Tag Archives: fear

Like A Boss

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about making a big change in my life. Well, the times they are a changin’, my friends.

I am working toward my Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication. And this semester, I am completing my Capstone Project which is basically the thesis project for the program. (Not that I am completely done after this, I just decided to take the Capstone this semester.)

So I had a project figured out and a proposal approved. Cue the angst and the (Wo)Man in the Mirror moment.

I was thinking, what could I do to change my situation? Clearly, the job hunt is not going well. What am I doing wrong? Maybe I should stop looking for a job?

I’m intelligent and hardworking. I’m a good writer, a decent accountant and knowledgeable about web marketing. I have an eye for design and enjoy refinishing furniture. Where could all this skills converge?

James made some suggestions, and then something my brother said came back to me.

“You could clean out some space in your garage for a workshop and start selling your furniture.”

“I don’t have time for that.”

But maybe I did? Maybe if I focused my Capstone Project on writing a business plan for this potential business I could make time?

Like I mentioned before, I called my mom. Then I shot an email to my professor with the subject line  “Shooting myself in the foot?”

He approved the project change and my new proposal.

SO.

The shop will sell furniture I have rescued from garage sales and consignment stores and then refinished with paint or stain. I will also sell home goods and clothing, some of it vintage pieces and some of it just well-treated used clothing. All of this will be available for purchase through my website, though I will only sell the furniture to local buyers.

My future customers are people with big design dreams, but limited budgets. People that don’t want to see beautiful, old furniture end up in the dumpster. People kind of like me.

The shooting myself in the foot feeling has vanished. There are a lot pieces to figure out, but I am excited. Like really excited. I started my business plan and have been working on things like gross profit margin and market share. Not even that has dampened my excitement (or at least not much).

And to be clear, I am not giving up on the writing thing. Obviously, I will write the copy for the website and online ads. I am essentially creating a copywriting job for myself. I will be my own boss, which I have to say, sounds pretty fucking great. (Although I am keeping the day job for the time being.)

I’m still doing other writing too. I am here, writing this blog. I sent out another story yesterday, and I’ve got two more almost finished.

I will always be a writer, but now I’m going to try something new, try to keep on changing.

I am also looking for potential collaborators too, so if you know anyone or if you are interested in getting involved in the shop, let me know. And if have some great old furniture that you want to get rid of, please contact me as well.

This week’s video is “The Times They are a-Changin'” by Bob Dylan. The video is not perfect, but Dylan sounds great.

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Fear Isn’t a Reason to Quit

In “Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared,” Caroline Paul writes about being one of the first women in the San Francisco Fire Department.

“I expected people to question whether I had the physical ability to do the job (even though I was a 5-foot-10, 150-pound ex-college athlete). What I didn’t expect was the question I heard more than any other: ‘Aren’t you scared?’”

Read the rest of Paul’s piece in The New York Times here.

As Paul points out, women are raised to be afraid, of well, many things. Things that are gross, things that could hurt us, things that are physically intimidating, etc. Some fear is healthy, of course. Fear keeps us from acting completely irrationally or taking unnecessary risks.

But what about risks that are scary because we could possibly fail? Possibly be humiliated? I mean, let’s be real. What the hell is scarier than failure? Paul writes,

“When a girl learns that the chance of skinning her knee is an acceptable reason not to attempt the fire pole, she learns to avoid activities outside her comfort zone.”

Here lies the problem. As Paul states,

“We think our daughters are more fragile, both physically and emotionally, than our sons.”

When we treat young girls as more fragile, they come to think of themselves that way. They are less likely to take risks because they might bruise their knees or their egos. Paul writes,

“When girls become women, this fear manifests as deference and timid decision making.”

I fear failure, probably a little too much. It has made me timid in my decision making, opting to stay the course, and wait for better things to come along.

It’s not like parents raised me to be this timid girl. My mother raised me to a feminist. To have opinions. To try new things. I mean, my parents let me travel to another continent (without them) when I was in junior high.

