Familiar with that famous story about the Indian Elder who shares wisdom with the youngster about the nature of doubt? Paraphrasing, but basically this:
Wise elder: “You have two wolves fighting in your mind at all times: the wolf of encouragement and the wolf of doubt.”
Naive Youth: “”but grandfather, which will triumph?”
Wise Elder: “The one you feed.”
Me and doubt: we’re well acquainted. We have us some junk food in that space.
Late July, 2016:
Bleary-eyed, I looked over the entry notification from 2016 Denver County Fair. Deadline: four days away.
We had just moved back into our home after months of hotel living, waiting for our gutted kitchen to be repaired from a water line leak. Yay for good homeowner insurance, but construction = energy suck. Lost production space? Total drag.
The day we returned to our uncompleted (though functional) space, friends arrived from the East coast. I was preparing what product remained (pre-water line break) for an upcoming summer market. Visitors had just left when I noticed the email call for entries. I was bone tired.
First thought? Nothing to enter. My fancier premium products had sold out for Mother’s day. I had counted on ramping up production in late May, upon returning from my first Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic’s Guild conference (yes, there are soap maker’s conferences. Seriously.)
Except I returned to a flooded kitchen.
Next thought? Chips (preferred nosh for the wolf of doubt).
If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’d recognize a soft spot for the Denver County Fair (DCF). Since I first stumbled upon it in 2012, the DCF’s mix of edgy whimsy, snark, and playfulness has captured my curiosity. They hold live contests that include best tattoo, speed texting, tea dueling, and chicken calling, plus revere both odd competition categories (Peeps dioramas! Homemade Robots!) as well as the more traditional jams, quilts, and poultry. They appoint a Drag Queen of the Fair. This year’s featured guests: the Minions. And a two-faced cat. DCF is a hipster wink.
Entering had become so ingrained a tradition that, despite my mental fatigue, the thought of blowing it off felt oddly bereaving.
True, my most artistic cold process soaps weren’t available, and due to required cure time (4 – 6 weeks), there was no whipping up any in four days. But I did have a few bars left of Long Road (aka Lemongrass Geology), which had a compelling story.
Plus the soaping conference had inspired me to try out a few more glycerin soap techniques, and happily, glycerin soap (aka: melt-and-pour) requires no cure time. Stepping away from the computer, I ended up making a glycerin version of IndiGOAT Curls and I won’t lie – creating a new product variation was huge fun. Check pix to the left to see others from that batch (and take a class with me – I’ll show you how to do it).
Yes friends, I stopped wallowing in self-pity and put on those big girl panties, theoretically feeding that wolf of encouragement a kale Smoothie (or grass-fed beef?).
And despite bad metaphors, the judges at the 2016 Denver County Fair liked IndiGOAT Curls enough to give it a Third Place ribbon in the soaps and lotions category. Long Road, meanwhile, took the First Place Blue Ribbon.
But…what if I had kept feeding the wolf of doubt junk food thoughts?
Agonizing over whether to enter a county fair competition may not sound particularly courageous*, but choosing to not feed the wolf of doubt IS. We face crossroads daily, friends, where it’s easier to flop on the couch with Netflix and a cold one, rather than answering What Calls Us. Each decisions adds up incrementally, forming our habits, calcifying our lives.
A happy outcome in this case, but there’s no guarantee that a situation will match your vision. I’ve answered The Call plenty of times where the outcome was foggier. Or I’ve opted for the Netflix/couch combo, then wondered how whole sections of life evaporated.
But given enough distance, even the foggy, unexpected outcomes had merit. They’ve still moved me incrementally along my curious path.
I encourage you to answer love, to answer that which calls you, even if circumstances aren’t perfect. Who knows? Maybe that call is coming because this is the perfect time – you need a distraction, to break an old pattern, to get back on track. The tiny act of saying yes when it seems infinitely easier to retreat can change everything.
What awards/accolades, incredible times, sweet moments, and loving kisses have we all missed out on because we fed the wolf that wasn’t serving us?
Be courageous, friends. Pay attention. Feed the right wolf.
(And comment below on which you’ve been feeding and how that’s working for you. I’d love to hear!).
*(…or maybe it is? A brilliant quilt artist friend won’t enter any of her gorgeous creations, though she’d KILL the awards. Sometimes we extroverts can’t judge what’s considered gutsy).