The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


Trust: Variation on a theme

"Trust" by Kelly Rae Roberts. (Buy this print here.)

"At the center of your being you have the answer;
you know who you are and you know what you want."
~Lao Tzu

You know how you buy a new car and then suddenly see that make of car on every single road you drive? Or you learn a new word and everyone you talk to or hear on the radio uses it at least once, and you think: How did I not know this word before? It's everywhere!

I've found that living intentionally -- being open to the life lessons and life puzzles around us -- is much the same. I'm amazed at how certain themes creep into my daily life in small and big ways. Maybe this can be explained by the theory that what we focus on expands. Or maybe we actually call these signs and signals into our life by looking for them. Chicken or egg. Either way. (I've written about this before.)

One of my current themes is Trust.

A wise woman recently pointed out to me that I seem to have trouble trusting myself.

I was stunned.

She was right.

We'd been discussing my angst over making a major life decision. A close friend had previously suggested that I'm stumped because I have commitment issues. I had to partially concede the point, but the phrase "commitment issues" made me think of single, 40-year-old men who love the nightlife a little too much. It wasn't a flattering comparison. (I'm sure she wasn't picturing me as a club-hopping pervert when she said it.)

But flipping the point of view just a bit and saying I have a problem with Trust made sense.

I looked around me and saw how I don't trust myself on a regular basis. For example...

I haven't had a decent winter coat for three years. This year I finally broke down and bought one. But I wasn't sure I really liked it. So I bought a second one to compare. I felt like I was just buying coats in desperation because I knew I needed one. And then I bought a third. I kept the tags on all of them and didn't wear any for a month, debating which coat was just right. After trying each one on a dozen times, I eventually took two back and kept the last one. I'm happy with my choice. But still, I bought three coats, trying to make sure I made the "right" decision.

How many things have I bought and kept unworn or unused until I could decide if they were right for me? If something is on clearance with a no-return policy, I probably won't buy it. Being able to take something back is my safety net.

The night before my wedding, I unexpectedly developed cold feet. I was shocked and embarrassed to be so cliché. In our hotel room, I confided my fears to my mother. What she said next may be the most profound and useful thing anyone has ever offered me: "If you weren't getting married tomorrow, would you want to break up with James?" The answer was no, definitely not. "Then I think you're just feeling a little overwhelmed about the wedding." She was right. I was afraid to trust the decision I'd already made.

My mom also stood by me through another agonizing wedding moment: choosing the dress. She patiently watched as I tried on the same two dresses over and over again, one after another in rapid succession, trying to decide between the one I liked better on the hanger and the one I finally admitted to liking better on me.

My lack of self-trust -- this quest for perfection -- showed up early in life. My dad hated going school shopping with me when I was a kid. I would take an hour to choose a pair of shoes or a stack of notebooks. I go crazy with decision-making.

How don't I trust myself? Let me count the ways: as a writer, as a friend, as a thinker, as a wife, as a political citizen. I doubt and fret, picking away at the fraying seam of my own confidence, my own knowing.

Analysis, critical thinking, and research are three of my biggest strengths. They have served me well in building a business, buying a house, and taking care of sick pets. I pride myself on my ability to see both sides of an issues, to empathize with opposing viewpoints, to see shades of grey. These skills enable me to be a diplomatic mediator and a convincing debator.

Unfortunately, these very same gifts can become my tragic flaw. I can talk myself into and out of a decision ten times over before you can say "sign on the dotted line."

The decision I'm currently trying to make doesn't come with a "do-over" option. It's not reversible. There's no turning back. It's definitely a no-returns-clearance-kind-of -decision. And it terrifies me.

I'm working hard to stop the panic, the outflow of fear. And everywhere I look, this theme of Trust comes back to me again and again, like the ocean tide.

It's here in this post called "Trust".

It's here in this post called "Don't Lose Your Trust."

It's below in this "message from the Universe," sent to me by the same wise woman mentioned above after she got it from here.

Don't you think it should work like this:

You have a desire, you dwell upon it, move with it, and presto, it manifests?

Or, you fall in love at the right time, with the right person, they fall in love, the timing is perfect, and bingo, the earth moves.

Or, you have a huge question, you turn it over to me, forget about it, and ta-da, you just know.

Me, too. Which, actually, is exactly how it does work, in the absence of fear.

Cool, huh?
The Universe
And there's the sub-theme to the Trust theme: Fear. Fear and love. Perfect loves drives out fear. There is no fear in love. Choose from a place of love, not fear. The sayings, the platitudes, the Truths go on and on. Call it the Universe or God -- It's calling out for me to let go and find peace.

I love the Lao Tzu quote at the top of this post: "At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want." I want to believe this. I want to Trust that I have the answer(s). I'll let you know when I find it.

Labels: , ,

add to kirtsy | 12:59 AM


Blogger bella said...

wow. i just had chills reading this.
because wouldn't you know, the word that has been with me these past days? trust. what we focus on really does expand. and flourish.
and like you, trust is very tangled up in fear.
at the center of your being you DO have the answer. And messing up, "failing", making mistakes, there are worse things, yes?
may you know surrender and freedom and the pure thrill of trusting with your whole heart.
your words come as teacher today.

2/28/2008 9:26 AM  
Blogger Pink Shoes said...

Thank you.

2/28/2008 9:31 AM  
Blogger Jena Strong said...

Beautiful opening, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing this.

2/28/2008 11:37 AM  
Blogger Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Wow -- you have been very honest here.

I never realized, until the last couple years, how much fear has run my life. I am learning to put it down, leave it behind. For me, one of the crucial pieces is learning that even if my fears are realized, I will still be okay! I know that may sound crazy, but I know it's the truth.

Trust already dwells within you.

2/28/2008 5:31 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

A most excellent post! Thank you for sharing such raw details of your life.

This will be more good fodder of stuff for us to discuss next weekend:-)

For me, it's a power issue. Owning my power. At some point over the past several years I seem to have abdicated it. Now I'm trying to get it back. Two steps forward, one step back, etc.

It's good that you have such a long track record of success! It may take you awhile to get there, but ultimately, you choose and you're happy with it.

Hmmmm. I'll have to ponder this one a bit more.

Good stuff.

3/01/2008 6:30 PM  
Blogger kelly rae said...

oh, i totally do this, too. over think. over analyze. over decide. when perhaps the hard truth is that i'm not trusting myself. i hadn't thought of this way. you are very insightful, mrs jennifer.

hmmm. i'm with lisa and will ponder a bit more. thank you for this today.

3/01/2008 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I *think* I know what this is about, and it is not really a decision, or rather, it occurs outside the realm of decisions, which are intellectual and can be deliberated and second guessed. Even people who decide one way or the other on this matter must accept life's occurrences regardless of their "decision." It cannot be rationalized. There is never a good time and good reasons for or against are just invented. Why not just decide to do nothing to prevent your life from occurring as it will? Doing nothing is the ultimate act of trust. It is not possible to make a mistake.

In love.

3/04/2008 10:35 PM  
Blogger Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

*Bella: Why is it so hard to be kind and trusting to ourselves?

*Pink Shoes: You're welcome.

*Jena: Thank you.

*Judy: It doesn't sound crazy at all.

*Lisa: I hadn't looked at it as a "track record of success." Thanks for that new perspective.

*Kelly Rae: Do you think we just make it harder than it needs to be?

*Karen: Thank you for these insightful words.

3/06/2008 12:41 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home