Category Archives: Uncategorized

Responding to Reacting

When brilliant writer/director/actor Harold Ramis died in 2014, in one of the many appreciations of the man and his work, I came across a gem from Mike Sacks’s interview with him in And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft. Ramis said, discussing his job in 1966:

“I worked in a mental institution in St. Louis, which prepared me well for when I went out to Hollywood to work with actors. People laugh when I say that, but it was actually very good training. And not just with actors; it was good training for just living in the world. It’s knowing how to deal with people who might be reacting in a way that’s connected to anxiety or grief or fear or rage. As a director, you’re dealing with that constantly with actors. But if I were a businessman, I’d probably be applying those same principles to that line of work.”

The world looks different when viewed through that kind of lens—acknowledging the twisty roots of human behavior. It’s easier to connect with compassion, rather than judgment, when you can glimpse the anxiety, grief, fear, or rage that might be just below the surface of someone’s actions. And this works with your own behavior as well as other people’s, because self-compassion is essential.

So often, we project our own story onto behavior we witness. They are doing X because Y. I am doing this because that. When the real story comes to light (if it ever does), we are surprised to learn that what was going on was not at all what we thought was happening. Sometimes our story is a long way from reality.

We have traveled to Texas five times since March to care for Fred’s mom, Sarah. When we were coming home from a trip in May, the aftermath of terrible storms was causing intermittent power failures at Love Field airport. Everyone in the check-in hall groaned every time the lights blinked off, meaning the computers all had to very, very slowly reboot. It took us an hour and a half to check our bags, though we were still on time for our delayed flight. When we arrived at our gate to board, however, we were told the plane had left early without us. Ruby immediately burst into sobs. She had been—and continues to be—a trouper through the countless upheavals and missed activities of this spring and summer. At that moment, though, the dam burst and all her grief poured out. She just really wanted to go home, to be in her own room.

An observer might have thought she was overreacting or was just a spoiled child having a tantrum. Her parents knew that she had finally reached a breaking point after months of anxiety, grief, fear, and rage as her beloved grandma copes with a terminal diagnosis. I was frayed from Ruby’s growing impatience during the long bag-check process and rather sharply sent her away, and then rather sharply sent Fred to sit with her so that I could negotiate a new path home with the gate agent. That sweet agent saw us with compassion and swooped in to put us on the earliest possible flight on standby, plus another standby and a definite late-night flight back to DC.

After we had a way home, I joined Fred and Ruby and apologized. We hugged and talked and discovered that beyond just desperately wanting to go home, Ruby was deeply worried that her beloved stuffed animals, packed in her checked suitcase, would not make it home when we did. I realized that our seasoned traveler has rarely had to deal with travel troubles, so she had no frame of reference for what would happen to her bag in this situation. We reassured her about where bags go if they take a trip without you and agreed to buy her a stuffed animal before we left the airport, just in case. Shelly the Texas armadillo has been a nice addition to the family. And Ruby got to sit in the cockpit when we stopped in St. Louis, something she would have missed on our nonstop flight.

As you go through your day, think of the compassionate wisdom offered by Harold Ramis. Think of Ruby, catastrophizing in the airport. Don’t assume you know the drivers of anyone’s behavior, including your own. Ask more questions. Listen to the answers. Be more loving. Respond with compassion.

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

Joy and Sadness

I have not been blogging for several months now. Our family has been away from home for many weeks throughout the winter and spring, supporting Sarah, Fred’s mother, who has advanced brain cancer. Now that spring has slipped into summer, I have finished a few client projects and am returning to writing.

The wise and funny Jen Louden recently wrote some beautiful pieces that captured the difficulties and beauties of living in liminal space. She reminded me that we can keep creating in the midst of uncertainty. Read Jen’s posts here:

How to live when everything is up in the air

How to take care of yourself when everything is up in the air

This week, as we luxuriated in the pool on a hot Texas night, beautiful, thoughtful Brandie Sellers talked with me about her own writing journey through one of the online classes offered by Patti Digh. (Brandie and I met at Patti’s Life is a Verb Camp in 2014.) Part of our discussion centered on the possibility of joy coexisting with sadness and difficulty.

