Face Your Fear Friday

Volley for the Win

My Grandma Clarkston (God rest her soul) graciously gifted me with her bad joints. At age 25, I blew out my right knee trying to escape a paintball grenade in the woods. I was carried out of the woods – and later had an MRI. Torn MCL and a slight ACL tear as well. Both were repaired.

Eight months after that surgery – I was off to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island to visit with my family. We were visiting Tony Macaroni on Taino Beach when a spontaneous game of beach volleyball broke out. My gut told me to keep my butt planted firmly on that picnic table, but my love for beach volleyball won. One still weak knee meant most of my weight was on my left knee. Sure enough – snap. I knew as soon as I heard it what had happened. The rest of that trip was spent with my leg up and I gimped my way through the airport back home. This time, severe ACL tear. Helloooo, knee surgery #2.

Truth be told, I love most sports involving a net – tennis and volleyball in particular.  I also love not spending 6 months recovering from knee surgery. The fear of pain has kept me from experiencing my best life. For the better part of 10 years, I’ve avoided any activity involving nets… but that’s where I was happiest in the past.  Until this past Wednesday. Wednesday, I saw 3 high school age kids right outside the condo on the beach, carrying a volleyball. Me not being a very shy person – I went over and invited myself to a game. They obliged the old woman and I’m not gonna lie – I kinda kicked ass. It’s like I never stopped playing. There was diving in the sand, jumping, serving, spiking, setting… all to the music of waves crashing against the shore. Why have I avoided this for so long?

Fear of pain… The truth is sometimes risking pain is worth it. It’s just that – a risk. It’s not a guarantee. When you challenge that risk, you also are reaching for – and often obtaining – the one thing you never knew you were missing in your life.

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.” 
― Bob Dylan

The Inevitable Fear

And you’re back?  Hooray for another Face Your Fear Friday!

All of us fear it in one way or another. Death. Don’t leave! My hope is that this lights a fire under you to mend fences. Have no regrets.  This life boils down to one thing in my mind. It’s not about building the biggest business. It’s not about how many things you can fit into your castle of a house. What it starts and ends with is love.

In all seriousness, I don’t fear my own death one bit. That might sound morbid, but I’ve just come to accept the circle of life. Here’s my biggest fear, truth be told: My leaving this planet or someone I love leaving this planet not knowing how much I love them. I was sitting with my two cousins at [Stacked Pickle] a little over a month ago. We were talking about getting our cousins together to do a camping trip this summer so we could all be in one place and just enjoy each other’s company outside of the hustle and bustle of every day life. I think Joe thanked me for organizing it – and that was all it took.  Tears started flowing down my cheeks and I said, “You know, my biggest fear is that I won’t see you guys or people that I love again – and you won’t know how much I love you.” And the tears kept coming.  The truth is that the tears finally stopped the day after, but even now, writing this out – my eyes are starting to fill up.

I lost my mom nearly 6 years ago to a horrid disease – pancreatic cancer. I’d be lying if I told you that a part of me didn’t die that day as well. Before that day came though – my GOD, we had a rocky relationship.  I took her for granted more times than I care to remember. I was selfish. She was demanding and controlling. It felt like one head butt session after another. I even remember when she was feeling so badly before her diagnosis – I felt like she was exaggerating – because that’s what she did. Everything was bigger than life (which is probably why I love the movie Big Fish). As I sat in that tiny little consultation room with about 10 other family members, the doctor told me news that flipped my whole world upside down. As much as this woman annoyed me. As much as I’d thought her purpose in life was to destroy mine – the reality of the woman who loved me enough to give me life – flashed right in front of me. In that moment, I realized just how self-centered we can be as humans. Before this moment, I’d lived my life for me. On October 11th, 2007 – my life was no longer just about what I wanted and what I needed. At around 10:30 am that very day, my life’s purpose became saving my mother’s life. No doctor was going to tell me I couldn’t either.

