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The Gift of F*cking Up


I’m back to listening to Podcasts and I’m currently listening to Justin Long’s Life is Short and he’s interviewing Actor Jeremy Renner.  I was struck by something that Jeremy Renner said about advice his father gave him as a new graduate.

His father said “Now go out there and fail!”

I was struck with how freeing that advice is.  How amazing would it be to have the ability to go out into this big scary world and know that even if we mess up, it’s ok because we’re supposed to mess up?  When things are moving and shaking smoothly and without hiccups we take it for granted that it’s always going to be like that, smooth sailing.  That isn’t how life in the real world works, though.  Life is messy.  Life is hard at times and we are going to mess things up – guaranteed.  It’s in those times when we make the doozie of the mistake and the mess ups, both big and small that we learn.  We can’t skip the hard stuff because that’s were character is built.

      Stop trying to skip the hard stuff, that’s where character is being built.

So we go out there, we live our lives we make the mistakes, whether it’s a flub in the checking account and we get overdrawn or a missed stop sign and we get a ticket.

Or maybe it’s a divorce.  Or a betrayal.  Or we hurt someone we care about.  Or we choose someone who ends up hurting us.  None of those things are easy, they are all hard and they come with inconveniences and sometimes life changes that alter our outlook and sometimes our lives never look the same again.

When we are on top of the mountain we look around and everything is peachy.  We see other people struggling and sometimes we thumb our noses down at them and their poor decision making.  Sometimes we are the ones in the valley, scrambling to clean up a mess and we hope no one is watching because messing up is embarrassing, it’s humbling, it’s heart breaking sometimes.

I think maturity is when you can be on the top of the mountain of success and you see the others in their valleys and rather than thumb your nose at them you call down to them and say “Hey you! Yeah You!! I see you, and I’ve been there.  Grab that branch over there and pull yourself up.  It will be ok again, I promise.  It may not be the same as it once was but you will be ok.  You will survive even this.”

I can look back over my life,  two marriages, two divorces.  Two children, one from each marriage. Mistakes were made, and lessons were learned.  I can’t say I regret them though, without the first marriage I wouldn’t have my beloved Man-Cub who will be 29 this year and is raising a beautiful family of his own.  Without my second marriage I wouldn’t have known love and how it feels to stick with someone through good times and bad, and I wouldn’t have my Stinkerbell who is about to be 21 this year.  No regrets there.

If I could go back and change anything I probably wouldn’t.  Sure I could have avoided violence and abuse in the first marriage but I wouldn’t be as equipped for the amazing profession I have the honor of being in now, being of service to those in trauma and grief, often experiencing the same things I did and much worse.

I probably could have ended my second marriage sooner than I did, had I allowed myself to believe him when he was showing me who he was but I instead chose to believe in the potential I saw in him.  Had I left earlier I might have had doubts over my decision to end it and the people and things (this blog included) likely wouldn’t have come to fruition as they had and I feel blessed beyond measure at where I am and who I choose to surround myself with.

Mistakes, stumbles and missteps are tools to teach us lessons.  Some lessons are bigger than others and some of us have to learn the same lesson a few times before it sticks.  That’s ok.  We all have our own way of moving through life.  The important thing is to accept the hiccups as they present themselves because I’m telling you, in my seasoned almost 50 year old wisdom, you can’t avoid the hiccups and pitfalls.  They are going to happen whether you want them to or not.  The trick is to roll with it and trust that this (whatever it is) too shall pass.  Learn the lessons, try not to make the mistake again and apologize often if you need to.  Finally, learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes, the pitfalls, the overdrawn bank account, the ticket for the missed stop sign or even the divorce.  You lived, you learned, you came out the other side.  You are okay.

In the Sage words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

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