It was January. Winter in Wisconsin (pause for dramatic weather warning effect.) I had just started hemodialysis. You know those big scary blood-sucking dialysis machines you've seen on CSI or New Amsterdam? Yeah, that's the kind of dialysis I was doing three days a week for three and a half hours.
I'm incredibly grateful for those machines. They are a life-saving invention. I had 40 pounds of fluid built up in my body, and after about two weeks of treatment, all that fluid was pulled off, and I could move and breathe again! I started to feel light and had energy! My spirits lifted. But over three months, my energy began to wain again, and I was definitely ready for the kidney transplant.
One day my sister, Ali, called to see how I was doing. I told her, 'not great.' I said, "I'm on dialysis now, and I'm going through a midlife crisis." We laughed, but the truth was it really sucked! Have you been through a midlife crisis yet? I don't recommend it. It entails waking up every morning regretting every good and bad choice you've ever made in your life, then sitting down to a big heaping plate of self-loathing. No Bueno!
My startling discovery? I couldn't believe how much stock I put into being 'COOL.'
Being cool meant being excellent at skiing, mountain biking, singing, playing the guitar, coaching, etc. I thought I had to be rough and tumble enough for all my outdoor passions, soft and tender enough to be female and loved by my husband, and rock n' roll enough to be considered a worthwhile musician. I Balanced all these personas to fit in, and even harder to admit, hide my insecurities surrounding my socioeconomic status. The truth is I have been 'broke' my whole life (more on that in another post), and it's been a giant source of shame for me. Trying to be cool was like a giant band-aid and allowed me to avoid feeling the pain of my self-image.
Sitting on dialysis, contemplating my regrets, I felt that coolness slowly slipping through my fingers. I wouldn't be going back to ski racing or plunge myself into some dangerous free falling aerial stunts! And music? Well, I wasn't going to represent all the women with disabilities on massive stages and eat the crowd's hearts out with my earth-shattering vocals and lyrics! And even more painful, I was terrified of being forgotten.
My absolute biggest fear was that once that last page turned, my story would be shut and shuffled to the bottom of a pile of dusty books. Was I really cool enough to be remembered?
Have you ever felt like this before? I'm interested to know how you have or are getting through it, and what keeps you reaching forward.
Ain't it the truth! Let me tell ya', trying to be 'cool' has held me back from diving in and taking risks I was too afraid to take out of fear of what people thought. How many calls didn't I make to ask for help because I was too afraid to be vulnerable? How often did I avoid self-promotion of my music because I didn't know I was "good enough?" How many sleepless nights did I agonize over something dumb I said to a person who didn't give a damn about me anyway? Deep down, I knew the truth. It wasn't the 'cool' that I would be remembered for.
This was one of the big reasons I adopted my new mantra:
SHOW UP BRAVE!
Sure, I'll jump off cliffs into raging rivers, or ski down concrete-like ice mountains, but being vulnerable? Now that's real bravery!
I want to be the brave that stands up for others, trust my own abilities, reveal my true self, and share my wild, crazy heart.
Getting back to my conversation with Ali. We talked about doing something outrageous! Something daring! A step into the dark! That's when we came up with the idea: A mascot for team LIFE!
"Oh! I know," Ali told me excitedly. "You text all your followers to meet you, then we drive you to the location, and boot you out to the curb in your wheelchair and mascot outfit, then speed off in the van." Laughing so hard, I said, "Like a drive-by?"
"Yeah! Like, 'Come get a life! On the street corner of Main and 10th!'" We were dying with laughter. My abs hurt so dang bad! The conversation alone made my day.
Later, I thought this crazy idea was totally what I needed. I went online, order my Unicorn head, and BOOM! Mascot Unicorn Monday's were born.
Here's the deal: It's easy to hide your uncool-weird in the cupboard and only get it out when you're alone. Ever done this? You know what I'm talkin' 'bout. It's a whole other thing to share it with the world.
Putting on the UNICORN was my way of stripping off the need for acceptance, and stepping into my WILD BRAVE HEART! It was one of those, "Am I seriously going to do this?" Then, "okay. Here we go!" I didn't know what the response would be, and suddenly, I didn't care. It was lifting my heart, making me laugh my buttocks off, and so much fun!
The five things I'm learning from being a unicorn mascot:
1. People that already like you still like you.
2. Giving something to people that makes them smile or laugh feels good.
3. You learn excellent skills in doing something different.
4. Stepping out of your comfort zone helps to forget the pain you had inside the comfort zone.
5. You don't need anyone to be weird with you. You're perfectly capable of being weird all on your own. It's just more fun with someone else.
My friend, let me ask you: what's one thing you could do to step into your WILD BRAVE HEART? If you feel so inclined, please share in the comments below.
My dear, you are enough just as you are! You are brave! You are here! You are alive! I am sooo grateful you are here with me on this journey.
Join me Monday's on bravelace.com, to get your Mascot Monday fix and see me being super dorky, stepping into the uncool space of fun discovery.
With my whole weird and wild heart,