Did they treat me different than my brothers? Yes. Some different treatment is necessary. Girls have to learn how to navigate the world we live in, after all. And that’s the point really.

Girls need to learn to look fear in the eye and try it anyway, knowing they might tumble, bloody their knees, and fail. Failure builds character. It makes us stronger. It makes us brave. Paul writes,

“When I worked as a firefighter, I was often scared. Of course I was. So were the men. But fear wasn’t a reason to quit. I put my fear where it belonged, behind my feelings of focus, confidence and courage. Then I headed, with my crew, into the burning building.”

I was talking to a friend of mine about this piece. My friend has two daughters. Her take was she doesn’t want to raise her girls to be fearless, she wants to raise them to be smart and brave.

Sounds good to me. We could use more smart and BRAVE women out there in the world.

So this week, I thought I would try something different. I created a Spotify Playlist. It is my Fearless Mix. You may recognize a lot of these songs from earlier posts. 🙂

 

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Facing Down the (Wo)Man in the Mirror

I am a big Michael Jackson fan. Jackson was a highly controversial figure obviously, but the man aside, I think most people can acknowledge he made some fantastic music.

My not quite favorite song is “Man In The Mirror.” Whenever I hear it, I sing along at full volume and try not to cry. I feel all the feels.

I confessed to my best friend, James, a few months back about how important this song is to me. I felt a bit embarrassed about it. James told me he feels the same way about “Man In The Mirror.” He finds it inspiring and emotional. I was glad to learn I wasn’t alone.

This last week, I have been feeling very “Man In The Mirror.”

Imagine me crooning, “I’m gonna make a change for once in my life/It’s gonna feel real good/Gonna make a difference/Gonna make it right.”

That’s been me for the most of the week, at least in my head. And let’s be real, out loud too.

As I posted last week, I am working toward a bunch of goals this year. I am trying to some changes.

But to be honest, I have been discouraged, especially on the job front.

On Wednesday, I celebrated the 30th anniversary of Pretty in Pink by watching it at home. It is my favorite movie. Good music, good characters, and a good story. John Hughes at his best, in my opinion. Some of my favorite movie quotes of all time too, guys. It’s a solid movie.

So I’m watching and thinking what a badass Andy is, and how I need to be more badass. I’ve got “Man In The Mirror” swirling in my head. And of course, I’m texting James who is listening to my existential crisis patiently, as best friends do. I can’t stop thinking you need to make a change, girl.

An idea starts to crystallize in my head. And yes, it involves a hell of a lot of change. But no risk, no reward right?

I sleep on it, and call my mom the next morning. She doesn’t think I’m completely insane, or that it is a terrible idea. That is encouraging. Mom approval is a serious litmus test.

So I am going to make a big change, which will require a lot of planning and work. I started on it this week, which is part of the reason I am late with the blog.

I am alternating between excitement and terror, which I think is a good sign. I still have some pieces to get straightened out, so I can’t quite share what the new project is yet.

But making this change feels right.

This week’s video is obviously “Man In The Mirror.” Just try to not sing along.

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8 Goals for 2016 (Because I Don’t Believe in Resolutions)

I don’t do resolutions. To me, resolutions are failed attempts to get in shape, eat better, and swear less. I could probably set all those goals. I could become a gym queen with killer biceps.

Ehh.

I own a treadmill. I use it. I eat ok. Salads for lunch a lot, probably too many nachos for dinner. Swearing, well, I like swearing, and I know when swearing is not appropriate.

I do, however, set goals. I know it is basically the same thing, but I like the sound of goals better.

So in order to fully commit myself, I am sharing my 2016 goals here for ALL THE WORLD to see. I assume everyone on the planet reads this blog, but you know, somehow in secret so I don’t know about it.

