I recently watched a commencement speech by Jim Carey about love and fear. It was like that post was made for me to see in that instant. Facebook is weird like that. (Or wired like that...same letters. Hmmm.) You should watch, it's worth it.
He talks about doing something you don't absolutely love for a living and masking it as practicality. This is a foreign concept to me. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to try many things without too much fear of failing. And I have never been accused of being practical.
I am not quite sure where my lack of fear comes from; it's not like my parents were the ones saying "you can be anything you want to be." They were more the type to say "the harder you work the better you'll be." That is certainly not a dig on either one of them but I also didn't enter my adult life with stars in my eyes. I have never wanted for a whole lot, but I have worked a job every single day of my life since I was 15 years old. I spent half of my highschool junior and senior year days working as a bank teller. For a few years following, I did what seemed like the "right" thing, worked my way up and was a successful personal banker/mortgage lender. Clearly that didn't work out. Think round hole, square peg. I tried more things on, nothing seem to fit.
But, somewhere along the way I just stopped being afraid of doing what I loved. And, I remember the very moment.
I'll take you back quite a few years. February 22, 2002 to be exact. In hindsight, the date had no significance, but 02.02.2002 will go down in my life history. My maternal grandfather, Imbert (Bert) Eslinger, had passed away a few months before that. He was a Lt. Col. in the Army and a high school teacher, receiving two purple hearts during his service in WWII, among many other commendations in his military career. Whether it was his passing, the post-9/11 climate, my personal discontent or a little bit of all of it, I enlisted in the Army National Guard on that cold day in February. And I didn't tell a soul. I took that $3k signing bonus which had me leaving town in 3 weeks, quit my job, packed my rucksack and started the first thing in my life I had ever truly done by myself.
Before that day, I hardly went to the bathroom alone. For real. (ENFP, right here. Look it up if you don't know your personality type...super enlightening) And then, I just got this bug up my butt to sign the papers. And, my friends, when you sign those Army papers there's no changing your mind. You're in it to win it. So off I went. My main objective was to keep my head down, shut my mouth and follow direction. (For those of you that have known me all of my life, this was really an unattainable goal. You can stop your laughing now.)
Fast forward to the epiphany. Army basic training. South Carolina. April. Hot. Humid. Fire ants. In a ditch. In a ditch, doing push ups as punishment for God knows what. No one knew. We just knew we were being screamed at and there was no where else to go. There were some criers and some pukers and a very pissed off Wesconsin girl (that's not a typo...southerners cannot say the Wis in Wisconsin). Oh, man was I pissed. I was drenched and sweaty and tired and chafed and homesick. Did I mention pissed?
But, I will never forget it. In that moment, when I wanted to give up and cry and puke and quit and rebel and scream, something came over me. This undeniable thought of: this is not going to last forever. My right brain started working, "they can't keep us out here forever. They have to feed us. We have to sleep. Night will pass, morning will arrive. And, I will eventually go home." All of the wisdom of my short 23 years taught me that, literally and figuratively, nothing lasts forever. Good, great, bad, fugly (also not a typo). Nothing. It just doesn't last. In that moment, the word forever took on a new meaning.
Forever is only however long you want, or need, it to be.
I followed the drill sergeant's commands, did my pushups, sit ups, ran hills and whatever else was asked of me that evening. I stopped being pissed. And sure enough, just like that, it stopped. We got back in to formation, went to the showers, crawled in our bunks and I fell into a deep sleep.
In the many years since then, there are times I remember that significant day and times I wallow in my own self-inflicted forever. I am human after all. But what Jim Carey, of all people (in that silly robe and hat they made him wear) reminded me of today is that if you're not afraid, and you are doing what you think you are meant to do, where is the actual risk? Who defines your failure but you?
I have been called a risk taker, among other things. I don't see myself that way, but nonetheless, some people perceive me that way. I just know that whatever I am doing, if I don't love it I won't do it. Period. (Ask my mom, I don't love to clean my house and it drives her nuts.) I can make just as much money doing something I love (probably more) than doing something I don't. All I have to do is find the door and walk though it.
What does this have to do with Mad Lizzie's Flower Farm? Honestly, nothing and everything. Nothing because it doesn't seem like a fail/no-fail test to me. It's just part of our lives now. And we truly do it out of love, not fear. What's the worst that could happen? I have a house full of flowers because I didn't sell any of them? Ah, ok. Yes, we'd be out seed, dirt, tractor, marketing, etc, etc, etc, expenses. I get it. There's real life left-brain stuff. It's just always worked out and I believe that it will because I am not afraid of failing.
Everything too. In the short time that we have opened up our world to this concept of running our own business, with our hearts and souls behind it, I have found myself at times afraid. Afraid putting my physical and emotional self "out there". Afraid of opinions, judgements, feedback. But I refuse to get stuck in that ditch again with someone barking orders at me.
What I thought this flower farming business would look like 2 years ago when I boarded a plane to the Floret Flower Farming workshop is completely different than what it is today...and what it will be next year. (By the way, that was the second thing I have done completely by myself. Unbelievable experience.) But if the doors keep opening I'll just keep walking through.
On days like today, where the sun is shining, the bees are buzzing on flowers, the kids are bopping down the driveway off the bus, I find fear to be the last thing on my mind. I look around to cherish every sun ray stretched across the cornfields, the kittens slumbering peacefully on the warm patio blocks and two crazy dogs chasing each other around the yard.
For every yin there is a yang. Ups and downs. Ins and outs. None of this is to say there aren't challenges in the world and that everything is peaches and cream around here. But, just for today, I choose love, not fear.