When One Chapter Closes…

For the last week or so I’ve been doing last minute prepping details for my daughter’s high school graduation. It’s been a mixture of things from frustrating (just because of the tediousness of all the details), and exciting, and of course extremely emotional. Even though my daughter technically turned 18 on the first day of May I knew my actual job wasn’t really done until she successfully walked across that stage and received her high school diploma.

And yes, of course I know that a parent’s job is never actually done, but from birth until high school graduation is one really long chapter and once it closes the next chapter is going to look a bit different. I know this next chapter is going to be me parenting an adult child. I have to balance knowing when to trust that I raised her well enough to make the right decisions for herself and her newly adult life while knowing when to covertly sneak in and steer her in the direction I know is best for her but still making her think it was all really her choice lol.

I’m laughing but not really because isn’t that what we do when you strongly advise them to do something, giving them the benefit of our experiences. After that we just cross our fingers and hope they make the right call and that if they don’t make the choice we would’ve made, pray that your child is right and you are actually wrong because then that means they will be okay.

I am praying that I did a good enough job and that I instilled in her what she needs to make the decisions that will make her journey, not easy, but worthwhile.  I don’t know how this new chapter of parenting and this brand new chapter of adulthood for my child is going to go and I wish I can say I’m one of those people who embrace the excitement of finding out along the way but you guys know that I am not that person lol. 

I just pray that this next chapter for her will be everything that she wants it to be and that I will be able to be there for her in the way that pushes her forward and motivates her because I didn’t have a mother that cheered for my dreams and that supported my creative endeavors. I didn’t have a mother that I could even go to for advice about how best to follow my dreams so I have tried to be that for my daughter.

I just hope that I did my job well so that she can walk her journey with confidence and assuredness that she can, in fact, have everything that she dreams of, as long as she’s willing to put in the work for it. Graduation day is tomorrow and thus this chapter will be closed and a new one can begin. I’m just crossing my fingers and I’m going to cheer her on the whole way through.

Until next time… #BeBrave #BeEmpowered #BeFearless

 

Jimmetta Carpenter 

Writer/Editor 

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Slow and Steady Makes the Journey Worthwhile

I would be telling the biggest lie I’ve ever told if I said that I wasn’t one who was hoping to write something spectacular and hit it big immediately and become rich within the first five years of my writing career.  As you may have guessed, that has not happened. Not only have I not hit it big in name recognition or notoriety but I am so far from rich it’s not even remotely funny. In fact I’m going to let you in on a little secret (that’s not really so secret if you’ve been paying attention lol) but I am not even all that financially stable. I am literally just getting by, and barely.

Where am I going with this, you ask? Simply that sometimes quick and easy is overrated and slow and steady really is the right pace we all should be going. I have had so many experiences, both good and bad, along this journey that is my writing career and there was a time that I would have wished all of the struggles I’ve had away but I realize in doing that I would wish away all of the experiences I’ve had with them. Some of those experiences, especially the bad ones, strengthened me and made me into a much better writer and while you never stop growing as a writer, those experiences were vital.

I think that once I get to the level of success that I am striving for (the first level anyway), I will be far more grateful given all of the long, hard, and oftentimes depression filled years that it took to get me to that place. I have recently launched a few things and am moving closer to re-releasing my first novel with it’s new cover and releasing my poetry books, all while working on new novel projects as well and I am so excited for the day when I can say I have like ten published books (because that day is coming lol).

I think most of all I will look back on this slow (depressingly slow) and steady journey and be thankful that everything didn’t just speed by so quickly and that it wasn’t an easy road because as I’ve said here before, I don’t believe that anything worth having is ever going to be easy to obtain. I want a long steady and very successful career as an author, one with a legacy I can pass down to my daughter and I think maybe that means that the journey needs to be long and steady as well. We would do better to remember that it’s not about how fast you get to where you are going, it’s about making sure that you actually get to where you’re going and hopefully as prepared as you possibly can be. Faster isn’t always better.

Until next time… #BeGrateful #BeDiligent #BePatient 

Jimmetta Carpenter 

Writer/Editor 

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The Patches in Our Quilts

I was listening to an old Tyler Perry acceptance speech that talked about his grandmother’s quilt and how at first he was ashamed of the quilt his grandmother had left him because it wasn’t appealing to the eye. He spoke about learning how to eventually appreciate the patches in his grandmother’s quilt because he had to come to realize that every patch that went into making the quilt she left him told a story of an area in her life and her quilt was the overall story of her life and she was leaving that to him. Initially he hadn’t even understood the enormity of the legacy she had left him. It made me think about whether or not we always understand the value of our patches.

