Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 8/26/2013 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - I'm All In

Martha's Big Adventure — I'm All In

By Martha Randolph Carr

I have a new motto. It's, I'm all in. I adopted it in hindsight after someone wondered aloud what we could do to take bigger risks in our lives and I realized I was already there. I've stopped second-guessing myself with my new thriller, The List and I'm making decisions based on its success. My old attitude really centered on how I could get what I wanted without risking too much.

In the past I tried to do as much as I could by myself. I was sorely lacking in the faith department and it showed in the results. Mediocre success only made me dig in deeper with my methods until I finally wore myself out.

But in the past five years a few things happened that at first knocked me into optimism and then over the edge into a faith in something bigger. They're not the sort of things that you'd expect to cause a positive attitude. First, the Great Recession hit and journalism changed forever, draining my bank accounts and leaving me wondering just how low a bottom could get. At one point, I had to make the decision to sell or let go of most of what I owned and move in with a relative for a brief period. That had become the reasonable thing to do.

I remember standing in an elevator looking at the one key I still possessed and feeling a little light-headed.

Shortly after my finances started to get better, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2009 and given a year to live. Fortunately, reports of my imminent demise have turned out to be greatly exaggerated. But for a little while I believed I was leaving this place and a sense of calm and detachment from all of those old worries came over me. Something had shaken loose. The very things I was most afraid of had actually come to pass and I was still here.

The fear of failing drained out of me and instead I wanted to know what I was really capable of doing without trying to do it all.

Frankly, in past years the idea of change made me panic and I was very busy trying to figure out how to get things to at least stay the same. My basic philosophy was that anything good was fleeting and anything bad was going to linger like a bad odor. My brain was generally occupied with how to shore up the leaky levees.

I thought that was normal and expected of me.

The way out of that rat trap didn't turn out to be letting go of caring about the future. The thought of dying didn't leave me with a sense of urgency. Losing most of what I owned and then looking at the end of life got me to let go of the labels I used to identify myself.

Author, columnist, southern, educated, tall, blonde, mother, daughter, sister. There's a long list of them. It turns out that's what I was trying to protect all of these years. I wasn't attached to the success of something as much as I was attached to the way it might make me look. Just being myself wasn't nearly enough.

The tipping point came when I realized all of the fun of writing was gone even though I had started a love affair with words when I was only five years old. I no longer cared. It was just another chore. Getting back to a place of joy was going to require me to stop acting like I expected to fail. That was going to require a daily renewal of faith.

Here's a strange twist. When I started to write, The List I started with the idea of a conspiracy that was so big it would be clear to the heroes of the story that they couldn't stop the menace and not even always control it. They would have to figure out a way to be happy anyway and answer the question, if they had enough faith to do the right thing.

I was working out my own dilemma with a few twists and turns thrown in for good measure. Sometimes, out of some very hard times comes a bigger life, if we can make the choice to finally let go and choose to be happy. The early results for me are that I'm having fun writing again and this time, I'm running my own race. Faith took up the space where the old labels used to sit. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and let me know what changes you've been making in your life. www.MarthaCarr.com. Email Martha at Martha@caglecartoons.com.

© 2013 Martha Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. This column has been edited by the author. Representatives of fact and opinions are solely those of the author. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.



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