“As soon as anyone starts telling you to be “realistic,” cross that person off your invitation list.” –John Eliot
What are you not supposed to do?
What’s off limits?
What’s against the rules?
Now, I’m not talking about running a red light or dining and dashing, I’m talking about the internal rules, the rules of your family system, the rules that make you feel small and stuck, disappointed and sometimes, enraged.
If it feels too risky to dive right in and answer, try making a list. I’m a HUGE fan of lists. Writing them in an automatic way is the best. Set a timer for 3 minutes and write WITHOUT STOPPING. I mean that. If you get stuck, write the same sentence over or write, I’m stuck, or I don’t know what to write, or This is stupid, or Kyra is an idiot–why is she making me do this.
Write down anything that feels out of bounds, outrageous, dangerous, silly, out of your league, and especially, anything that seems UNREALISTIC.
Try starting with some phrases to get you going:
I would look like a fool if I …
I would embarrass myself if I …
It’s too late for me to …
I wish I had found the courage to …
I’ve always wanted to …
I wish I had been encouraged to …
It feels against the rules for me to …
I’m wildly jealous of (so and so) because she/he/they …
My (family/friends/partner/children) would mock me/be mad at me if I tried …
Once you have your list, read it over. Notice what you notice. Are there themes? Are there surprises?
As you read them, notice what happens in your body.
Notice what you feel. (Ignore what you say in your head.)
Notice where there is the biggest charge.
That is your soul telling you something important.
That is your soul longing for a greater freedom.
Listen: I’ve been wanting to paint for a long time. Decades. My best friend from childhood is a brilliant artist and painter. She’s been clear about who she is since forever. She’s been an artist her whole life. I remember when she stayed up all night in my NYC apartment drawing her first paid assignment for the New York Times when we were both 22. She is the most loving, supportive human on the planet, always my cheerleader about everything. But a few years ago, when I started to paint and post my art on the Facebook or the Instagram, here’s what my mind said:
She’s going to judge me.
She’s going to think I’m honing in on her territory.
She’s going to think I’m full of myself.
She’s going to think I’m copying her.
She’s going to think I’m trying to be someone I’m not.
She doesn’t think these things. My mind does.
Why? I’ll tell you: My mind is trying to protect me. Isn’t that CRAY? It’s trying to keep me safe. It’s trying to keep me in the confines of the familiar, the tested, the known, even while my soul has been straining against those bounds for years. It’s trying to keep me out of the perceived RESTRICTED AREA.
But here’s the thing about that area: (1) All the goodies are in there. (2) It’s marked off with caution tape.
We citizens abide that tape when we come across it out in the world and that is good. It keeps things from breaking down into chaos.
But in our soulful lives, that chaos is teaming with creativity. The I Don’t Know What I’m Doing free fall is the birthplace of discovery and innovation.
You don’t do it all at once.
You do it one tiny step at a time.
And the first step is simply lifting that tape and stepping into the Restricted Area.
What might that look like for you, Dear Reader?
Maybe it’s making your list.
Maybe it’s gathering some supplies.
Maybe it’s clearing a space on a shelf or counter.
Maybe it’s poking around your neighborhood or the internet for information about workshops and classes or other jobs and career paths.
Whatever is it, know this: That it feels off limits is GOOD because it’s information. About what’s possible. About something alive in you that is yearning for air.
Step inside. Look around. Breathe.
There is no freedom without risk.