26 July 2010

kansas :: four

I almost missed this one.

We were going back through the shots of the birthday party after I had already pronounced myself finished processing them (it's just a reality that when you take nearly 500 pictures of an event, you have to be choosy as to which ones are given the special treatment). And I saw this one. I was drawn to the energy and the much-younger version of myself I saw in it.

jump like you mean it
photo by kirsten michelle (2010)
This is Dacia, our niece. She's the one on the diving board, arms thrown back, knees bent, poised to jump, daring the water. She's not scared of jumping in, she's not hesitating, and she's not being quiet about it.

Once upon a time, this could have been me. This picture spoke to me and made me wonder so many things: about what happens as we get older that makes us scared and hesitant and too practical for our own good, about how we start to be afraid of the water instead of daring the water to be afraid of us. Somewhere along the way, I stopped throwing my arms back and jumping in. Somewhere along the way, I became the type of person to dip my toes in first, to slide into the water gradually and let myself acclimate to the temperature instead of making a splash.

I became the type of person who cared if her hair got wet. What the heck?!

I'm not talking about becoming irresponsible, but living with passion and abandon and enthusiasm, of taking some calculated risks, of giving something your all -- of daring the water to be afraid of you. Because you're fierce. Because you are a force to be reckoned with. I know how the ability to live this way is lost; what I'm more concerned with is how I get it back.

I really want to know your thoughts on this:
Do you feel like this has happened to you at any point in your life (losing your ability to "jump right in")? What does this look like? Have you made changes in any area of your life that allow you to live this way? Any stories, anecdotes, experiences, or insights you have in this regard are welcome here.


  1. A few summers ago, I caught myself caring if my hair got wet. We were on a family weekend trip, and the family photo session had been rescheduled. Meanwhile, we all went to the pool. I didn't want to redo my hair. So I worried about getting it wet. Later that evening, I realized What the heck?! (as you so aptly put it). Next time, I jumped in.

  2. such a great question. I think part of me has done this- but since have O I have also started to come out of this phase as well. I want to show him that being silly and daring is okay, that jumping into life full throttle is worth it. Having a child brings out not just the adult, but the child inside of us that has been quite for so long. it is a beautiful thing.

  3. My experience has been similar to Vanessa's. Having 3 boys has helped my "inner child" reemerge. I once heard from a child psychologist that the best thing we can do to help our kids have confidence is to be silly with them. I took that as a license to chill out and have fun! I do worry about getting my hair wet every now and then because it takes so darn long to make it look good again, but swimming with three little boys rarely leaves my hair dry anymore, but now when my hair gets wet, it's a reminder that I am having more fun with wet hair anyway.

  4. I think I lost this ability early, to fear, and a desperate need to perform - to "measure up." As for making changes to let me live that way again, I'm working on figuring out what those are, and on letting my heart heal from some of those expectations, real or perceived.

  5. I don't think I have anything to share, but I liked reading your thoughts. :)

  6. I think the stakes got higher. It's one thing when you get wet. It seems like another when your financial/emotional/physical/etc. well-being is on the line. Maybe the response shouldn't be any different, but functionally I think it's going to be (well, mine is, anyway).

  7. I love your thoughts, this picture spoke to me also. I struggle with anxiety disorder and fear and I have a long co-dependent relationship. I see the times in my life when God really calls me to jump in and I see the times he lets me rest and work up the courage to move first. What a gift to hear his pep talks when fear tries to take hold of my heart! Thank you for the reminder to stand firm and shout at the top of my lungs "I am free"

  8. @Heather
    Good for you for jumping right in. I swear, I'm going to next time!!

    I love hearing that motherhood has invited you to be silly and playful more, to enjoy yourself and not worry about what other people think. I'm definitely looking forward to that aspect!!

    I love hearing about the kind of fun you're having with your kids!! I expect that motherhood will do the same thing to me -- I love being around children for that reason: the energy, the abandon. Here's to having more fun!!

    I think this aspect of our stories is similar -- performance anxiety, measuring up. There are so many ways this ability can be lost. I look forward to hearing how this process of healing goes for you.

    Thanks for stopping by, Tea!!

    I think you're right. As we grow older and acquire more responsibility (and have our share of ego-crushing experiences), it makes sense that the stakes are higher. I'm not in a place either where I can live with as much passion and abandon as I'd like, but I'm thinking there must be pockets of space in my life where I can afford to (and maybe even need to) do this. Just looking to see where those are ...

    Shout loud and long!! I've suffered from anxiety too, so I know that it can be so debilitating. I hope you find again that beautiful, childlike ability in some spaces in your life where you can live this way.

  9. I think when we get older, our perspective shifts because the stakes get higher.

    I spent most of my twenties and part of my thirties trying to control everything in my life.

    I was pretty good at it and had a comfortable life but I traded it in to move to Denmark because well, I've always wanted to live in Europe and I'm not getting any younger.

    It was a calculated risk, but still frightening and it felt an awful lot like jumping off the diving board into the deep end when I was 8, except now there's no lifeguard watching over me and it really is sink or swim.