6 Risks Worth Taking

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I used to believe that trusting the Universe was foolish,  After all, what’s a good mind worth if you’re just going to throw logic away and believe everything will work out okay?  It’s taken 52 years and a heap of effort to discover that happy people are trusting people – doesn’t make them stupid or less worthy of a good life – it is simply a fact.  Marshall Crenshaw has a song, “Cynical Girl,” about a girl who “harbors no illusions and she’s worldly-wise.”  I pretended I was that girl for a very long time.  It was boring and I missed out on so many adventures – including failures – because I chose the safety of a cynical attitude.

When I chose sobriety in 2015 I had no idea I was responding to an invitation from the Universe to trust and live.  Everything that happened in my life before I chose sobriety felt like either a punishment or reward instead of simply life.  Giving up a chemical dependence meant surrendering to the illusion that I had any power whatsoever over what happened to me and those I loved.  That’s frightening!  But I also discovered that my husband and I had been risk-takers all along.  We were living and thriving in spite of minor scrapes and bruises along the way.  It’s weird when you stop numbing yourself from pain because it’s almost like you start expecting painful experiences without fear or dread.  Once you accept what is, the energy that went into numbing and denial and supporting beliefs that no longer serve you is free and available to use.  And life gets fun again, even the messy parts.

So, here is a short list of 6 messy risks I have taken (all of them affecting my family, so I give them lots of credit) that have been worth the short-term pain:

  1. Change careers even after you have an established one – mostly my husband has done this (a couple of times!) and I have been the “best supporting” character, but I have done a smaller version of this myself.  After raising kids, I have had a series of very low paying and stressful jobs that have all provided experience and skills leading to the satisfying “big” job I am in today, at exactly the moment I am ready for it. But also, THIS BLOG.  Cheeky Street started out as what I thought was the pursuit of a new career but has become something so much more important to me.  It’s a creative outlet for me, plain and simple.  I am proud of it and happy to let it just be without pushing it to grow into the next wildly successful online endeavor in the history of the world.  It meets a need in my life and that’s good enough for me.
  2. Connect with new and different people you haven’t been in contact with – it’s all part of learning about the open-heartedness “thing”  I have been given the chance to build a relationship with a first cousin I never knew growing up – and her family – and it’s been the sweetest journey.  My cousin reached out to me for a connection and taking the time to discover a part of my family I might have never known is nothing short of a miracle.  It’s just beautiful and my gratitude for this opportunity overflows.
  3. Get off anti-depressants – This will not be the case for everyone, but I am one of the fortunate people who once held the belief I would always need pharmaceutical “support.”  I have had the good fortune to work with a psychologist who supports the belief that we can learn to manage our emotions and life without taking anti-depressants.  After 25 years of believing a pill was managing my emotions, I am completely off all forms of chemical “therapy” and feeling happy, healthy and capable of handling life sans pharmaceuticals.
  4. Trust your child’s journey – Without betraying his privacy, I will just say my son has had an unconventional experience with traditional education and I have learned to respect and trust his instincts as well as advocate for him within an educational system that still barely tolerates kids who are different.
  5. Ignore criticism from people who haven’t been where you’re going.  As a former miserable practitioner of people-pleasing, permission-asking, approval-seeking behavior, this is huge.  If they AIN’T doing what you’re doing then why do you care what they think?  Keep moving forward.
  6. Sell the Baby Grand Piano – we literally did do this in order to catch up on some bills and pay for a nice vacation to Lake Michigan, but I am also speaking metaphorically.  Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are weighing you down from the past, especially if getting rid of them will provide something valuable for your future.
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By Cleo Wade

Cleo Wade is a newly discovered (by me, anyway), poet and Millenial Muse.  I love reading her work, just as I love interacting with and learning from today’s young people. They aren’t blindly pursuing the things my generation valued without first examining the true costs to their mental health, the community and environment.  I find them all very refreshing and look forward to learning more from this younger generation.  They give me hope for a kinder world committed to social and economic justice.  Turning the world over to the next generation is just a natural next step in my list of “risks worth taking.”  How grateful I am to have had the luxury of choosing each risk. Every single one.

 

 

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A Gentleman in a Turbulent World

Gentleman

 

This is a post I have been thinking about for over 2 months but this week provides the perfect backdrop to what I want to talk about:  the characteristics of a gentleman.  Specifically, the man I married and had children with.  As a young woman, the things I loved about my husband hit all the “marriage material” marks:  well-educated, hard- working, sweet, funny and eager to have a family. After 22 years of marriage, the single trait that stands out above all others has nothing to do with personality and everything to do with character:  my husband is a gentleman.  He can be trusted to consistently be fair, loving and even-tempered.  He treats people with respect, no matter how he feels about them.  And he never ever, not once, expected the world to hand him anything he wasn’t willing to work for.

When my Dad passed away, his best friend shared something about him that I wish I had known and been able to process as I grew into adulthood and tried to understand the man he was.  His friend told me that, more than anything, my Dad was excited about having been accepted to Law School as a young man.  It was his dream that, unfortunately, never came to be.  Family obligations changed his fate and my Dad, ever the gentleman, honored his commitments and took care of his family instead of pursuing his dream.  I found this out exactly one day after he died and for me, this shred of information explained the unspoken questions I had about my Dad for 45 years.  Because he was a “man of the 1950’s,” I suppose it wasn’t considered appropriate or even relevant to talk about his dreams – he just got up every day and took care of his family.  He could have been a real resentful jerk about his fate but chose to be a gentleman.  That’s why I fell in love with my husband, I understand now.

I want our children to see their Dad through my eyes as they become adults and that’s really what this post is about.  I want them to know absolutely without a doubt that:

  • You are the Center of your Dad’s world – there is nothing he wouldn’t do to give you love, self-assurance, creativity, hope and excitement about the things you can do in this world with your one life;
  • Your Dad is often incorrectly mistaken as meek and mild because he has a gentle temperament but nothing could be further from the truth.  He is a fighter to the core and he’s overcome many personal and career obstacles fighting for you and our family.  Your Mom quits things – your Dad never does;
  • When other people are bragging and bullying their way to temporary, “better” positions in life, you can find your Dad quietly plugging away in his corner of the world, doing hundreds of small things that gentlemen do:  honoring promises; finishing projects long after your Mom has given up because it’s the right thing to do; staying focused on what needs to be done today to reach that distant dream in the future instead of procrastinating (again like your Mom); being kind to people who may have hurt him or someone he loves instead of puffing out his chest and threatening them in order to make himself feel better (you know I do this!).

When your Dad is angry, he finds a way to resolve it and move forward because he knows in and of itself, anger will destroy everything in his path.  Your Dad, the Gentleman, is a saver, a lover, and a person who takes what is before him today and makes something that lasts into the future.  In his quietly determined way, your Dad is the strongest person I know.  And he has never once bragged about that.

My hope for you children is that you will offer this wounded world some of your Dad’s fair-minded, even-tempered gentleness.  It will serve you and those around you very well for the rest of your lives.