the right image for a post. Those days the posts never make it past a draft. Lately I've been working with a platform vendor to develop the mobile version of the blog. I can't control how photographs are formatted so I now need to really think about what my first photo looks like. (This is something they're working on.)
 
Everywhere across the Internet I seem to be bombarded with this message: YOUR BLOG IS YOUR RESUME. Being a marketeer that scares me. For me that also means that my social media presence is my resume (and not just my Klout score). I think about how best can I share a particular post via Facebook (it needs to be a different image than the one in the post). Does it make sense to share via Instagram? If so, what image should I share there to encourage clicks. What 140-character teaser will work best for Twitter? Have I shared enough original tweets and other helpful information via Twitter that my feed won't be inundated with blog post promotions? To help with all of this coordination I started keeping an editorial calendar. Where I get tripped up in promotion is if I haven't been an active participant in the various social streams. I don't want to appear that I'm "me me me" all the time.
 
Framed Butterflies
 
When I write for the blog or work on projects for it, I feel butterflies in my stomach. I used to not. That was when this blog was a side project for testing theories. Now that this blog is really about the road to "The Good Life," the journey I set out on in 2004, I can't escape the butterflies.
 
As a mother, it seems self-indulgent and selfish to jump from a comfortable life. I'd always thought that by the time I had a child, I'd know exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I'd have a firm definition of "The Good Life" and a handbook for getting and for staying there. I don't. And that is my greatest fear of all. I fear you can't pursue "The Good Life" you just have to jump with butterflies in your stomach and live.
 
I'm not going to end with a question. I'm not even going to ask what your greatest fear is. It makes the empty auditorium feel less cavernous. Instead, I'll end with a thank you. Thank you for letting me indulge myself in introspection.
 
Since our Mindfulness-based Childbirth and Parenting Program, I focus on looking for pleasant experiences and not the negative. So, I'll be returning to the regular, upbeat content on Wednesday. I'll be celebrating the first day of Spring with Gates (weather permitting), sharing an incredible lamb chop recipe inspired by friends traveling in Turkey, and planning for Gates' birthday.
 
Ciao Bella!
Eden!
P.S. I was originally going to share this post on Monday. Why didn't I? Because writing a post where you feel like you're pouring your heart out is scary. Scarier is that it doesn't jibe with the totally in control image I seem to portray. I mean, heck, what will people think if I admit I don't have a clue? That almost a year after Gates was born I'm still trying to figure out how to be a mother, how to juggle a career and the very real possibility of needing to homeschool Gates, how to have a social life, and more?
 
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

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