Trip Advisor – Keepin on Keepin’ on, and the Art of Swimming On Through

Just Keep Swimming.

You’re ready. You’ve sat down and attempted to discover where you want to go on your next journey, and even pin pointed the stops you’re going to make, and the experiences you want to have. You’ve even taken the time to chart the distance, in miles, that you will travel.

You’re ready. You’ve color coded the “entertainment” stops, the “museums” in the area. You’ve made a list, checked it twice… actually, three times, and you know exacatly every moment you want to fill with progress.

You’re ready. You’ve spoken to friends, especially those who have traveled as you’re about to travel. You’ve taken into considerations their experiences, they hang-ups, their adventures and inspirations along the way.

You’re ready….But you don’t feel ready.

Not in your heart. Not in the bounce of your step. And so, all these plans, all these beautiful charted lands of adventure… sits stale, on your coffee table. You try to convince yourself you’re ready, you remind yourself of everything you have accomplished so far to get you to this point, but to make that leap, to start driving… to get out there… Man, that’s a journey in and of itself.

And so you hesitate. You ponder. You may even do some jumping jacks to get your mind in gear… but yet something has you stuck.

“Stuck? We hear ya.”

And that something is You. And it hurts. And you know this, either on a subconscious level, or a very surface level. You know you are limiting yourself, something has you believing you aren’t capable of taking that most important step. And so this knowledge builds and builds, hitting you over and over in your mind like a hammer. BAM… BAM…

Either externally or internally, you’re reaching a breaking point. Will you scream “F-CK IT” and jump? Or will you burst into tears, cut down repeatedly by your own blows, and hide in a corner.

Fight? Flight?

And shame still has you cornered. It’s visceral, or so visceral. Perhaps it’s hiding behind glossed eyes, perhaps it’s beating harder and harder in your chest. Perhaps, it’s making you sweat, or making you scream, or making you punch walls, drop kick unsuspecting objects on the floor, or yelling at your cat for sitting where he’s sitting. Either way, you’re stuck- and you’re mad about it- or you’re sad about it- or you’re absolutely enraged by it.

But don’t be. Don’t further resist and blame yourself for feeling scared or stuck. Embrace it.

“Embrace it? For realz? How does one do that? How can I possible be ok with being a fraidy-cat, a nervous Nelly, a ….a ….”

Yes, embrace it. As soon as you allow yourself space to feel stuck, feel scared- it will pass faster than if you skip over this very important step- that of Acceptance.

You’ve heard it before, fear teaches us many things. Fear keeps us alive. And it does! Fear and hesitation acts as a moment for us to assess important situations, take a moment to breath, or reconsider our actions. It helps reduce destructive impulses and actions we may soon regret. It CAN be your best friend. It can also be your most annoying, insecure friend who bombards you with “what if?” scenarios. Each moment, recognize fear, and consider what he/she is saying to you.

What points do you agree with that fear? What points do you know are a load of BS?

Many call this a pros/cons list.

But, let’s try something new. Take a moment to write about your friend: Fear.

  1. Ask yourself: In what ways has Fear saved my life, or been there for me in the past? (Maybe alerted you to a dangerous situation? Possible let down? Red flags?) In what ways has he/she been a boss and stood up for you, putting you in a protective bubble, giving you confidence to get away or stand up for yourself?
  2. Now- before we list the negatives of fear, THANK fear. Thank that mofo biotch for keeping a watchful eye out for you. Thank them for their constant vigilance, their unshakable stance, and their acute eye for the devil in the details.
  3. Now take a breath. And, with compassion, let fear know you can take it from here. Tell your friend you appreciate their concern, and you take what they say to heart and see it as their way of showing love and care. Be grateful he/she is in your life as a lovely stop sign to help you really decide what is best for you. But the light is now green.
  4. Decide for yourself. This is the scary part- and this is the part where your friend, Fear, may be bouncing up and down trying to stop you over and over with their opinion, even after you’ve shown your appreciation, even after you assured them you’re going to be ok. You have the angel and devil on your shoulder, but you can’t tell which is which! Is stopping your plans a GREAT idea? Or a bust? What if? What if?

I can’t tell you how long this process may take. I can tell you, it doesn’t have to take long, and it also doesn’t have to take an instant. Reconsider your plans if it feels right to you. Take fear into consideration if you feel in your gut something is keeping you at a standstill for a reason.

But, if you ARE ready, (and, know, that I believe in you!!) if you have been ready- and Fear, your friend, has been the one holding you back, despite your perfectly charted plans? Give him/her a hug, hold their hand, and walk into the uncomfortable, uncertain future… together.

I’ll see you on the road, dear wanderer. I hope you get a chance to meet my friend, Fear sometime as well, (though she can be a bit of a brat.) She has some good insights.

Fear’s your friend (sometimes.)

Let Loose, Get Kickin’ !

Swish

I always think of that one scene in Garden State, where Natalie Portman’s character says:

You know, back in High School I was a clown. I was in theatre, I was big (in spirit) and loud! I laughed, I danced, and I made weird noises… a lot like Natalie Portman in this scene. These days, I recognize how timid I am in comparison.

With fears centered around “don’t get fired”, “Make that money!” “be grateful, or else suffer!” It’s hard to live a life free, loose. It’s easy to fall into thinking about pleasing others first, because you have internalized society’s fears. It’s hard not to! We’re surrounded by it!

I miss those good old days though. Cliche’? I remind myself often that it’s a state of mind though. I am still technically that loud, slightly obnoxious teen who loved and lived life with open arms. Admittedly, I conked out in College. Depression and Anxiety set in, I missed my family and friends from high school dearly, and my sadness swept away my vibrato. I was lost for a few years, 8 to be exact. Then, I found the light again after years of therapy and realizing the light was always there, it had just gotten overshadowed for a bit.

