My friend Mary Jo is starting her own movement on Facebook. It all began when she posted the news about another friend, Lisa, looking forward to boxing in her first match. Oh, she's been training a while but this is a real fight with an audience in the big city of Atlanta. In her blog "The Glowing Edge," Lisa describes preparing for the event and her trainer's challenge to her, "the time for holding back is over." Mary Jo saw the gift in these words. She then challenged ME as well as her other friends to try to live by this motto for the next six months. I believe I am up to it.
When I was younger, I never cried at emotional scenes in movies. I didn't wail over shots or when I was bullied for being an overweight middle-schooler. Later, as an adult, I kept secrets I shouldn't have. When challenged or berated, I held my tongue as any nice southern lady would. Even my talents were hidden under a bushel as I made myself smaller than those around me. Being noticed is difficult. So I inhaled and never exhaled. It doesn't matter how I got to that point. The point is I found myself stuck in this mode several times in my life. I held my breath, held my head down, held in, held at arm's length, barely held together, and, most of all, held back.
Blessedly, those seasons of holding back were relieved by times when I could not hold back any more. For example, I was never a advocate for myself with medical personnel. Until my daughter was born one Easter Sunday. In labor, I arrived at the hospital only 45 minutes before my baby was ready to enter the world. Have I mentioned there was no time for drug intervention? This was in the days before the all-in-one birthing rooms so they started moving my bed to delivery. Except the bed got stuck in the door. My upper body was in the labor room. My lower body, with crowning baby, was in the hall with people walking by. I won't tell you how many of those 45 minutes were spent trying to get my gurney unstuck. I won't describe the looks on the faces of the passers-by. But I will tell you when I got to delivery and finally got to push, I screamed. May I mention, once again, no drugs were used in the birthing of this baby? The nurse told me to be quiet. I told her it hurt like heck and I would scream if I wanted to scream. Except I didn't use "heck." I didn't hold back and I felt better for it.
These waves of holding back and letting go have ebbed and flowed in my life. Now, over two decades later, I have been reminded holding back is a painful pattern we, especially women, fall into on a daily basis. It affects our emotional and physical health, our careers, and our relationships. So I am taking up the No Holding Back challenge for the sake of bettering my life. I will dream dreams and do something about them. I will shine a light as I am able and not worry about overshadowing someone else. As far as holding my breath goes, I am taking yoga. Whew!
How have you been holding back? What are you holding your breath over? Are you prepared to take the No Holding Back challenge? Give it a shot.