Tuesday, October 1, 2013

worry machine

When you are in sales, you are only as good as your most recent month of sales data, or your most recent commission check. When you are a Teacher, you are only as good as that day, and only as good as your most difficult student's test scores. When you are a builder, you are only as good as your most recent project. When you are an Actor, you are only as good as your most recent project. When you are in marketing, you are only as good as your most recent campaign. When you are a stay at home Mom, you are only as good as your house is clean, as your children are behaved and happy, and your pantry and fridge are stocked. When you are a blogger, you are only as good as your most recent blog post. 

And sometimes it's enough to make you want to stop after a high and say- I quit, because I just can't top that. But that's not what Life is about. Sometimes quitting isn't even an option. I'm certain that's not why we're here on Earth. I also have to believe, we are so much more than that. We are who we are- deep inside, regardless of our most recent winning output. 

Author Neale Donald Walsch said, We are human beings, not human doings.  Life's not a bowl of trail mix- we can't just pick out the M&Ms to eat, select the best and discard the rest of it.

And so we try again with an unspoken willingness to fail. We try not to worry about the outcome. We must make a pledge to ourselves that less than perfect or less than our personal best can't be defined as failure. Good is simply trying our best for that moment in time, and if we do fail, not letting it stop or define us.

Over the weekend I went kayaking for the first time. We went to celebrate a dear Friend's birthday. When I was asked to go, my first feeling was anxiety. I've never been kayaking. What if it was cold out? I hate being cold. What do you wear kayaking? What if I tip over? I bet I can't bring my camera. It's about 7 hours- what do I do with the kids? I can't leave Michael with them that whole time. He'll go crazy. I spent so much time worrying, I forgot to be open to new things. I forgot to get excited. 

And God works in funny ways because I got a shipment of books over the weekend. And although they are children's books- I think sometimes adults need the messages written inside just as badly- if not more so than the little kiddos. These Julia Cook books are amazing. 

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I saw the front cover and I had to buy it.  With eyes and mouth open wide I realized, I AM WILMA JEAN. 

Worry, worry, worry! You know what I mean? I am Wilma Jean, the Worry Machine.

She worries about EVERYTHING. What if... is her favorite way to start a sentence. What if she forgets to spell before her spelling test? What if kids make fun of her hair? What if they serve buttered carrots at lunch? (She hates buttered carrots). What if she gets picked last at PE? What if she misses the school bus? 

Finally Wilma Jean's Teacher intervenes.... when you worry so much that it keeps you from doing the things that you want to do, we need to figure out a way to help you. 

And I was laughing while I read the entire book, but with a lump in my throat- because it's just so me...and it was nice to feel understood, and so strange to be understood- by a children's book. 

The last page of the book contains A Note to Parents and Educators, with tips for dealing with your anxious child. I said to Michael- I'm going to read these tips to you and replace child with wife.

Build on your child's wife's personal strengths. 
Genuinely accept your child's wife's concerns. 

As soon as we arrived at the River on Sunday I was anxious. I tried to remember the tips the book taught me but it was hard. Steve the guide was giving us a talk on safety. He said that confidence was our greatest ally and that fear can be dangerous on the water. We needed to control the river instead of letting it control us. He explained that if we tip over while riding the rapids- we need to immediately blow our safety whistle three times. Panic. I grab my whistle and blow to make sure it works, which upsets Steve. Don't blow the whistle now, only blow it in if you get tipped, he says. I start laughing I'm so nervous. How often do people tip? What can we do to make sure we don't tip? I ask him, slightly terrified. You are a prime candidate for getting tipped over-- I bet you go first, Steve said

Hmmm- I should have brought Steve the book to read tips for dealing with an anxious child kayaker.

And in typical fashion, 5 minutes after boarding the kayak, my fears were gone. 

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I was confident and ready. I enjoyed the rapids more than the still waters. My anxiety was gone. I thought of one of my favorite quotes from Paulo Coelho that Life has proven true time and time again, Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.

We ended up having an amazing time. I didn't freeze to death, tip over or get eaten by snakes.

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Something about Nature is equalizing. Forgiving. Anxiety reducing.The day reminded me how important it is to break outside of my comfort zone. I thought about what my anxiety may be making me miss out on. I want to choose a Life filled with adventure. 

I don't want to be Wilma Jean anymore. I think it's time the worry machine breaks and never gets repaired.


We took the boys out that night to explore the hills and experience the setting sun. We finished out the day happy and worry free. 

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Unedited perfect horizon by God.

Can you believe it? October. Let's both plan something outside our comfort zone.




  1. Amazing! again!, I do worry wayyyyyy to much! It never helps and most times my fears never come true, but it never stops me from worrying. I sub teach, and some jobs do make me feel like I am so good at my job (which is crazy by the way) and then there are those days that make me feel like...UGH, why do I do this? I really suck at this! Thank you for helping me put it all in perspective. I really needed to see this right now, today, this evening.
    Thank you,
    Cindy P.S. I hate adding Anonymous, but none of the others fit, so anonymous it is, but my name is Cindy, and Hi

    1. Hiiii:-) thank you for teaching. If it were easy everyone would do it. Xo

    2. Hi Cindy,
      If you pick Name/URL you can put a name and it doesn't make you enter a URL (at least it doesn't for me on my iPad).
      Subbing seems like the hardest kind of teaching because you never know what you will be asked to do. Every day you show up, you get brave points in my book. Thank you for doing hard things !

  2. You're pictures are particularly amazing tonight. Always enjoy them, but just thought I'd say how great they are! ~~Erica

  3. Amazing! Although, I'm still wondering (worried actually) where did you leave your boys for seven hours ;)

    1. Haha! I thought you were serious until the ;-)! :-) Compromised! Daddy for 3, sitter for 4!

  4. I am Wilma as well. I love how you put my world into your words. :) Thank you for connecting us all!

  5. Love your thoughts, love your pictures. I always love your pictures, but they're really amazing today. I especially like the one with Greyson and his daddy, and the one with Parker against the sky. Beautiful.

    1. Those were my 2 favorites too! Jennifer

    2. Mine too :-)
      I like the one with swirls in the sand and swirls of hair above also.

    3. YES! I love the swirls in the sand and swirls of hair the best.
      AND the pure glee/joy in Parker's face.
      Beautiful pics.

  6. Oh Wilma Jean! What if I didn't have you? Thank you for being so brave & sharing your fears. That quote that we are Human Beings, not Human Doings - brilliant! I really let that one sink in. Life gets busy and my goal is to just "be" with my boys (hubby & son) for some part of each day. I wish it was as easy as writing it here!
    Happy Frank Day! at our house today is Grandma day - she keeps my son on Wednesdays. Hooray for midweek happy.
    Love & happiness to you, sweet momma. xoxoxo Jennifer

  7. Something outside my comfort zone-- it's next Tuesday in Sacramento for me... You in?!?!?!

  8. I love Julia Cook books. We discovered her this year when I was looking for non preachy ways to help my daughter who has severe generalized anxiety disorder. We own the Wilma jean worry machine one and have checked out all her books that the library has of hers.
    I'm so impressed that you went kayaking if you are an anxious person. None of the 3 very anxious people I live would go kayaking - way too adventurous. Around here we have to work up to trips to the mall, trying a church downtown that's on a one way street, going to a school-wide function. We're no where near nature adventure level yet, so congrats for being brave. By the way, whenever I get my worriers to push through and try something they almost always end up having a great time too after they get past that first few minutes.

  9. Grey's highlights and Parker's windblown.....I love their locks in this post. I'm the opposite of Wilma Jean.....is there a "Llama Llama Careless Momma?" Ha ;)