Beware of “Easy”: Embracing the Thrill of Challenge.

Photo credit: Wikipedia. This is a photo of Walden Pond. A new favorite place, and a spot on the map that i can’t wait to visit far more often.

I have been wanting to write this post all weekend. I’m so freaking jazzed today–so focused, so optimistic. I’m sitting here in my blogging chair, hair freshly conditioned and smelling of peppermint and lavender, listening to Vivaldi–There is just no other composer (with the exception of Aaron Coplin) who really speaks to me. Vivaldi is going to be my co-pilot for quiet a bit of these next few weeks, because I’m just utterly inspired and I have so much to do.

This weekend was affirming and full of joyful and contemplative moments. We unpacked the master bedroom, the last room in the house to be given attention to. We put up pictures all over the house, finally giving the “lived in” feel that we’ve been so yearning for. The house noticed, too, relinquishing some of the items she’d been hiding from us, including Ursa Minor’s sippy cup, which I’ve been spending that last 3 weeks searching for! We allowed the boys to run barefoot in the backyard, experiencing the joy of soft green grass and squishy giving dirt between their little toes. Ursa Major got his go-to-school hair cut–nice and short! He’s going to look so handsome on the first day of school. Ursa Minor got one, too, mostly because his hair is just so utterly wild when it is long. We celebrated my husband’s big 30th birthday with steamed shrimp and chocolate chip cookies (his request. I would have designed an altogether different menu). We were a family, whole, together, happy for the first weekend in seemingly a long, long time. I am also happy to report that I’ve found no less than three favorite places in this new little community of mine.

All of the reasons listed above are good enough to have made this a pretty fantastic weekend. However, I was also given the precious gift of time, and I was able to use it in a beautiful place on an absolutely perfect day. It’s not often that I get to leave the house with no husband and no babies, and when I do, it’s usually to go to the grocery store or run some other annoying errand. But once every 3 months or so, I get an opportunity to take my own time to do as I see fit, and I got that this weekend. For exactly 3 hours on Saturday, I was free from the burden of “mom” and “wife.” I was “friend,” instead, with no other responsibilities than to lend an ear. 3 hours of listening and being listened to. And in those three precious hours, I was given challenges, directives, and little bits of inspiration. I’m so excited to seize on all of them. Not only did I find another little place and opportunity to love where I live, I think that I got a little chance to remember that I’m doing the right thing and I’m walking in the right direction.

I was reminded this weekend about the lie of ease–the idea that less challenge is what we should prefer. That we should, whenever possible, just do the easy thing for want of comfort or expedition. I know that I’ve made “easy” and “comfortable” choices–I’m very risk averse–and I’ve often come to regret those choices, or find disappointment in their  results. It has been the times when I’ve stepped up and taken on the challenge and burden of leadership or responsibility or creativity that I’ve been able to be fully satisfied with the outcome. For example, I revamped my playgroup’s website last week, created a schedule for parent roles for the entire semester, set up a budget, and set expectations for the group–all while recruiting another family to join us. It would have been so easy to let the group disband when the leader at the time became pregnant and decided not to continue. It would have been easy to give up on it after a disastrous winter where everyone failed to do their roles and attendance was low. But letting that group live means that one day a week, my son will get to play with children from at least 5 different nations. It’s the most diversity he’s going to see in his little life right now. I decided to take on the burden of something I valued and I’ve been able to develop skills I didn’t know I had while I also provide something important for my children.

“Easy” can also be the fuzzy gauze that falls upon challenging dreams, letting them fade from sight and therefore from mind. Like my writing, for example. I’ve dreamed of being a writer for years–I’m preparing for my 5th NaNoWriMo (My 3rd as a mentor), and I’ve been writing short stories every week. I do the research, I participate in groups, keep making baby steps in the direction I think I’m supposed to go..but I’ve never submitted a piece anywhere. I’ve never finished a novel-length story, edited it, and tried to get it published. I signed up for Amazon to consider possibly self-publishing… but I keep tying myself into knots with excuses. A fear of failure and embarrassment holds me back. This isn’t my skillset, I tell myself. This wasn’t my major, I tell myself. My work is awful, I tell myself.

