Career Change / Transition / Writing

Balls of Steel Can Make Swimming in the Mud a Challenge

Greetings, readers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I hope those of you who have been following me are doing well. Here’s what I’ve been up to . . .

Swimming in the Middle

After two months of receiving life coaching *slash* career development *slash* motivational speaking, I’m happy to announce that I’m finally focused on a specific course in my career. Despite all my efforts this past year, I found the mud was getting thicker and thicker. I was getting nowhere. Then it dawned on me that it’s been my indecision about which shore I was heading for that was taking me under. I was spreading myself thin, thinking I could keep treading mud somehow and be at the ready to head to either shore should an opportunity arise. But, all I did was flounder in the middle. There is such a thing as having a Plan A and a Plan B, but the point I was missing is that you can’t head for A and B at the same time. You HAVE to pick your Plan A and stick with the decision. You have to commit to a direction. If Plan A gets you nowhere, THEN–and ONLY then– do you commit to Plan B. So, this is it. I have finally committed from here on to make writing central to my life and career. Up until now, it’s been hard for me to speak it–to come clean and say, “This is who I am; this is what I want.” But, there. I’ve done it. I’ve got to say I’m ever so slightly freaking out but bracing myself for the time of my life.

Balls of Steel

The whole process reminds me of my Dad applying for a job in a steel mill; he was a young man with a family to feed but didn’t have a clue about the steel industry. Portraying the inflated ego of James Dean, he lied through his teeth, gave a convincing nod to the interviewer and said, “Of course I know how to operate a [<fill in the blank> for a super-expensive, extremely-dangerous piece of colossal equipment that pours molten steel into huge vats]. Next thing he knew he was at the helm of said contraption. Shaking in his shoes, he learned pretty darn quickly how to operate that thing and managed not to kill anyone in the process. The flip side of this story is that my Dad was stressed out to the gills in taking on this challenge. He was already up to his eyeballs in alligators but if he didn’t get the job, he and his family would starve. He had choices. He could have walked away from his family and left his responsibilities behind. He could have drunk himself into oblivion out of depression. He could have stolen someone else’s property. He could have done a multitude of things. But, in the midst of the toughest times, he did the toughest thing.


Although my current career challenge is not as dramatic, it is no less important. I sure as heck relate to what it takes to try something new and not know if you’re about to embrace the biggest success of your life or the most flagrant failure. My Dad had steel balls. When I find myself completely lacking in that department, I recall Dad’s challenges and remind myself that, as his descendent, bravery lives in me, too. The stories my Dad would tell about this and other such near catastrophes in the quest for financial survival stay with me as I plot out this new course in my career. I envision my Dad telling himself while precariously gliding the dangerous molten payload over the heads of hundreds of workers below him, “I can do this. I can do this.” Balls of steel.

I took a several-month break from blogging to dig deep within myself to discover–or more importantly, to EMBRACE–what was in me. I’ve always known what I CAN do, which is a lot. I’ve taken all the career tests, skills tests, evaluations and the like. Always, the results were that I had a wide variety of abilities and I could do just about anything–the advice was, “Do what you WANT.” Like so many others, though, I didn’t. What I wanted was merged first with what I thought others wanted of me. These last several months, I decided to separate what I COULD do from what I WANT to do, and to pursue the WANT rather than the CAN.

What I’ve learned from this experience is that swimming in the mud is tough. It takes an enormous amount of energy to keep from going under. If you’ve been doing it long enough, you will one day come to a point where you just don’t want to struggle anymore. The irony is that the only way to get out of the thickest mud is to acquire your own set of steel balls. It seems counter-intuitive. You’ll think How can I take on more when I can’t even handle where I am now? But it is exactly what you MUST do, because the fear of success or failure is already weighing you down. It’s time to trade in your old iron ball and chain for a new set of character-building steel balls that equate to survival. Only then can you rise above the perilous challenges of life and get to where you need to be–where you can confidently proclaim, “This is who I am; this is what I want.”

This is YOUR life. Make it happen. Get some balls of steel!

8 thoughts on “Balls of Steel Can Make Swimming in the Mud a Challenge

  1. I love it…love it….love it! Wonderful writing!

    You do what you have to do in life……….at least we did what we had to do! Sometimes it’s scares you to death……but it’s usually a point where you can’t turn back.


    • Yeah, I was thinking while writing this post about you driving that huge bus. Both of my parents had [fill in the blank]!!! Life is not for the faint of heart; that’s for sure! Thanks for the kudos, Mom, and thanks for the [fill in the blank]! 🙂

    • Awww, thank you very much! I’m part Irish so am kinda banking on that luck!!!

      I had far too many balls up in the air recently to do my blog any justice, and was seriously questioning if I felt I could/would continue with it, but as you can see, the answer was ‘yes.’ 🙂

  2. My dear friend, so glad you have you back and reading these words. You sound strong and sure and I so look forward to reading more about your life as a writer. Welcome back!!!

    • Thanks, dear. I should do fine. I’ve got my ego in check. Got a big pile of humility ready to go. Oh, and I’ve got 2 cents in my pocket. Pretty sure that’s everything! ;^)

    • Thanks! Feels good to be back. It was important to immerse myself in what I was doing lately, but I’m eager to strike a balance in my routine now.

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