  1. Keep writing a blog a week until May 29th. On May 29th, I will have written a post every week for one year. Continuing this seems attainable. I have this one in the bag.
  1. Complete seven stories this year, and submit these stories. Starting a story is not hard. Finishing and editing a story until I am satisfied is a much longer process. I submitted one so far.
  1. Stop apologizing for things that don’t require an apology. I say sorry for things I have no reason to be sorry about. Not sure if it is a Midwest thing or a woman thing or more likely both. I worry too much about hurting people’s feelings, especially people that don’t seem to hold my feelings in such high regard.
  1. Spend time with people that value you and make an effort. I am picky about the people I spend time with, but I tend to give people too many chances. If someone makes no effort, then I need to learn to let it go.
  1. Get my finances locked down. I pay all my bills on time, and I have a 401K. But I was having a conversation with a friend about how good she is at saving money, and I thought, damn girl, you could do that too. You should be doing that too. Why aren’t you doing that too?! Call it my emergency furnace fund which even typing that makes me TERRIFIED the furnace is going to blow. (Send good vibes to my furnace.)
  1. Do some home improvements that improve resale, not just make it look kick ass. I have a tendency to buy things like furniture, rugs, and trilobites. You know, the essentials. These things look kick ass, but don’t really add value to your house. So I’m making more permanent changes. I had an over-the-range microwave installed this week, and another guy came over to talk dishwasher installation. I have a few more kitchen tweaks in mind. I would also like my laundry room to appear to be a place other than where you might find someone’s severed torso. So that’s maybe next on the list.
  1. Get a new job. This one has been on my to-do list for quite some time. I have taken steps toward this. Working on a master’s degree, writing this blog, internships, and various other writing projects. I want this to be the year, guys.
  1. Continue destroying the fear. This goes along with many of those goals, like quit apologizing for who you are. Submit more writing. Use more power tools. Change, change, change. Basically, be a better version of yourself. This is a perpetual goal. I think whenever you can let go of your fears, you find yourself a happier person. And that, my friends, is always the goal, be happier.

This week’s video is “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac.

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How to Destroy the Fear That Forms You

I wouldn’t say I suffer from anxiety, not like a lot of people suffer from anxiety. But I have had three full-fledged panic attacks.

One of attacks occurred while I was driving, which was a terrifying experience.

I have never been particularly fond of driving. While I lived in New York, I didn’t have a car. I never drove.

A few years ago, I was going through a stressful time in my life, and I was rear-ended driving back from Des Moines, IA. In my brother’s car. Which was totaled.

I shook most of the way home.

Physically, I was fine, but my fear of driving really took root then.

A few months later, I was driving down the same stretch of road. I was following a semi, and something blew out of the window.

It was just a small thing really, probably not anything that would’ve caused an accident. But I was already on edge.

I started breathing heavily and sweating. I heard a rushing sound in my ears.

I managed to drive to the next exit and pull over. I was shaking. I tried to take deep breaths. I sat there until I calmed down.

I found out later the sound was blood rushing to my head because I was having a fight-or-flight response. My body was gearing up for a confrontation.

My driving nervousness has improved, though I still am not fond of making that drive down 35W. I much prefer driving in stop-and-go traffic around the cities. Strange, I know.

My fear manifests itself in other ways. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of disappointing my family. I am afraid of disappointing myself, of wasting my life away.

The thing about fear or anxiety is that if you let it, it controls you. It stops you from doing things you want to do.

My fear of failure and rejection prevented me from submitting stories for publication.

My fear of disappointing my family prevented me from writing about certain things.

And these fears did control me. These doubts prevented me from working toward becoming a writer.

I can’t point to one clear moment when I decided to let go. And let’s be honest, I still have these fears, but these fears no longer control me.

There is no way my mom is going to love everything I write. I can live with that.

Part of being a writer is facing rejection. Not everything I write is going to be good or worthy of being published.

I have just decided that not trying to get my work published is far worse than trying and failing. I know if I never submit my work, it will never be published. And that is the one kind of failure I am no longer willing to accept.

This week’s video is “Rather Be Here” from my friend James’ former musical incarnation, Frightened Cellar. It is off the album Destroy The Fear That Forms You, which inspired my headline. I have included the lyrics below because maybe his words will resonate with you, like his words did for me.

