A Fence Post Up My Ass

by Carol Hess on April 17, 2012

I’ve got a fence post up my ass.  It’s been there for a month or more, and it’s starting to get pretty damned uncomfortable.

Ever since I allowed my authentic self to be seen, I’ve been sitting on top of this damned fence.  First I lean one direction, poised to leap off that side of the fence.  Then I lean the other direction, poised to leap off the other side of the fence.  And then I lean back and just sit there.  And rotate.  Ouch.

It’s not like I don’t understand the choice in front of me.  Jump off the fence one way and go back to the status quo – following a familiar path that’s well-worn by my footsteps and the footsteps of others.  I can pretty much control the direction of this path and anticipate what lies around the corner.  This path doesn’t demand my best, and most of the time it feels fairly safe.

And then there’s the other path.  Son of a bitch path.  Excuse me, but it’s really beginning to piss me off that path.  First of all, it’s so far below this fence I’m sitting on that it feels like I’d be jumping off a 200’ cliff.  Know what I mean?  Scary.  Really, really scary.

And then I can’t even see the damned thing, much less where it’s leading.  It’s obscured by a heavy mist.  Every once in a while, the mist parts, and I catch a glimpse of beautiful vistas that leave me gasping.  Then the mist comes down again and shrouds the path and the way forward.

There’s nothing remotely comfortable, familiar, or predictable about this path.  If I choose this path, I know I’ve got to drop the reins and surrender all semblance of control or knowing.  I don’t like to do that.  To put it mildly.

But here’s the worst part.  That damned path has a seductive glow about it.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  I can’t quite seem to turn my back on it.

So I sit on the fence post of my dilemma, squirming and uncomfortable.  I’m waiting for something.  I have no idea what.  A sign?  A guru to tell me what to do?  A voice from above?  A shove in the middle of my back?

Then this morning it came.

I’m having a conversation with a client.  She’s joking with me, asking me if I’m sure I’m not a therapist.  Then she gets serious and says, “Carol, you know that’s where your healing gift truly lies.  You instinctively know what’s going on for people and why.  You know just what they need to hear, and you say it.”

Suddenly I’m back at college freshman year.  It’s just after the long Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m sitting in Psych 101, staring at my white rat.  Something’s wrong with him.  He’s very aggressive – running around and around the cage, biting at my hand as I try to pick him up.  And he’s forgotten all about how to push the lever to get food.

It turns out he was accidentally caged with a female rat over the holiday break.  Apparently it was his undoing.  (Draw whatever conclusions you may.)  That simple mistake by a lab assistant is my undoing too.  My previously strong interest in psychology dampens significantly when I have to start over with a new rat, and my grade suffers accordingly.

Then I discover that the psych department at my school is more oriented toward the laboratory-scientific approach to psychology as opposed to the humanistic approach.  If I’m going to major in psychology, that means lots more hours in the lab with white rats and pigeons.  Birds make me nervous, ever since a parrot landed on my head at a church fair.  It hurt like hell.  And now white rats make me nervous.

So I switch my major to sociology.  Just like that.

I never pursue a career in the field that most interests me.  I settle for scratching my psychology itch by reading lots of personal development books.  I volunteer for a suicide prevention hotline and a domestic violence hotline.  I engage in exciting conversations about what makes people tick.**  I even toy with and then discard the idea of going back to school to become a therapist.

This morning, as I sat on my uncomfortable fence, remembering a white rat while the fence post poked me in the ass, I looked at the consequences of one choice made many years ago to take the easier, more comfortable, less demanding path.

My decision is made.  It’s time to jump off the fence.


**  I guess I’m still engaging in those exciting conversations about what makes people tick.  On April 25th, I’m offering a free teleclass called “Your Soul Story: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle.”  We’re going to talk about who we are, why we’re here, and what we’re going to do about it.  Pretty juicy stuff, don’t you think?  I can’t wait!  I hope you’ll join me.  Click the link below for more details.  Remember – it’s free!

Your Soul Story: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

by Carol Hess


Categories Personal Empowerment, The Art of Star Polishing, The Mind Game

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar ann white April 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Carol, right you are. Be kind to your butt and jump. Your wings will unfold and you will soar. Your spirit has left the fence ages ago. It’s high time your body catches up. You go, Girl!


