facing your fears

NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: Have you faced your fears and overcome them?

The subject of fear is a popular one on this blog. That feeling that you’re holding yourself back from doing certain things because they’re scary is no fun. I’ve written about it in several posts:

being vulnerable

the vocabulary to dream

trust and rest

the things that scare you

Susan Jeffers in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway says that holding the fear of doing something is many times worse than just going and doing it.

Tonight I’m headed to an educators in the arts social event at a bar in Times Square. It’s a networking event and I thought it would be good for me to go considering my new career path. I can think of a whole slew of excuses right now why I shouldn’t. I thought about inviting a friend to come with me, just to ease the fear of walking into a bar and not knowing anyone. But I thought better of it. My purpose is to experience this scene that I will soon be well immersed in. It’s to challenge my fear of walking into a social event without any crutches. It’s to learn a little bit more about myself and why this is a scary thing for me.

I’ve always felt better after facing a fear. Because, whew! I can say that’s finally over no matter how it turned out. And I end up learning if it’s something I want to continue pursuing. But I’ll never know if I don’t try, right?

See also: the challenge.


make a wish

NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: It’s 11/11/11. Make three wishes.

Okay, so it’s not really 11/11/11 anymore, but I did make these wishes yesterday. Sharing my wishes publicly seems so personal so I am probably censoring myself a bit. But here goes:

1. Have the courage to create the space for myself to do the things that are most meaningful and let go of the rest.

2. Have my book (the one in my head that hasn’t been written yet!) published.

3. Have the self confidence to voice my opinions without worrying about what other people think.

 

See also: the challenge.


secret passion

NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: What is your secret (or not-so-secret) passion?

Can I just say, “read my blog and you’ll find the answer?” Actually, you probably won’t find the answer considering I’m still searching for and discovering what my passion is. At least when it comes to a career.

Here are a few things completed unrelated to career, however, that I’m secretly passionate about:

  • Having a spot of afternoon tea
  • Getting lost in a colorful, creative, artsy journal/book. My favorite being Spilling Open.
  • Baking, especially with pumpkin!
  • Dinner by candlelight
  • This blog: the shyness project. A senior in high school spends a year confronting her shyness. I just discovered it and I’m in love!

home

NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt:

When was the first time you realized your home wasn’t like other people’s homes?

To me, home has many meanings: structure, design, functionality, people, and energy.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my home, mostly fantasizing. I love home magazines: Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart, etc. It’s like you peek into these worlds and imagine what your life would be like–in a loft in Dumbo, or a country cottage in the south of France. Everything seems so relaxing, right? So perfect, so carefree.

I think my existence in a small cozy apartment in Brooklyn isn’t unlike many others in New York. You make compromises: cute, vibrant neighborhood over space.

But I don’t think I’ve ever had a real sense of home in my adult life until I moved in with Dave. Every other apartment, no matter how nice I tried to make it, was ultimately just a place to put my stuff and always felt temporary. I used to always be on the go. I hardly ever had a proper dinner, unless I was out with friends specifically for that purpose. I’ve never spent so much time in my home as I do now. Dave and I cook meals together, eat at the dinner table, lounge on the weekend with a paper copy of the NY Times, make up songs (well, Dave makes up songs), and laugh.

I am sure our apartment is not on the list to be photographed by Elle Decor, but I can see for the first time that no matter where we may be, we will create a home. So this might not exactly answer the writing prompt, but it is a realization that my home isn’t like my other homes.

See also: the challenge.


trauma

Today’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt revolves around the experience of a traumatic event.

If you were in New York on September 11th, I’m sure you’ve offered your own story. For most, I find, there is a sense of urgency to share their experience of this day. For me, I was walking on air. I had been cast in a Broadway play and it was the second day of rehearsal. I was elated to walk down 42nd street towards the studio, having no clue what had happened. The cast was filled with celebrities. As we heard about the events unfolding, these “stars” quickly turned into real people, all of us feeling real emotions and none of us more secure than the next.

Days and weeks after the attacks, I was met with a powerful sense of presence. My whole body tingled. I was not thinking about the past nor was I worried about the future. I was completely in the moment, seeing people on the street and in the subway as being a part of the universal experience of life. And I felt as though I was also being seen by these strangers in passing. We were all individuals but our energy was one.

When this sense of presence passed, a whoosh of fear leapt into my heart. That sense of security that I had taken for granted dropped out of me. I was still in a Broadway show, but everything around me seemed to be changing so rapidly. I danced with spirited freedom on one arm and fear of survival on the other. My dreamer self was overtaken by the staunch realist. Now, ten years later, I can see my trajectory as I slowly moved away from my artistic passionate self in favor of a “survival job.” And it is now with all of that experience that I see myself stepping out into this new life to get back in touch with my creative, present, enthusiastic self. Only this time my steps are much more timid.

