Our Greatest Fear
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
It's been forty-five minutes since the dog and I returned from our late afternoon "smell walk." She's fifteen, old by dog standards, and so we took our time investigating overturned rocks and errant leaves. There's really no rush. The washing machine gave up the ghost yesterday afternoon, and so there's no laundry to do. No dishes to wash or floors to clean. The toilets are clean enough. Walt's on a trip tonight, so no dinner to make or small talk to fill the evening hours. There's absolutely no reason not to start on my next novel, so why am I stalling?
In the 1990s, I worked for a company in Dayton, Ohio that sponsored a short-lived women's networking group. I don't remember much from the group save one specific talk about "career derailers" that focused on how we're our own worst enemies when it comes to managing our careers. The talk was focused on women in the workplace, but it applies to all of us. I know that if I were to look in my trophy drawer of earned tee shirts, I'd have at least a dozen with "WELL, I SHOT MYSELF IN THE FOOT AGAIN" stamped with the appropriate date, time, and location of the offense. What I'd done to earn the trophy is irrelevant as each is a variation of the same thing: I wasn't sure I was enough, and so I quit.
The draft of my first novel is with my editor. I had an initial conversation with a cover designer and another with a professional narrator for the audiobook today. Things are falling in place for a June release, so I listened in on a new Clubhouse room today, this one was entitled: "What are your Biggest Hurdles?" It was a good discussion, led by an award-winning writer and his partner, a well-respected agent. When it was my turn to speak, I offered that it's easier for me to write about topics that provide the reader with information or facts than it is for me to write about anything too close to real life--to my real life, that is. The moderator's response surprised me.
The agent reminded me that my books (and blogs) will touch my readers in ways I will never know. That each of us has something, some gift to share with someone who needs that gift. Her partner added that one of the things that holds us back as writers is that we don't appreciate or value ourselves and the gifts we have to share. We don't feel we're enough, and so we quit--often just as we're about to shine our brightest. Then he quoted a beautiful poem by Marianne Williamson entitled "Our Greatest Fear" and I was reminded of that workshop from almost thirty years ago and Jo McDermott standing tall in front of a group of women looking for permission to be who they already were: brilliant, strong, and talented leaders.
My thanks to Jo--I doubt that she knows the impact that one lecture had on my career and my life. And my thanks to Naz Ahsun and Laurence Gouldbourne for their inspiration this afternoon.
Our Greatest Fear
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
(Return to Love by Marianne Williamson)