The Glutes are Firing



“Rumor is you’re going to fall flat on your arse,” the hulky plumber said and angled to look at my backside. I wound up a gallon-sized trash bag I was lugging, swung and slapped him across the midsection. So hard, I knocked myself off balance. I stumbled a few steps and fell into a mud-filled ditch.

“I think were talking about you managing this job but,” he glanced down at me sitting on my keister. “Looks about right.” He bent over and offered a hand.

I pushed the Hefty bag off my shoulder and took his palm. The momentum of the ‘you learned to fly a plane so of course you can manage a remodel project’ pep talk waned.

Back on my feet again, I knocked mud clumps from my microfiber pants. Yes, I was embarrassed. Intimidated and if completely honest, I couldn’t say if I whacked Mr. Tidy Bowl with the trash because he looked at my behind or if his words struck a cord. Probably a little of both.

Truth was, I’d fallen on my butt a time or two before. One of the more notable, and pretty humiliating, was my first day as a First Officer flying for the commuters. (Commonly known as “puddle jumpers.”) Skyway Airlines. A zero-dark-thirty departure. Proud as the NBC peacock, I led eighteen passengers out onto a wet ramp–Three of whom, by the way, had already asked to see my driver’s license to confirm I was old enough to pilot. After repeatedly warning the commuters about the slick ramp conditions, I turned, took one step, and both feet went out from under me. In a fraction of a second, my half moons kissed the pavement. Even though the cold de-ice fluid soaked the seat of my uniform pants, my face burned red hot as a turbine engine. From where I sat, with thirty-six wide eyes staring at me, I had two choices. Get up and press on. Or curl in a ball and call in sick.

Back to the construction site. Standing mud soaked, I recognized the same set of circumstances. I was afraid, and again, had two choices. I could continue on the path I’d picked or bow out and hire another General Contractor. Regardless of what I decided, I needed a dry pair of pants.

Up in the apartment, my thoughts rewound to the “Skyway Incident.” I stretched a second pair of tights over my legs and thought about what made me get off my dupa in front of all those questioning passengers, and have the confidence to fly a full day anyway. The answer came easily.

Even though I was mortified, humiliated, filled with self doubt, I was able to quickly move forward because I had done the work. Built tons of flying hours, studied hard in training and passed the check ride even exceeding the standards in some maneuvers. Despite my lack of grace and balance, I knew airplanes inside out.

Reality check. Fact was, I had fear in my heart. I questioned my ability to manage a construction project of this scale. That’s why Mr. Tidy’s gossip caused me to tip. But if I handled this situation like the one at the airline. Used my energy to focus and become an expert instead of creating excuses and justifications why the job was too much, too complicated. Convinced myself it was okay to defer to someone else and then bury the fear deep in my subconscious, which takes equal, if not more effort. Instead, I decided to keep my heart open and face it.

For the remainder of the day, I studied how the guys worked. The order in which they performed tasks and what tools were used. Took copious notes. Then at the end of day got online and researched what were the next steps. Anything left over I still didn’t quite get, I made sure to call tech support first thing and asked questions until I understood. Then, I went back onsite and tried every skill I had noted.

After that, not only did I remain upright and surefooted, but every bit of fear was gone from my chest. Which leads to my writing. Right now, all pathways lead back to my creative desk.

At times when I write, I feel fear– ie. This is the dumbest story ever written, why would anyone want to read it? Anxiety–What if no one connects with the characters or worse yet–the book gets disastrous reviews. Embarrassment–Ah, Erin, analytics report your book sold ten copies, all to family and friends. The exact cluster of emotions I’d felt at the beginning of flying and my role as a general contractor. A pattern.

So when my psyche, (the preprogrammed tape that talks non-stop in my head) started with the melodrama, the self doubt, the negativeness, I relied on my peaceful and rational conscious to remind that if I took the time to learn the basics, worked hard, and strove to be better than I am. Everything would be fine. Wait, better than that. Fantastic.

On this process, I wholeheartedly hang my Stetson. Not only has it worked once, but twice during my time on the planet. (Probably many more times if I sit and think on it.) Just in case there’s lingering doubt, I’m always given the gift of some sort of confirmation I’m on the right track.

At the end of the work week, I got a call from our architect. “Hey Erin,” he said. “I stopped by your house on the way into the office. The project…” he coughed, cleared his throat and it sounded like he took a drink. “Looks absolutely fantastic.”

E.L. Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Chasers/Risk

What was once humiliating, is now hysterical. Relaxing and releasing.

Allowing every bit of fear out of my heart.

aka The Glamorous Wife.

*Note after the fact: Now that I think about it, an unscheduled seat drop has proceeded all of my most successful endeavors. Must be a sign. In that case, bring it.

Leave a Comment