This, to me, was one of the key messages in the marvelous movie from Pixar, Inside Out. [Spoilers ahead, so skip ahead to the next paragraph if you would rather not know more about the movie’s storyline.] Joy flits around Riley’s head, trying to maximize joy in all of Riley’s experiences. It’s clear that Joy is the dominant emotion, pushing aside Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. When Joy realizes that Sadness is touching Riley’s core memories, thereby tingeing them with sadness, she tries to isolate Sadness to safeguard those memories. By the end of Inside Out, though, Joy has learned that she had overlooked aspects of some memories that involved other emotions. She accepts that Riley needs Sadness (and all the other emotions), not just pure Joy. Riley realizes that she doesn’t need to feel pressure to be the happy girl her parents praise, because they also sit with her and offer comfort when she is sad.

Ruby had been anxiously awaiting the release of this movie for months, ever since we saw the first trailer. It opened the door for some interesting conversations about emotions, particularly since we are navigating though a deeply difficult time, caring for Sarah, being far from home for weeks at a time, having our work and school and gym routines disrupted, losing the natural rhythms that keep us healthy and happy, and being far away from friends and familiar places. We are all deeply homesick. We also all agreed that spending time in Texas was the right thing to do.

When we left the movie theater after seeing Inside Out, we returned to sit with Sarah for the second time that day. She had had another fall and slept a great deal for several days afterward. Once in while, she would open her eyes and initiate a conversation before nodding off again. Since that day, Sarah has had some good days and been more alert, but is often frustrated by being unable to remember names, particular words, visitors, and recent events. We have shared the imagery used in the movie to talk about memories getting lost, and how that is part of the disease process with glioblastoma multiforme.

Today, we spent part of our morning engaged in conversation about whether or not to reschedule our cancelled flight home for early next week. We worked through some feelings and scenarios and decided to again extend our stay, even though it is hard on all of us, even though we don’t know what the best decision is at present. We signed Ruby up for day camp next week and talked about work and household tasks and supports we can create for ourselves and each other. And in the middle of our difficult conversation, Fred inadvertently, and then purposely, made us all laugh. Because joy and sadness can, indeed, coexist.

Connecting With the Curveballs

What do you do when life throws you a curveball? What about those times when the curveballs just keep coming, like a pitching machine that’s gone haywire?

What do you do when health problems, house issues, family or friends in crisis, financial issues, professional stressors, relationship woes, travel, or other challenges are coming one after another—or even simultaneously?

Everything is relatively okay in the larger senses: you’re not in a war zone, you have food and shelter and clean water, you have friends and family, you or your loved ones are receiving good care. Yet sometimes it can feel like everything is falling apart at once, especially when you or someone you love experiences a life-altering event.

When I feel overwhelmed, I tend to think, “When we get through this present difficulty, then we will have a break.” I am reminded of my late father, who often used the phrase, “When things settle down” as a preface for what he wanted to create in his life. Guess what? The dirty little secret is that things most likely never settle down. There will always be challenges asking you to divert your attention from your desires and dreams. You can choose to keep working, even in the midst of chaos. Seize the tiny bites of time that let you keep moving forward, even when it’s hard, even when your time is limited, even when you’re stressed out, even when the only quiet spot you can find is your car or the bathroom. Your dreams and goals want your attention, even if you can only devote tiny bites of time to them.

Peace can come from within. Peace can come from routines, including self-care practices. Peace can come from laughing at whatever you can within your present situation, something I learned from both of my parents. I was reminded of this in July, when my mom was in the hospital following a stroke. She and her husband and I found laughter even during those scary days of beginning to recover her speech, so much so that her roommate delighted in it.

Peace can come from making one tiny movement forward each day toward the life you dream of creating, no matter what is happening around you.

Tell me, how do you keep moving forward when life throws you a curveball?

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

Compassionate Self-Observation

DSC_0497 copyA recent text exchange with a friend got me thinking about bridging the difference between how I behave and how I want to behave. What types of behavior are malleable? What traits and responses represent temperament coming to the fore?

