This year has been one of first experiences and pushing myself. It started with the Packers, re-awakened my inner hippy, dragged me and my friend through the mud, bombed the trout, and ends with becoming a superhero.
Start with a Bang
I’ve never cared much about football, and being a Wisconsin transplant, I’ve always viewed Packers fans as a little crazy. Until I got caught up in the Packermania. Their path to the Super Bowl got me thinking about writing practice though, which led to a theory, and the first #JustWrite prompts.
In February, political Ragnarok broke loose in a series of rallies and protests that evolved into the Occupy movement. These were the first political protests I’ve participated in. As I told my children, no matter what happens, this was history in the making. We were able to be part of what I love about the US: our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. On a personal note, my inner hippy’s heart went pitter-pat to see my former card-carrying Republican husband transform from conservative to progressive.
As spring came back to Wisconsin, Sunday Koffron posted about her outrage at somebody’s attitude toward foster parenting, which gave me a much-needed wake-up call and reminder about one of my foster parenting role models. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard of Dr. Purvis, but it was the first time I recognized the signs of burnout in myself, and fighting it has been one of my biggest personal challenges this year.
In May, WisCon introduced me to a new challenge: moderating my first convention panel. I don’t remember volunteering to moderate a panel, but I accepted the challenge anyway. Even without moderating a panel, conventions usually fill me with so much anxiety that I have difficulty enjoying the experience. I had a mild panic attack about moderating, but once that was out of the way I had one of the best experiences ever at WisCon.
Winning Winning Winning … Not So Much
Then life went all topsy-turvy for me. This was the first year I’ve been home with my children during their summer vacation as a full-time mom. Blogging fell by the wayside, with only the occasional sporadic post during the summer.
I didn’t blog here about it, but in October, I ran my first Mud Run. And I’m using the word “ran” in the loosest sense of the word. I like to boast that my friend and I came in second and third … from last. But it was the most fun I’ve had since I was a kid.
November brought NaNoWriMo. I’ve flirted with NaNoWriMo before, but this was the first year I got serious. I had my first experience guest blogging through NaNoWriMo. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I also wrote my first book this year. And thanks to Scrivener, I wrote it all on the computer, another first.
December brought two of the biggest challenges and firsts. Earlier this month, I auditioned for a band. And failed so horribly that I coined a new expression: Bombing the trout. It was an amazing opportunity though, first to push myself out of my comfort zone, and second to just have a blast.
The biggest challenge of all was developing and announcing a new service and blog feature I’ll be offering in 2012: Fostering Creativity and the new #JustWrite exercises.
This is the biggest challenge for me because it’s forcing me to face my fears in an uncomfortably public way. My friend Paul has been amazingly patient with me. As I mentioned in “Running Away,” panic is part of my process, but it’s usually invisible to most people. Paul got a front row seat to it and virtually held my hand while I panicked my way through the process.
I’ve debated whether to publicly admit my anxiety over this. As if admitting my fears makes them true. But I want to be true to myself here. Theodora Goss blogged about telling the truth earlier this month, and it stuck a chord with me.
It’s important for professionals and people who’ve “made it” to be truthful this way. We elevate them to demi-god status, bowing before them as lowly fangirls (and fanboys) chanting “We’re not worthy!” at their feet. Seeing their own struggles, whether they are personal or professional, brings our idols back down to earth. Makes them human again.
I’m not saying I’m as successful as Theodora Goss. Rather, one of the things I teach is to feel the fear but do it anyway. How can I teach that, then behave on my blog as though this doesn’t scare the pants off of me? How can I teach about being true to your inner voice and your story, then stifle mine? So yes, I’m terrified of offering my services as a writing coach. But I’m doing it anyway, because this is my passion. Like fostering older children, I feel called to this.
Becoming a Superhero
And finally, this leads me to the Impossible League. I don’t know how I found the League, but like Shanna Mann said, I think I found it because I needed it. I’ve been on this quest to push the boundaries of my comfort zone, and when I saw the Impossible Manifesto, it resonated with me deeply. One of the questions members are asked when they join is, “What’s your superhero name?” My first thought was “Mom” but then it hit me — something I mentioned in a recent interview, the name my friend Paul calls me when I’m caught in the throes of inspiration: Kembers.
That’s my Superhero name. She’s my alterego who looks fear in the eye and moves forward anyway, fosters creativity in myself and others, and stands for one of the defining aspects of this year: pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.