I tried – and I failed. One thing I didn’t fail at though: I rebuilt an incredible, loving, connected relationship with my momma. I apologized for the little things and the big things.  I bathed her, massaged her, and at the end, flushed her IV lines, fed her – and ultimately…. let her go.  As I was sitting next to her as she was in her hospital bed a couple of weeks before she passed, her best friend, Patty was there.  I got a little emotional and started to apologize again.  She looked at me and said, “honey, it’s ok.  Let it go.”  Then she looked at Patty and said, “Isn’t it funny? Your kids can wound you deeply and all it takes is a heartfelt apology and EVERYTHING is ok. And I mean it, sis.” As she turns back to me.. “Everything is ok.”  Now that’s love.

I want to leave you with this video from Patrick Swayzee and Barbara Walters.  It’s ironic that this man passed from the same dreaded disease. The reason I share it though – is the tail end of this video. “It’s amazing, Molly. The love inside… You take it with you.”  Live each day like it’s your last – and love just the same.  Mend fences.  Pride is a monster and it’s not worth the regrets you’ll have once it’s too late.

If you have interest in learning more about Pancreatic Cancer or would like to donate to research please visit the —->PanCan Site <—–

Skinny Jean Hell

I hate skinny jeans. I’ve hated skinny jeans from the first time I tried them on thinking they were … well… not skinny jeans. As if I didn’t have enough body image issues before that little episode.  Ha. As IF! I seriously thought I’d magically gone up 2 pant sizes over night.  And THAT, ladies and gentleman, was my first experience with skinny jeans.

Oh – did I happen to mention it’s Face Your Fear Friday?  I didn’t? Well, as some of you know – every Friday ’round these parts is Face Your Fear Friday. I talk about fear, face some of my own – and in time – have guest bloggers talk about some of their fears. Today is no exception. Today – I faced one of my body image fears.

My friend, [Polina Osherov], had a conversation with me about a week ago. She’s one of my oldest and best friends and is HIGHLY aware of my body image issues. She pulls me aside and tells me there’s no reason not to update my wardrobe, so she’s ordered me some skinny jeans AND tops with horizontal stripes. O_O  She completely expected the reaction she got. She practically had the paper bag in hand, just waiting for me to hyperventilate. And then it happened. I struggled for breath, my pulse went bananas and I felt all of the blood drain out of my head. WOOZY!!! You probably think I’m exaggerating here and that no one could possibly be this frightened of clothes. I hereby do solemnly swear… it doesn’t get any more real than this.

She explained that all I had to do was try them on.  TRY them. The clothes hadn’t even arrived yet and I was panic stricken. Yesterday she warned me that the clothes were arriving (that day) and that I was going to DEBUT them at the Speakeasy to watch [Jay Baer].  Oh. God. Feeling the heart speeeeed back up.  They never arrived.  Well, they didn’t arrive yesterday at least. Whew!  Bullet dodged.

Today was an entirely different matter.  Today, I got the word… they have arrived.  In all their anorexic glory. Let me just say that I don’t think everyone who wears skinny jeans is anorexic.  It’s just that I felt like I needed to look that way in order to appear like I fit in a pair of them.  I walk into her kitchen where the nice little white box from [Forever 21] was sitting on her table.  She gave me the eye.  Ya know… the one that said, “Ohhh yeah.  THIS is gonna be fun.”  She got to play dress up with me for the next 15-20 minutes ordering me to try this shoe or that shoe – and then ultimately telling me to buy different shoes.  Then she dragged me up to her full length mirror in her bedroom in all my shameful agony to show me … Me.

A woman. Nearly 40 (oh god. another panic attack.  jk – I don’t care about that so much.) with curves. And while yes, my struggle to take weight off has been one nightmare of a roller coaster, my personal trainer told me today that I’m only 6-7 months away from being exactly where I need to be. That’s no time in my world. And so, bring it, baby. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy my curves. They’re not goin’ anywhere. It’s the way I was built – and my new skinny jeans hug them in all the right ways.

What are you waitin’ on? Get out there and face a fear or two. You just might like it.

Allodoxaphobia and other (not so) Wonderful Things.

I’m kind of excited to write this.  I don’t pretend to fully understand this phobia because I am on (close to) the polar opposite side of the spectrum.  You may have realized that I’m not really your conventional professional blogger.  On Fridays, I veer off on this weird tangent about fears.  Then, Monday-Thursday, I just … talk.  Not techie jargon.  Not hard to understand information.  I try my best to put things in a way that is easily understood.