“Rather Be Here”

It’s not time you’ve wasted
I’m sure you’ve come fairly far
From complaining about the past and spending all day in the bar
You might have been a punch card
It’s something they’d have been proud of
Don’t let your doubts stain everything you stand for

When the past is the past and the song comes undone
I’ll still be here waiting for you to grow up
When you start looking forward and seeing your worth
I’ll be right here waiting for you to come back to earth

So get out of that painting and don’t be so sad
Sure you took things for granted and often looked back
Just keep moving forward you might be a star
Or love yourself someday, that’d be the best fate by far

When the past is the past and the song comes undone
I’ll still be here waiting for you to grow up
When you start looking forward and seeing your worth
I’ll be right here waiting for you to come back to earth

When the days are growing tired and nothing seems right
When hope’s a distant memory and you can’t leave the night
Just keep moving forward it’s the only way you can go
You’ll have your time yet, this life is your show

When the past is the past and the song comes undone
I’ll still be here waiting for you to grow up
When you start looking forward and seeing your worth
I’ll be right here waiting for you to come back to earth
I’ll be right here waiting for you to come back to earth

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How to Find Beauty On a Dusty Shelf

I have a friend who always buys The Catcher in the Rye when he sees it. I mean, I like The Catcher in the Rye just fine. It’s just never been one of those books for me. But I can’t say I blame him for feeling that way about a book.

Seeing one of my favorite books sitting on the shelf alone, unpurchased stirs a feeling in me. And I’m not talking about seeing your favorite book at Barnes & Noble (although God help B&N.) I’m talking about seeing your favorite book at a thrift store, consignment shop, or any other used bookseller. I’m even talking about Half Price Books. (I love HPB.)

Every time you’re at one of these places, it’s like a treasure hunt. Sometimes you come up with nothing. Other times you score big. I love to search for the good stuff.

My mom started taking me to antique stores when I was about four, so I have long loved this type of treasure hunt. And I don’t go as much as I used to, but I like to still keep my hand in.

Last night, I stopped at a thrift store, looking for a new dress. (This place has nice clothes, like really good stuff. It is rare for me to leave empty-handed.) I decided against a chambray jumpsuit (mistake?) and went with an olive green dress.

Then I walked by the book section. I figured there was time and money for a peek. I chased some poor guy past the science/mystery section to the fiction. It isn’t a bookstore, so things are a little jumbled. I stumbled across The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It is one my favorite books. I read it first in undergrad.

I scored The God of Small Things at the thrift store for $1.04!

I scored The God of Small Things at the thrift store for $1.04!

It is set in India. The novel jumps back and forth in time and between characters, but the main conflict is how the caste system divides the characters. It is similar, but not the same, to the way race and class divide Americans. It is a beautifully, written book, but what moves me the most is the ending.

SPOILER ALERT. The lovers don’t beat the odds and end up happily ever after. At the end of the book, it flashes back to them at the start of everything, knowing they can’t survive together, but wanting it so badly anyway. Here they are defiant in their love, here they are not thinking of the future, here they are thinking only of the next time, here they are thinking only of tomorrow.

 

“He folded his fear into a perfect rose. He held it out in the palm of his hand. She took it from him and put it in her hair.”
The God of Small Things

 

The beauty of this moment always struck me, as well as Roy’s defiance in ending the book this way. She too is refusing to give into outdated ideas about caste and who a person can love.

I saw the copy, hesitated briefly, and then added it to my stack. I have a copy at home, but I couldn’t leave this book alone on the shelf. I needed it come home with me. I wanted to make sure this beauty was passed on to someone else.

 

 

This week’s video is “Bachelorette” by Bjork. If you haven’t watched a Bjork video, I seriously recommend you check this one out. She makes some of the most delightful and astonishing videos. And weird, the videos are so beautifully weird. Oh and this lyric, “I’m a tree that grows hearts/One for each that you take.” Now that, my friends, is some beauty.

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