October 11, 2007

What would you do?

Can't fail Cafe, Emeryville, CA Canon Digital Rebel Xti

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

p.s. thank you for all of your suggestions about Portland. I will never go away again without consulting you first!

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Posted by: Joshua whitehead at November 16, 2007 09:18 AM

1) have kids
2) get married
3) travel around the world solo again.

Posted by: Addie at October 29, 2007 08:28 PM

It looks like I'm making the 100th comment...that's kind of auspicious, maybe...

I would write books that would be published and wildly celebrated.

Posted by: Teri at October 26, 2007 08:35 PM

Do stand-up!

Posted by: Sarah at October 26, 2007 10:37 AM

persuade my love interest to come to me

make the most of graduate school by making lots of art and doing lots of research while i have the chance (and my loans are still deferred ;)

open my dream business

rehab a house in the inner city to be near my favorite church

Posted by: rlb at October 25, 2007 12:39 PM

I would open an Oyster & Champagne bar.... on the beach!

Posted by: Catherine at October 24, 2007 12:04 AM

A little late in the response - but it's easy...I'd fall in love.

Posted by: Suzette at October 23, 2007 08:31 AM

1. finish my book
2. Finish falling out of love with my husband.
3. Fall back in love with my husband
4. Have children, and not turn out like my mother!

Posted by: katielauren at October 22, 2007 02:21 AM

* quit my job and concentrate on my own creative business
* marry the guy i love
* have kids
* leave home and back-pack through Europe
* feed the hungry (all of them)
* create world peace
* make the earth greener
* cook
* lose weight
* finish school

In that order :)

Posted by: ilongga70 at October 21, 2007 11:21 PM

I would set up the choir I have been dreaming of for the tone deaf. And we would all make a lot of lovely noise and no longer care about other people's opinion of our awful singing because we would be too happy caterwauling to hear them.

Posted by: Em at October 20, 2007 04:15 AM

I would meditate every day and delve deep, deep into what IS, without fear. I would stop grasping and slowly, lovingly, learn to let go gracefully. I would appreciate my life fully and be grateful for it. I would trust my own wisdom and give it a beautiful voice.

Thank you!

Posted by: permeable at October 18, 2007 08:04 PM

I forgot one:


Posted by: L at October 18, 2007 11:35 AM

I am late to this post but I can't resist:

Run daily
Date Jonny
Get married
Open the cafe
Get rich (stay rich)
Buy the house
Have kids and be a good mom
Be done with fear
Kick ass and always bet on me!

Posted by: LD at October 18, 2007 08:34 AM

date and take more photographs!

Posted by: m at October 18, 2007 02:51 AM

I would love myself so completely and fully that every single thing I did I would think was amazing and wonderful. I would think I was so beautiful and kind and I would offer myself compassion and gentleness and I would laugh from deep in my belly when I made mistakes and I would giggle with tears streaming down my face whenevr I fell. I would sing out loud all the time and I would fill my heart with gratitude every time I learned or met someone new. I would forgive everyone all the time and I would fill my house with mirrors and photos of myself and everyone I loved so I could always me surrounded in love.

Posted by: myriam at October 17, 2007 04:17 PM

I think I just did it. Moved to San Francisco (3000 miles!), moved in with my boyfriend, he's off to law school, I'm starting off in a new field to learn all the business skills I need, for the next step (probably philanthropy work), making new friends, reconnecting with old friends. And that's enough for now! And I don't know about "can't fail" but I do know that everytime I do fail, I learn more. So, thanks for making me less fearful TODAY!

Posted by: Meg at October 17, 2007 01:11 PM

Start a stepfamily peace center.

Posted by: Jill at October 17, 2007 10:51 AM

get some guts

Posted by: Jo at October 17, 2007 10:07 AM

get some guts

Posted by: Jo at October 17, 2007 10:07 AM

I would open a creativity center. Period. Full of colors and all kinds of stuff to create with. I would do this even if I did fail.

