Naked in the Blizzard

Arrange whatever pieces come your way.~Virginia Woolf

I've been thinking a lot today about the pieces: of my life, my work, my celebrations, my family, my relationships. The pieces of each project I undertake, each newsletter I sign up for, each thing I agree to do, each event I play a role in. My thinking surrounds these pieces and how they integrate with each other. And how that integration is me.

And then I stumbled-bumbled-bounded-forcefully into this post by Kelly Diels and further into her preview chapter from Red Shoe Blogger, In Concert with Fear. In it, she explains how she came to work with her fear and not against it, integrating the experiences of fear into her daily life to move her FORWARD, not hold her back (she does this with incredibly provocative prose and hella HOT styling).

Last week, I shifted my focus from the comfort and contentment of working a "real" job for the scary, unknown world of total self-employment. I realized that my true work, the work here and with women around the world, was too important to me to wait for the moment when I had enough ___________ to take it serious (insert time, money, patience, trust, courage, etc). I realize that there will never be a perfect time to take the leap.

Reading Kelly's words validated my choice for me in a way I didn't realize I needed: I had recognized the fear within me that -- if I didn't step it up and take the opportunity to be in charge of my life right now -- I would continue to bounce around from job to job, never satisfied, never fulfilled, never honoring my own unique, authentic voice. How could I do this work in honesty, how could I lead other women to access and unleash their own authentic voices, if I am not using my own? By recognizing this fear of stagnation and aimless wandering, I took to the challenge and acted. I made my business presence more formalized. I got a tax number (a HUGE deal, and it only took 3 minutes online). I stopped stalling and wrote the course description for my next online writing workshop. I reached out to a woman whose work I both enjoy and admire and asked for an interview (watch for this series to expand!).

Today as I cleaned my office, unearthed my desk, prepared to do my taxes, I considered how each of these things moves me toward my goal: sharing my story, encouraging and supporting others to tell their stories, and traveling to capture and share the stories of those who have lost or are unable to use their voices. I recognize how doing last year's taxes moves me closer to the writing intensive with Marge Piercy I am attending this summer, how clearing my desk gives me a mental space to formulate posts and essays, how putting away my freshly-folded laundry prevents my cat from sleeping on it (it's all connected, see?), how fetching another mug of tea keeps my brain chugging along at full speed while I work.

So as I move along through this new (and often scary) journey of earning a living by my own hand (and sweat/tears/joy/sadness/insanity), I am not interested in pushing away the fear that rises in my chest like bile. I don't want to forget that it is scary and intense and unknown and unnerving. I want to stand naked in the blizzard and feel each snowflake touch my skin, each moment noticed and memorized and set free.

Thank you, Kelly, for mirroring back to me the trust I place in my own fear. And for reminding me that I can arrange the pieces of my life however they best fit together.