Even as a little girl with lopsided ponytails, I used to drag an old canoe from our cabin to the little pond down the dirt road. I’d scoot it off the bank and step inside, fully aware of balancing my weight in the middle. I’d drift from one side of the pond to the other, listening to the buzz of insects and the dripping sounds of the oars when I eased them out of the water. Nothing is calmer than a canoe on a smooth pond.
My sister lives near Lake Tahoe and for years, she’s sent pictures of her and the kids on their paddle boards out on the lake. I’ve seen drone footage of the family enjoying the sun on the cool water and I’ve thought, “I’ve always wanted to try that!”
We live only 30 minutes from Lake Mead. In the 10 years we’ve lived here, I’ve looked up paddle boarding rentals at the lake a couple times. We’ve taken trips to various California beaches. I looked up paddle boarding rentals near each one. My husband surprised me with an anniversary trip to Hawaii. I looked up paddle boarding rentals on the island. I didn’t call any of them. Not one.
Wait, what? Why?
Each time, I overanalyzed it. Every possible justification and worse-case-scenario tumbled out of my mouth and convinced me to stay in my comfort zone:
It cost too much. We had earmarked our savings for something else. Keith wouldn’t go with me. The waves were too choppy. Maybe when I lost 25 pounds. Maybe when our kids matured a little. The lake was low, and the beaches were rocky. We didn’t have the time. We didn’t have anyone to go with us.
And so…we never did it.
A few years ago, my sister suggested a family get-together at a vacation rental on Tahoe. Just down the road from the lake. She brought the boards with her. I knew she would. She unstrapped the boards and stacked the equipment on the beach next to each one.
My boys watched, fascinated, as their cousins easily stepped onto the boards and paddled out to the buoys. They sat and rested on the boards, splashing each other, and waving to an occasional jet ski passing by. For the most part, we had the beach to ourselves. When the girls paddled back to the shore, my sister asked me if I wanted a turn.
After all this time, you’d think I’d jump at the chance.
“No, let the kids go first,” I replied, my martyr-self ready to sit on the beach all day with the toddlers burying their flip flops in the sand.
“Oh, come on!” she insisted.
“No, you go on ahead.”
“Seriously?” She shook her head, then offered a paddle to Keith.
He waffled a little, but then surprised me with an eager, “Okay, sure!” My husband, secure in his life jacket, tackled his lifelong fear of water and paddled out, by himself, beyond the safety of the shore.
I had no excuse.
If Keith could do it, then I could too. And guess what? It was FUN! More fun than I’ve had in a long time. I knew it would be amazing.
So what held me back?
Fear of looking stupid. Fear of having no idea what I’m doing. Fear of falling and not being able to hoist my overweight booty back onto the board. Fear of my family falling into the deepest part of the lake and me not being able to pull them out. Fear of adding yet another tally mark to my subconscious “I suck” list. Fear of my boys falling in love with it, which would mean I’d have to buy the equipment and commit to so many weekends on the lake every year to enjoy it together. Fear of anything and everything so that I’d stay completely snug in my comfort zone on the sideline.
Do you have something you’ve always wanted to try? Do you have a list?
When I tell people I’m an author, about to release my first book, I often get a response like, “Wow, I’ve always wanted to do that.” Whenever I’m in the middle of a conversation about my family, eventually, we end up talking about adoption. It’s amazing how many people have considered it. Same with foster care.
I am declaring Tuesday, July 19, “I’ve always wanted to do that” day! It’s official. I said it. It’s on the internet. I have no idea how it will gain a spot on the National calendar, but let it be written, at least in this corner of the world.
Again I ask, “What’s something you’ve always wanted to do?”
I’m not talking about tackling a bucket list.
A bucket list feels like big accomplishments, grand adventures, things you PROMISE yourself that you WILL achieve before you die.
An “I’ve always wanted to do that” list consists of much smaller experiences, sometimes silly things, that you may or may not get around to doing:
· There’s a boutique that I pass on the way to Target—I’ve always wanted to go in it.
· I’ve never had a massage but have always wanted to try one. I have terrible tension headaches.
· I’ve never been on a date where you had to really dress up, like they do in old movies.
· I’ve always wanted to pay for someone else’s food in a restaurant and sneak out before they realize it.
· Dessert first
· I’ve never celebrated my birthday in the summer. (I’m totally rescheduling my overlooked, overscheduled December birthday!!)
This is about facing fear. Enjoying life. Shutting down the justifications and worst-case-scenarios in my head. What if some of the best memories with my family are just around the corner—and I’m hesitating? Why? Am I afraid of what someone will think? Or if I look stupid? Or if I fail?
With an “I’ve always wanted to do that” list, the stakes are low. Most cost very little or nothing at all. Many times, it won’t change your entire life in a moment.
But in tackling that list, you keep a promise to yourself. You’ve always wanted to do that…and you #didit.
My dream of releasing a real book in a real bookstore will become a reality on July 19th. This is a HUGE #didit win for me! Do you know how many times it would have been easier to set my little hobby aside? To talk myself out of it? To get hung up on the investment of time and money instead of the message that needs to be shared?
I won’t be the only one celebrating that day. For the next four weeks, I want to celebrate your victories. The promises kept. The adventures yet to be had. The fact that you did something you have always wanted to do. Please share! Use the hashtag #didit to win some swag from my book launch.
Go to Cheesecake Factory! Order the cheesecake first!
Reserve your paddle board down by the lake and give it a try!
Write the opening paragraph of your very first draft!
Keep a promise to yourself. Even if you are the only one who knows about it. You won’t regret it. In fact, it might be something that brings you a whole new level of happiness. You never know…