Thursday, October 15, 2015

Don’t Be A Flea by Heidi Chiavaroli

Heidi Chiavaroli
My son’s karate teacher is a storyteller. The kids love this. After a hard workout of blocks, five swords, and roundhouse kicks, he gathers the students around him on the mat and tells them a story that will encourage them in their quest to be a Black Belt.

Last week the story was about fleas.

That’s right. Fleas.

Stay with me.

He told them about an experiment done where fleas were put in a jar. And what do fleas do? They jump. Those fleas in that jar jumped away to their little heart’s content. They jumped so high they hit their heads on the top of that jar, but kept right on jumping.

And jumping. And jumping. And jumping.

For hours. And hours.

They didn’t stop. They didn’t give up and take a rest.

Good for those persevering fleas, right?

Well, finally the scientist took the lid off the jar, assuming the fleas would jump out—free at last!

But they didn’t.

They did, however, keep right on jumping. Just high enough to save themselves the pain of hitting their little heads on the cover. Just high enough to miss out on their true potential—freedom.

I think sometimes as writers we tend to be like those fleas. We might push ourselves to a point, but then we settle in. We get comfortable with writing inside the box—or jar, if you will. We write safe. Write what we know. We might not risk the pain of possible rejection by stretching our abilities, by writing honest, by stripping ourselves bare to allow our true voice to shine through.

But the only way we’ll grow, the only way we’ll reach more people with our message, the only way we’ll achieve our ultimate potential, is if we step out of our comfort zone.

My son’s karate teacher calls this having an indomitable spirit. I love that. I want to have an indomitable writing spirit. I don’t want to be a flea. I want to push myself. Be a little risky. Maybe get those rejections, maybe even some criticism. If I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone, not everyone’s going to like it.

But that’s okay.

Because I don’t want to be a flea. I want to pursue this writing journey with stubborn persistence. I want to give it my all.

I want an indomitable spirit.


Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, wife, mother, and grace-clinger—not necessarily in that order. Ever since taking her first trip to Plimoth Plantation with her sister, mother, and grandmother at the age of nine, she has been fascinated with history and its significance to today’s people and culture. Heidi is the winner of ACFW’s 2014 Genesis Contest, Historical Category. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle.


  1. I love this, Heidi! We should always be striving and growing in whatever we do. But I so hate leaving my comfort zone! It's ... well, it's comfortable! ;)

  2. Awesome post! The story of the fleas will keep me thinking and re-evaluating where I need to jump higher. Thanks, Heidi!


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