I used to tell my students not to fear failure, that it is an essential part of learning. The truth is, I haven’t taken that advice in a very, very long time.

and I don’t know if I’m brave enough or strong enough to start today.

But I was challenged on Saturday. I was inspired on Saturday. I was given a directive on Saturday. On Saturday, I realized that I’m so lucky and so fortunate that there are people who help me carry my dreams. That they may, even, dream on my behalf. And that I do the same for them. And that some of us are lucky enough to never have to journey alone. So I’m going to honor that time, trust and enlightenment. I’m going to dare myself to learn, grow and very possibly (highly possibly–most likely) fail.

I keep telling you that I’m going on vacation. I’ll have internet access for part of that time… but there will be a large portion of it when internet will be spotty at best. I was content to just let the time lapse, but now I’ve got an idea. I’m going to do an experiment.

I’m going to write 3 autobiographical pieces. I’m going to experiment a little bit with story and voice, and I’m going to share three very personal stories. I’m taking a considerable risk with one of those stories, because I’m going to break my pseudonym. I’m going to present myself imperfectly on purpose, something I’ve never ever done. The scariest part about this is that I’m going to put these stories in the can–they will pop automatically on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I probably won’t be able to see your reactions to them at all. No internet means I won’t be able to check my stats or read your comments, or edit after reading them and finding 10 typos. Risk, risk, risk… foolishness on an astronomical level.

and I’ve got something else, too.

I’m going to publish a book on my 30th birthday. 80,000 words of fiction (or non-fiction!) will come from these fingers, be edited, and be put onto the market on September 27th, 2014.  I’ve tried to say this before, but never with conviction. Never with the full weight and gravitas that I give a deadline.

I will write a book. I will be a mother. I will be a wife. I will run a playgroup. I will shepherd my son through preschool. I will…

buy a house?

I got a phone call on Sunday afternoon not 15 minutes after getting off the phone with my grandmother.

My realtor had called. “The selling family wanted to know why you backed out of the house offer. I told them that it was more expensive of a project that you wanted to take on, and that their number was unreasonable based on your budget.”

My jaw dropped, “uh huh?”

“Well, it seems that they are interested in knowing what your number would be for the house. I mean, you can basically tell them whatever you want… I can tell them no or I can give them a number.”

I looked at my husband and pulled out a number: “$250,000 with them doing the septic, too. And that’s a hard number. I won’t negotiate any further. and I’m going on vacation, so I want to know before I leave.”

“You’ve got it. I’ll let them know.”

and we hung up the phone.

The house was put on the market for $300,000. It went down to $279,000 and they only went down to $270,000 by the time we walked away. The septic will cost them $30,000 to do.

I don’t think they’ll take the offer.  But if the house is only worth market value and I’m the market, then that is my price. I hate sitting in this chair waiting, once again, for a call from my realtor.

But it would have been easy to say no. Finding a place to raise my sons and build some equity is a challenge.


Mondays suck, but they are a call to action. So I hope that you are as inspired as I am this week. I’m looking forward to sharing my 3 special pieces with you–they’ll pop next Monday, Wednesday and Friday first thing in the morning. I plan to blog regularly this week because I’ll have access to the net (though I might check in late on Wednesday).

And if anyone wants to take up a big, crazy, risk-taking challenge with me, please, please share. I’m learning that I don’t walk alone, but the more company, the better. Let’s dream big dreams together.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow! Glad things are going so fantastic. Hope it stays that way and you get the house too! 🙂

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Thanks! Optimism reigns today, but tomorrow… well, we’ll see how it goes. 🙂

      The realtor just called– “The seller hasn’t said no, yet.” Is what she said. Lordy. We’ll see what happens.

  2. You write beautifully. I’m so glad everything is coming together for you. You have inspired me as well.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Wow, thank you so much! I really appreciate it! Thank you for reading my blog! I’m glad that inspiration is contagious–I hope you go out and conquer something today!

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