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2:34 p.m. - 2013-01-02
No Kilt, but a Brave Heart Nonetheless

I did something today I'd been avoiding for the last 10 years...

I backed down my driveway.

Seriously, stop giggling. This is quite the accomplishment. I'm no nelly behind the wheel. I drive stick, I can pull a trailer or a car on a tow bar, I've driven without white knuckles on the Dallas central expressway and in NYC, but backing down my driveway? This is something I'd chickened out of for a decade. The driveway is steep, it curves, there's a deep drainage culvert on either side of the bottom (drop a wheel in that sucker and good-bye axle), and the driveway gives out into a blind curve in both directions. Pulling out nose-first is a chancy thing. Backing out? Life in your hands. And today I did it with the added excitement of having ice ruts on both sides and the real risk of sliding off into the shin-deep snow and getting stuck. Facing the embarrassment of my husband coming home to find my Escort marooned in the snowy yard like a drunken frat boy who'd almost made it home before passing out? As Inigo says to Miracle Max..."Humiliations galore!"

But I pulled it off and am as proud as a gander. Trust me, backing out of my driveway isn't going to be my new hobby. However facing down stuff that frightens me is sort of my New Year's resolution. Not usually a resolution maker so the timing here is a bit suspect, but a really important thing happened over the holidays and I've taken it as a sign.

If I had a life's motto it's been 'Don't push your luck.' Ever and always terrified to ask for too much lest the little I had be taken from me as punishment. Certainly a rubric which applied to my sorry-ass life previous to Mick, but I'm beginning to trust this happiness. In my old life being 'arrogant' enough to insist on a movie or dinner menu I wanted above the known preferences of the hubs and the kids meant I could surely count on at least a month of the ex's surliness and probable firing from his current job to spite me, a phone call from the dean of discipline at one or both of the kids' schools, a small house fire and some cat barf in my bed. That's what I got for being 'selfish' enough to insist everybody see 'Mulan' or eat the soft tacos I made instead of the chicken they'd been expecting. Insanely outsized punishments for the tiniest bids for my own needs to count as much as theirs. Beaten down, superstitious dread and a lowly "I'm not worthy!" mindset ruled my life.

This thing that happened over the holiday, technically a bad thing- one that could have had rather painful consequences, well, it came out to the good. What the mistake was is less important than my being smacked in the face with the proof that I will NOT be punished anymore for living well. Daring to embrace happiness doesn't mean the rug will be pulled from beneath me. The rules have changed. The great penance I've been paying for the crime of existing at all has been paid. Finally.

I no longer cringe away from or fear success. My uppity behavior- write a good piece; allow myself to eat well, do right by my body, look toward the future; the onus to grovel, scrimp, and endlessly apologize, to frantically pay back and anxiously wipe away any and all evidence I'd been here? It's gone. Over.

Fifty-fucking-years. It's taken that long for me to be okay.

I think of my amazing friend, K, and her hard work toward her own 50th birthday and her strive to give herself the permissions and tools to be in a good place when she got to her own half-century mark and how she'd knocked it out of the park. I think of Anna who had her world implode and had lost everything, every label she'd defined herself by and all of her outward accomplishments go sideways and painful, and how she put herself on an airplane, crossed an ocean, and trusted the New World would be here to greet her gladly and was right. I think of Deb who believed in herself enough to lose the weight, dump the dullard unloving husband, make a new career, buy the house, raise the kid, fix her eyesight, and paint her walls colors that did her heart good. I think about Diane who finally kicked her own soul-sucking bad boy to the curb, remade her home and her outlook, gave up the booze and embraced Life! (with a capital L and exclamation point) and married a good, good man and taught herself everything from hula-hooping to ocean kayaking.

Gads, this list could go on for pages. Nancy, Steph, Poolie, Paula, Jim, Alison, Kathy, Mary, Jess, Sarah, Cathy, John, Joyce, all of them and dozens more, each of them daring the fates and believing that there's more than just limping by. My own guys, Mick and Wolf, and how they have refused to settle anymore. My darling men are successful and happy.

If I love them as they love me can I really do any less?

So today I faced down fear and failure and backed down my driveway.

Dedicated to Cosmic, one of the original fearless badasses to grace my life and show me the way.


Happy New Year, y'all. ~LA

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