The Bravest Thing I’ve Ever Done

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They decorate the air with sails of green and red and turquoise and yellow. They dance on gusts of invisible wind, giant soaring birds doing the tango. Strong and silent. Free and flying. The ocean is every shade of blue. And foamy white. I want to be there, on the waves, in the air.

It must take a lot of physical strength to dance with the wind like that. To fly on water. Strong arms to hold that sail. Strong legs to stay upright. Powerful inside to keep balanced. So much strength. And stamina.

And courage. To fly into the wide open sky. To let the wind lead. It must take a lot of courage and steeled, unbreakable, unbendable nerves to give over like that. To unknown waters, unpredictable wind.

I’m not sure I’m brave enough.

***

It’s a little more than a year since I hit publish for the very first time. I wrote about my longing to live in Israel, and I called it Kiteboarders Do Come Back. I published it on the wonderful Israeli-based news site, Times of Israel. It was 11pm at night. I was terrified.

My heart thundered in my chest. I don’t know why I did it so late at night. The noise in my head, in my ears, in my heart deafeningly drowned out any possibility of sleep. Every nerve ending quivered, from my intestines to my toenails and the tips of my eyelashes. Real. Fear.

I’ve never jumped out a plane to go skydiving, or leapt off a cliff with a hang glider, or taken to the ocean with nothing but a board, a sail and the wind between me and the sun. But I’m pretty sure this feeling of terror overpowers every shred of exhilaration in anticipation of these extreme, courageous feats. Before that adrenaline kicks in, before “Hey, I’m doing this, I’m flying, I’m REALLY DOING THIS,” must come “Oh. My. G-d,” and “W T F” and “I thought this was a good idea WHY?”

As soon as I hit that button I felt like I’d blindly leapt off a cliff. Sick with fear. Shaking with terror. That I’d made a mistake. Done the wrong thing. I wasn’t sure if I’d crash in a heap of broken somethings (heart, pride, feelings to start) or if I’d be lucky enough to feel the briefest whisper of wind in my too-short hair.

My kite boarder moment.

***

I love to write. To turn inward and be present and thoughtful with myself. To listen to my own thoughts, feelings, opinions and then name them with words on a white page right with my own fingers, before my eyes. It took a long time for me to feel comfortable to do even that, but I knew if I didn’t I was either going to drown in my own unnamed words, or fish them out of the deep blue where I could see them, count them, describe them, hate them, love them.

And it’s one thing to hold those words up to the light where I can see them. It’s another to hold them out for others to see.

Hitting publish is leaping off the cliff. It’s standing on stage in front of a packed theater and forgetting your lines (that has happened to me). It’s taking off on a board in the Bay, with a bright green sail above you, not knowing if you’ll make it back to shore or be tossed under the Golden Gate and far into the wild Pacific.

It’s unknown. And it’s terrifying.

And exhilarating.

I published that first piece about Israel because I didn’t know what else to do with my thoughts and feelings. They confused and troubled me. I wrote them out. Which helped, but didn’t quiet the restless grumbling I heard inside. So I held them out for others to read, in the hope that feedback, validation, discussion would help me find peace and fulfillment. It was not the first piece I wrote, but it was the first I showed to more than a friend or two.

And for so many moments after clicking the publish button, my arms went weak. My whole body shook and I lost my balance on that board. The sail slackened, and I regretted it all. Overshare, TMI, who cares if I want to live in Israel or that my dog is old or that my kids only talk to me when I’m in the bathroom!

But the wind caught the sail just so. And my arms felt strong again, and I took a deep breath. And did a tiny dance on the waves.

It’s scary, every time, to reveal these little and not so little parts of me in stark black words on a white page. But then the wind catches and gently ruffles my hair, and it’s more fulfilling to put it out there, than not to.

It’s exhilarating. To have found the courage. To feel brave.

Now if only I could learn to kite board.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt,”I’ve never had the courage to…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and guest hosts Tarana from Sand in My Toes and Vidya from Vidya Sury.

22 thoughts on “The Bravest Thing I’ve Ever Done

  1. Oh I so understand how you felt! The first few times my heart pounded so loud I thought the dog would wake up. The self doubt is choking! I’m so glad you pressed publish. It has been a treat to “meet” you and you posts never fail to get me thinking. They’re refreshing and a tonic and your last sentence had me grinning.

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    • Thank you Kelly! I’m so glad I did too. It has opened up my life in a gazillion ways, and the connections I’ve made with new friends is one of the best. I’m giving myself a year to get on a kite board! Stay tuned 🙂

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  2. What a great summing up “It’s exhilarating. To have found the courage. To feel brave.” exactly!!!! When we can accomplish it and overcome our fears it;s amazing. Good for you and congratulations.

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  3. I thought I was about to read about you doing something like windsurfing:) I am so thankful that you take the “plunge” and write. I look forward to sitting down and finding out more about you each post. You are a beautiful writer and person!

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  4. I’m so glad you were brave enough to share your words with us, Nicki. I agree that it’s a scary thing, putting yourself out there. I always take a deep breath before I hit publish – it hasn’t gotten any easier. But it is worth it – your words are definitely worth it.

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  5. This still happens to me sometimes. When I think I’ve got a good one. When I know that I’m publishing a sub-par one because of a deadline. I love writing too…and need to get back to the place where I find time to do it the way I like to – alone, late at night. Recently, I feel like I’ve just rushed through everything I’ve published and I don’t like to do that.
    Your writing is amazing. I’m so glad that you have been brave enough to allow me and others to read it. ❤

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    • I’ve never read anything of yours that is sub-par! (But I know what you mean). Even though writing is something we do alone, I could never do this, all this, alone, and knowing you are out there with me helps me to be brave. Thank you Kristi. And love.

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  6. I can definitely get those goosebumpy, stomach-churning, feelings. Fortunately for me, those feelings don’t really come so much when I’m writing and publishing. I’ve come to accept that I’m not a natural-born writer and that I need to practice, practice, practice in order to get better. And publishing is how I practice. So, my first posts were more about feeling determined than feeling overwhelmed.

    BTW, your writing is really good. So it’s wonderful that you overcame your fears and pressed publish!

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    • Anna, you are a wonderful writer! And I love how you recognize and name your determination. “Publishing is how I practice” – oh that’s so good. I’m going to adopt that credo too. Thank you! And thank you for coming by, Anna.

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  7. I love it and like the others I am so happy you decided to hit “publish” 🙂 I completely relate to what you so eloquently describe here through that beautiful and powerful comparison and I particularly love this phrase: I love to write. To turn inward and be present and thoughtful with myself. I feel exactly the same way. Not to long ago in one of the other blogs that I love, the writer, Jane (at Nothing by the Book) compared writing to praying and meditation. I think that both you and I experience it the same way. What a great post!

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    • Thank you Katia! I agree with Jane: writing itself is like praying or meditating. Publishing is when that heady combo of fear and extreme excitement sets in. And this high-flying adventure has opened my world and heart to so many wonderful people and connections! ❤

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  8. I blogged for over a year without telling anyone in my real life. I needed that year to refine my voice, to figure out what I was doing, to be brave enough to put it out there to the people that matter. I applaud you for hitting publish, it is sometimes the hardest decision.

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