I learned a lot from those dark years, and it deepened my understanding of the human condition for sure. My “empathy bone” (as I like to call it) grew, and I slowly learned the lost art of compassion. The biggest way to be compassionate is to first start with yourself. And every moment that I find myself thinking ‘I miss that lively girl I used to be” is every moment I could be living as the beautiful, matured, compassionate person I’ve grown into being. Yeah, Teen-me was a LOT of fun, and hilarious! And I still embody those traits, though they may be more subtle. I don’t need to beat myself up for NOT being the young, somewhat blissfully ignorant me. I can embrace this new chick; she’s pretty dope too.

And Ah, the memories! I have so many great memories to be proud of and so many more to create. Feeling sad missing the past robs me of the beautiful moments now, that will be just as memorable in 5 years.

Do not lament me, for I am still kickin’.

Why I Fear the Morning Alarm

 

Every morning, my alarm goes off.

Actually, every morning, my alarm goes off a few times: 5am, 6am, 7am. It gives me a choice, a decision to make right off the bat. Before my cognition has even received the memo that “Hey! You’re awake!” I am thrown into this terrifying, pressure-cooker of a situation to determine: “Yep, THIS alarm I will rise to.”

That’s a lot of pressure, first thing in the morning. And each alarm says so much about a person:

  1. 5am alarm: Are you going to be the productive billionaire you dream of becoming? Yeah? WELL THEN GET ON IT GRRRLLLLL
  2. 6am alarm: Ah, I see, you gave yourself an extra hour of shut-eye. You’re self-soothing. You realize that you need the extra sleep to be in the best mindset to be productive and become a millionaire. No need to be hasty. I get you girl, you da’ zen type!
  3. 7am alarm: Ok, that’s just lazy. Here’s $5. You suck.

So which is it, door #1, 2, 3?

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My newest Ukelele addition

My newest Ukelele addition

Honestly, I love making music. I found it has become my greatest, most therapeutic outlet. I taught myself to pick up Luis, the newest addition to my Strings family (Fender, Eugene, and Luis) whenever I’m feeling the desire. The key was teaching myself to pick up the strings whenever I’m stressed out or bummed. Whenever I feel lost, alone, or overwhelmed, I’ve ingrained it within me to pick up the strings, give it a strum of the chord and see where it leads. Often, it helps me refocus my attention away from whatever was bogging down my mind onto calming, freeing chords.

I’ve been approached a few times to play the ukulele in front of others but I am highly self-conscious and scared. I play for my own benefit, for my own wellbeing, safely away in my own apartment. I’m not nearly good enough to share with others! I’ll be judged! I’ll be criticized! There are others who are so much more advanced.

Every morning, I sit by my computer and work on a drawing. I usually have random TED Talks playing on YouTube, talking in my ear as I work. Recently, the video “The First 20 hours, how to learn Anything” by Josh Kaufman popped up automatically. Josh Kaufman’s voice educated and entertained me, but it wasn’t until he said “And so, I decided to pick up the Ukelele” that my head turned toward the screen.

And no, he was not a professional. And no! He wasn’t super-skilled or super-confident about his skills. But what I marveled most about him was his ability to share where he was, in the learning process, at that moment. He didn’t apologize for not being the best. He encouraged it. If we see steps, if we see the progress or hear of the progress someone went through when developing a new skill, it can inspire us in our own lives to go out and get’ er’ done!

Carla Fleming is a woman I am helping to organize her business and home (I’ve mentioned her before). She is a Certified High Performance Coach and music teacher. We got to talking recently and she learned that I play the ukelele. She asked if I’d like to play in front of others for an upcoming event. (Cue this internal reaction) Shy and nervous at the prospect, I declined, knowing– no assuming– I’m not good enough to be seen yet. But ya know what? I won’t be comfortable in my skills until I take that step. Playing by myself is wonderful, but sharing something that makes me incredibly happy regardless of how “good” I am at it would help everybody around. I’m doing something I love that helps me feel connected to myself and to the ground. If others can see that connection, perhaps I can inspire them to do the same. I am my worst critic, and it prevents me from even taking that step. Seriously. It’s just a step.

Earlier today, an old friend of mine from High School posted a video of herself singing to the camera. She put herself out there because she was doing something she loved and wanted to share. I see a lot of my friends from high school, doing the same thing. All of us were in choir and in theatre together (Yes, I’m a huge Theatre Nerd!) It’s all for fun. I’m sure they worry about how people will view their videos, or judge their voice, but they’re doing it! They’re pushing past those insecurities and building that confidence. Exposure therapy.

Take their advice, Susie.

So Here I am.

I decided to leave this video unedited. It shows me, nervously approaching that intimidating stool! Second-guessing myself, thinking about how my long necklaces are hitting into the ukulele while I play, wondering how I look, overthinking whether or not I should be looking directly into the camera or off into the distance. But damn it, Here I Am.

I manage to find my groove, punctuated by wrong notes and a phlemy throat. But Damn it, Here I Am! I survived, I shared.

And I feel relieved.

Because I’ve accepted it’s not perfect, and I’ve decided it feels better to laugh about it and continue to grow, than to smack myself in the head and ignore the progress I have made.

*Phew! It’s not so bad, right?

So what do you love? What would you LOVE to share with others? What are you excited to talk about and connect with people about? I bet you someone out there wants to know.

I mean, I’m here, and I want to know!

So go on, tell me a story!