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 1:47 am

I’m flying, Ann. Not quite soaring yet, but I’ll get there. Gotta remember not to look down. It makes me sick to my stomach. :)


avatar Randi April 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

Loved your post Carol! I am sitting on that fence with you! Thanks for speaking from the heart it inspires me!


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

Well, I think it’s time we get off that uncomfortable fence, don’t you, Randi? Thanks for swinging by Star Polisher, and welcome to the community. I’m so glad to have you join us!


avatar KCLAnderson (Karen) April 18, 2012 at 8:32 am

This post was interesting to me on several levels…it reminded me of when I was in college, majoring in communications with a concentration in journalism because I wanted to be a writer. And after college, I did indeed make a living as a journalist, in the plastics industry trade press. But I was never confident in that path. Although I spent nearly 20 years in that industry, I moved from job to job, magazine to magazine, because I didn’t have what it took to rise through the ranks at the best one, which is where I started out. I used to think that I wasn’t a very good writer after all. Then came the final blow. I had finally become the editor of a magazine and it was doing really well. It was sold to a large company in California, but that company didn’t want me. I tried to find a job with another magazine…I tried to start my own PR company, doing writing for plastics companies. But I hated PR.

I decided that was it. I’m not a writer. And I went to work for a brand new Borders book store that was opening in my area. I did six months as a book seller and the manager asked if I’d like to take on corporate sales. I started going to networking events and would tell the people I met about my former days as I writer. I yearned to get back to it, but didn’t know what it looked like…not to mention that my self-confidence has been in the crapper for a very long time and my weight reflected it.

Eventually I recognized my own fence post and jumped into freelancing and have never looked back. But it was when I started blogging that I began to see the big picture of what it meant, for me, to be a writer. And the difference is that I am a right-brained writer (I connect on an emotional, creative level) not a left-brained writer (who deals with facts and logic, and formulas…a journalist).

And my body has responded in kind.

Anyway, I am sure you’ve seen the myriad quotes about taking risks and jumping off fences and onto dark, foggy paths. You’ve got this!


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

Karen, thank you so much for telling your story. (See what a great storyteller she is, Everybody? Her book, AFTER The Before & After: A Real-Life Story of Weight Loss, Weight Gain & Weightlessness Through Total Acceptance, is a great read.) What I appreciate about it is you were so close to your right/write path. You “simply” needed to veer down the path of freelancing and recognize the kind of writing that best reflects the authentic you. I put the “simply” in quotes, because there is nothing simple about doing the work that gets you off the fence post and onto the path. But I’m so glad you did it anyway for purely selfish reasons. Your readers are the richer for it. I’m hanging my hat on your statement, “You’ve got this!” Thank you for the encouragement. Truly.


avatar Mary Dirksen April 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

Hi Carol,

I’m so glad you wrote this. I, too, am sitting on that fence with you. The worst of it is that I know which way I want to go and I know that I’m going to eventually jump. But taking that leap isn’t easy. I keep doing other things to soften the blow and I think those things have NOTHING to do with my “landing”. They are actually softening the “jump” (the fear of…).

Okay, I’m ready to pull that fence post out of my ass. It is when the pain of staying where you’re at is greater than the fear of moving gets greater that we make our move. I’ll be watching for your move and listening to your teleclass on the 25th. I love hearing you talk, sista!

Much love and many blessings for you…


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

You are exactly right, Mary. Pain is a great motivator. Sounds like we’ve both about reached our threshold. Let’s jump together so we can soar together. Is it a deal?


avatar Jerri Shankler April 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

Dear Carol, What a wonderful post! I am a therapist and addictions specialist who came to it later, starting at age 33. I consider myself a Holistic Psychotherapist, and also integrate energy psychology and healing into my work. Family Recovery Coaching is the new direction for me, the business I am building now. It’s a population that needs and deserves healing focused on them.

Enough about me, my comment is really that healers show up in many different forms; a therapist is only one form. I have been following you for maybe 2 years, and was delighted when you “came out”. You have been offering healing gifts for a long time, and it seems that a new incarnation of being a healer is emerging.