Posted by: Lu at October 17, 2007 07:05 AM

I would open a facility that assisted women with health issues, mental or physical, who served multiple caregiver roles (wife, mother,daughter, etc). The facility would offer services that would allow clients to take a nap while their children were being cared for, have a massage, have their home cleaned once a week, find multiple kinds of support, etc. It would be a place where women like me could find a helping hand, a place a to cry freely, a place to surrender without having to worry (for a minimum of 30 minutes but hopefully longer) about who would take care of everyone else while they were feeling horrible. And I would call it Reprieve. I have been praying that I will find a way to make this dream come true ever since it was born. It's only one month old, so it is very fresh and has lots of energy :-) It makes me cry when I think about it, so I take that as a sign that 1) I'm on the right track, and 2) I need something like this!

Posted by: Jennifer (she said) at October 17, 2007 06:58 AM

After reading someone else's post about their fear being of success, not failure, I realized mine is as well. I am familiar with feeling defeated, that is comfortable in some way to me. But to be victorious means leaving behind all the haunting reality of my childhood, knowing it will never be any different than it was. If I leave it behind, it can't be changed. I know logically it's not going to change, but I am challenged by this deep in my soul.

Posted by: Sandra at October 16, 2007 08:57 PM

If I knew I couldn't fail...

- I would develop my own curriculum for teaching and teach it instead of the canned stuff

- I would quit my job and go back to school to learn something I'm passionate about

- I would spend more time volunteering at the free clinic and still balance everything else

- I would spend more time gazing at my son and less time reading books about how not to screw up raising him. :)

Thank you for the question! It really made me think.

Posted by: Amber at October 16, 2007 06:37 PM

I have been keeping track of all the wonderful responses to this question but find myself unable to complete a list. Mine seems to be overwhelmingly never-ending and I'm not sure if that's because they are things I REALLY want to do, or just things I'm plucking from thin air. So, if I couldn't fail, I would come to a decision about what I really wanted from my large list.

Posted by: Bel at October 16, 2007 05:24 PM

I am trailing behind ...

... and after reading most of these I realize, it is not failing that scares me, it is succeeding. How can that be?

Posted by: Kerstin at October 16, 2007 03:13 PM

I would:

Say No more often

Open a childrens book store

take more walks

tell more people Thank You

Posted by: Alisha at October 16, 2007 01:54 PM

become a famous singer very much in the style of regina spektor. this is limited, of course, by my actual piano playing/singing talent!

Posted by: Jenn at October 16, 2007 01:49 PM

I would quit my job and join an organization that would help me help women who are suffering around the globe.

Posted by: Becky at October 16, 2007 01:17 PM

I'd do what I am doing right now - start a business, quit my job, move to the country, and finish off at least one of my stories.

It's not easy though. I am scared that I will fail. I hope that I won't. But life is short and I have to try.

Thanks for being an amazing blogger. I've been reading your blog for over two years now! Thanks for inspiring me.

Posted by: Mel at October 16, 2007 12:14 PM

i would fly away home- to that place that beckons me- to the one who visits me in the night- in a birdsong- in the whisper of the woods. yes- i would fly away home- because he is there...

Posted by: sunflower at October 16, 2007 11:42 AM

Great question. All these dreams we have, all these hopes & stars we look at, thinking they're so far away we can't reach them.

I'd be myself. If I really really knew i wouldn't fail, that's what i'd be, fully.

Posted by: Isavoyage at October 16, 2007 11:34 AM

I would stop working at 5pm every day, and get away from the computer every evening. I would also take two whole days completely off, every week.

Posted by: Anna Kuperberg at October 16, 2007 11:12 AM

I second Abby...have another child.

I would also open a Christian-based daycare center for low-income single moms.

Posted by: Jamie at October 16, 2007 09:14 AM

Have more kids.

Posted by: abby at October 15, 2007 08:49 PM

let go of all the fear and just jump right in!

Posted by: stef at October 15, 2007 08:42 PM

Write science mystery novels for girls.

Posted by: Elise at October 15, 2007 10:17 AM

i would leave my job as a high school teacher. immediately.

Posted by: maureen at October 15, 2007 07:20 AM

Ride a bike to work every day.

Leave New York.

Posted by: Leah at October 15, 2007 05:31 AM

Thank you, Andrea. It's an excellent question and the answers have been superlative!

