Hello, Gorgeous Morning.
Sunshine is streaming in through the coffee shop window, my cup is (literally) full, and I’m gratefully pouring over the words of a woman who took on the FULL #52DareChallenge a year or so ago…
(Confession: sometimes I really, truly forget that these dares are out there, or that they are providing the kind of nudges and inspiration and framework-for-growth that I hoped they might a few years ago when I dreamed them up. I forget even as the sign-ups continue to trickle into my in-box. Instead, I keep shifting my eyes sideways at what-could-be-if-only-I’d-give-more-of-myself. Work harder. Do more.)
And then someone like Jill reaches out. And my soul is contented.
I believe the first time I heard from her, she was heading off to trapeze or something, inspired by one of the dares.
She had me right then and there.
But what I love so much is how she showed up for these dares — how she used the dares to go deeper into her self-knowing, her self-curiosity. Never mind my words, I’ll share hers instead:
“I wrote down each dare in my journal, and then reflected upon what I’d done, what it meant for me, and what I learned. I often found that the universe would drop people or readings into my life the week I was working on a dare, and I’d write those quotes or experiences down in my journal as well… “
Gosh, I love how that happens. And then she added this:
“It’s funny: I always imagined as a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty, old, bent tools – friendship, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said, do the best you can with these, they will have to do. And mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.” – Anne Lamott
(See what she did there?! Holy balls, that quote is perfect!)
You see, her ability to take these dares – whether she liked them or not (and some she most definitely did NOT) – and use them as a tool for deeper self-knowing, for stretching her view of herself and her world, is what led to this:
“I took some big risks and made some huge changes in my life over the course of they year: I switched careers; I took a trip to Turkey by myself to celebrate the new phase in my life; I made a big change in my romantic relationship; I reconnected with people I might never have seen again. And yet it was the daily questions I asked myself, the reflection, and the gratitude which have made the biggest difference.”
Oh, dear Jill. How I love thee. Because you get it. You are not measuring “success” by some kind of tally or the arbitrarily-weighted significance of each outcome. Rather, you played with each dare – and found the opening in your world to apply it, to stretch yourself, to find out what’s there (or already here).
And if I wasn’t already swooning over this, she then followed with my most favorite quote ever. The one that my husband had inscribed onto a silver bracelet for me years ago:
“I beg you, to have patience with everything that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answers.” – Rainier Maria Rilke
And so what, you ask, is the wisdom that Jill gleaned from all of this daring?
“Take a risk and be willing to do it imperfectly – or even poorly – but with your full self committed to it. “
Did you get that? Do it even poorly, friends. Because what matters is that you did it – that you valued the experience of living, of daring, and being a Human Being Finding Your Way, rather than someone who is so focused on getting-it-right and not-failing-or-making-a-fool-of-yourself so that, ultimately, you are only holding yourself back. Stuck in the mud. With the same old view. Wishing you could just get Over There.
I think you know what I mean, yes? Because, let’s face it, we’ve all been there.
“Part of the challenge of this project is to push you to see where you might need to stretch, and where you might need to soften.”
Stretching and softening. Yes! Stretching our boundaries – and the limits that we place upon ourselves – while softening the damn grip with which we hold ourselves (this, my friends, is self-compassion).
And so, what do we do??
“Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to. Don’t try to see through the distances. That’s not for human beings. Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move. Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” – Rumi
And there are endless ways (hmmm, like 52, to start…) to play with this idea of showing up for your life. And growing your capacity to hold it – the breath-taking joy and the hot loneliness, as the amazing Glennon Doyle Melton calls it.
Thank you, Jill. Thank you for taking on this challenge, for sharing your insights, for being you. Keep finding that trapeze in life — and going for it.
PS – And here she is: the beautiful Jill.