When your heart finally overpowers your fears

The heart is the thing that keeps us alive—as long as it’s pumping, we’re good.

But it’s also the thing that can lead us and think for us.

It’s definitely not always easy to be vulnerable with people. In fact, it can straight up make you feel weak. When you offer the truthful thoughts in your heart to someone, you risk quite a few things: rejection, judgment, apathy, and insincerity, among others. But you also risk that person actually caring—genuinely caring.

What if we shared what’s in our hearts? What if we were completely honest and didn’t worry so much about what would happen if we shared true feelings? Would that really be such a bad thing?

She’s had my heart since Day 1

When my oldest niece was a precious little newborn, I was going through a pretty tough time. I haven’t always been the best about sharing my feelings, but it was really easy with her. I would hold her in my arms and tell her everything going on in my life and my heart, and I knew there was zero judgment or possibility that she would hurt me. If she started wailing, I knew it would be because she was crying with me and for me. Sure, she was just a tiny baby and couldn’t use actual words to respond to me, but it didn’t matter—I trusted her with my whole heart. She’s 3 now, and we still have those deep heart conversations. She just gets me.

I realize that it’s likely not wise to share every feeling with every single person you meet, but I still don’t believe that it’s wrong to be honest when people ask you how you are, even if don’t know them. And I know that we are to guard our hearts, but I think there’s a difference between protecting it from evil and completely shielding it from letting anyone in or sharing its hopes and passions and truths.

I think most of my pics are with them nowadays, and I’m good with that.

So why do we spend so much of our lives living in fear of what will happen if we share the things that are in our hearts? Yeah, we might experience heartache, we might have our hearts shattered to a thousand tiny little pieces, we might get hurt, we might cry, we might experience emotions that we weren’t expecting, and people might make fun of us. But people might love us back. People might return the feelings. People might show how much they care. People might share their hearts, too.

Whether a bad or good outcome happens, isn’t it better to take a chance than to spend your life constantly wondering what if and if only?

I spent far too many years hiding my feelings and not taking risks that I probably should have taken. I can think of more than one instance when I had the opportunity in a perfect moment to share my heart with someone, and, instead, I shied away and kept my words hidden in the depths of my heart. I look forward to the day when I can stand before the man who captures my heart and tell him that I love him with a real love that’s forever and always. That’s something I’ll want him to know, and I’m not going to let myself chicken out to tell him. That fearful girl isn’t here anymore.

One of my favorite episodes of The Office is “Casino Night” because it’s the first time that Jim declares his love for Pam. No, it doesn’t work out for him in that moment, and he walks away with a shattered heart. Had he not told her in that beautiful scene in the parking lot, though, she likely never would have called off her wedding with Roy and later shared all of her feelings with Jim after she ran across the coal fire pit at the beach.

Yes, I realize that not everyone ends up like Jim and Pam, but at least they can give some of us hope.

Just livin’ with my heart over here

I’ve learned that you have to stop caring what other people think if you want to be completely comfortable and confident being you. You’re not someone else’s opinion of you, so why even give another person the power to dictate your thoughts and actions?

Don’t be afraid to share what’s in your heart. You have the feelings you have for a reason, and you don’t have to keep them hidden away forever. It’s OK to be honest, and it’s OK to be brave. And it’s certainly OK to lead with the desires God places in your heart.

Because, like Selena Gomez wisely says, the heart wants what it wants.

When beach volleyball reminds you to be brave

More and more each day, I discover just how imperfect I actually am, and it can be rather humbling (and sometimes upsetting).

Especially when sports are involved.

I played volleyball in middle school so that I didn’t have to be in the offseason class during our athletic period. I didn’t pursue it in high school because, well, it was pretty clear that I didn’t have much of a future in it.

When I was a senior in high school, though, my friends and I played in a sand volleyball tournament as part of a fundraiser event. I’m pretty sure that was the last time I played any form of volleyball, and that was 15 years ago. (Side note: I AM OLD. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!)

I probably just soared in the air and spiked one really hard.

I’m mentoring a college volleyball player who is taking part in an internship out here this summer, and all of the young women in the internship program and the leaders of the organization play volleyball at the beach on Sunday afternoons. Sure, beach volleyball is slightly different than the indoor game they’re used to, but they’re college athletes, so they’re very skilled and seemed to adjust pretty easily. I was one of two people there who wasn’t formerly or isn’t currently a competitive volleyball player or coach.

So that was special.

I sat and chatted with another gal while most everyone else warmed up. I was definitely impressed with what I was seeing, and I suddenly felt very inadequate. My abilities on those sandy courts didn’t quite match up with theirs—I would have felt much more comfortable if we were playing basketball or going running, instead. But we weren’t. We were there to play volleyball, so that was the reality I faced.

They play two-on-two drills the whole time in which the winners stay on the court, so it’s pretty obvious when you’re the one who messes up. I finally decided that it was time for me to jump in there. I mean, why not? It’s better to get out there and try the tough things than to sit on the sidelines and watch others enjoy life without you. No, I hadn’t warmed up, but I figured that I did that 15 years ago, so I should be good.

