Three Things I’ve Learned About Leaping

Many times in this blog I’ve talked about how much of a roller coaster the past year or so has been for me. In a recent post I wrote this:

A little over a year ago, I made a conscious decision to leap – personally and professionally, as often as possible – trusting the net would appear. I didn’t do it because of my unflappable self-confidence or the clarity of my life vision; I didn’t (and don’t) have either. I did it because I’d become small and dependent, and I felt if I didn’t do something, I might, in some meaningful and terrible way, disappear.

A lot of wonderful things have happened to me as result of that decision. I’ve met so many people I love and admire; tried so many new things; pushed the limits of what I thought I could do and found that I am bigger than I knew. I promised myself that 2010 would be more of the same and it has been. I spend about half my time scared of what I can’t do and the other half wildly excited by the possibilities. (I’m okay with being scared. It means I’m venturing into unfamiliar territory, which is where I want to be.)

Still, while a lot of good has come out of the past year, there have been plenty of difficult times too. To the extent that my experiences might be helpful, here are three things I’ve learned about leaping.

  1. Say no sometimes. In 2009, I pretty much said yes to everything anyone asked me and everything I thought up myself. I tried a lot of new things. I got a lot of stuff done. I also stopped sleeping and went a little crazy. Choosing wisely where to focus my energy is a skill I’m only now starting to master (and by master I mean I’m aware the skill exists). A friend sent me this great article from Zen Habits about saying yes slowly. Sometimes if you say yes slowly enough, it magically turns into a no! How cool is that?
  2. Establish boundaries. I used to be shy. (“Used to be.” Like that? See what I did there?) For me, leaping meant coming out of my shell. It meant speaking up when I would normally be quiet, reaching out when I would normally withdraw, connecting (meaningfully) with people when I’d really rather just write and play with my dog. No lie, this past year has been crazy with connection – online and off, personal and professional. I have a sense of community I’ve never experienced before, and I’m a believer. The love, support, guidance, and companionship I’ve found has been simply amazing. It has also been overwhelming and messy. Boundaries, I’m learning, are good. They’re necessary. They ensure that you have space to breathe and move and relax, time to consider where you are and where you’re going. I’m still working on the how of boundaries, but I totally get they why.
  3. Have some idea about your landing. I don’t think you need a firm picture of your destination. In fact, I think maybe it’s better not to have that. Some of the most rewarding things I’m involved with now, I had no idea were even possible when I started this journey a year ago. But I did know some things. I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to be more creative in my work and in my life. I knew I wanted to push myself, go places I  hadn’t been, meet people I didn’t yet know. Even notions as vague as that have helped me recognize when I’ve strayed off course.

That’s what I’ve learned so far. What about you, any advice? Lessons learned? Personal leap stories? I’d love to hear.

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22 Responses to Three Things I’ve Learned About Leaping

  1. terrepruitt March 30, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Damn, I love you, J.

    You have helped prove that I too have mastered a lot of things (“and by master I mean I’m aware the skill exists”).

    That has got to be my all time favorite line from J!

    That’s all. No advice or lessons learned to be shared, nor any personal leap stories from me. But I love gleening advice from your posts. I love learning from your blog and reading about your leap stories.

    Thank you.

  2. joannefirth March 30, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    What an amazing and energetic post!! Your spirit just pours out of each word. Exciting just to read what you have accomplished, let alone the excitement of what is yet to come.

    I couldn’t even begin to offer a suggestion or advice, but I will leave here with some extra spring in my step. Thank you for sharing something really wonderful!

  3. judy March 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    Terre, Ha! Love you too – you are one of my awesome connections. I am ecstatic to have penned your favorite line (so far). ;-)

    Joanne, Thank you! So much of the time I feel stumbly and uncertain. Thank you for seeing something decidedly more graceful.

  4. Dani H March 31, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    If you could see yourself through our eyes, J, you would see a woman who is:
    .
    feisty & funny & fanciful & bold
    brave enough to do things that frighten her
    beautiful, sexy & gracious
    inspirational & aspirational
    sassy & sweet & sometimes a smart ass (what was with the “giant pom poms”?)
    intelligent & creative & goofy
    graceful & adorkable
    a woman whose footsteps we all want to follow in
    sparkly awesomeness personified
    oh, and a superhero with a FAB cape!
    .
    thank you for sharing of yourself & your journey
    love you bunches *big squishy hugs*

  5. terrepruitt March 31, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Dani – Are the hugs “squishy” because of the giant pom poms?

    • Becky March 31, 2010 at 2:50 am #

      Thank you for having perfect comedic timing — I think you’re my new bff!

    • terrepruitt March 31, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

      Becky – Yay! Never can have too many bffs!!!

  6. Becky March 31, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Take away your writing — and you’re still very special.
    Take away your leaping — and you’re still very special.
    Take away you zen — and you’re still very special.
    With all of those things — you’re superhero special.
    I think you’re superhero special.
    Thanks for sharing your sparkly zen — I think I got some on me, I’m not going to wash it off for a while (I will however cover it up with some perfume so I don’t offend anyone I’m near!)

  7. Marisa Birns March 31, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    No major leaping yet. Just longer gaits!

    But 2010 is the year that I, too, decided–not to write since I have been–but to put it out there for others to read (which was hard).

    Now it’s on to submitting and all those good ups and downs inherent in that process.

    And I’ve met you!

    So. Creativity, friends, new experiences, and doing things despite the fear– all make for a better journey.

    And a heck of a great leap!

  8. Caroline March 31, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    Yay!!! I don’t know if I have any advice or stories – but going back for my doctorate was a leap, and is tough, but proves that anyone can do it, if you are stubborn (and crazy) enough, and I guess I’m proving (so far) that I am both. ;o)
    You are such an inspiration to so many people, I hope you know that! (whether you fall, stumble or stick your landing – we are still inspired!) Thank you for sharing J!!

