Things My Friends Have Taught Me: Seek what's possible.
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Life is too short to spend each day working towards the logical next step. If we're constantly chasing success as we see it modeled by everyone else around us, we lose the opportunity to discover anything new. Look for the weird and the wonderful. Imagine what could be, then find a way to bring it to life.
Keep reading for more on what I learned from my friend, Abigail.
Abigail LaFleur-Shaffer is a Colorado native. I met her through one of my closest friends from high school. In fact, they were married for a while. She's an avid outdoorswoman and advocate for diversity and opportunity in adventure. Maybe the biggest dreamer I know.
Every hike with Abigail comes with a lot of questions. She asks, "what are you going to make happen this year?", "what about this opportunity excites you the most?", and most importantly, "what if...?". She looks for not just what's probable, but what's possible.
Abigail and I sat down together to record a 90-minute interview. In the interview, I asked her fifteen questions about the person she is today.
Here are few of her answers that I'd like to share with you.
Kait: Who do you most admire?
Abigail: All of the close women in my life. Friends, relatives… the women I’ve spent quality time with and gone deep with.
I’ve come to that through learning to embrace myself and learning to love who I am. Being a woman is a really wonderful thing. I’ve seen how strong, powerful, and capable the women in my life are. I’m surrounded by badass women and I am constantly inspired by them. Any time they mention their endeavors, goals, dreams, ambitions, whatever it is, I never question their ability to do it. In my eyes, it’s like, “You’ve already done it. You’re already there.”
When I’m by myself, sometimes I feel like I can’t do jack shit but anytime I’m with my close women friends, I can do anything. Women are fucking cool. Especially the ones in my life.
Now I believe I can do anything. I know there are days I feel incapable and unmotivated, but now I know for sure that I can get through the really tough shit.
What are some of your biggest daily challenges?
Motivating myself to do things. I feel like the child who pulls out the crayon box to draw, then says, “cool, got my hands dirty here!” and then moves on to paint over there and then—actually nevermind—I want to make something out of clay somewhere else. I am very good at coming up with ideas, creating, dreaming, and getting my hands dirty. I get things to a point where I feel they’re just about to turn into something, and then I fall apart when it comes to the structural side of things.
I struggle so much with administrative tasks and being held accountable to deadlines because I just want to make and dream and do. It’s not that I can’t create the things I dream about; I just don’t always know what to do with them once they exist. Executing necessary tasks to get a creative idea somewhere the idea could be successful? That’s tough.
Management and the business side of things are a challenge, too. Oh my god. Taxes are so hard. I can’t do them.
Tell me about an event in your life that shaped who you are as a person today. Why was it so transformative?
I went through a divorce that I didn’t want. Ultimately, now, I’m so thankful for the experience.
I remember one night in particular, where I felt like I had a decision to make. I felt like I was being forced to look in a mirror and reevaluate myself. Not even a mirror, actually. I really felt like I was sitting across a table from another person. I had to sit in front of myself and really evaluate things to see who I was, who I wanted to be, and who I had been. And in that moment, I was not any of the things that I wanted to be.
I asked myself, “Who do you want to be, and how do you get there from here? What can you do with what you have now?” In that moment, I felt hopeless… like I had nothing. I felt like I couldn’t do much with what I had because I’d burned some bridges and hurt people a lot. And I was losing somebody I never thought I was going to lose. I’m not saying that I never thought I could, I just didn’t see it going that way.
I would love to create a space where people can be themselves, broken or not—crying on my couch or laughing on my couch. I want to do that for others the way others have for me.
Therapy was a big help.
I sat with other people and had hard, painful conversations with them. That pain made me softer. I literally felt like someone had me on a table, they’d cracked open my chest, and people could just come and go as they please and take out all my organs and do whatever they wanted with them. Take them away or keep them forever. It felt like someone was doing open body surgery on me, and it made me a softer human. It made me braver than I used to be… to share my feelings and my thoughts with people and to be my most broken self with people, because back then I had no choice. Every fiber of my being was riddled with sadness so there was no faking it. I would cry on airplanes. Just, like, weep. I’d be crying ordering coffees at coffee shops.
I was forced to be who I was. I couldn’t be anything else.
It made me braver to be more of that authentic self with people, to not care what others think so much, and to hold close those who care. It made me stronger, braver, and definitely softer. And happier! Now I believe I can do anything. I know there are days I feel incapable and unmotivated, but now I know for sure that I can get through the really tough shit.
What do you do to feel the most yourself?
A few weeks ago, I was feeling like I just hated everything. Myself, my life, everything. When I feel like that, it’s usually a sign there’s something going on that’s bigger than just a bad day. I remembered then that I hadn’t written in a long time. When I finally sat down to write everything out, I realized I was okay, and I could just easily move on with my day. Writing is like magic.
Outward processing is great and internal processing is awesome, but I sometimes feel that a component a lot of people miss is physical processing, like rock climbing, painting, hiking, running, or writing. When I forget to do that, that’s when I feel like I’m ready to blow up. Because I don’t usually go through days thinking, “I hate my life”, and writing makes me feel totally like myself again. It allows me to realize that I’m fine, and I actually love life.
Being outside definitely helps, too, and feeling the sun on your skin. Sometimes I just lay in the middle of the yard and hike up my shorts and soak up the sun. Some people might think it’s scandalous, but I love it.
What are you working towards?
I’m working towards being a better me.
Sometimes there are days that I wish that I was as broken as I was last year because so much growth came from that. I don’t want to feel what I felt during the divorce by a long shot, but there are those times where I remember growing and improving so much because I was so beat up and broken. Sometimes I wish I was feeling that raw again because once you heal, it’s harder to grow. The bar is set higher, and you’re happier, so you’re not challenged as much. So, yeah, I’m always working towards becoming a better self for the people (and the dogs!) around me.
I sometimes feel that a component a lot of people miss is physical processing, like rock climbing, painting, hiking, running, or writing.
I also want to make a happy life. Not in the way we always throw around the word happy, though. I want a fulfilling, satisfying life. I want to create more of that for not just myself but also other people in my life. I would love to have a space where people can be themselves, broken or not-- crying on my couch or laughing on my couch. I want to do that for others the way others have for me.
And finally, I want to tell stories that mean something, whether they inspire one person or hundreds. I want to create a space for others to be themselves and share their experiences with those around them. I just want people to be free and I think telling stories does that in some way. I hope to tell meaningful stories.
More Things My Friends Have Taught Me Coming Soon