It’s tricky to find the balance between addressing areas that need work and embracing who we actually are and where we actually are. Being present and expressing gratitude for all we already have sometimes feels impossible, particularly if we are simultaneously continuing to move toward our dreams.

This is when I fall back on the 80/20 rule. Nutritionists tell us to strive for an optimal diet 80 percent of the time. What does that mean, exactly? If you want to eat a cupcake or French fries now and then, go right ahead. Savor every single bite of your treats, as long as you are eating well for most meals and snacks.

Why is it so hard to apply a similar concept to our emotional behavior? I don’t have to be the mom I want to be 100 percent of the time, because I am human. Sometimes I am overwhelmed and I react, rather than respond. In fact, sometimes my intensity appears in the form of overreacting to seemingly small setbacks. (In the moment, though, they can feel enormous.) While I can usually recognize these big feelings and respond with compassion when Ruby has one of these moments, I am not as compassionate with myself.

To be perfectly honest, I am not always compassionate with Ruby when her intensities collide with mine. Right now, I am feeling a bit frayed around the edges after a month of caregiving. I spent more than five hours driving in rush-hour DC traffic yesterday, ferrying Fred to and from work in Dupont Circle and Ruby to her various activities. This morning, when I foolishly told Ruby about a long-awaited event being canceled as we were getting ready to head out the door to fetch Fred from physical therapy, I was not super-sympathetic when she burst into tears.

The best I can do in these moments is take deep breaths, apologize for my mistakes, and remember to employ a different approach when the next similar moment comes. I can do better. Maybe I will even make it to 90 percent. However, I also can be compassionate with myself when I don’t live up to my own standards.

In the immortal words of Ze Frank: “Let me think about the people who I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me, I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.”

Ze Frank, An Invocation for Beginnings

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

Comfort and No Joy

mugDuring his marvelous recent gatherings, The Elephant Sessions, Robbie Schaefer talked about how “when we say we’re crazy busy, what we’re really saying is, ‘I can’t find myself.’” He then mentioned a Sanskrit saying, “Comfort destroys ease.”

Wow. That last bit resonated deeply with me. While it feels easy (on the surface) to stay in our comfort zone, that choice often is deeply uncomfortable at our core. Real comfort is about connection—with ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. How often do we create a comfortable nest of behaviors for ourselves that is actually an insurmountable obstacle course preventing us from pursuing our dreams and fully engaging with our lives? How often do our comfortable habits create routines, which then become ruts?

As a person who has resisted structure in the past, I am experimenting with renaming habits. When I call these behaviors rituals, they sound exotic and enticing to me. When I regard them as supports for what matters most, rituals become necessities. To me, routine sounds restrictive and boring. Rituals have an entirely different flavor, one that is rooted in conscious choices and pursuit of passion.

One of my favorite rituals is drinking warm beverages. I start my day with coffee, often sipping it when the sun is still in bed. While afternoon caffeine does not agree with me, if I substitute decaf, tea, or warm lemon water, I can still embrace the ritual of a pause for self-care in the midst of a busy day.

What are your favorite rituals?

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

What do you love?

sunrisetreeI am not making resolutions this year. Instead, I am focusing on my word of the year: Vibrant. This word is also one of my core desired feelings for 2015, based on Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map.

If resolutions work for you, fantastic! Carry on.

If you are open to a new approach, you could pick a word of the year. You also could try exploring some questions about your year.

What (or who) do you love?
I dearly love my family and friends. I also love silly jokes, witty wordplay, movies, kaleidoscopes, Spirograph, buttons, Lite Brite, candles, white lights, pretty dishes, cool mugs, great bags, cute comfortable clothing, colorful jewelry, flowers, music, gorgeous photography, books of all kinds, magazines, the Sunday New York Times, bubbles, soaking in warm water, delicious nourishing food, salted caramel, and fantastic dark chocolate. I’m also a sucker for cute packaging. I enjoy spending time in the marvelous outdoors, bookstores, restaurants, and recently, the gym. When I can combine some of my loves, I am deeply happy.

How can you have more of what you love (including more time with the people whom you love) in 2015?
Focus on what you love. While sometimes it’s painful to focus on an area where you feel lack, attention is magical.