  9. judy March 31, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Dani, Wow! Thank you for that. Yes, can I just borrow your eyes for a day or so? (It’s easier to be sparkly from a distance, but thank you. That means a lot to me.) Hugs back!

    Becky, You’ve got just a little sparkle on your cheek… left, more, there. Got it. Perfect now. (And thank you!)

    Marisa, I was writing before too, but I wasn’t pushing myself enough. I’ve been reading your flash on your blog. It’s great! Yes, start submitting. It’s horrible (rejections devastate me) and amazing (accepts are the best high ever). And it’s awesome that now we have a whole writing community to commiserate and celebrate with. :-)

    Caroline, We need to speak in more than 140 characters at a time, girlfriend. I think you are very admirable (and sweet, besides), and I would love to be going for my MFA (not a doctorate, but my next step). Maybe someday… after you blaze the trail.

  10. LunaJune March 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Judy awesome post… so wonderful watching the unfolding, can’t wait to see where it takes you.

    I have had the same job for 28 years and it is so secure, and it has been my calling my whole life. The only thing I’d love to do… retire independantly wealthy and continue to sparkle for the world :)

  11. Simon K Lloyd March 31, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Another inspiring blog ~ it is REALLY difficult to picture you other than the amazing person it has been my pleasure to get to know in recent times Thank you

    • terrepruitt March 31, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

      Simon –

      I agree with you. Sometimes I read her posts and say, “Huh? Who IS this person of which she speaks?’ But . . . . yay for her, huh? That she has unfolded so much and so well, that we are in awe of the amazing person she IS!!

  12. judy March 31, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    June, I just read on the wonderful Bryan Borland’s blog this definition of success: “Success is doing what you love to do. Real success is parlaying what you love to do into something that might help someone else. The sky is the limit for all of us… ” I love that! You are enormously successful, and will be even in retirement!

    Simon, I’d send you some less flattering pictures, but I like your rose-colored visions. :-)

    • simonscotland March 31, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      Ha! I don’t believe such things exist ~ and surely my visions would be rose-coloured :-p

  13. Estrella Azul March 31, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    You’re awesome Judy, I’m learning so much from you all the time. It’s such a joy reading your blog and life lessons.

    Oh, and I second Danni! (she didn’t leave much more to be said right now)

    Me?
    Well I was pretty much leaping all the time last year and it was sometimes bad, but more often great so I’ll continue to do so.
    I have a huge leaping opportunity in front of me right now, I still haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do, but I’m leaning a bi day by day (considering all the options and making sure I won’t fall) until I’m ready to take a deep breath and just leap.

  14. BOBBY March 31, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Advice?? Life lessons learned?? Sure, I will toss something out…

    A man fell in a deep hole. As he shouted for help a doctor was walking by, the man yelled, “hey Doc, can you help me?”. The doctor wrote a prescription, tossed it down to the man and went on his way. Just after that a priest was passing by. The man shouted up, “hey father, can you help me?”. The priest wrote a prayer on a piece of paper, tossed it down to the man and went on his way. A little time passed and then a friend of the man was walking by, “hey, its me” the man yelled, “can you help me please??”. The friend immediately jumped (leapt, you could say) down into the deep hole with the man. The man said, “why did you do that, now we are both in this hole?!”. The friend said, “yes we are, but I have been here before and I know a way out!”

    As far as advice goes I suppose I would only say that it is best to listen to those with wisdom and experience (or any four yr old in a park lost in the act of play!). Yet I must add that I think you are doing rather fabulous on your own!

    And yes, that story is from an episode of The West Wing (what a terrific tv show!). I will toss something profound from The Brady Bunch on another day!

  15. judy April 1, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    Estrella, Thank you! And you inspire me too, Ms. Crafty! :-)

    Bobby, Four year olds are the wisest of us all. I love that you loved West Wing. Me too. And thank you.

  16. HippieChick April 1, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    As you know, I have been doing some leaping of my own lately. It is messy, it is trembly….but, the payoffs have been more than I could ever dream of.

    For me, one of the lessons (that I am still trying to put my head around) is the process of giving up my self-imposed labels. At first it was fun…hey, look at me, the shy girl, taking chances, making friends. Lately though, I have come to realize that I rely on those labels. They pervade so many different areas of my life, my thoughts, my reactions. Turns out they are not so easy to give up. (Go figure!).

    That is the lesson I am working on. Give up antiquated self-imposed labels. The head-knowledge is there, but the heart-knowledge lags behind.

    Great post, j. I feel fortunate to be sharing this journey with you.

  17. Bryan Borland April 1, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    I see so much of myself in this post. I was nodding in agreement to your personal experiences… this paragraph could easily be about me, word for word:

    “I’ve met so many people I love and admire; tried so many new things; pushed the limits of what I thought I could do and found that I am bigger than I knew. I promised myself that 2010 would be more of the same and it has been. I spend about half my time scared of what I can’t do and the other half wildly excited by the possibilities. (I’m okay with being scared. It means I’m venturing into unfamiliar territory, which is where I want to be.)”

    Especially that last part – that it’s okay to be scared sometimes.

  18. judy April 1, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Hippiechick, Eckhart Tolle talked about how we can begin to identify with our weaknesses subconsciously. I hated realizing there was part of me that wanted to remain shy (among other things), even though I complained about it all the time. Realizing that, though, is what pushed me to change it. Just like it’s pushing you. <3

    Bryan, Having you identify with me is enormously validating. Not that I needed any validation. (I did. Totally. Thank you.) ;-)

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