What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail? I would:

* take the plunge, dive in deep and finish my thesis without fear of having my analysis labelled "superficial" and being exposed as a fraud
* create a beautiful home with my beloved boyo, bravely working through disagreement, conflict and compromise
* fully explore the role that art, words and creativity play in my life... with no destination or outcome in mind
* give up on the idea that my perception of my performance in my day job reflects who I truly am and what I am capable of
* bring that children's book out of my head and into the world

These things feel like the hardest things in the world for me at the moment. But somehow, just seeing these words written in the context of "not failing" gives me hope that it is possible...

Quite a gift you have given us, Andrea! You really are a superhero.

Posted by: Kat from Melbourne at October 14, 2007 10:58 PM

I would be an artist full time.
Build a house
Start an arts organization/camp for disabled kids and troubled teens.

Posted by: alex at October 14, 2007 07:59 PM

I would be an artist full time.
Build a house
Start an arts organization/camp for disabled kids and troubled teens.

Posted by: alex at October 14, 2007 07:58 PM

I would be an artist full time.
Build a house
Start an arts organization/camp for disabled kids and troubled teens.

Posted by: alex at October 14, 2007 07:57 PM

I would be an artist full time.
Build a house
Start an arts organization/camp for disabled kids and troubled teens.

Posted by: alex at October 14, 2007 07:57 PM

i would dedicate my life to art and love and passion and never look back.

i would be proud of my body...i would go on a mission to promote more self love and self care in the world.

i would find sweet love and have many babies.

i would banish shame and fear from my life.

of course...now i'm asking myself...what is stopping you?

Posted by: Vivienne at October 14, 2007 04:29 PM
Posted by: Jefferson Rocha at October 14, 2007 02:56 PM

I love green day!!!

Posted by: Jefferson Rocha at October 14, 2007 02:55 PM

mccabe you are just awesome :)

I'd ask my love to marry me
I'd rent an apartment in the heart of Saigon for a few months of the year
I'd take acting classes
I'd write and illustrate a children's book

All looks quite do-able really :)

I've been asking myself these 'what if' questions the last week. Mainly because I am about to end the lease on the apartment that I love and have had for years, stash away or sell all my furniture, piss my supervisors off by delaying the start date of my phd and anger my boss by leaving my job so that I can run away to south east asia with my partner. I'm pretty scared but god- what fun it's going to be seeing the look on my mother's face when i tell her ;) you can't fail, just take the leap (says the uber-organised, safety-first girl)

Posted by: Laura at October 14, 2007 01:10 AM

Ok, I saw this days ago and am just now getting to answer it.

Several answers:

have my own business...interior design related.
be a professional photographer/writer
travel the world with my family
have another child
have a huge farm, with many animals
build my dream home
own a beach house
cook wonderful home cooked meals
be ultra organized
participate in more activities I urn to be part of...charity and the arts

And, I know, go ahead and tell me I can do all of these. I could, to some degree. But trying to find time for it all and a time frame, especially, to do them. That's the hard part, with a husband with a very pressure filled careera and two small kids. There are limitations for us all I guess. You just have to decide what you will allow them to really limit you to pursue I suppose. I'm trying, is all I can say. Best I can do.

Posted by: amy j. at October 13, 2007 09:49 PM

* I'd find my soulmate
* I'd become a superb somatic therapist (on my way..)
* I'd live an idiosyncratic life that suited me just right
* I'd be a fantastic parent
* I'd try theatre
* maybe work on farms part-time

Posted by: Sandra at October 13, 2007 04:14 PM

I will ask you to become my coach! And I am doing this, although I realize, you probably have no time for this, do you? But it's something I am dreaming about for a year already - thought it doesnt' hurt asking.... I am starting a new career as an illustrator and moving to a new continent... I really need your help, even if it would be 2o minutes once a month... please, tell me it's somehow possible, Andrea!

