Friday, March 5, 2010

Doing things I'm afraid to do...

My very wise friend Nina gave me some advice, through an inspirational quote, recently. It says, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face... Do the thing you think you cannot do." (Eleanor Roosevelt said that.)

Well, I am taking that advice to heart, and here I go doing SEVERAL things I previously thought I could not do, and that I'm in fact afraid to do... we'll see how it goes!

First of all, we are having people over to dinner tonight--including us, there will be 20 for dinner. !!!!! I cannot even tell you how much of a panic this would have had me in a couple years ago. Where will we put all those people? Do we have enough bowls, spoons, etc. for everyone to be able to eat? Here's how I'm talking myself out of panic: It will be fun. It will be like an indoor picnic. We will mingle in smaller groups and move between rooms and people will talk and laugh and it'll all be okay. They will not think I'm Martha Stewart, but really, I don't want to be Martha.

The folks coming to dinner are the students I'm going to be traveling with for the next week, my co-advisor, and the co-advisor's family. Which brings me to the next thing I'm doing, and it's pretty scary.

I'm going to the Rosebud Reservation with this group, and we'll be there to do service work in the daytime (doing home rehab, serving in a soup kitchen, helping at the thrift store) and then in the evenings we'll learn about Lakota culture from elders in the tribe. It's a fantastic experience. I've done it before (with two previous groups), and this is the place I stayed at for a month last year on sabbatical (the originating inspiration for the blog!). So there's a lot here that's familiar. And in fact, in some ways I feel like I'm going home. (A part of me comes alive west of the Missouri River, doncha know.)

The trip is a challenge in part because it forces me to confront strong feelings while I am with students. There's a pretty good chance I will need to cry at some point, and there will be a group of ten students witnessing that. In years past, this would have immobilized me with fear. Now, I figure they'll see I'm a human being having an appropriate reaction to the conditions we will be witnessing, both difficult and beautiful. I no longer have to be the one who's in control in front of students all the time. If for no other reason, this trip is valuable for that piece of growth!

So here's what's new: I have been making lists, packing, and running errands for several days now, and ordinarily I would be beside myself with the idea that I might forget something. I would be checking and double-checking and making calls and running more errands, stuffing things into my bags "just in case"...

But not this time. This time, I'm going to do my best to remember to take what I need, and NOT get upset if I forget something. I will learn to live without it for a week. I'm trying to "go with the flow" a bit more, trying to be a little more relaxed about some of the eight thousand details in a trip like this. The important stuff? Okay, that's worth making sure I've got...

Money, checks to pay for things, and insurance forms? Check.

Clothes to work in? Check.

Tobacco for the elders? Check. (It's for ceremonial use!)

Donations of coats, boots, and various wintery things for the kids on the rez? Check. (I have the most kind-hearted friends a person could know!)

Tobacco ties that the group made to take with us & help us pray? Check!

I'm also taking a little bit of school work, some sweat lodge clothes (I hope I hope I hope I get to do the sweat lodge this year), my laptop (hoping to blog while there), and other stuff.

We've even got a bag for each of the vans--stuff we might need on the road.

But whatever's not packed later tonight will stay home, and I will not be upset about it. Dinner will be chaotic and wacky, and I will be happy. Woohoo!

May you do something brave today!


  1. Eleanor was a genius, wasn't she? Every time I hear one of her quotes I am transfixed by how well she nailed it. Every single time! Wow.

    So - how was your dinner party?

  2. Hey, Reya! The dinner party was great--chaotic, noisy, messy, but fun! There was lots of laughter.

    I'm kind of depressed that I haven't updated yet here. It was a great trip, though I got sick for a couple days. And I've been buried in paperwork since we got back... Perhaps Friday... The entries are floating around in my head; gotta get 'em out!