you & me

The End Of My Comfort Zone.

{Via Tumblr: Unknown artist.}


“Self-sabotage is just misguided self-love.” ~ Brad Yates

Lately, I’ve been thinking about clutter. Clutter in my heart. Clutter in my home. Clutter in my mind. I realize that I need to do some deep cleaning of my inner life. I need to root out the areas of resistance I have to taking action.

I must do this in order to see the progress I claim I want to see. This is particularly true of my quest for companionship/love/affection and my desire for better health (including improved diet and exercise). It also encompasses my need to finish a number of long-standing, stalled book projects. Six, to be exact. Three of which will probably never see the light of day. I should file them away in the What I Learned from Failing to Complete this Project folder.

Take risks, or risk regrets.

There’s a reason I’m stuck. There’s a reason I’m procrastinating. There is some sort of payoff in staying stuck or I wouldn’t do it.

I’ve been thinking about our human tendency to do this, recognizing that at the root of the root of the root of it, I am afraid. I am afraid I’ll be hurt again — badly — if I stick my neck out and go after love, or a book contract, or a more healthy way of being in the world.

Of course, in a way that doesn’t make sense. I claim I want to give my heart. I claim I am willing. But, still, I don’t do it.

I have to look at that. I have to get my shovel out, and start uprooting the parts of my resistance that indicate that movement on these issues will make me vulnerable to pain, rejection, or loss.

Even if it is true.

Yep. If I get out there, I may be rejected. But if I don’t, my life will continue to shrink. And as much as I do not want to be brought to my knees by love once again, the alternative is not without risk. Standing outside the swirl and drumbeat of life might feel safer, but, really, it’s no life. No life at all.

Love is the juice of life.

I recently worked on an issue on my online magazine, Kalliope. The topic? Love.

It was both sobering and illuminating to see the various ways that my young students think about love. Many of them still believe in the wild-eyed, Disney version. Others see the humor in our fumbling affection for one another. For still others, it is a topic they clearly hold at arm’s length.

Self-love is a blurry figure, walking in the distance, right at the edge of their vision. They don’t see it as the foundation for all other love. They don’t see that what you can’t give yourself, you can’t give to others. They want love to come wrapped up in the gaze of another person. And who doesn’t? Who doesn’t want to be the object of someone’s blind affection? It’s lovely. It’s the best thing ever. Until it isn’t.

I guess right now I am getting the reminder wallop: Love yourself first.

Trust that you can handle what life sends you. Don’t worry incessantly that if you open your life up again — if you send out your manuscript or offer your heart — that you will be shattered if your gifts aren’t openly or enthusiastically received. Life asks us to take risks so we will grow. Staying in the same small clay-pot-of-a-life, simply because you might not immediately feel comfortable in the bigger, more sunlit part of the yard, is counter-intuitive.

Get busy living or get busy dying.

As uncomfortable as I might be in terms of pushing myself to get out there, get out there, I must.

I want a big life. Less than a full-throated answer to life’s call will not do.


Shavawn Berry

Shavawn Berry

Big Mammu, Mischief Maker, and Chief Creative Contessa at Shavawn M. Berry, LLC
Shavawn M. Berry’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, elephant journal, Olentangy Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Be You Media Group, Vagina – The Zine, Rebelle Society, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, Kinema Poetics, Kalliope, Poet Lore, Westview - A Journal of Western Oklahoma, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Concho River Review, North Atlantic Review, Synapse, Living Buddhism, Blue Mountain Arts/SPS, and Poetry Seattle to name a few. Her technique essay on the dramatic monologue/persona poem is featured in a poetry database published in 2013 by Ebsco Publishing. In 1998, she received her MPW in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she specialized in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir. Ms. Berry teaches writing online for Arizona State University where she has won numerous teaching awards including a 2013 Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellowship. Since 2014 she has been mentoring student interns through the Pen Project, a writing and editing internship offered by Arizona State that allows students to critique and offer feedback to incarcerated writers in Arizona and New Mexico. You can read more of her work on her blog, The Wonderland Files, via her website. A portfolio featuring a selection of her essays, blog postings, and prose is available at under her name. You can reach her via her Facebook page where she chats with like-minded, open-hearted people. She loves animals of all kinds, nature, the ocean, the desert, travel, the southwest, and most particularly her new home, in Santa Fe, NM. She offers creative coaching, writing webinars and workshops, and retreats through her website.
Shavawn Berry
Shavawn Berry
Shavawn Berry