Not only was my whole body shaking, but so was my voice. I tried to hold the microphone with two hands so it wouldn’t wobble. That didn’t work.

And all these eyes were staring at me… waiting for me to say something.

I had raised my hand, after all, knowing that I wanted to stand up in this big group and give my opinion, but once it actually happened all I could think was, “Oh, shit. What the hell was I thinking?!”

So I mumbled what I had to say and sat down, relieved that I’d slipped by, worried that I’d come across as a complete idiot, and then disappointed that I hadn’t grabbed that damned microphone and simple said what the hell I wanted to in a clear voice!

But that’s how it feels to put yourself out there… I hate it, but I try to do it anyway (when I have to, that is).

I’m getting better with my green boxes (keep reading, it will make sense in a second).

Has there ever been something in your life that you really wanted, but you were too afraid to go for it? (For me, that would be talking in front of crowds, studying aboard, or taking that low-paying job at that place I really, really wanted to work at.)

But moving forward with those ideas often scares the bejeezus out of us.

Why is that first step is so freaking hard?

Because it’s a green box…

Before my husband and I sold everything and hit the road in an RV (a whole other story), we used to foster rescue dogs.

We loved it. So did the dogs.

Until we ended up with two Rottweilers.

I know what you’re thinking… Rottweilers. Big scary dogs with giant, lion-sized teeth to go with their lion-sized bodies. You’re probably picturing a police dog snarling and snapping at the end of a tight leash, trying to break free and rip the bad-guy to shreds.

Yeah, ours weren’t anything like that.

They were afraid of their own shadows, sillier and more goofy than a drunk squirrel (you tube it, it’s hilarious), and so gentle that they would pick up lizards and bring them in the house—100% unharmed—and spit them out next to their box of toys.

K, the lizard part I didn’t really like. Just imagine walking up to your dog and having them dribble out a wet lizard that takes one look around and runs for the underside of the couch.


Anyways, despite the fact that our giant beasts weren’t exactly the scary creatures we’d always seen on TV, there was a problem…

These dogs still looked like they could take down a raging bull.

As a lone woman, walking a pack of dogs in the wee hours of the morning, it was kind of great. No one ever bothered me. In fact, people would cross to the other side of the sidewalk to get out of my way.

(Yes, at times, that did feel very bad-ass.)

But, this intimidating look is not so good when trying to show how sweet and lovable these dogs were…

Enter: The Green Box.

We had this box. It was small. Only a few inches tall. And painted green.

Nothing intimidating there.

… but to these Rottweilers, it was an impenetrable force field. We taught them that once that box was down, no doggie feet could move past it (even thought they could have stepped right over it or gone around).

We knew these giant, scary looking dogs had to listen better than any dog we’d ever had. When we say come, they gotta come. When we say sit, that butt should hit the ground faster than a drunk college girl in stilettos.

And so entered the force field box.

We would place the box in thresholds, doorways, hallways, even in the back yard.

And when the green box was set on the ground, in our dog’s minds, that was it. Do not pass go. Do not collect $100.

It was an impenetrable force field that could never be passed. No questions asked.

Green Box – The Human Version

While green boxes are great for keeping dogs from running out of the house while you lug in arm-fulls of groceries… for people, this impenetrable barrier is a problem.

… and we all have them.

I’m not talking about actual green boxes, but that invisible line in your brain where you stop short of taking that first step.

Not only stop, but screech to a halt any time you get close to it. Because to move beyond that point is so scary, we freeze.

It happens when we start working on a project or idea that’s beyond our comfort zone, or get into a relationship that is more intense/ fulfilling/ real that any we’ve been in before.

We screech to a stop against our green box when we think about quitting our job, or leaving that friendship that drains us, or putting ourselves out there in a risky way (usually with something we’ve always wanted to do but never have).

So, instead, we line our green boxes up in nice, neat rows.

… and never, ever step over them. Just like we’ve trained ourselves to do.

Because on the other side of that box is an area that makes us afraid. To step over them is to step into the unknown. Not only the unknown, but into risk. And with risk comes the huge possibility of glaring, complete failure.

But here’s the damn kicker in the whole scheme….

Your capacity to have a creative, immersive, fulfilling life is in direct proportion to how many times you are willing to step over your green box.

How do you tell if what you think is a green box in your life is actually a green box?

Just the thought of going over it, to over there, will make your brain freak out.

I have my own tidy row of boxes that I dance around all the time, trying to make sure I never step over.

…Most of them involve having enough money, taking care of those I love, and proving that I’m not a stupid as I worry I might be (and the good Lord help me to stay away from anything that could have a massive “failure” sticker on it, because I don’t want to sample any of that buffet!)

We all have them. Our world is littered with green boxes.

Pause here for just a second and think of one of your own.  

It can be big or small, life-changing, life-nudging or just life-affirming… The point is to start looking out for your own green boxes.

See them. Know them. Recognize where they sit.

Because the feeling of life… that life you’ve hoped for… is going to be on the other side. Our ability to live a full, rich life sits on the other side of those boxes.

Easy to say. But hard to step over. Especially when we’ve trained ourselves for years to not.

But if you want to live a creative life, then risk comes with the box. If you want to go beyond where you are, you have to move, you have to take that step. Nothing changes when nothing changes.

And your creative, passionate, immersive life is just a step away.

Right over the end of a tiny green box. 

❤️ Love & blessings to you, my friend,
– Olivia

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