I have often at different points in my life of course, felt shame for some tough lessons I had to learn the hard way. I’ve felt regret for opportunities that I have been too afraid to take and for decisions that I couldn’t take back.  Now that I have just crossed into my forties and I have spent the last few years growing both spiritually and mentally, I have come to believe that those moments in my life that I used to want to take back have made me who I am, for better or for worse.

While I would have loved not to have learned some of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way I wonder if I would have ever learned them otherwise.  Would I have ever been pushed forward without the hardships that I’ve had? If I hadn’t been knocked down so many times would I have developed the tenacity and persistence to be able to keep getting back up and pushing harder for what I want?

All of our experiences in life give us something to take into the next phase of our journeys’. They prepare us and toughen us up for what will undoubtedly be a bumpy road to the success you’re striving for.  The failures that you’ve had in life are not what you should dwell on because those failures mean that you actually tried. One thing is for certain and that is that you can’t succeed at anything without ever having tried. 

My mistakes are what have strengthened me and they are patches in my life’s quilt. I am very proud to sew them together and see just how far I’ve come even if I still have quite a ways to go.  I hope to be able to pass the quilt of my life down to my daughter so that she can then be able to know my story. Perhaps she will add her own patches to the quilt to pass down to her kids in the future.  Everyone needs to be proud of the patches that they have in their quilts and not just proud but understand the value in every single patch.

Until next time… #BeBold #BeFearless #BeGateful

Jimmetta Carpenter 

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We Can’t Judge Someone Else’s Walk

When someone dies, celebrity or otherwise, there is always a slew of prayers and condolences going out to the family and a wave of Rest In Peace’s throughout social media. It’s the ordinary person’s way of expressing their sadness for the loss of life and I think it’s wonderful that we show that expression of sorrow and compassion for the family and friends that are left behind. What I don’t understand is those who will judge that person’s lifestyle and assume to know what their relationship may or may not have been with God (thus making ignorant claims that the person isn’t going to heaven because of the life they’ve lead) as if they were somehow privy to all of their private moments.

One’s relationship with God is their own and seemingly private and I think that it annoys me when people quote parts of the bible without remembering some of the other crucial parts of it. Now I will admit that I can not quote nearly any of the bible other than some of my most favorite scriptures but I know that in the bible it makes it clear that God loved both sinners and saints equally and that he is unbelievably forgiving to those who have been deemed “unredeemable” to the rest of the world.

I don’t make a practice of trying to figure out what someone else’s relationship with God is, for one because I’m still working on strengthening my own. I know that each person will have their own special bond and only God knows what’s in someone’s heart. I just question where some get the nerve to judge the life anyone has lead and determine for themselves where they are going when their spirit leaves this earth. I also distinctly remember the bible saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) ‘judge not, lest ye be judged’ so I think that we should spend more time concerning ourselves with our own walk in life and making sure that what we’re doing is what we perceive is the right thing to do for us and our own journey, spiritually, personally, and professionally. 

We spend far too much time judging other people for things that we can’t possibly know and frankly for things that have absolutely nothing to do with the path that we are currently on. I think I spent far too much time myself, in my younger years, worrying about what everyone else was doing in relation to me, instead of just focusing on my journey, and what I was doing and how I was going to get to where I needed to be. We get sidetracked trying to determine what other people are doing with their lives and where they might go at the end of it and really it’s not for us to say.

When we lose someone, or when someone we love or admire and are inspired by passes on I would hope that we focus on the wisdom they imparted and on the gifts they gave to the world (I don’t mean material or monetary gifts) and how they enriched our lives. I would hope that the worst things or mistakes we’ve ever made in our lives would not be the way that others judged the legacy that we leave behind. We should always strive to remember the best that someone had to offer this world, never the worst.  I hope that you always think before you judge the walk of another person.

Until next time… #BeMindful #BeEncourged #BeGrateful

 

Jimmetta Carpenter 

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We’re Not Always Going to Like What We See, But We Still Need to See It

Before this year even started it was dubbed the year of perfect vision. It was supposed to be the year of clarity and clarification and of people leveling up in their lives. Then the world came crashing to a halt and between the Corona Virus that hit us like a tanker truck and the police brutality that has had a shiny spotlight placed on it which has led to social unrest that we haven’t seen the likes of possibly since the civil rights movement, people are just exhausted: mentally, physically, and emotionally.

We’ve essentially been on lockdown for the better part of this year and have had protests and marches to try to combat racial injustices across the country simultaneously. On top of that we’ve lost so many people as well as influential celebrities this year, some to COVID-19 and some to other illnesses like the most recent loss of Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) which hit really hard for the black community and especially our younger black children who finally got to see a superhero on the big screen that looked like them.