There’s a method to my madness.  I think, for reasons sociologists would only be able to explain, as a society we are scared stiff by one another.  More than that, though – my personal observation that it’s more about us being afraid of ourselves.  Why would anyone want to listen to us?  What makes our opinion valid?  Ummmm…. YOU make your opinion valid.

So what is this [Allodoxaphobia]?  Well, I’ve hyperlinked it, so you can click there to get more info – but the part I’m going to focus on is the fear of confrontation.  Ok, so, sad as it is – I guess that here’s the part where I divulge that I’m not a medical expert.  If you need mental health help, seek a professional… blah, blah… legal jargon… blah. (I’m not making fun of anyone here.  Just think sue happy people are ridiculous.)

This problem – the lacking of ability to speak things the way they are – has many of us literally living in fear every day of our lives.  I should divulge here that I used to care MUCH more about what people thought of me than I do now.  Here’s what I thrive on now:  Open, Honest, Communicative, Genuine relationships.  If we can’t have open dialogue – then we absolutely can’t be friends.  Seems closed minded, maybe, but I just don’t have time to waste trying to tiptoe around you.  I have been given (?) days on this earth.  That question mark is HUGE!  My last day could be tomorrow.  Who knows?  You think I want to spend it with all this negativity building up in me because you pissed me off and I’m too afraid to say so?  Ummmmm…. No.

So how do I approach it?  It’s not all that complicated, really.  I’ll give you an example.  I won’t change her name to Bob but I will change it because I want to respect her privacy.  I used to work with a woman.  Her name is Tenisha.  Tenisha was (and maybe still is, by some) easily misunderstood.  She just came out of a horrid marriage, had raised all of her children and had been out of the traditional workforce for a number of years. Divorce left her job hunting and she landed in my department as a department head.

Now, when I say she’d been out of work for a number of years – we’re talking over a decade.  I can’t begin to wrap my mind around how much has changed professionally in over 10 years.  Her mindset about how things were supposed to run was kind of old news.  And to be honest, having a business degree, it wasn’t easy on my ego watching a noob with no degree take a leadership role.  I’m self-aware enough to know that sometimes I have to get out of my own way to be productive.  I did get out of the way.  I wasn’t entirely convinced, but I was open at least, to her direction.  Tenisha and I had a few moments when I had to call her out on issues.

So what do you do? Now – here’s the “guide”, if you will, to confrontation.  Do not approach someone in a combative fashion.  So:

  • Cool down.

Don’t you dare move until you can do so in an open, calm, approachable way.  If that’s tomorrow – then it’s tomorrow.  (disclaimer – don’t wait too long because then you’ll just talk yourself out of it.)

Next:  The ever dreaded “We need to talk”…

  • Find an entry statement.

Mine was, “Hey Tenisha, so you have a couple of minutes to chat?”  Chat indicates friendly, right?  I don’t say it with laser beams of hatred piercing her heart or through a locked jaw because I took time to???  That’s right.  Calm down.

The rest is kind of a cake walk.  Once you make your entry statement, you’re fully committed.  If you’re a highly emotional person, make notes about what you want to talk about so you don’t leave anything out.  Please don’t make it a grocery list of everything he/she has ever done wrong in life.  You won’t get your desired result that way.

So the last and most impactful confrontational talk Tenisha and I had went like this:

Tenisha:  Hey Amber, Did you know this (fill in random assignment) was here on the printer?

Me:  Oh, yes.  I did.  I’m sorry, I’m happy to take care of it.

Tenisha: Hey, I know your mind is probably occupied with a lot of other things since you only have 2 weeks left to work here, but maybe next time one of these is printed you could put tape around your finger so you remember to do it?

Me:  O_o  *Biting tongue*  *Biting Tongue Harder* *Tongue MAY be bleeding.*

Tenisha exits to complete task that I  miserably failed to do.  Commence cool down period.  I gave myself about 20 minutes, fuming for at least 10 of those minutes.

Then it dawned on me.  Maybe she just doesn’t know how to communicate with me.  I’m kind of an in your face, please for the love of Pete, would you just SAY WHAT YOU MEAN kind of person.  After mission cool down, I went to find her.  Conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hey Tenisha, do you have a minute?