I sure you have many mid-wives,doulas and fans who will support you!

PS I’m a fan!


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Jerri, I’m so glad you shared your story. That’s exactly what Star Polisher is all about. We learn so much from each other when we share our stories, our hard-won wisdom, and the beauty of our authentic selves. I’ve fallen in love with the power of community.

As an alcoholic who has been sober for several years and who came from an alcoholic family, all I can say is hallelujah to Family Recovery Coaching. So needed. You will change lives. Would love to hear more about what energy psychology is. It’s making me vibrate inside!

Yes, I guess I am coming out. Hadn’t thought of it that way before. Your words of encouragement could not have come at a better time, Jerri. It feels good to be supported as I take the leap. Thank you.


avatar jules- big girl bombshell April 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

The first few paragraphs the picture of Humpty Dumpty kept popping into my head. Afraid to move, afraid of breaking…..

Then when you got to the Psychology – Sociology stuff…well bells were ringing. I have two degrees …one in Business & Commerce, one in Social – Behavioral Science….yet psychology fascinates me.

But here is the deal….it takes BOTH to understand people… the psychology of how the brain works and how we respond BUT that alone is a very different action than how it all works in the social world.

Our behaviors are one science while psychology (how we think) is another science….

the key is the people that can help us to utilize BOTH to the best of our potential.



avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

You are so right, Jules. We need it all to figure out the fascinating creatures we all are. And look at the powerhouse mixture of education and passion you are — writing (check out Jules’ terrific blog everybody), business/commerce, social/behavioral science, and psychology — and that’s just the stuff I know about. You might just be able to take over the world with that particular cocktail, my friend! :)


avatar Sandi Amorim April 18, 2012 at 11:52 am

The “son of a bitch” path is always more fulfilling 😉


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Ain’t that the truth.


avatar Stephanie April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

So Carol, I love the name of your post! You are so on target with what you had to say. I think if we gathered all of the fence post sitters — sore butts and all — we would have quite a lengthy fence. I’m right there with you, having just completed my health coach training and already finding myself thinking about the easy way out: getting a ‘real’ job. Sad truth: real jobs and I don’t get along. They tease me and squeeze me and mold me into something I am NOT!

Jump off that fence, girl. The world is waiting for you! We need your special brand of Carol-ness to shine on us and show us how to jump.

Big love to you! XO


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Thanks, Steph, for reminding me what happens when I settle for a “real” job — same thing that happens to you! Since I made the decision to jump off the fence by writing and publishing this post, you would not believe the kind of support I have received from all directions, including here on the blog. Talk about validation. So I say, “Jump, Steph! The Universe and all of us who love you have your back.”


avatar Melanie Kissell April 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

BEST post (pardon the pun) I’ve read in a coon’s age, Carol!

Thank you for reminding me the fence post that’s up my ass at the moment is only going to cause blistering, cracking, and bleeding if I don’t soon jump!


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm

What can I say, Melanie, except OUCH! That’s a lot of pain. What can I/we do to support you?


avatar Dorien Morin-van Dam April 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm


I saw your post on my friend Melanie’s page and the title pulled me to your website. I had a curiosity trying to figure out what this was going to be about.

You delivered the goods…:)

Love the piece and love the post. I jumped off my fence about 18 months ago!

Glad to be connected with you on Twitter. I’d love to connect on Facebook, but saw you do not (yet, I hope) have a Facebook Page set up.


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Congratulations, Dorien, for being a fence jumper. You inspire all of us! And welcome to the Star Polisher community. So glad to have you here. Any friend of Melanie’s is a friend of ours. :) I’m on Facebook with my personal page, and I’d love to connect with you there. I’m much more active on FB than Twitter, at least for now. If you click on the Facebook icon here on the website, it will take you right over there. Not sure I will be doing a FB fan page until my book comes out. The Fat Lady Sings will have its own fan page. Of course I have to write the book first. Small detail. Thanks for swinging by, Dorien, and joining the fence sitting discussion.


avatar Sonja April 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Carol , this is a great blog post and so timely for me as well. It is definately very tempting to stand on the safe side of the fence even you know that side doesn’t suit you anyway. Strange isn’t it how we satay on the fence afraid to jump even when it causes us so much anxious and stress. Time for us to leap. thanks, Sonja


