When I was a small child, I drew a picture of a puppy. It was a simple drawing: round head, two big loops for ears, smiling face, a body and tail. Nothing about it was original. “Wow!” the grownups said, “what a beautiful picture!” I was a middle child not used to getting much attention. These compliments encouraged me to keep drawing. Over and over, I’d make the same dog. Each time, however, I’d get smaller reactions, until it devolved to irritation. I thought I was doing something wrong. Nobody told me how to “fix” it, how to fix myself. I know now that there was nothing wrong with me. Perhaps if someone had encouraged me to keep practicing, eventually my drawings would’ve gotten better.
It’s been 3 years since I last wrote a blog post. I’ve continued to lead workout classes and personal training sessions at my gym in West Oakland. The community has evolved and grown. I’ve evolved and grown too. And yet, my fear of failure and rejection have silenced me. Does my voice out in the world really matter, I ask myself. I’m good at getting up early every morning, showing up in person, helping people get stronger. It’s a lot harder for me to translate the work we do into words. And so, months go by, then years. I got trapped in a mental vortex.
Sandra Cisneros in her story Eleven, writes, “…what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one… And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay… Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That’s how being eleven years old is.” And forty-eight.
Consistency in certain things like writing has never been my strong suit, but I know how to restart. That’s what I’m doing today. I may never write like Sandra Cisneros, and I’m okay with that. I’d like to restart by telling you that no matter who you are or what part of your journey you’re on, you are worthy of love and acceptance and support. You are worthy of your breath and your body and your ideas and your voice. If you’re “in the zone”, I’m here to cheer you on. If you find it hard to get out of the ditch, know that many of us have been there at some point. There are ways we can help each other get back on the road. You don’t have to be alone. You aren’t alone.