Even with all of that I am still willing myself to see the positive somehow because it doesn’t do any good to dwell and sit in the negative. 2020 may have not been the clarity and clarification that everyone thought we were going to get this year but I implore you to see just how this has actually lived up to the year that people thought it would, it just didn’t look the way that people thought it was going to. I think that if people truly think about what they gained from this year instead of solely focusing on what they might have missed out on or lost then you may be able to see it the way I see it.

Obviously I’m not saying that we should have had the record number of deaths that we have had since COVID-19 hit us because in my mind nobody’s life is ever expendable. However, the lockdown that has transpired in light of COVID-19 has not only slowed some people down who might have needed to slow down a bit, but it also gave something to all of those people who I hear say they would spend more time with their family if only they had the time.

Well during the lockdown, unless you were a frontline worker, you had nothing but time to spend with your children and your loved ones and to focus on so many things that you would have ordinarily taken for granted. For writers with full time jobs who were sidelined due to the lockdown, you then had plenty of time to actually sit down and write the book that you always claimed you never had time for.

Also, during the lockdown, I’m not sure if you all are aware of this, but the hole that was growing in the ozone layer actually had a chance to shrink because everyone was at home and the earth could finally breathe. I read reports from people who lived in places where the air was normally foggy say that the air was actually clear for a change. For the first time in years Spring actually felt like Spring and not just an early Summer.    

In terms of the social unrest, I think that 2020 has highlighted a racial problem this country has that people had either started to believe had gotten better, or their eyes were just closed to the reality of the fact that there is a different American experience for a different set of people in this country. It’s not a reality that is new (especially if you are black in America), it is just a reality that people are actually paying more attention to now. 2020 didn’t bring about these realities, they did however, make people more aware of them.

This year may not be everything that you planned for it to be but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t make some things clearer for a vast majority of people. Hopefully it made it clearer to people what is more important. That there are things that we take for granted and that we have a chance to turn around so that we can refocus on what matters. I hope it made it clear how much damage we have done to this earth, that staying home and essentially not being outside in the world starts to actually heal some of the climate issues that we have been having for a while now. I hope that it peeled back the curtain on the fact that there are two American experiences happening here when there should only be one and maybe people can finally do something about the problem that they were closing their eyes to before.

It’s true, 2020 has been a hell of a year, one like no other, and it’s been hard. Everything that is hard and rough is essentially going to teach us something. The question is are you going to only focus on all that went wrong with this year of perfect vision or are we going to truly see the things that we had already been taking for granted for far longer than we should have been. Our vision was made clear this year, it just wasn’t what we had wanted to see. God always opens our eyes and gives us the ability to see what we need to, but he never said that what we would see would always be pretty. Until next time… #BeFocused #BeMotivated #BeGrateful

 

Jimmetta Carpenter 

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Embracing the Burdens We Carry

“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” ~Numbers 13:30

I read something about obstacles and burdens the other night. It was a parable of sorts in which the young man asked the elderly man what is life’s heaviest burden and the elderly man replied having nothing to carry. I can’t really explain why that struck such a chord with me but it did. I took a few minutes to sit with that statement and really decipher what that meant, in general and more specifically to me. So often we think only of the fact that we have a new problem to face with multiple obstacles to dodge around but I’ve never thought about the reality of the fact that without any problems or obstacles to go through what are we really doing with our lives. I mean if you think about it, when you don’t have any obstacles to face that means that you’re not taking any risks or at least not enough of them. It means that you aren’t being productive to the best of your ability because anything worth pursuing is going to push you outside of your comfort zone, which is essentially going to bring about hurdles to jump over and hoops to propel through.

I had to rethink how I feel about the obstacles and problems that I’ve had to go through in the past and more recently. We always seem to discover how strong we are and how hungry we are for our goals when we are tested and pushed to the brink. I was seeing them as more as something to question as opposed to seeing them as something to embrace. I kept wondering why it was that I keep working so hard to achieve my goals and yet everything still keeps getting in my way. However, after reading that phrase from the young man to the elderly one, I suppose I need to be thankful for those obstacles. Not only do they prove that I am in fact trying and taking risks (arguably not as big of a risk as I would like to be but that’s neither here nor there), but they also push me to keep moving forward and it shows me (in case I sometimes forget) just how much my dreams mean to me.