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Do you suppose they are pumping something into the air that’s causing all this fence sitting? Actually, my friend Sandi Amorim would explain that our proclivity for fence-sitting is all Lizzie’s fault — as in our lizard brain. That ancient, reptilian part of us that is wired to keep us safe from sabre-toothed tigers and dinosaurs and such. Lizzie prefers the status quo and even the anxiety and stress of fence-sitting rather than have us take that leap off the fence and onto the unknown path. Leapin’ lizards is just an expression Little Orphan Annie likes to use because real lizards don’t like to leap at all. They’re just doing their job of keeping us safe, or they think they are. The trick is to lull your Lizzie into thinking everything is okay because resisting her is — as Sandi says — futile.


avatar Sandi Amorim April 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

Lizzie just needs to be taught who’s boss 😉


avatar Carol Hess April 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm

And you would know, Sandi, since you are the queen of the Lizzie teachers!


avatar Sonya M. Jones April 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I absolutely love this post! Very inspirational! My problem is not jumping off the fence though. Its jumping off the fence onto a road that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. I have a few passions in life, but can’t seem to get them to work in my favor. Stuck in a rut, but still trying. As for you, bravo for jumping off of that fence and don’t look back.


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Hi, Sonya. Welcome to the Star Polisher community — so glad to have you here. :) I’m not sure we’re supposed to see where the road is leading. It might make us feel better because we have the illusion we’re in control. But the real truth is no one can be 100 pct sure where they are going or if they are going to get there. And that’s okay, because it’s the journey and not the destination that counts. So I would suggest you take one of your favorite passions and do one thing every day related to that passion. Surrender to the experience and just enjoy yourself. Let go of the need to see around the corner. You’ll get there eventually and probably be delighted with what you find waiting for you there.


avatar Christine Jones April 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Carol, I could so relate to this post! I have a familiar pain in my butt too and I am getting darn tired of it! Thank you for your honesty and making me laugh today. I think we all know “oh to well” what that fence post feels like.
Good for you for jumping and sharing your awesome insight!
Aren’t you glad you shared. It is a reminder to all of us that we are not alone even in those darkest hours.
Now I need to get off the fence and sign up for your teleclass!


avatar Carol Hess April 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Laughter is great medicine when a fence post is stuck up your butt. So I’m glad the post made you laugh, Christine. Even gladder to hear you’ll be signing up for the Soul Story teleclass. It’s such a juicy topic, isn’t it? I couldn’t agree more that we need to remember we aren’t alone when we face the tough decisions. There is always someone who is sitting up there on the fence with us and who is ready to take our hand and help us fly when we jump.


avatar Misha April 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Have you heard of the “mugwump” bird? It sits on the fence with its “mug” on one side and its “wump” on the other side. And there it sits until it flies. I was told about the “mugwump” bird many years ago and when I catch myself fence sitting I know it is time to fly again irrespective of what might have just happened.It reminds me that I don’t necessarily have to take it “one step at a time” , or “slowly but surely” or do all that “pros and cons” stuff. I simply have to flap and fly with my “mug” facing forward and my “wump” ,no matter what size, will follow. And off I am again on my SoulPath Journey, living with passsion , purpose and play.


avatar Carol Hess April 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

OMG, Misha, the visual image of a human mugwump flapping her wings is cracking me up! Thank you for making my day! :) Love your point that we don’t have to necessarily take it slowly or weigh our options forever or even know where the heck we’re going. I think all of those can be excuses masquerading our fear of flying. The 3 p’s — passion, purpose, and play. (I always forget the play.) I want to add another “p” to the list — power. Welcome to the Star Polisher community, Misha. So glad to have you join us (on the teleclass too).


avatar Carol Hess April 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

PS — Going to go see what a mugwump looks like. I love Google.


avatar Sarah O April 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Carol I just love this analogy and your story. It’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. God damn that path down there is murky and scary – but so exciting and beckoning with adventure. Let’s jump together!


avatar Carol Hess April 21, 2012 at 7:10 am

I think we already have, Sarah, don’t you? So far, so good. :)


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