Tenisha:  Sure!  What’s up?

Me:  Let me preempt this with the fact that I’m a very direct communicator.  I don’t like backbiting or any of that so I’m bringing this right to you. Remember what you said to me a few minutes ago about the task not being complete?

Tenisha: Yes

Me:  Here’s what my brain interpreted through that conversation.  I’m telling you this because we need to have understanding and not discord: My brain interpreted that this is an ongoing problem if it’s so bad that I have to tape my finger in order to remember.  That’s #1.  #2 – If that’s the case, then I NEED TO KNOW IT!  Don’t pussyfoot around an issue and treat me like a child by telling me to tape my finger.  Tell me what the issue is so I can fix it. I am a very proud person.  I take an immense amount of pride in my work.  If I’m doing it incorrectly, I want to know so that I fix the issue.  That leads me to #3 – like I said, I take great pride in my work.  While I’m employed here, I will work my tail off as I always do.  The fact that I have 2 weeks left to work has nothing to do with it, so please don’t insinuate that because I have a limited time here – I feel it ok to slack.  That’s not the case.

Tenisha’s eyes filled up with tears.  I questioned her.  Her response was that no one had taken the time to question her statements like that so as to understand where she was coming from.  It touched her.  It did what?  Yes – people LONG to be understood.  She told me exactly what the problem was.  Directly to my face.  I fixed it.  I kept it fixed.  The conversation ended with a hug, her crying on my shoulder and telling me that she loves me.

That’s what communication does.  Yes, it makes you vulnerable – but it opens you up to being understood and understanding others.

Who Am I To Be….

 

I read this every day… And without fail, I get goosebumps and a lump in my throat.  I know it to be true.  Our deepest fear is often uncovering the greatness that we were intended to be.  What he had Akeelah read in this clip is by [Marianne Williamson].  You can [Click Here] to find it in print.  Print it out.  Read it every day. Be encouraged – and inspired to uncover the wonder that you are today.

The Magic of Social Media

There really is something magical about it.  Not in a hocus pocus kind of way, but in a connectedness kind of way.  I’ve said before on this very blog that it’s of utmost importance that we not hide behind social media.  It’s so easy to do.

Instead of using it as a shield, use it to bring you out from behind the shield.  Some time ago, I was a hider.  I wanted to be heard, but not seen.  I hid behind my witty comments and clever posts.  My following on Facebook (the only platform I used to use) started to grow with friend requests from people I didn’t know from Adam… or Eve for that matter.

They saw a glimmer of who I was and they must have liked what they saw.  I started getting invited out by new friends.  There was anxiety and most definitely hesitation. I was imposing judgements that they would have about me upon myself before I even met them! (All of a sudden I feel like this should be a Face You Fear Friday post.)

One of the people that got me to step out of my comfort zone was a co-owner of a little mom ‘n pop on the east side of Indianapolis – [Papa Roux].  Papa’s wife, Colleen, reached out after many posts bantering back and forth with lots of laughter.  “I have to meet you.”  And so, we did – at another little mom ‘n pop in Greenwood – Vino Villa (you should ABSOLUTELY check both of these places out by the way.)  We sat and chatted like we’d known each other for years.  And so, I thought, this whole getting out thing isn’t quite as scary as I thought it would be.

In fact, I started watching them (Papa Roux – the business, not the man) run as a company.  It really has grown because the owners know how to develop a relationship as a community and WITH their community.  Another thing I’ve mentioned is that in social media, the reason it works is because people want to feel like they belong somewhere.  When you let people know they matter – it shows.  You can’t fake it either.  People can absolutely sense when you’re being less than genuine.

I’ve fancied how [Papa Roux] has done social media since I became a follower. It boils down to this:  they’re real and they keep it real.  I talk about the restaurant a lot on my personal Facebook page… and I’ve had quite a number of my friends ask who this [Papa Roux] character is… So about a week ago, I organized a field trip so they could experience it for themselves.  To my knowledge, not one of them left disappointed.  The food (as always) was amazing.  The owners came in just to hang out with the 20ish people that showed up for the field trip.  They sat, they chatted – and then they threw ice cream sandwiches at my guests.  Haha!  All in good fun.  Keeping it real – it’s what they do.  Give it a shot – my bet is… it’ll work for you too.

