Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Being in the Arena

Let's pretend for a minute.

Pretend you are sitting in my kitchen right now.

It's nearly 10pm. I'm in my luxurious fuzzy blue robe. I'm hungry (really, more hangry at this point). I haven't had anything other than goldfish crackers and some cookies since lunch time. I've been working all day, and then directly into a board meeting for the library. I'm exhausted. I'm jittery from hunger, too much Dew (there is such a thing, sadly, and it makes my head hurt), and a need to work out.

Now, ask me how I'm doing.

Did you do it?

Good. Get ready.

As I impatiently wait for my cup of noodles I just microwaved, I blurt it all out. All of it.

How am I doing? I'm trying to hold on for dear life. My world has completely changed this year. Every single minute of my new normal is different and I am working my hardest to find and maintain balance. I have moments when I am on top of the world, inspired by people and ready to be that change I so dearly need to see... and within a breath I can be deep inside my head trying to figure out why in the world I think I am good enough, smart enough... just, enough for these big ideas I have. I sit in meetings and think to myself, what do I have to offer? I'm barely qualified to breathe the same air as these seasoned vets. Then I have a second where I remember that I bring new ideas, that I have unique skills that are needed and, I press on. But, I'm scared at times. So scared. I'm discouraged some days and I doubt I am doing more than just scooping teaspoons of water out of a sinking Titanic.

You might sit there, quietly. Maybe a little stunned that I just blurted that out. That's okay, I'm still talking.

I always knew about the sad and scary things in this world. I've been married to my cop long enough to have seen more that the average bear. But, now, I see and smell and touch and feel the horrible, the frightening, the evil in this world. I think I am starting to understand what it means to mourn with those who mourn. Would I go back and do things differently? Take a different road? No. I just wish I had somehow been more prepared, though, I don't think this road is one you get to prepare for. Sure, you train, but, it is like training for a marathon on the treadmill, then running outside, up a mountain in a blizzard or the blazing heat... you just have to do it and learn as you go.

Now, maybe I'll slow down for a minute. My cup of noodles are finally cool enough to eat.

I think, as I slurp a bit.

Today was a particularly hard day. Not because of the external events, but, because today was one of those days where that voice in my head was reciting all it's best lines:

Who do you think you are?
You are not qualified to do this.
No one will want to listen to you.
You may do more harm than good.
You are too small, your voice is too quiet.
Even if you do a little good, it won't really change things here.
The mistakes you've made before will haunt you.
People don't like you and they won't like your message because of that.
You aren't doing enough.
What you are doing is wrong.
You are going to make a mistake.
Give up, this is too hard.

As I listen to that horrible, chaotic voice whisper everything to me over and over again, I struggle to find something to hold onto. A rope, or a ladder... anything. I'm trying so hard, and I am not sure if I am succeeding or falling flat and that is the moment when I remember...

I am trying.
I am daring.
I am the one in the arena, and no matter what, I will do some good. Even if it is for only one person, it will matter.
People can think I'm silly, friends, family... it doesn't matter because they aren't in here with me, fighting an impossible battle that I'm pretty sure I may not win, but I will surely gain some critical ground for the next soldier.
I'm the one in the arena.

I go back to eating and maybe you've had enough of my ranting. Maybe you haven't and you'll sit here and be ready to listen the next time my head gets too loud and I have to write it all out again. I don't know. But, I want to you remember, I'm in the arena. It is hard in here. But, I'm going to keep trying.

The Man in the Arena

By Theodore Roosevelt

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


  1. Oh Kimber, What a humbling post. I have been guilty of looking at you and Sam from a distance and changing my mind from "They are saints" to "Something has to give". I don't say this to flatter you or even out of jealousy, but I have been that person in the arena at times, trying to understand why my greatest triumphs are sometimes criticized, while my failures are cheered. I am all for being an encouragement to people, helping them brush themselves off and sending them out to fight again, but sometimes it just feels false. I feel like the only time people notice is when I fall down. No one sees the part where I was hanging by a thread and somehow pulled myself up.
    You are truly the Mighty Girl I follow. I feel like I could never accomplish all that you do in a day, but I feel like it is possible because you do it. The hardest thing for any of us is to be on that pedestal and see how far it is to the ground. But don't forget there are many people ready to catch you if you fall. -Becki Jackson-

  2. That has always been one of my favorite quotes.