My mom said this a month before she died.
Well, that's dramatic. 🤷♀️ But so was what she said.
Welcome to the 6th edition of the Inward Ventures Newsletter, my weekly share of what I’m working on and fiddling around with. I’ll share thoughts and ideas I’ve come across in my continuing quest for self-improvement, productivity, and learning as I strive to excel in my writing, creativity, and well, LIFE.
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My 6th Newsletter! I’m hoping it finds you well, especially after the chaotic week we had here in the US. Breathe in, breathe out.
I said from the start that I love receiving emails and I will always answer. It’s gratifying to see you respond. You’ve been sharing what you’re up to, giving feedback, and asking questions. Wonderful, keep’em coming!
A reader confided that she thinks she has a book in her, but she’s scared to put herself out there. She’s remorseful that she didn’t put effort into it in 2020 when she feels she should have and is just generally out of sorts about the whole thing. Wants to do, but doesn’t want to.
Sounds familiar, right?
Doesn’t matter what the project is for YOU, I’m sure you can relate to wanting to do something: writing, dancing, selling your art, opening a business, making money playing video games online (I don’t even know how this is possible, but my daughter confirms this IS a thing) but whatever it is, it generally involves the aforementioned PUTTING YOURSELF out there. The dreaded move from comfort zone to …. who knows, right? And that’s the dread. The Unknown.
In May 2018, my mom, 86 at the time, confided in me that she regretted never learning how to swim. I told her it wasn’t too late, we could look into swimming lessons at the nearby Atlantic Club. She was hesitant, wondering if she would be comfortable going for lessons in from of others. I pointed out that the AC wasn’t a public pool, it was private. That she could probably pay extra to get private lessons if she really wanted, and if she *were* in a class, she’d likely be with young children who wouldn’t be judging her in the way that an adult might.
She considered that it wouldn’t be so bad to swim with children. Who knows, I might forget to be scared seeing them splash around!
Why will you be scared, mom? We slowly went through her list of fears. On the inside, Are you kidding me? Why would anyone say/think/do that? On the outside, I gently worked through the worst case scenarios, and then best-case scenarios.
Afraid of getting chlorine in her eyes. Yep, that’s a good one. We can get you fitted with some good goggles.
Water up her nose. Mm hmm. That happens. There are nostril pinchers and we can also try a snorkel face mask if the way the instructors teach her to exhale doesn’t work.
Afraid of getting too much sun exposure. Fair enough, having had skin cancer and on certain meds that required sun care. There are special sunscreens that are long-lasting waterproof, and long sleeve rash guard shirts that have UV protection. We could also try to sign up for classes in the early morning or late afternoon to minimize exposure.
She was afraid of being laughed at. AH-HA, The real reason. Fair enough, let’s break that down. Suppose someone did that. WHO CARES. Why do you care what a stranger is thinking and how would you even know if it was you that they were laughing at? If anything, they likely would say, OMG look at that cute little old lady with the swimming cap and goggles! She looks like an old-time movie star. Look! She’s taking swimming lessons. That’s so cool! Good for her. But what if they didn’t ooh and ahh, marveling at how adorable she was? (If you knew my mom, any reaction other than “adorable” would reveal the blackness of your soul, as she was a shining petite beauty. My Nina and I called her “our little bird.”)
Mom and I discussed a few more fears and put them to rest by acknowledging them (gotta get them out of the closet!) and then debunking them. Tim Ferriss calls this fear setting.
We also discussed what would happen if she didn’t learn to swim. That was an option too, right? She could just let go of it. She admitted that she’d be disappointed in herself if she didn’t try; if she just gave up. (For anyone wondering where my resilience comes from, see?! It’s in my DNA. Both sides!)
I had to do this when deciding to commit to my book, and it took a few days of journaling to get through it. All the worst-case scenarios, I got them out and put them on paper. What was the likelihood of them happening? In most cases, zero. In the highly unlikely case of them coming true, I was able to come up with solutions with how to deal with it. What a powerful exercise to use, and I’m so glad I did.
My mom never got around to calling the Atlantic Club. One month later, she was sitting on her beloved front porch, facing her beautiful and lovingly tended garden. Her irises, lilies, and hydrangeas were happily blooming. A gentle salty ocean breeze blew softly as she slumped, having suffered a massive stroke from which she never recovered. My tiny little bird, she never did learn how to swim. Two and a half years later, it still makes me cry.
Don’t die with your music still in you ~ Wayner Dyer
When I considered my 50th birthday approaching this summer, my mom’s swimming lessons came to mind. I have always wanted to write a book. Lemme just spit it out: there are BOOKS inside of me, plural. Fiction, non-fiction, children’s, journals, all of them. I have wanted this since I was a child. I’ve suppressed the urge fiercely. When I couldn’t help it and did write; I would burn or otherwise destroy my creations.
Poppa Wayne sez:
No more. As Poppa Wayne (that’s what we call him in my house) says above, as I thought of my likely halfway point of my life, I pondered did I want to confess to Nina someday that I wished I had written a book?
I decided I didn’t want to die with my book, my BOOKS, still inside me. So I pulled all of my fears out, exposed and addressed them. The few that might come true? Oh fucking well. I vowed to write my current book, and feel I’m honoring my mother’s unfulfilled wish with that commitment.
Honor yourself and your desire
So to my reader with that book inside of her, and to YOU, my reader with whatever cherished project is hidden inside your heart, honor yourself and your desire. Take the leap. Expose and address your fears, they are never as bad as you think they will be, I promise. And if for some ridiculous reason you still think you can’t do it, let me know. Really. And I promise I will do whatever I can to be there for you and support you. That’s part of the agenda of my soul, as Neale Donald Walsch would say.
If you need help with this, please email me or comment here, and I’ll gladly share the specific questions I used for my book project.
If you found this helpful, please forward it to a friend, thank you so much for the support!
I love hearing from you! Talk soon,