Posted by: olga at October 13, 2007 03:54 AM

I will start a world wide institute to help children
I will do a long pilgrimage walking
I will start my own bussiness as a component programmer,...
I will become on my own
I will Find a husband

I will have an awful raw with Mr. Z
I will start programming with C#

I will start documenting the database of IS
I will continue working in IS TO LEARN DB

I will leave IS

I never become worried or afraid

I will fly with a Kite, or parachute,...
I write a letter to k.s
I paint more
I will go to painting class

I will speak about my salary

I learn Crystal

I won't care what people judge about me
I will do what I love without fear of socity, father, family, coworkers,....
I will dance
I do a course in physics

I just trust God, and my own feelings

Posted by: Fatemeh at October 13, 2007 12:12 AM

I would open a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio in Middleton WI (because it's just begging for one) and my Dear Husband would run it, and I would just get to work there, and it would be a place where we could have our kids (and/or) pets at work with us. :-D I've been dreaming about it ever since we used to work at one back in OH. We'd have great coffee and fresh baked goods, and brightly colored walls. It will be terrific!

Posted by: Samantha at October 12, 2007 09:20 PM

I would open a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio in Middleton WI (because it's just begging for one) and my Dear Husband would run it, and I would just get to work there, and it would be a place where we could have our kids (and/or) pets at work with us. :-D I've been dreaming about it ever since we used to work at one back in OH. We'd have great coffee and fresh baked goods, and brightly colored walls. It will be terrific!

Posted by: Samantha at October 12, 2007 09:20 PM

oh you. this is a good one. if i were sure i could not fail, i would complete all the desires in my heart that have to do with assisting
the children of this world who have parents who just cant do the job. and i would somehow combine it with working with our elderly and giving them purpose and a place to contribute to our youth. yup. thats really what i would do.

Posted by: jen gray at October 12, 2007 08:54 PM

Write a book about my two years in Afghanistan - and that is my plan for the first quarter of 2008. After two years here failing doesn't seem so scarey anymore.

I love Portland with a passion and agree about the value of blogland travel tips - thanks for yours on the weather in Souther CA - by the way.

And of course Ben talks to angels, how could they resist a chat with the cutester.

Posted by: Frida at October 12, 2007 08:49 PM

I love this question and all the beautiful heart felt responses! When my son and his possible future sister or brother are in school I would work hard to finish the book I have started. Which is on paper, on my computer and running in my head daily for the last 10 years! Geesh. I would also *love* to open an awesome bakery where everything is made with fresh, wholesome organic ingredients. Everything would be *deee-licious* I would love to have it be a place where people can sit down for a comforting treat, feel welcomed and at home. I would want everyone to walk away feeling like they just treated themselves with love and comfort. I would want it to be a neighborhood place that feels like(healthy)family with cool artwork, local photos, comfort and joy on the walls:)

Posted by: Leia at October 12, 2007 08:14 PM

I would do the same things I am doing now, but with more confidence.

Posted by: Tom Mohan at October 12, 2007 06:44 PM

i would let go.
of all of it.

then i would get a kick ass
pair of ruby red boots and go dancing.

mcmermaid x

Posted by: mccabe at October 12, 2007 06:07 PM

This is so wonderful to muse on! The sky is the limit, for sure!

Posted by: tracey at October 12, 2007 01:55 PM

It is so awesome to read all of these dreams and wishes. "Sing in public more often" is a great one. I would love a little more fearlessly -- I can feel myself holding back lately. And I would quit my job to devote my time to what I really love. And I would finish writing the book proposal that's been on my desk for over a year.

Posted by: Sarah at October 12, 2007 12:46 PM

wow. i really wish i knew. i'm at such a transition in my life (left my job for something in another field that turned out to be awful and i'm not sure what to do next) and this is something great to reflect on. thank you!

Posted by: renée at October 12, 2007 12:40 PM

if i knew i couldn't fail... hmm... i would go back and help everyone lose weight that i've turned down in the past.

Posted by: rak at October 12, 2007 11:58 AM

Everything. I am blessed with so many ideas that I think are good - from topics for an article or a book to products I ought to develop. I often hold myself back though...

Posted by: Tamara at October 12, 2007 11:16 AM

I would quit my job and write the book I have had in my head for almost a year...
thanks for making me think about that, it was a nice break from reality!

Posted by: kate at October 12, 2007 10:46 AM

*I would finish my current degree for school. (I am finishing up my thesis right now.)

*I would go to med school even though I am 36 and have 2 kids.

* I would travel.

* I would work with Medecins sans Frontiers.

* I would rediscover photography.

