Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve written before about my experience at Storyline this past October, and how deeply it influenced me. I truly believe had it not been for attending that conference, I’d never have written The Fault in my Scars. Had I not already written The Fault in my Scars, I probably would not have written He Wrote it Down. Had I not written THAT, well, most of you would probably not be reading this right now.
Before He Wrote it Down, I think I had 35 followers here. I just reached 2000 today. That’s a little inconceivable to me. It’s a crazy blessing.
I have so many incredible memories from those few days in Chicago. I could feel myself changing and growing, which is unusual. Typically, you look back and marvel at your evolution- because it was so incremental that you were unaware it was happening. That experience was different, though. I could feel the tectonic plates in my heart and soul shifting and settling. I could feel parts of myself I didn’t even realize were broken reassembling themselves into a new and better puzzle.
It was inspiring and healing on so many levels. I think everyone should go. I’ll see you guys there.
The thing that happened at Storyline that I think about most often, and with the most affection, though, is likely not what you would expect. It isn’t any of the amazing speakers we heard- although I think about them all the time. It isn’t the phenomenal women with whom I spent those three days, although I came to adore them.
It’s the girl with the nose on the top of her head.
The conference spanned three days, one of which was Halloween. Upon walking into the auditorium we were all handed a pair of plastic Groucho Marx glasses, complete with mustache.
There was a time when I either would not have put them on, or I would have done so because I felt pressured- but it would have been grudgingly and I’d have been embarrassed. I’d have put them on furtively, and only for as long as I absolutely had to. And no pictures, thankyouverymuch.
When we sat down and got ourselves settled, I noticed the young woman in front of us had her glasses pushed up like a headband. The result was that this great big nose was pointed skyward on top of her head.
For some reason it just really tickled me. I elbowed Kelli (sorry Kelli. You’re pretty!) and gestured for her to look. She smiled.
Then I did something that until recently I would never have done. I tapped the young woman on the shoulder. She turned around. I smiled, pointed to the glasses and said, “Um… I think you’re doing it wrong.”
She laughed (thankgoodness) and we introduced ourselves. Her name is Alex. She’s British, so everything she says sounds lovely. She’s a writer. She’s funny, and smart, and kind. She has one of those faces that is WIDE OPEN. That’s my favorite kind of face.
It was the opposite of my face, for most of my life. I was pretty closed off. I faked it really well. I was friendly, but never open. There is a big difference, you know.
We had a great conversation. We talked about Glennon– who is the reason Alex was there. THANK YOU FOR YET ANOTHER GIFT, G. We talked about blogging. I’d just started a few weeks earlier. We exchanged business cards. In fact, Alex was the very first person I ever gave a card to. I felt like a complete fraud for even having them, to be perfectly honest.
When I think about the fact that a few years ago I would never have risked looking foolish by striking up a conversation with her, it makes me really sad. For most of my life I was pretty risk averse. I’ve written before about my tendency toward catastrophic thinking. I won’t say that I never do it any more, but I have become a little braver about taking chances in my day to day life. I still think about the worst case scenario, but I am more inclined to decide that the potential reward, like, say, a delightful new friend, far outweighs the risk of getting a dirty look from a stranger.
I used to be afraid to fail, or look silly. I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid to put on the plastic nose.
I think it’s safe to say I’ve gotten over that. And I am get down on my knees and thank God grateful for that, every minute of every day.
Here’s to taking chances and the gifts it brings.
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