Tagged: risk and reward

Tell A Better Story

“I don’t know….” I said, trailing off as I searched for the right words.

“It just feels….I don’t know, like….like I’m given my lines every morning, and I just follow this script that someone else has written for me.”

My friend nodded in agreement as I continued.

“I’m more than a mom and a wife.  Bigger than the sum of my parts.  But, I’m not living like I have other roles.”

“That’s exactly how I feel,” my friend chimed in.  “I feel like I’m ‘just’ [my husband]’s wife, or ‘just’ [the kids]’ mother.”

The two of us stood on the safe side of a chain-link fence, looking on as twenty-two 7-year-olds kicked dirt into dust clouds on a baseball field.  We were careful to keep one eye on the game so we’d know when to give a wink or a clap or a thumbs-up to show that, yes, we did just see that hit/run/catch.

God forbid a mom doesn’t see whatever play her own child deems to be the “game changer.”

I hit a home run, and you were talking to your friend.  You didn’t even see me — you were probably talking about pillows or furniture.  [Eye roll].

I have many times been accused of ignoring my sons’ shining moments in favor of gabbing about furniture.  Furniture or “fashion,” actually.

And knowing that my boys think that furniture and “fashion” is what us moms are talking about, huddled together on the safe side of a chain-link fence, well…..that bothers me more than being accused of neglecting their game in the first place.

I have stood with many, many moms — for hours upon hours upon more hours of soccer games and baseball games and other kinds of games.  I’ve also sat with many, many moms — some friends, some strangers — in the collective wait for piano lessons to end, or dentist appointments to be over, or for our kids to take “just one more” turn on the tire swing at that park that has all the cool equipment, but is always swarming with bees.

I have stood with and sat with all these moms, and I can tell you as I tell my boys: Mommies talk about lots of different things.  Lots of different, important things:

We talk wistfully about our college years, when we hadn’t yet made any permanent choices, and the world was still seemingly at our feet.

We talk about current events, and carefully negotiate our way around politics so as to allow for the sharing of informed opinions (brains!) that don’t ruffle too many feathers in the process (respect!).

We talk about books we’ve read, and how we could or could not relate to the author’s perspective.

We talk about the books we always secretly planned to write.

We talk about traveling — where we’ve been, and with whom —  and where we still hope to go “someday,” and with whom.

And, as was the case during this particular moment of waiting on a baseball field one beautiful Saturday morning, me and my mom-friend — we were talking about who we wanted to be.

And neither of us came to any concrete conclusions, other than “more.”

We knew we wanted to be more than what we had been in the business of being lately.

As I sat in the passenger’s seat on the drive home, I thought about my friend and our talk, and how it wasn’t at all like the douche commercial I used to think these kinds of talks were reserved for.  A bunch of bad actresses with wedge haircuts  and male-imagined “female issues” we were not.

No….we were good actresses (with great hair, by the way), who grappled not with phony “female” problems, but with real human issues that women just happen to be incredibly deft at identifying and discussing.

When I got home, I went for a run, which lately I’m relying on more and more as a means to clear out my head as opposed to lean out my thighs.

Sanity trumps vanity any day.

So I ran.  I ran without my iphone because I didn’t want my thoughts muddled by lyrics that send contrived little vignettes into my imagination, leaving false notions of “how things go” to rattle around in my head.  I often wonder how much of my life is foolishly spent in an effort to imitate bad art  simply because I don’t spend enough time alone with my own thoughts.

And, so again, I ran.  Without music.  And it felt really, really pure.  I watched the street move under my feet as tiny rocks and pebbles blurred into ribbons of peach and gray against the black of the asphalt. I lost my self to the forward movement of it all, which was immensely satisfying; from the moment I left my friend and that baseball field, I’d had this nagging sense of urgency about needing to move forward.

And yes, it was a need to move forward in a figurative sense, but this run — beyond that lamp post, beyond that house with the blue shudders, over and beyond that tiny little bridge that eases the break in my favorite bike path — this literal running ahead toward whatever new landmark I picked on the fly felt like the kind of consistent pattern of accomplishment I was craving on a bigger scale.

A few months back, I read a book in which the central theme was how our lives are like movies, and we are the scriptwriters.  It’s our job to create a great story for our character.  And great stories, it turns out, require one to step into a whole bunch of different roles, meeting a whole bunch of different challenges, and then facing a whole bunch of new challenges so that we keep the whole risk/reward pattern going indefinitely.  For those curious, the book was A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  And, for those further curious, the idea behind the book was more interesting than the details contained within it, but that’s just my opinion.

The important take-away was this notion of diversifying your experiences to maximize the risk-reward potential that provides the fodder for personal growth.

I suppose that’s kind of what I have been chewing on lately.

It’s at the heart of most of my mom-to-mom conversations.  And with the conversations I have in my own head, usually while trying to fall asleep at night.  It’s my biggest motivator to “move” — whether pounding the pavement during a run, or forcing myself into some sort of commitment, like attempting to churn out thoughtful entries on a blog that I keep inviting people to read.

I want to move forward — forward and “out” in a million directions.  I want to diversify my experiences.  I want my character to have a full story — a good life with lots of different roles.

This is where I am right now, and I needed to get it down in writing.  I once told a whole dinner table full of people exactly how much I weighed — down to the ounce — because I knew it would hold me accountable for the diet overhaul I kept threatening to undertake.  Within three months of my public revelation, I had lost 12 pounds.

So, now I’m saying that I want a better story, and it will involve some sort of action on my part.  And now that I’ve said as much, it means I’ll likely do it.  I am thinking that some of my posts will (hopefully) start to reflect that.

As I work on my own story, I’d love to hear from any of you in the process of an edit and re-write.  If you are upping the ante on your own risk-reward cycle, how do you plan to go about it?  What challenges do you deem necessary for the kind of growth you seek?  What role are you aiming to play?

As I’ve said before, I love to hear how other people think and relate to the world.  This could turn an off-the-cuff post into an interesting discussion.