Taking the plunge – setting the goal.

Six months ago, I moved into an apartment with a friend, eagerly anticipating a new chapter in my life. I had spent the previous six years in seminary, completing first an MDiv, then a certificate program. After living on student loans and going alarmingly into debt, I was eager to begin this new phase of my life. My education and training prepared me for many things…except how to do some of the most basic things of life. This past week, I moved out of that apartment because I hadn’t been able to make ends meet.

I have learned that I am woefully inadequate in my education around things that most people (I naively presume “most” people) seem to do with ease. This realization came through the  journey I began in Al Anon (the program for friends/families of alcoholics) barely a year after I started seminary. My 12-Step journey has shined a bright (sometimes annoying) light on the nature of this inadequate “education.”

But this blog is neither about my journey through seminary nor my program of recovery, though either my surface from time to time.

This blog is my way out of the fears that have held me captive, undermined my best-intended efforts, and generally made life far rougher than it has needed to be. I never realized just how much fear had seeped into the smallest details of my daily living until the past couple of months. My job search has been sporadic and inadequate. My move out of the apartment was ridiculously difficult, given the amount of stuff I’ve accumulated. And I realize I hardly know where to begin to change my life.

Yet change it I will, with God’s help – and maybe yours!

I was talking to my friend Di the other day and said something we both thought was worth remembering. It went something like, “Wanting to change isn’t going to change anything unless there’s action behind it.” Her observation was that action is a demonstration of my willingness to change. So this is my guide to the action I believe will transform me.

As I have watched myself struggle through the last two to three months, I have noticed more and more places where the underlying problem is actually fear. I would never have guessed as much, but fear has crept into my life in so many places that it’s become pervasive. And the idea of facing it head on is, well, terrifying! Surprise, surprise! So, this is my goal:

Learning (from experience) that changing patterns of behavior takes time, and being inspired by Julie Powell’s example in the movie Julie & Julia, I have decided that for the next 365 days, I will work on the many areas in which fear has led me to hold onto things I don’t need, avoid taking steps I do need, and generally gotten in the way of my doing countless things that would make my life happier and more manageable.

My plan is to daily tackle some task of letting go, clearing out, stepping out or doing any number of other things – big or small – that I have avoided doing or simply not known how to do and to use this site to track or reflect upon my progress. My hope is that you will find me and share with me your own experiences of breaking through fears or tackling the tasks that have been intimidating in your own life. Perhaps we can learn together. (And I would love to figure out how to have a “counter” on the site to count down the days.)

I talked with my son yesterday about starting this blog and expressed concern about how to begin. He told me to just go for it. He wisely echoed what was going through my own mind – that I could spend forever figuring out how to do this just right and how to do all the things I want to do on this site. And it could become just another way in which my fears derail my best intentions. So, here I am and here this is, for better or worse, learning to blog and learning to live fearlessly – or at least live with joy at the heart of each day!

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