The thing about obstacles is that they are unavoidable. You can’t really plan to not have obstacles, the best you can really do is strategize the best plan you can to push through those obstacles because they’re inevitable. The problems that we face and the predicaments that we find ourselves having to endure are inevitable but as long as we rely on God and make a plan on how to navigate around the hurdles we face then we won’t ever really fail. Failure means that you never tried and those obstacles that you find yourself weathering through are proof that you did in fact take risks. Remember the saying about Go bringing us through the storms of our lives. Try to also remember that he never said that there wouldn’t be any storms. Embrace the burdens you’ve been given to carry because having nothing to carry at all could be heavier than you realize. Until next time…#BeUncomfortable #BePatient #BeinFaith

 

Jimmetta Carpenter 

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Growing Pains

Growing Pains post 2

So yesterday was Valentine’s Day and oddly enough it got me to thinking about how much I’ve grown. I can remember a time where Valentine’s Day made me anxious. Was I going to be alone on the day of love or was I going to have someone to share it with that particular year? At the stage in my life where it bothered me if I didn’t have a valentine I did not love myself enough yet, hell most days back then I didn’t even like myself (I’m talking late teens and early twenties here), and then whether or not I did like myself usually depended on what someone else thought of me. I didn’t realize it then because people didn’t talk about stuff like mental health but I had already begun my dance with depression and I needed validation from others to feel some sense of self worth.

So needless to say Valentine’s Day has never been one of my favorite days because it was either a really extreme high (because I had someone that year) or an even more extreme low (because I didn’t and I had my mother’s voice echoing in my head telling me no one would ever want me). I don’t bring any of that up to be all sad and depressive, only to point out that I truly have grown. I said a couple of years ago that I was starting a journey in which I wanted to be by myself for a while and grow my relationship with God and the one I have with myself, that I wanted to start to love myself a lot better and treat myself better than anyone else could ever treat me.

Now because I’m a mother and almost every time my daughter and what she needs will come first I don’t always succeed at treating myself to nice things or even pampering myself at all, but I have improved my love of myself and I have (at least I believe I have) strengthened my relationship with God which has also in turn provided even more self awareness and allowed me to see in myself what God sees in me, what HE has always seen in me. For me valentine’s day is no longer about whether I have someone in my life special or not because I know that I always have someone special in my everyday life and that is me (and of course my child but you get the point) and that’s enough.

I’m still growing and there are still improvements that I am making within myself and within my relationship with God but I can truly say that I have a peace within me now that I don’t think I’ve ever had before and I love it. I don’t look at Valentine’s Day with disdain anymore and it doesn’t make me sad like it once did so many years ago. I think that my growth in terms of self acceptance and my spiritual growth has spilled over into my writing career and the journey of fulfilling my purpose and I believe that it will continue to nurture those areas of my life. It’s funny how we rush so fast in our teens and early twenties to grow up without realizing that our growth never really stops, or at least it shouldn’t. I hope that I’m always growing, that we are always growing because there is always so much more to the next stage of life then what we learned on the last.

Jimmetta Carpenter

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The Journey Doesn’t End at a Closed Door

on the other side of the door

As I started this year with all of the excitement and anticipation of anyone dead set on taking their dreams to the next level I sat and thought about something that my pastor preached about a few weeks ago. He talked about not just asking God for what it is that you want out of your life but believing and knowing that God will do for you all that he promised he would do. The important part of his message that he spoke about was how sometimes we allow our impatience and our discouragement hold us back from getting all of the things that we’ve been asking God for. We want what we want right at that moment and somehow we think that if it doesn’t happen on the time table that we had in our mind that it means that it’s never going to happen at all.

I think that that’s what I have been doing, unknowingly of course, but I’ve been so impatient. It sounds funny saying that when I think about the fact that I’ve been at this for over a decade now but if I think back there have been so many moments where I felt like a breakthrough might have been coming but then an obstacle presented itself. Instead of holding steady and pushing through that door which was simply stuck, I turned and went backwards trying to trace my missteps to figure out what I missed that would have made the door open easier and quicker. The truth is, in those moments where I turned and tried to see where I went wrong my energy would have been better spent trying to push through that door that was just stuck, not locked, simply hard to open.

There isn’t a set time where everything is just supposed to magically come together. Just because the results aren’t immediate or as fast paced as you think they should be doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. Everything that is worth having has been won in a struggle. We have to stop putting a time table on our dreams and making it as if they’re not worth striving for if they don’t happen at the precise moment we want them to.

