“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it stop me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
~ Georgia O’Keefe
When I look at the women I admire, they have all taken risks. There’s Lila, my first yoga teacher and mentor, who closed her studio, moved to Canada, and has gone back to school to study Chinese Medicine. There’s Melissa, my friend who took the daring leap and began writing her first novel. Another left a marriage. Another gave birth to her third boy.
My grandmother had six boys and divorced my grandfather when three of them were still young. My mother married my father; gave birth to me; and continues to risk the pain of separation by making friends no matter how many times she and dad move.
Every day the #AmyPohler’sSmartGirls Instagram feed posts profiles of women and girls, dead and alive, celebrating their achievements. I am struck by the grainy, black and white photos of feminists, and chemists, and painters who look so staid and strangled in their Victorian portraits; whose outer worlds must have been littered with barriers; and whose interior lives must have been on fire. I am in awe of young girls and teenagers — the new generation of scientists, activists, artists — blazing their own paths in the brambles of this difficult world.
Anais Nin famously wrote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Which feels so appropriate this Spring. Looking back, many of what I consider to be the big risks of my life took place during this season of blooming. I got married in the Spring. Cole was born in the Spring. I ended my marriage in the Spring. I told my high school boyfriend, “I like you more than I should,” in the Spring. I wrote the bulk of my novel in the Spring.
I started teaching yoga in the Spring. Today is the eleventh anniversary of the moment I stepped onto the mat as a teacher for the first time and promptly forgot everything I planned to say. For the next ninety, excruciating minutes I said nothing more eloquent than, “Inhale, right foot forward. Exhale, left heel to the floor.”
Each risk, no matter how small, felt BIG. Each time I felt the courage and fear I imagine daffodils must experience when they peak out of the ground at the end of February and wonder if this is the year they will be killed by frost. But even if they don’t blossom one year, they try again the next. And the next, and the next, and the next.
Perhaps this is what it means to live in the Spring. To muster all of the energy stored up in the dark of Winter and step out into unstable temperatures with the fierce hope that you can be the lovely thing you know you are. To push up through the earth and bare one’s face to the unforgiving sun because it is time to take a risk and bloom.