* I would cook

* I would run a marathon.

I think that is enough for now....

Posted by: Meshbetty at October 12, 2007 10:45 AM

i'd start a zine...and then maybe even write a book...i'd move (i'd definitely move)--santa fe, austin, somewhere like that...i'd start speaking up a hell of a lot more...i'd explore paris on my own...

Posted by: la vie en rose at October 12, 2007 10:11 AM

have another baby.
sing in public more often.
go back to school.

what about you??

Posted by: tiffany at October 12, 2007 08:59 AM

I would lose 100 pounds.

I would turn an beautiful old building which currently houses a strip joint into a community centre - but something unique. A restaurant on the bottom floor filled with Art and exposed brick. Amazing organic food with a vegetarian flair and phenominal vegan desserts. The other floors would have a community theatre, a bunch of rooms for people to take art classes, cooking classes, and there would be a focus on Green Living & Ethical Investing. It would be a place that feels like home - but spa like in a way. It would be phenominal and I would be surrounded by people that live passionately and are first and foremost KIND, ENERGETIC, and Mature enough not to gossip about each other! There I said it :)

Posted by: Andrea D at October 12, 2007 08:57 AM

Wow. This is amazing. I love that you asked this question, and I loved reading every woman's response.

I would stop worrying about the ongoing income my husband and I recently gave up by quitting our corporate lives to pursue our dreams and then just settle into the dream we both have -- and are working on -- to write for our living for the rest of our lives. As part of that writerly life, I would travel. A lot. And I would launch with boldness the business I'm creating that helps women recover their deep hearts in grace-filled community with other women.

PS: I found your blog through Jen Gray's blog and have been reading for about a month.

Posted by: Christianne at October 12, 2007 07:09 AM

I'd pack up my kids and move to Austin and I'd support us by writing.

Posted by: Nina at October 12, 2007 07:04 AM

i would teach.

i would play the violin.

i would try to heal the relationship i have with my mother.

Posted by: tina at October 12, 2007 06:39 AM

Quit my job, start a non-profit working to protect animals, and have a baby now rather than later!

Posted by: andrea_frets at October 12, 2007 06:07 AM

*I think I'm in the process of doing a HUGE one right now...I have rented an apartment with hardwood floors (something I've wanted f-o-r-e-v-e-r) and am divorcing my husband because I know I can never be whole or healthy if I stay with him.

*I'm going to have a SUPER STUFF LIQUIDATION SALE the second weekend in November when my husband goes with his screwed-up family to Walt Disney World...and I'm not going to share the proceeds with him because he hasn't done a single thing to go through our stuff. Since I have the gift of baking, I'm also going to offer simple but yummy items for sale. (I'll wear my Superhero bracelet on the day of the sale, and I'd appreciate any positive energy you remember to send my way).

*I will write for the pure joy of it--and share it with others hoping they'll enjoy it.

*I would move to Chautauqua, NY and sell snow cones during the season in order to be able to live there year round.

*I would buy a huge house in Chautauqua and make it into a writers'/artists' retreat center where creative folks could come to this beautiful place and do their art during the day and come together for good food and stimulating conversation in the evenings.

*I would give myself the permission to be exactly who I am knowing that is...enough.

Posted by: Lisa at October 12, 2007 03:04 AM

I would get pregnant!!
I would learn how to speak 5 different languages,
and maybe build our dream home...

We're working on the first one...

Posted by: dana at October 11, 2007 10:37 PM

1. I would go to med. school, even though I am 31.
2. I would also like to run a marathon someday.
3. And it seems as though I a among the masses who seek your blog for a little daily pick-me-up, and would also love to dabble in photography.

Thanks for helping me start a list of goals. Something I haven't done in years. My step dad used to make my sister and I write our goals on paper and give them to him. Six months later we would look at them and see what we had accomplished, then write another list, to be looked at in another six months.

Posted by: Kenzie at October 11, 2007 09:37 PM

i'd write songs. and perform them on stage.

Posted by: jo anne at October 11, 2007 07:38 PM


Do an IronMan

Pursue photography

Rock climb

Ski or snowboard (have a fear of falling down the mountain, so if I can't fail, I just get to go fast and have fun!)