What can you release so there is room for more of what you love?
You may be holding on to ideas or objects that no longer serve you. What would happen if you let them go? If you need help with decluttering (an ongoing process in our home), I’ve found lots of wisdom and encouragement from Ann Marie at White House, Black Shutters.

What tiny rituals can create space in your busy days?
A few of mine are beditation (meditating in bed before I begin my day), lighting a candle and sitting with it for a few minutes, making and drinking tea, drawing, writing, reading, playing Scrabble, sitting in the sauna and steam room, and snuggling with my daughter and husband.

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

Eeyore Versus Tigger

As I head into a new year with reflection, I sometimes over-focus on what I didn’t accomplish in the previous twelve months. This makes me feel rather Eeyore-like, gloomy and blah: “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.”

While information about a gap between goals and achievements may prove useful as I plan for the year ahead, I also try to redirect my attention to everything I did achieve. Yet when I haven’t done something I supposedly wanted or needed to do, it can feel pretty heavy.

What tasks or social engagements on your to-do list feel heavy when you think or speak of them? As you approach a heavy task or event, how can you channel the exuberant spring of Tigger, instead of the resigned sigh of Eeyore? These strategies may help you do that:

Enlist help. Ask a friend to be your accountability buddy or hire a coach.
Let it go. (My apologies if you’re thoroughly sick of the song.) Release the task if it is not serving you. Of course, some of our dreaded tasks just have to get done—financial matters, taxes, health care, and house cleaning come to mind. However, I often find that the anticipation of a task is far worse than actually doing the work.
Create rewards. Set goals and reward yourself for progressing toward them. Choose a reward that truly motivates you: time to read; a delectable dessert; a game on your phone; a walk; a fancy coffee; a phone call with a friend; movie night. Whatever truly delights you can help you slog through the task that truly does not delight you. And remember, big tasks deserve big rewards.
Have a heavy things party. Invite your friends to bring their dreaded tasks over some afternoon (or meet via Skype or FaceTime). Make snacks and tea. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes and work on your respective tasks. Then take a break. Repeat. Offer each other assistance when requested.
Get freaky. No, not like that. Take a Freaky Friday approach and trade heavy tasks with your partner or a friend.

On the other hand, what tasks or social engagements feel light? This one’s easy—simply seek to create loads more of that feeling of lightness in 2015. Seek out the people and experiences that give your heart wings.

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

My Favorite Things

A few weeks ago, Ruby and I went to see our friends’ sons perform in a stellar production of The Sound of Music at J.E.B. Stuart High School. We were amazed by the show at every level, from the acting and singing talent to the costumes, set designs, and lighting. Ruby has not seen the movie yet; she came home with a host of new songs in her repertoire, with an assist from Google so she would stop singing the one line of each song that she knew over and over and over.

One song from the show has really stuck with her, “My Favorite Things.” Hearing this song rather frequently brought up my favorite things that have improved my productivity and focus in 2014, as I ponder the twenty days remaining in the year. Amid the usual joyous holiday whirl, I am making little pockets of time for reflection on the past year and planning for 2015. If you are contemplating the same things, these tools may resonate with you.

If you’re still pondering cool holiday gifts beyond bright copper kettles, the Good Reads and Pretty Things lists may be helpful, too.

emptyspacesFree Planning Tools

Michele Woodward’s Personal Planning tool

Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead

Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word

Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool

Productivity-Enhancing Tools

Bullet Journal (free)

Focus@Will (30-day free trial)

