Challenge winner Bernie AguirreLet’s hear it for Bernie Aguirre for winning the January 2022 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this prompt:

Choose one guiding word to steer you toward your paid writing goals for the coming year, and explain why you chose it.

Bernie shared the lively background story behind his new outlook for the year. Enjoy his winning submission:


The one word that is steering me toward my paid writing goals.

I looked at that line that I typed up above so that it would stare me in the face and inspire me.

“Fearless.” It jumped to my mind immediately.

I’m sure this word has probably been chosen by many others, but for me, it lives in my head now in a variety of ways. It’s like the chiding opponent that sneers at you to try to beat it to the punch. Taunting me to engage and land a blow in my fight against self-doubt.

Of course, I want to connect with a nice solid jab to the foe that dares me! The opponent that reflects back at me my fear of missing the mark and adding value to the world.

“Fearless” morphs to guide me to take on the task of pursuing my interests, honing my skills, and truly forcing me out of my comfort zone that I have found myself in. It’s like the ring corner I can’t escape! I have kept butchering up the goals in my head and in a sense, dumbing myself down by not taking on new challenges. Staying stuck versus reclaiming and remembering the knowledge that expressing oneself through the written/typed word is always something to hone further… to shape without fail and not rest on one’s laurels — trapped… Stagnant!

I feel like I threw in the towel. Not remembering/reclaiming/learning the grammatical rules that have left my brain due to stress, lack of sleep, and so many life challenges. I felt the gnawing self-doubt of someone who regrets throwing the fight because he was afraid to stride out under the spotlight — putting my work out there. The twist is that I’m not afraid of failure in the eyes of others but of not contributing something of worth that can have a positive impact in some way, shape, or form.

Now “Fearless” is my new coach — kneading my shoulders in between rounds and saying, “You got this! Your life experiences do count for something. You don’t have to worry about how something is received. That’s left to the Universe to decide. What matters most is that you lead with your heart and bring your authenticity. And really, just enjoy the experience, good man.”

I daresay “Fearless” will become my dance partner as I push through this year and take chances at pursuing learning and mastering my emotions that fuel my drive to participate in the world at large.

This word is really helping me wake up and do things differently. Just letting things flow.

“Fearless” inspired me to take this opportunity to simply write something without any expectations of winning. Why? By doing this, I have already won! I did something on a busy weeknight because it touched on my desire to finally write about something that matters to me… Taking bold steps toward pursuing a new future through writing.

Let’s do this!