See also: the challenge.


balance

“It’s all about balance.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard –or said–that very phrase. I’m always striving to bring my life into balance, so that my energy is concentrated in equal amounts on work, friends, play, creativity, love, etc.

We’re always going out of balance, but the idea is to keep redirecting our course of energy.

When I was taking a goal-setting class for artists at Capes Coaching, we spent some time focusing on life balance. For me, the first step was to visualize and write down what my life would look like if everything was in balance. The second was then to ask myself a series of questions, such as, “Do I feel satisfied with my work?” or “Are there any friends I need to see?” or “Are my finances in order?” Based on these answers I then knew where I needed to focus my energy. What this meant was that week to week was never equally balanced. One week I realized I needed to spend more time and energy cooking meals and making my home cozy, and the next week I needed to focus more on social outings and adventure.

As I sit here and write this, what I’ve realized is that life is happening and running and things are getting done that need to get done. It’s the element of self-awareness and reflection that I believe helps the most, whatever system you might use. While I don’t adhere so strictly to my question and answer system as I once did, I learned that figuring out just one step to make towards greater balance is enough to let a little air in.


the challenge

There are certain blogs that I visit like clockwork, just like email, or, yes, even Facebook. Each time I open the site, I get excited when I discover a new post. There’s just something about getting a dose of inspiration or reading a story that you can nod your head at because you relate to so well. It somehow makes you feel not so alone in your own story.

Of course, writing everyday isn’t the easiest thing to do–first you need inspiration, and second you need the time and the quiet concentration.

With that said, I’ve decided to take the NaBloPoMo challenge. November is National Blog Posting Month (yes, that exists apparently!) and I am going to challenge myself to write everyday for the rest of November. To make it a bit easier, the inspiration for the challenge comes in the form of a daily writing prompt.

So, let’s get started!


simple joys: an inspired quote, #3

George Lucas:

“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you.

If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you are doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.”

Quote found on this lovely site: http://www.rootsofshe.com/


the things that scare you

In honor of Halloween I decided to focus on FEAR. We’re all afraid of something, right?

Some things are concrete, like:

  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of spiders
  • Fear of the dark

But what about the things that aren’t so obvious?

Here are some things that scare me:

  • Fear of making the wrong decision, as in, what if going back to grad school for teaching was the wrong decision, and I was actually meant to go to design school, or culinary school, or….
  • Fear that I won’t be a good teacher…or worse, that I won’t actually enjoy being a teacher
  • Fear of not making enough money if I decide to go into a creative career

In a way, these are all linked to the fear of failure. About a year ago I decided that this was “my year to fail.” Not so optimistic a picture, you might think! But what I realized was that fear of failure was holding me back so much that I was nearly paralyzed. If I made failing an adventure–and a real goal–then I couldn’t be held back in that way.

Fear can actually be a good thing. It gives us information about where we’re putting our mental energy. When we face the things we’re most afraid of, we usually get the biggest boost of confidence. Getting out of our comfort zone sets us up for growth and helps us learn more about ourselves.

So, what is something that scares you?

And, what small step can you take to face it?


mission: possible

If you’ve been reading this blog on a regular basis, you know by now that I love finding things I’ve written down in the past–like goals, wishes, and secret desires. It’s a way of reminding me to respect the journey that I’m on, that all things happen in due time.

Even though I’ve made some exciting life decisions in the past 3 months, like leaving my job and going back to school, it’s all still a little bit scary. Sometimes I feel like I’m flailing with no grounding whatsoever. Or, even worse, consumed by paralysis. I recently came across a “personal mission statement” or vision statement I had created for myself about a year and a half ago. It helped me get some much-needed perspective.

As I was reading it, a question popped into my head and I knew that by answering it, I would be one step closer to feeling grounded and excited about what the future holds:

In the end, what is most important? 

My answer was immediate: I want to inspire and bring joy to people, and, somehow, make their lives better and easier.

I knew I was making progress about getting closer (and clearer) to what I want by being able to answer this question without hesitation. And, surprisingly, I knew it was a step in the right direction when I was able to answer it in a very general sense. I didn’t feel the need to get bogged down in what specific job or career I wanted.

There is a lot of information out there about creating a vision statement for your life, but I find this one (which takes its lead from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) to be the easiest and most fun:

http://www.franklincovey.com/msb/

It takes you through a series of questions and then creates a mission statement based on your answers. Your vision of your life is constantly changing as you grow, learn new things, make mistakes, etc. But the key is to keep moving forward and keep what is most important in the forefront of your mind, always serving your true values.