Monoprice Noise-Canceling Headphones

ProNagger – Rachel Z. Cornell is a wise, funny, and oh-so-helpful partner

2015 Create Your Shining Year in Life + Biz from Leonie Dawson

Great Reads

Any book by the amazing Patti Digh

Jennifer Louden’s “Connect to Create the World You Want

Martha Beck’s “Who’s Sorry Now? 6 Steps to Regret-Proof Your Life

Fabeku Fatunmise’s “Doctor Awesome’s Seven Lessons in Extraordinariness

Pamela Slim’s Body of Work

Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map

Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things

Thomas Pakenham’s Tree books

Any book by the marvelous Oliver Jeffers

Pretty Things

Jen Lashua’s Art and Tea

Anne Thalheimer’s Art and Monsters

Erin Brimmer’s Art

Andrea Scher’s Superhero necklaces

Julie Bartel’s Gypsy Wraps

Olive Spoon Studio’s stamped flatware

Lauren Elaine Designs’s custom word of the year bracelets

Wax & Wane’s Wands, Candles, and Bath Salts

Sheri Ponzi’s Paintings

Tom Cornish’s Artwork

Melissa Dinwiddie’s Music and Art

Cary Cooper’s Music

Tamara Bailie’s Music

Fabeku’s Sound Shifts Stuff (free)

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

Reclaiming Joyful Movement

In 2014, I continued countless hours in physical therapy for my back, shoulder, and ankle. I wanted to release pain and regain mobility in my lower back, through therapy and, finally, the miracle of spinal epidural injections. I wanted to release the shoulder muscles left painfully contracted by a cast and sling for my radial head fracture, and eventually moved into deeper healing after trigger-point injections. I wanted to figure out how much I could heal my ankle function, to avoid a surgery for which I am a poor candidate and from which recovery would be a tremendous challenge.

On top of all that, the endocrinologist (my third one) told me to just let multiple thyroid nodules keep growing until my breathing or swallowing became so impeded that I would need a thyroidectomy. My esophagus already curves like a road avoiding an obstacle, and I was having intermittent swelling in my neck which made swallowing uncomfortable. My primary care doctor suggested trying a gluten-free diet to see if that might have some effect, since my bloodwork put me in the low end of the normal range for thyroid function.

Between these physical issues and the chronic pain I experience from a connective tissue disorder, I felt trapped. I lacked energy and had mild depressive symptoms. I had trouble concentrating. The more I hurt, the less I moved. Then, in May, Fred and I embarked on Persephone Brown’s Spring Cleanse for Renewal: no dairy, wheat, sugar, or alcohol and lots of whole foods. I chose to reduce—but not eliminate—caffeine, because I am comfortable with a small caffeine intake. This made the cleanse easier for me, and at the end of 11 days, I felt lighter, more clear-headed, and nourished.

duckAt the end of that week, though, we left for a rendezvous in Norfolk with Florentjin Hofman’s Rubber Duck. The duck was totally worth the trip. Eating at Doumar’s was delicious; however, it left me feeling bloated and achy. When we came home, I decided to return to a gluten-free diet to see if it made a difference. In the months since, I have experienced less swelling in my neck, reduced arthritis pain, increased energy, and much clearer thinking.

Feeling better opened me up to new possibilities. In October, I started working with ProNagger Rachel Z. Cornell and her approach helped me release a misguided (and paralyzing) belief that I can’t move my business forward by working in small increments of time. With her support, I got my website ready for its soft launch before I left for Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp. To apply this wisdom to create daily movement, I asked my friend Kirsten if she wanted to be my exercise accountability buddy when I returned.

One of the unexpected gifts of camp was beginning to reclaim my body—pain, scars, size, limits, and all. On the first night at camp, I tried contra dancing, amid much giggling and directional confusion. My ankle (even with the support of a hiking boot) said no to sashaying, but I enjoyed watching the dancers twirl and improvise.

At lake dance with Lila the next morning, I saw nervousness—my own and that of fellow dancers—melt into movement. The wild wind ruffled the water’s surface in perfect concert with the sweep of strings in my ears. When Sara Bareilles’s “Brave” came on, tears rolled down my face. I had never listened to the lyrics before. After lunch, I went to Peg’s lovely reiki session. I left feeling refreshed and ready to create beautiful art with Linda and Susan.

At yoga on the second morning, Hilary’s steady calm was soothing. I found myself frustrated, as ever, by the asana my body simply cannot do—kneeling or planking. Just then, Kurt came up to help and simply said, “You know you.” Why is it so hard to trust that phrase? After lunch, I went to Brandie’s session on perimenopause and menopause and learned about how to care for myself during this transitional time. Then I went to Shannon’s hooping workshop, which was a delightful challenge to this first-timer. (I’ve been hooping—though I use the term loosely—almost every day since I got home.)