You know what happened? I had a really great time. I also discovered that Kerri Walsh Jennings and I don’t have much in common. That’s fine, though. Visors aren’t my thing.

This is something I’m more comfortable doing—cruising on my bike with my people.

I think that there are many intimidating situations in life when you can just ask yourself a simple question: Why not? And if the answer isn’t an actual death of or harm to you or anyone else, then it’s probably OK to go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Embarrassment? People will forget. Decreased self-esteem? Getting out there and being brave should help with that. Banishment from all of society? Not likely. Whether you flop or fly, it won’t change who you are as a person at all.

Please remind me of this when I find another fella who strikes my fancy.

It can be downright scary sometimes to let someone know how you feel or to show even a slight amount of interest when you have zero idea of how homeboy will feel in return. But I guess it’s kind of like stepping onto the sand volleyball court when you feel like you don’t really belong there—it’s all about taking chances and letting yourself be brave when you get the opportunity. You might get rejected, and you might find yourself spending yet another weekend evening with no one but the fellas on TNT’s Inside the NBA or the fictional characters in your favorite Netflix or Hulu show, but even those realities don’t change who you are.

Don’t let fears hold you back from letting yourself enjoy some of the more exciting moments in life, whether they involve sports or opening your heart to someone. To quote the great Hilary Duff, “if you lose a moment, you might lose a lot. So, why not? Why not?”

You’re worth the risk to take a chance and see what happens.

Do you usually take chances, or are you more hesitant?

When you do the scary things

We’re often capable of doing more than we think possible.

Especially when it involves the things that scare the ever-living daylight out of us.

For years, racing has been a huge part of my life. I love running, and there’s something about stepping on the starting line and then pushing myself past my limits for however many miles it is that thrills me and brings me joy. It had been more than a year since I toed that starting line, and the thought of doing so was actually pretty scary to me.

If you know some of my story, then you know that 2017 was a tough year for me. I had three kidney surgeries, and these were just toppings to all of the heartache and other stuff I had going on. Then there was that whole packing-up-my-entire-life-and-moving-across-the-country thing. I hadn’t raced since last Thanksgiving, and that race isn’t one I like to think about much because I was in such tremendous pain (thanks, kidneys).

My reaction after I realized I had just signed up for a race

But lately I’ve had the urge to race again, and even though I knew I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be in yet, I figured I’m going to have to start somewhere. Before I could talk myself out of it, I registered for a race and committed to at least trying to get a little ready for it.

Though I put in a few weeks of harder workouts than I’d done in what seemed like forever, I didn’t feel like I was completely ready to be out there in the racing scene just yet. I needed more time, especially after having strep recently. I started thinking of a number of excuses of why I wasn’t ready, including the surgeries, the strep, the concern of air quality (never an actual concern of mine), the fact that I wouldn’t have my family there to cheer for me and hold my stuff while I ran, I’m not familiar with the area and didn’t know the course well enough (even though I very rarely know a course unless I’ve run the race multiple times), I had a really busy Saturday and would be crunched for time (I logistically had plenty of time), my left contact was irritating me (really?), and so many other ridiculous reasons of why I should wait to try running against other people again.

But there was one that outweighed all of the others that I didn’t want to admit to myself: I was scared.

I was scared of failing. I was scared of not running fast. I was scared of not winning or even being one of the top contenders. I was scared of being a disappointment, even though I’d only really be disappointing myself.

The morning of the race, I almost talked myself out of it. Even after I drove to the race site and picked up my bib and T-shirt, I thought about just going home and running on my own—I wasn’t ready for this. But something within me whispered, “Be brave.” I told myself that I need to do the scary things sometimes because, in the end, they’ll make me stronger. I knew I’d regret walking away when an opportunity was right there in front of me.

I survived a bad race and still had a great adventure with my sweet friend Ashley.

I ran the race. I’m not going to lie—it was ugly. After .46 miles of running on an unexpected dirt trail, I wanted to stop, but I sang “the first mile’s the toughest,” a different rendition of Sheryl Crow’s lyrics “the first cut is the deepest,” and I kept going. It hurt. I am S-L-O-W. If I ever want to compete near the level where I used to be, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

You know what happened, though? I did it. I may not have done well, but I also didn’t regret anything. I got out there and gave it what I could, and then I went about my day without dwelling on it much more. I know that running isn’t everything, and the fact that I’m not currently at my fastest doesn’t mean I can’t find joy in other places on the very same day of a bad race.

We even found ways to take pics with the props without waiting in line.

I was able to have a great time a little bit later with my friend Ashley as we drove up to Redondo Beach to eat at the same diner featured in The O.C. and then visit a Taylor Swift pop-up shop near LA.

Life is filled with a lot of scary moments, and I think it’s important to do the scary things—those things that make us feel anxious and highly intimidated. Whether it’s racing or asking someone out or saying “I love you” or going on an adventure all by yourself or auditioning for a play or trying out for a team or performing in a talent show or learning to do something you’ve never done before or entering your work in an art show or going back to school or whatever it is, do the scary things.

Because, more times than not, they are absolutely worth it.