fears

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 <—–

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.

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!!!

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.

Stepping Stones

When you went to sleep last night, what did you wake up intending to do?  64% of us wake up 5 days a week and get ready to head in to work.

Since my divorce in 2005, I had been one of the 64%.  Prior to that, I’d run a successful Agency for public speakers.  As going through divorce often does, it tore my WHOLE life apart.  Not just the emotional side.  I lost the business.

Man I felt like a failure.  I was embarrassed.  I felt nothing short of defeated. Over the last 8+ years, I’ve allowed that failure to decide my (lack of) happiness.  I allowed that failure to keep me from following my dream.  Why?  I was afraid I’d fail.  Again.

So instead, I job hopped.  A telephone sales job here, a serving job there.  I was even a technology teacher at a charter school at one point.  About 80% of the time I was doing those other jobs, though, I was also doing marketing on the side or marketing was part of my job description.  I’d developed a few clients (and held them), but I was afraid to make this leap of faith.

There’s a certain sense of security knowing your employment is held by an employer.  They take care of payroll.  They take care of making sure clients show up.  They take care of hiring and firing.  All you have to do is show up and collect your paycheck every 2nd Friday.

Now, don’t get me wrong:  As a society, we need people to do this.  Without them, we’d have no medical workers, no legal workers, no public servants.  But there are those of us who feel like we’re merely stumbling through life, keeping our head down all the way.  We are the people who need to snap out of it.  Why aren’t you following your dream(s)?  What fears do you need to face to take your leap of faith?

Again, friends who love me gave me a nice little wake up call.  A gentle smack upside the head to first, wake me up… and then – we began planning.  In one single night, we planned what it would take for me to leave my “normal” job to begin this journey.  The difference is that this time, I began with a bag full of lessons learned.

This journey is mine and now I know one thing.  My past was not a failure.  It was just a stepping stone to my success.

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tarantula Tarantella

Ohhh boy.  Woke up yesterday morning knowing that I had to do a fear blog because…. well… today is Friday!  I had no clue what to do.  I have enough fears, I suppose.  But none of them (except for one) are paralyzing fears.

My friends who have known me for at least a couple of years – or those who have had the privilege of living with me – know this fear to be my biggest.  Their funniest, but my absolute nightmare.

I think I developed this fear when I was around 12 or 13 years old.  The movie Arachnophobia came out.  My neighbor was scared senseless.  I was bound and determined that i was going to show her what I was made of.  I was one brave chick!  So I watched it over…. and over…. and over… and over again.  Until I fully understood EXACTLY why she was so afraid.  And it stuck.

So yesterday morning, I decided.  I know my fears may be puny – but these silly Friday blogs aren’t really just about me.  They’re also about my readers.  I want you guys and gals to take steps outside of your comfort zone to meet your fears .

In my case, last night wasn’t so much about overcoming any fear because I think a fear of spiders is something of a rational fear.  In this case, it’s more about not letting anything  get in the way of your dreams and your passion.  Not a little spider, not a big snake, not fear of failure and not even yourself.

You’ll have to excuse my appearance. My hair had been under a scrub cap all day and I had to consume 2 glasses of wine and eat a Rice Krispie ® Treat the size of Texas before I even worked up the gumption to walk out the door.  When I got to the place (which will remain nameless due to their less than ethical purchasing strategies… hey, it’s the only place around that had a tarantula.  Back off. I didn’t buy anything.) the associate was with another customer and I had another 30 minutes of pure hell waiting around to hold a creature that I’m fairly certain was spewed from the mouth of Satan himself.  My. Nerves. Were. Shot.

I told the associate of my plight to face my fear of spiders.  I told him I wanted to hold one of the tarantulas at which he said, “on one condition. When I put this on you, you can NOT throw it if you get freaked out.”  Done.  The mission had begun.  I began to feel my nerves actually calm knowing this venture was coming to a close.  That is, until he opened the first container and said, “Ummm no.  That one won’t work.  Any time they pull their fangs up like that – I’m not messing with them.”  I’m sorry… THEIR WHAT?!  It’s ok.  It’s clearly for the best that I didn’t do proper research before I had an 8-legged hairy monster crawling on my arm.

The second monster seems less peeved.  Up and over… and…. ohmygoditsonmyarm!!!!!!!!!!!  Breathing.  Be very still.  Don’t let the monster know you’re scared.  They sense fear.  They like the taste of fear.  The monster most surely is going to bite me.  Ok, you may now remove the monster from my arm.

As it turns out, the monster liked me.  It’s when it had to trade hands to the associate that it decided to bite… him.  Poor sucka. :-)

spiders2 copy

 

Go do something that makes you grow!!!

Facing My Fear Turned…. SMELLY!

Remember how I said one fear may seem absolutely asinine to you – but to me – it’s paralyzing?  That’s a picture of my first fear blog.  Most of you will probably read this and be like, “are you serious?”  YES, I’M FREAKING SERIOUS!

This fear has been ridiculous and has had complete control of my life in regard to food.  Now, let me just preempt this by saying that I know I’m a bit of a nut job.  In some ways – with me – something’s just.. not… right.  I’m fully aware, so no need to verbally flog me.

Hi, my name is Amber.  And I have a fear of any vegetable that comes on pizza. :-(

raw

 

 

I know.  Ridiculous.

Why?  Well, the texture of mushrooms remind me of human flesh.  How much human flesh have I consumed, you ask? Oh.  None.  But thanks for asking.

Onions and peppers – well I don’t want to ruin foods you like for you, but when you bite into either of those (especially when they’re hidden well in food or under a bun), it reminds me of biting into the hard shell of a cockroach.  Plus, you even get the burst of roach juice.  In my mind of course.

cooking

So… Friday.  I decided.  I was going to overcome this.  My two biggest fears as far as food goes were onions and mushrooms.  I have two pretty incredible (words don’t do them justice) friends.  The husband of the husband-wife duo can cook his tail off.  I told them of my plight to overcome these fears and he had his mission.  He was going to make the best onion mushroom dish this side of the… well… UNIVERSE!  I haven’t had any such thing that I even remotely enjoy.

onion3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was waiting for him to cook, I decided I was tough.  I can do this.  I’m eating this onion.  RAW.  Pictures speak for themselves.  An hour later, I’ve consumed a mini-tin of wintergreen Altoids, dark chocolate covered dried bananas and a container of plain greek yogurt trying to cover up the taste of raw onion.  I won’t be eating raw onion all by itself again any time soon.

And then the moment of truth.  A little bit of this, a little bit of that, lots of onion and mushroom and…. chopped cashew!  The texture of the cashew distracted me enough to actually enjoy the taste and texture of the onion and mushroom.  I ate the whole dang bowl.  And could have had more!

cooked 1

May seem small to you – but to me, a whole new culinary world has opened up to me that I’ve shut out my entire life.  All of it.

Thanks guys!  Just want to keep encouraging you to do something at least once a week that makes you step outside of the box.  Something that scares you.  Even just a fuzz.  Grow YOU!!  Go get ‘em!

cooked 3