There will always be a different door at the turning point of any moment in your journey and what’s on the other side of it won’t always be easy to access but we can’t give up and we can’t turn back trying to create our own do-over. Now it’s true that there are some doors that were meant to be closed in order for others to open but we can’t confuse what’s not meant for us to open with what just appears to be too hard to open. We have to just push through, no matter how hard we have to push, until we knock that door down. Don’t walk away before you finally get everything that it is you’ve been waiting for. The journey isn’t over just because you have to stay in the same place for a little while longer than you initially planned. Keep pushing through those doors because the next level is coming!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Write the Vision and Make It Plain

“Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the Vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”

~ Habakkuk 2:2

Write the vision and make it plain post

So I was listening to the Steve Harvey Morning show the other morning and it was the end of the show when he usually imparts some words of wisdom for his listeners. This morning he talked about writing your goals and your vision down. He made a point that (and I’m paraphrasing) writing down the goals helps you to visualize the vision in a way that you can’t visualize it if it just remains in your head.

Hearing that made me think about when my focus had gotten off track before and all of the times that I have been thrown off my writing flow it had been during a time frame where I had stopped writing down my goals and my dreams for one reason or another. For someone like me who is a planner, and who likes to have most things planned out to the tee it is hard for me to operate when I don’t have things planned out. I struggle to tow the line between planning things out excessively and not planning things at all to try and not be so obsessive. I think that I’ve realized that I need the structure of planning things out because it is how I am able to see the bigger picture.

There are plenty of people who like to tell me how unattainable my dreams are and all of the reasons that none of them will ever materialize into reality. I will even admit that sometimes I let their rejection of my aspirations deter me from the end goal. However, having them written out, having a vision board that shows me what my end game is, having a certain amount of belief in my overall vision, is what focuses me in the end. It’s not that having a physical representation of my dreams quiets the naysayers, but rather it helps me tune out their voices of belittlement (most of the time anyway) and persevere in the vision that I have, the purpose in which God gave me.

It is so much easier to fight for a dream in which you can visualize what it would look like to reach that goal. It’s true that you can’t see years into the future and that there’s no real way to predict how it all will turn out but you still have to keep your eyes on the road ahead of you to get yourself to the next part in the journey. If you have nothing to aim for, no goal in your sights, then what are you really working towards. Can you see what the end goal will be? Can you visualize your journey? Visualize and believe in yourself! The season you’re in right now is not the season that you will stay in forever!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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No Risk = No Reward

No Risk No Reward 2

Children are fearless and their tenacity has no boundaries. It’s wonderful and exciting to watch a child get an idea for something and because they have absolutely no fear and no worries about rejection they go for any and everything. I wonder at what age we lose that fearless, tenacious spirit. Adults are far less likely to try new things, unlike children, because all of the fear seeps in. They wonder, what if I get hurt? What if it doesn’t work? What if someone else does this better than me? What if no one gets it? What if no one accepts it? Children miraculously don’t worry about such things. They just go for it! If it fails they simply get back up and try again as if the failure never happened to begin with. Why do we lose that as we get older?

In my more recent journey of becoming more spiritually grounded I knew that one of the things that I needed to work on within myself and that needed to be changed was my many different degrees of fear. I have a lot of defense mechanisms that have become sort of a crutch for me. One particularly bad one that I’ve been trying to break is one where I play out all of the worst case scenarios in my head when thinking about attempting something new or, in my case as a writer, submitting something. And while it is good to be realistic about the good and bad of something so that you can be prepared for either outcome, in my case dwelling on the possible negative outcomes have somehow held me back from even attempting things at all. It wasn’t intentional but I would find ways to talk myself out of doing something or submitting something because I had convinced myself that it was never going to be accepted anyway so why bother.

I have no idea when it happened? When I began to think about all of what made me afraid of going after the dreams I have instead of the wonderful things that can come from achieving them. I wasn’t always so fearful and I used to like taking risks but perhaps my risks were met with too many rejections and not enough rewards. But that’s life isn’t it. Looking back on all of the “failures” I have had in attempting my dreams I can ascertain the many lessons that came out of them. However, I am also realizing that some of the more recent “failures” I have had happened, not because of the risks that didn’t pan out, but rather because of the risks that I was too afraid to take to begin with.

A lot of times we don’t try new things because we can’t predict the outcome. We don’t want to fail so we think that it’s better to never actually try. Somehow it is more appealing to not put ourselves out there because then it means that we can’t get hurt, our ideas can’t get rejected, and no one can tell us that what we’ve poured our hearts into is somehow not good enough. However, that also means that our ideas don’t get heard at all and that what we have effectively poured our hearts into just sits around never being seen by anyone. If we never leave the place that feels comfortable for us, the place that’s safe for us then we miss out on so many things and we will never truly succeed. At that point we would simply be living in our fears instead of living up to our dreams. So, while our comfort zones may make us feel protected we can’t stay there if expect to get to where it is we are destined to end up.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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