I’m Afraid of Your Routine

Okay, not really, but lots of other people are. The things that you wake up to in the morning and do out of habit… There’s someone else, next door… a mile down the road or maybe the next state over that’s afraid of that very thing. That’s what this Face Your Fear Friday thing is all about.

Think about it. You wake up, make coffee, brush your teeth, shower, dress, eat breakfast, feed the kids, get them all ready – then what do you do? Most of us pile in the car and we travel our butts to work, school, daycare – whatever the case may be.  Can you imagine if you were afraid to get in that vehicular object and throw it in reverse?  Like … scared stiff?  Right.  Most of us can’t even begin to imagine it.

The folks at the [Experience Project] see this sort of thing quite often though.  Click that link back there <—— (the one in the brackets… it’s ok… I’ll wait.)

How would your life be different if that fear was your own?  It’s not all that different though – from your own fear, that is.  Which one of your fears is stopping you from living your life to the fullest?  Or maybe not even all that – which one of your fears is keeping you from living a life of just a little less stress and a little more ease?

Maybe connecting with others that suffer the same fears as you will help you through it?  There are other folks there too – just waiting to cheer you on in whatever is stifling you.  [Check out the Experience Project by CLICKING HERE!]

What have you done to face your fears?

It’s that day!  Face your fear Friday!!

I’m not talking about me today.  Instead I’m talking about my long, lost roommate (of a whole week.)  Ps – I miss you, Randleski!! :-)  Scott took last week’s blog post and the homework assignment very seriously and stepped outside of his comfort zone.  I’m pleased to report that Scott is still very much alive and his mental muscle is stronger for this step.  Take a peek at Randleski’s blog [here].

Not pleased with the outcome?  Why not?  I am.  He’s stronger for it!  Plus, as I explained to him, she can’t be human.  She doesn’t like coffee.  Interspecies relationships rarely work ;-)

So happy people are starting to take this fear thing by the *ahem*!!  This is exactly why I’ve dedicated Fridays to it.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your own fear story.  Let’s keep encouraging others to do the same.

And also – Happy Valentine’s Day!  Significant other or not, you’re loved!!!

Even Spielberg Got Rejected

Did you just say you don’t have a fear of rejection?  Don’t believe you.  I mean – there must be a few of you out there that are fearless, but let’s face it.  The one thing that freezes most of us in our tracks is fear of a two-letter-word.

NO!

This video is very clear – we’re all (regardless of our social status or level of success) going to be rejected at some point in our life.  Here’s the thing though:  You don’t know that you’ll be rejected unless you ask.  The fear of the two-letter-word stops most of us in our tracks.

  • “If I ask for that raise, my boss won’t give it to me – so why bother?”
  • “If I ask him out, he’ll say no.  Then I’ll be embarrassed.”
  • “If I go after that promotion, someone more qualified will get the job.”
  • “I can’t go after that big name client. I’m not a big name, myself.”

Stop it!

  • If you ask for that raise – what if your boss says yes?!  You have better quality of life with just one question.  Plus, you come off as someone who is confident – which certainly isn’t a bad thing come time for that promotion.
  • Is it possible that he’ll say no?  Sure – on to the next one.  Why would you be embarrassed?  Are you so arrogant to think that you are a match for everyone?  Let me clear that up for you.  You’re not – so brush your shoulders off and on to the next one.
  • If you go after that promotion – could you get passed up?  Sure!  If you do get passed up, you’ve gained interviewing experience (which is never bad) in case you get the opportunity to interview there again.  It shows you’re interested in growing with the company.  If you decide you don’t want to give it another shot with your current employer – it gives you the interview experience to take to interviews with potential new employers.
  • If you go after that big name client – sure…. They could go with another firm that’s larger and well known.  Worst that could happen?  You’re a name in their mind.  I guarantee that smaller businesses follow that company.  Maybe your name comes up with them.  Or best case – they hire YOU because, let’s be honest.  Sometimes clients buy not just experience or brand.  Sometimes they buy YOU.  Your character.  Your confidence.

More than any of that, being told no isn’t the end of your world.  Every time you get knocked down, you have to use that mental muscle to pull yourself back up.  It makes you stronger.