Publish books

Posted by: Kelly at October 11, 2007 06:32 PM

I'd quit the job I keep because it pays the bills and paint full time and open my own art gallery.

Posted by: Julia at October 11, 2007 06:28 PM

i would become a farmer. or a gardener. i always worry that i have a black thumb.

Posted by: shaun marie at October 11, 2007 05:19 PM

i would become a farmer. or a gardener. i always worry that i have a black thumb.

Posted by: shaun marie at October 11, 2007 05:19 PM

i would become a farmer. or a gardener. i always worry that i have a black thumb.

Posted by: shaun marie at October 11, 2007 05:19 PM

become a f$&*(ng athlete, but I guess that doesn't count - I think anytime you become active on a regular basis, you're an athlete. And it doesn't totally matter if you're Olympic caliber or not....active living by design baby!

Posted by: Jennifer at October 11, 2007 05:18 PM

That's easy - I would have the confidence to homeschool my special needs child.

Thanks for asking.

Posted by: sarah at October 11, 2007 04:37 PM

I would:

A) finally get pregnant
B) quit my job and do something creative like photography, or teaching flute and piano
C) draw like i used to

Posted by: Equipoise at October 11, 2007 04:29 PM

I'd say screw the daily grind, give up the regular job and write the book that's been nagging at me.

Posted by: chris at October 11, 2007 04:07 PM

Become enlightened...

I LOVE this photo!

Posted by: Elizabeth at October 11, 2007 04:04 PM

Run and find some one to love right away!
Have some babies.
Definitely become the president after the kids have grown- and lots of stuff under that heading.
Negotiate peace in the middle east... and everywhere else!
Have dinner parties and invite people I've always wanted to meet.

Posted by: B. at October 11, 2007 02:43 PM

I am asking myself that very question quite a bit these days.

I'm in the process of discovering my answer.

Posted by: debbie at October 11, 2007 02:19 PM

aside from being Madonna, which I'm not really sure I would like being anyway...I'm doing everything I want.

wow. that was a big moment to declare

Posted by: rs at October 11, 2007 01:55 PM

me gusta lo que mirás y cómo lo mirás.
alucino con una "Canon Digital Rebel Xti" para que me muestre lo que vos encontrás detrás del objetivo...
siento no hablar tu lengua, soy una sudamericana atrasada...
un beso

Posted by: Crist at October 11, 2007 01:35 PM

paint for a living. travel the world. learn every language.

Posted by: celisa at October 11, 2007 01:13 PM

Mmmm...I love the Can't Fail Cafe! It's one of my favorite spots in the east bay.

I'd be a writer/artist. But I think I'd miss being a scientist. In this fantasy world, I'd be able to do both because I wouldn't ever need sleep. Yay!

Posted by: Betsy at October 11, 2007 01:02 PM

try to get pregnant again!


Posted by: Laura at October 11, 2007 12:41 PM

Move to a place I love. Open a shop. Write a book.

Posted by: Sarah at October 11, 2007 11:54 AM

I would run to the airport and emigrate with immediate effect. Oh, and start my organic vegetable business.

Posted by: Belinda at October 11, 2007 11:35 AM

wow, thought provoking for sure...here goes

1 - Give up the 9-5 and study photography full time with a view to being a travel photographer.

2 - Train for a marathon

3 - Learn how to play the cello

4 - One day, run for public office

(wow, it's the first time I've ever typed out #4, thanks Andrea!)

Posted by: wn at October 11, 2007 11:34 AM

Lose 100lbs. Fall in love. Follow my passion (once I've discovered it).

Very thought provoking question-thank you!

Posted by: Jummy at October 11, 2007 11:28 AM

I'd finish my book and finally open my jewelry shop online.

Posted by: gabby at October 11, 2007 11:02 AM

I'd write my book. Which is what I'm doing every day!

Posted by: Dr. S at October 11, 2007 10:52 AM

Start my own card company and open a paperie!

Posted by: Sara at October 11, 2007 10:45 AM

Do triathlons.

whew. :)

Posted by: ML at October 11, 2007 10:09 AM

I'd be a travel writer and photojournalist. Good question!

Posted by: Ava at October 11, 2007 10:01 AM