The 4040 list has served as the backdrop for me to look at my life in new ways and to respond differently than I have in the past. I've written about how it has invited me to stare down my fears and conquer things I didn't believe I could do. It's created space for me to acknowledge my (many) fears and then set them aside and do the scary thing anyway.
The list has also set the stage for me to practice asking for help. I have come to learn how I generally do things the hard way and think that I have to do them by myself. Asking for help is an uncomfortable, vulnerable thing for me and I usually choose not to do it.
So since being afraid and not wanting to ask for help intersect at various places in my life, I've taken on the challenge of asking for help. This is how I managed to get to the Haven retreat in Montana.
When I heard myself say, “I'm scared to ask for support to get to Montana,” I knew that creating a gofundme account was the next step. To assuage my discomfort, I made my prospective donors several promises: 1. I would send each of them a postcard from Montana. 2. I would pay the tuition forward for a future retreat attendee. 3. Their names would go into a drawing for an opportunity to name one of my characters.
Laura talks a lot about the courage it takes for people to come to this retreat. She sat beside me at a meal and I listened to her say, “There are a million reasons that keep people from coming here. Money, kids, jobs, fear. I want to tell you how proud of you I am. You didn't let any of those things keep you from coming. You are here. I am proud of you for taking a stand for yourself and for your writing.” It was amazing to sit so close to someone who lives the writer's life. Someone who rides the roller coaster of rejection and publication, self-doubt and self-confidence, fighting her inner critic and relishing her confident self.
The experience in Montana was life changing for me as a writer and as a human being. The retreat came at just the right moment in time as I was finishing my novel's first draft. I feel armed with really great guidance from Laura on how to proceed when I begin phase two. I thought of each of the people whose financial support was also a vote of confidence in my pursuit of this writing life. Their support means so much to me.
I thought it would be really cool to have Laura draw the name of the winner of the naming contest. So on the morning that we were leaving, I emptied the word casserole dish that had held all of our writing prompts for the week and she drew the name. I was so grateful for her willingness to participate and to support me as I honored the friends and family who helped to make this retreat possible.
Sarah and Rich Allen!
Rich told me at the 5k in Indianapolis what name he would choose if their name was drawn. I will confirm with him that he wants to keep the name and then share it here in another post. If it's the name he has in mind, it is PERFECT for the character I created.
Thank you to Sarah and Rich and all the others who generously helped make Montana happen. I am deeply grateful.