Your homework?  Do one thing this week that puts you in this zone.  Ask the guy or girl out that you’ve been wanting to (if they’re single.)  Ask for that raise at work.  The worse that can happen is that you end up stronger for it in the end.  I’m going to do the same.  Have to practice what I preach, right??

“As actors, we deal with rejection so much more than any other business. So I don’t care how much of a genius you are, if you don’t have the propensity to be able to get back up every time you get knocked down, then you’re not going to survive.” – Ryan Kwanten

Chaos – Where The Living Gets Good!

I’ve just come back from an event with [Pattern].  As always, networking with people has provided me with a reminder of why I do what I do.

I met so many people tonight.  Some of those were established business owners.  Some of them new businesses.  Others – up and comers.  This blog is for you.  The up and comers.  While I hope I provided some sort of encouragement to you – I know that there’s strength in numbers.  I also want you to know you’re not alone.   One of my friends, Scott, has agreed to let me share his most recent blog post with you.

My hope is that you not stay in the place that you are now – but let this be a little push or a huge shove forward into the place you should be.  The place where YOU become the encourager for another up and comer.  Live.  YOU!  LIVE!  No longer is it OK to exist and hope that you make it.  Take steps.  Get out of your head.  Step outside of logic.  Chaos is where the living gets good.

I hope you enjoy his blog – but more than that, I hope you do something with it.

Last night consisted of a myriad of vivid dreams. One, in particular, woke me up with tears dripping down my cheeks.

Growing up, my Mom always hung enormous photos of my brother and I on the hallway walls most near our bedrooms. One particular wall seemed like a prison lineup of school photos of the both of us, sequenced chronologically over the previous 8 years. They nearly were. It was a wall of nerdy, quirky, humorous, and embarrassing mug shots.

As we grew older, we started acquiring hobbies, and identities. So, as you would imagine, our photos began to parallel those changes. My brother had photos of him doing his hobbies. I had photos of me doing mine. Intermixed were photos of our whole family, Mom and Dad included.

All of these, of course, are photographs. They are accurate and definitive glimpses of a moment in time. Frozen memories behind a pane of glass.

My dream last night, as you may imagine, was a bit more.

Picture your family, let’s say five years ago, meeting together at the house you will always consider your one true home. And picture a painting on a specific wall of that house, which you will always remember. This isn’t a photo, this is a painting. This is a painting that changes with time.

This was my dream. Bear with me.

The first time I notice the painting, it is of my Grandpa and Grandma. They were beautiful people. As I look at the painting, Grandpa begins to fade away, until he is gone. As there were lineups of photos on the walls of my houses growing up, consider a wall of paintings on this wall. To the right was a painting of my Grandfather and Grandmother. They, too, were beautiful individuals. Grandfather fades away, until he is gone. Looking back to the left, Grandma is alone in her painting. Looking right, Grandmother has faded, and is gone. Their painting is now a sheet of black.

I don’t dare look back at Grandma’s painting, because I know the inevitable outcome. I knew this would become a painting that I would never want to buy. Empty. Lonely. Black.

Their painting is now a sheet of black.

In my dream, I receive a letter from Grandma. She had long passed. In her letter, she tells of a painting that has been in our family throughout the generations. This painting is a painting in motion. It changes as our family does. It is a timeline only seen by who is looking at it.

Looking at it, I see our immediate family. Mom, Dad, brother, and me. This particular painting is a rendering of a photo that a park ranger took of our family in the Smokies a few years ago. The four of us were there. Then, one wasn’t.

I wasn’t.

When I woke up at 4:00, I started sobbing. Not because I saw myself dying, but because I didn’t see myself living.

I don’t know when I am going to die. Truth be told, I hope I outlive all of you. But, if in the enormous possibility that I don’t, I hope I live my life alive.

I’ve lived most of my life in the fear of being beaten, in perhaps every sense of the word. But, I haven’t. Not nearly in any sense of the word. I’m learning to live my life in a way that motivates me, that pushes me, and makes me happy. And in that sense, I won’t be beaten. And in that sense, hopefully, I won’t fade to black.

So what’s keeping you from living?  Don’t just say you want it.  Seek it. Find it. Do it.