View from Masada C

View from the top of Masada, Summer 2013.

I am not one to use affirmations.

In times of sadness or confusion, I have not been helped by “Tomorrow is another day.”

No “Let go, let God.” Or “I am worthy of love.”

The only phrase that ever comes in to my head when I am upset about something is “This too shall pass” and that’s because I hear my mother saying it whenever I think it. It’s not an affirmation so much as it is my mother being inside my head when I need her to be. And it helps.

But last week, I was sitting at my kitchen table, drinking my espresso and reading the newspaper when I had this thought come over me:

I keep getting caught up in the fear of failure.
But I’m realizing that I’m too old to be scared.
And that the only one stopping me is me.
And the thought kind of floored me. So much so that I had to get up and walk over to my computer and write it down. (And of course, post it on Facebook.)

I felt a lightness that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was weird and New-Agey.

But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I frequently get stopped by my own “what-ifs” or “maybe in a few months.” My own personal “Should of, would of, could of.”

But in the last couple of months, I’ve done a few new things that I felt some trepidation about yet pushed myself to do because I want to be a good role model to my kids. Especially my teenage daughter. I don’t want her seeing me as someone who is not taking charge of changes I want to make because I’m afraid of how it will turn out.

It’s been a slow process. One that I think began last May when I was asked to appear on Huffington Post Live and discuss an article I had written about having sex after divorce. I was petrified to be on a live show offering up my opinions. But I knew that I had to do it. And to make myself accountable, I told my daughter about it. I didn’t spontaneously combust during the segment and I actually enjoyed doing it.

More recently,  I started going to spin class. Something I kept putting off until my friend Erin made me go. And four months later, I’m still going. And have loved it more than I ever thought I would.

Then I decided that I wanted to run a 5K. With some speed. I knew that I could already run the 3.1 miles but at a very, very slow pace. So I downloaded the “Couch to 5K” app and I’m now on Week 6.

But it’s not all fitness oriented, though as I get older, I do feel the need and desire to focus on my physical state. Partly because I’ve realized how much it helps my mental state.

Probably the biggest, most nerve-wracking thing I did was to participate in that writer’s workshop last month. You know, the one where I had a chapter of my memoir read by 13 complete strangers and critiqued while we all sat around a rectangular table in a small room. And enjoyed it.

So I guess it makes sense that the thought came in to my head.

Because I had already been working on conquering my fear of failure.

After I typed out my new “affirmation”, I decided to sign up for my first 5K.  It’s in less than three weeks. And I won’t be done with my app. Yikes. But it’s in a beautiful local park and I figure that if I can’t finish it running, I’ll just walk quickly.

After that, I signed up for a Super Bowl themed 90 minute spin class. Another first for me. Most of my classes have been for “only” an hour. Could I last that long? (Yes, I could and I did. It was actually 100 minutes.)

Then I wrote a blog post about my kids getting older. And planned out my new feature, Odds to End the Week, which I started the next day.

Whew, being fearless is hard work.

So maybe affirmations do work. You just have to find, or make up, one that really resonates with you.

I’m curious to see how long this feeling of doing more than thinking stays with me. But I have a suspicion that the next couple of months are going to be really productive.

Tomorrow, I take my first Pilates class. Because how long can I bitch that two C-sections took away all my abdominal muscle tone when my first-born is turning 17 next month.

I am worthy of having a kind-of flat stomach.


Waiting for Julia, June 1999.