My pale and pasty Canadian self is flying to Florida this week. When I return, tanned or not, I’ll have entered a new decade of my life.
Each year, an event called the Deep Thinkers Retreat takes place in Destin, Florida. The organizers accept the first twenty writers who register to come learn from authors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. Between them, these two have written nearly a hundred novels, won awards, and made the New York Times Best Sellers list. I’ve frequently thought about how inspiring it might be to attend one of their workshop/retreats. (Besides, it’s Florida in February!)
But I tend to hum and haw, especially when something proves financially challenging. So every year while I hummed, twenty other writers would sign up before I even started hawing and I’d miss out.
Last July when I received the email about the 2019 retreat, I thought, “maybe this is the year I should go. I’ll be turning sixty. It could be my birthday present.” Without overthinking it, I registered. Within days, I had both my flights and time off work booked.
Now it’s here and I’m not deep-thinking. I’m stewing. What have I done? How can I possibly function after arriving at the airport by 4:30 a.m. and traveling all day? What was I thinking, choosing the cheapest lodging which means sharing a dorm room with five strangers? What if I cough? What if I snore? What if they cough or snore? What if I can’t stay awake for the sessions? What if I get sick? What if the novel I’m working on stinks? What if I don’t grasp what they’re teaching? What if it rains the whole time? What if it’s all a waste of money?
Why do I second-guess myself, and is asking that question third-guessing? And am I now fourth-guessing?
Unless you’re one of those super self-certain people, you probably relate to what I’m saying. Too much second-guessing (also known as fear) sucks the joy out of positive experiences and turns into self-fulfilling prophecy.
Pat Pearson, author of Stop Self-Sabotage, says, “The first step is to notice your negative thoughts and intentionally intervene with a better thought. When you tell yourself, ‘I will be fine,’ your mind doesn’t believe it, so instead, start a sentence with ‘I choose’ and say something you can believe. For example, ‘I choose to do everything in my power to create a positive outcome.’”
Psychology expert and author of Authentic Grit, Caroline Miller, offers these words to stewers like me. “When we seek out the uncertain and unknown, we push into territory that could lead to our biggest wins. Playing it safe leads to mediocrity.”
Reminds me of a story Jesus told in Matthew 25 about the man who entrusted his servants with varying amounts of money. The servant who played it safe by burying his portion was severely chastised, while those who took a risk and doubled their money were entrusted with more. I often wish Jesus had included a fourth servant—one who invested but lost the money. Would he have been punished for losing, or rewarded for risking?
Do you think it’s possible Jesus deliberately left out that fourth character because we really can’t lose when God is with us?
Now that sounds like something worth deep-thinking about on one’s sixtieth birthday. With one’s toes in the Florida sand. In February.