When I returned to lake dance on the third morning, a blue heron skimmed over the water. I cried at receiving a beautiful message from my dad, eight years gone, still reminding me that love never dies. A flock of geese took wing and wheeled around three times before landing, as if being sure that each dancer had noticed their flight. Mist swirled above the lake while we danced, alone and together.

A few days after I came home, Kirsten and I started our exercise accountability practice, exchanging daily texts sharing how we move. Caring for my body in an intentional way has been a great support as I navigate re-entry. Having learned at camp that I experience pain whether or not I am moving, I’m committed to daily joyful movement.

[All words and images copyright Paula J. Kelly, unless otherwise credited.]

Giving and Receiving

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing a great deal of generosity in my 45 years on the planet. Yet sometimes generosity arises from a sense of obligation or control, rather than one of open-hearted giving. Making a strong offer and having no attachment to outcome, as Patti Digh describes, is an utterly new way of thinking.

In the past, I have struggled mightily with asking for help and with receiving. Giving has been more comfortable for me, or so I thought. However, my giving has not always fit the description Patti offers in “Chapter Four: Be Generous” of Life is A Verb:

What does it take to have a generous nature, to hold your hand open, to live a life in which you give when you don’t have, when you gift rather than hold, and when you are generous enough to see the deeply rich humanity in people unlike you?

Generosity, it turns out, is a way of being in the world, not a way of giving in the world. It has little to do with giving gifts, and everything to do with giving space to others to be who they are.

I am still learning new ways to be generous. And the past two years have offered myriad opportunities to let go of difficulty around receiving.

In 2013, I longed to go to Patti’s inaugural camp for grownups. The year had been a rough one: I experienced constant pain from spinal stenosis, a spontaneous ankle sprain that I only discovered months later was actually the tearing of multiple tendons, and a horrible fall that broke my arm, bruised my ribs, and led to a hospitalization for an infection from an overlooked abrasion. The ensuing months of not being able to use my right arm (followed by extensive physical therapy) meant that I couldn’t work much, so it seemed like there was no way I could afford to go to camp.

In 2014, continued pain and treatment meant I kept my work schedule light so I could focus my energy on homeschooling Ruby (and reading, to be perfectly honest). Again, when it was time to register for camp, we did not have the cash to cover the trip. I took a giant step out of my comfort zone, set down my embarrassment, and created a Gofundme campaign. To cover all expenses, I needed to raise $1,600. I wrote about my dream of going to camp and created reward levels. I publicly owned a burning desire that I needed help to realize.

Thirty-three friends, family members, and soon-to-be-friends stepped up with donations, online and in person. Each act of generosity inspired tremendous gratitude and moved me closer to my goal of attending camp. As Ruby and I prepared to go to Colorado to care for my mom in early October, I made one last request to get to camp before registration closed. My brother, Erik, shared that request on Facebook. His friend, Billy Jensen, whom I have never met (yet), freely and open-handedly gave the $240 to meet my goal. WOW. Humbled by thankfulness, I cried happy tears as I registered for camp, bought a plane ticket, and rented a car.

Huddled in a circle with Lila Danielle and my other dancing companions after lake dance the first morning at camp, I truly understood the enormity of the gift I had received. As I tried to talk about how I got to camp, I sobbed in overwhelming gratitude. What made me break down was the recognition that other people—including people who did not even know me—believed in my dream enough to help make it a reality. As I said through my sobs, “Holy shit! I am at camp.”

Every morning at camp, I awoke early with a buzzing mind and a contented heart, despite staying up way past my bedtime. I connected with new friends. I became bendy (more on that later). I have brought that spirit home with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. To each of my donors, to Patti, Jeanne, and all my fellow campers, and especially to Fred and Ruby, thank you for giving me space to be who I am.

Every morning at home, an intrepid squirrel climbs down the steep pitch of our shed roof and leaps to the flimsiest limb of a huge tree across what seems to be an impossible distance. Then she scampers up the tree and happily leaps from treetop to treetop. What would happen if we trusted our ability to make it across those expanses of space between us and our dreams, instead of trusting our doubts?