Icarus, are we flying too low?

I re-listened to a podcast this week from the On Being Project, one of the shorter form Becoming Wise editions with Seth Godin. In it, Seth explains:

The Icarus Deception points to the historical change in how Western culture both propagated and interpreted the Icarus myth arguing that “we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe.”  -Wikipedia citation

the Icarus Deception.JPG
snipped from Amazon entry

I had not really *heard* this the first time I listened. But this time, it hit me differently. The part of the myth I remember most is the part about flying too high, not  getting “too big for our britches” and to be more humble in our aspirations. As Minnesotans this is especially ingrained in our culture. We are taught not to brag, not to be too proud of our accomplishments.

But that leaves out the other, more relevant part for those of us seeking something different than the “average” work experience. When we fly too low, when we aim for relative safety, the seawater draws us down, and ruins our wings.

While I have not yet read The Icarus Deception, I am intrigued. It is on my reading list. I wonder whether some of us haven’t yet gotten the hang of those wings yet, and we are not allowing ourselves to stretch them fully, and use them for what they were designed to do.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Breathless

Have you ever finished a book and it left you a little breathless and dizzy, with its story and insights revealed? And then you know you will read it again, because there were passages that moved you so deeply, but you had to keep reading to get to the end, because it was so compelling?

That is what Tara Westover’s book Educated did for me. It is a powerful memoir about leaving home and what happens when we leave behind the strange beliefs our families may have tried to instill in us.

Though my own life story is very different from Tara’s, the idea of leaving behind a patriarchal family structure is probably familiar to a lot of women of my generation. I am grateful I had no brothers, and endured no significant violence that I remember. But the denial and rage and depression that occurs when you realize you have been “gas-lighted” by half your family is palpable.

Educated photo of book cover

It was a little like when I first read Martha Beck’s memoir Leaving the Saints, another powerful story. When we are little children and we are in the care of our parents, we must believe in them. It is our first act of faith, in a way. Babies and children are vulnerable and dependent. To reject our families means likely death. If they reject us, possibly it may take decades (and probably a lot of therapy) to recover our sense of worthiness.

As we become adults, and learn to think for ourselves, we can sometimes reconcile the pain and mental illness they may have lived through. As we begin to take on a new perspective on the world, and perhaps have different opportunities available (especially as women in comparison to our mothers), we realize their views do not have to be our views.

In 1974, the year I was born, the equal credit opportunity act was passed. Before that a woman could not necessarily open a credit card or bank account on her own. Now I would scoff if someone asked me my husband’s income to apply for my own account.

Educated… yes. More of us are educated. I am grateful for the privilege of being born at a time and in a place where this is an option. And I am so very grateful that Tara had the courage to share her story. It reminds me a bit of the Mark Nepo poem (Breaking Surface) I posted last April.

I am still a bit breathless at the beautiful rendering of her story. What books have left you breathless lately?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Saturday Share – Happy 1st Birthday to If I Could Tell You How It Feels — Untangled

One year ago today my second book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels was published. It has been a wonderful year of new connections, and opportunities. I have a tremendous feeling of satisfaction that my books have been a source of information, relatability, and comfort for survivors of trauma, someone living with a mental or […]

via Happy 1st Birthday to If I Could Tell You How It Feels — Untangled

In honor of the brave work of Alexis Rose, I wanted to share her post today. This is a testament to the power of owning our stories and our healing.

Peace,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Gathering energy for big projects

Lately I have had a stronger inclination to blog less often and work on a bigger project. I hesitate to write this here, because it feels a little raw and personal, but I have book aspirations. Some other part of me says, “don’t we all?” This community will understand, surely.

Ever since talking with a potential client about ghost-writing a book he wanted to work on, I started questioning what direction my writing will take me. I feel so fortunate to have worked for three different clients on a few writing and research projects in the past month.

succeed because I am crazy
Art found in one of our AirBnB‘s in Bemidji.

I can now claim an identity as a “professional writer” in getting paid to actually do this thing I love. It felt good to know that this daily blog practice has led to a portfolio of writing samples, several of which may have been instrumental to landing the contracts.

And now I find myself with stirrings toward working on a book idea. Titles come to me sometimes while I allow for quiet reflection. I turn stories around in my head to figure out how they might resonate, if I can find something of value in them. I think I may owe it to myself to figure out whether I can write something bigger and more substantial.

When I considered the idea of working for a client for a fairly low dollar figure to write his book, my response was: my time would be more valuable working on my own book! Then I thought: why not? I do have to earn some income, and I hope to keep a pipeline of projects going. But why not set aside the time, blog a little less often, and really invest in that bigger project?

Big projects feel daunting to me. I remember how hard it was to complete my master’s thesis, and that was only 40 pages long. Something deep within me beckons me to work on it though, to set aside regular time to turn my attention there.

I feel I have been distracting myself with little things, afraid of getting lost in one big project. At the same time, some “gear” clicked into place when I heard myself ponder the question, and I felt excited by the idea. So I have not totally committed yet, but I am imagining ways I could make it happen. I am considering how to block off daily and weekly time chunks for tapping that inner well and seeing what comes of it.

Do I have the endurance for that longer game? We will see. It seems a pity not to make the attempt.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Wellness Wednesday – Self-compassion

I just finished reading Dr. Kristin Neff’s book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. I had received referrals to it from all kinds of other sources, I thought it was high time to read it. I am so glad I did.

Neff weaves together aspects of her own story, along with extensive research on the myriad effects of self-compassion on our lives. The most relevant point to me is that the relentless pursuit of self-esteem ends up leading to unhappiness and stress, while self-compassion leads to happiness and well-being.

I am going to save you the lengthy review but just say that I plan to use her guidance as I head into the holidays. We need to have compassion for ourselves because this can be a difficult time of the year. People have expectations, and holidays do not always live up to the hype. 

Sometimes family members can push our buttons and we can react emotionally in certain circumstances. We need to be ready to extend ourselves compassion for the times when we may not do everything perfectly. We are human. Humans make mistakes. All we can do is try our best. 

Rather than beating ourselves up if we get angry with someone, we will have better emotional resilience if we are kind to ourselves and forgiving of our mistakes. All of this makes so much intuitive sense for me, but her research backs up her claims as well. 

So on this Wednesday of much travel and preparation for Thanksgiving, remember self-compassion. Blessings and safe holidays to all.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Late to the Jamaica Inn

After returning from our U.K. trip in September, a friend of mine from my yoga class (retired English teacher) recommended I check out Daphne du Maurier based on my interest in Cornwall. She told me that both Rebecca and Jamaica Inn would be fascinating, especially now that I had a sense of the place.

Jamaica Inn

Indeed I just read Jamaica Inn and I stayed up late as I finished the book. The author had built up such an ache of suspense that it was not possible to simply put the book away and go to bed at a sensible hour. Her writing is evocative and gives a visceral and haunting sense of the reality of Cornwall at the time.

Though I did not visit the particular locations she mentions, the reference to Plymouth reminded me of our trip. The descriptions of piracy gave me an entirely different picture of the place though, and particular sense of a darker time in history. Fascinating. I shall enjoy reading more of her work.

Considering that Halloween is this week, the Jamaica Inn was a suitably haunting read for the season. I realize I am 80 years late to the party, but I am grateful to have discovered her. As we move into this chillier season when we spend less time outdoors in Minnesota, I am always on the hunt for good fiction. If you have suggestions of classic work in this genre, I truly appreciate it.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com