books, courage, creativity, fear

This just in: What FEAR really stands for

FEAR - Forget Everything And Rise
FEAR – Forget Everything And Rise

“FEAR – Forget Everything And Rise.” ~ Dan Romanelli, Happy is the New Healthy

My friend, Inna, gave me this book for my birthday and this definition of fear really resonates with me. We can’t stop fear. It’s a natural and protective human response. We can move over, under, and through it in our pursuit of what really matters to us. Forget Everything And Rise. That sounds exactly like the kind of fear I can embrace and use.

choices, decision-making, fear

This just in: How to know if you should run toward or away from fear

What to do in the face of fear
What to do in the face of fear

When something really scares you, you only have two choices for your next move: run toward it or away from it. You either give it all you’ve got or give up with all you’ve got.

So how do you know which choice to make? It depends what’s on the other side of that fear. Is it something you really want? Then charge ahead. If it’s not, then it’s time to take your leave.

Don’t do something just because it scares you and you feel you need to conquer it. Do it because in the conquering of that fear, you can realize a dream. Fear can protect us or hold us back, and the only way to know the difference is to peek behind that fear and see what’s waiting for us.

creativity, fear, freedom

This just in: Regrets, fear, and aging

Go through the door of your fears
Go through the door of your fears

“You only age when your regrets outnumber your fears.” ~John Barrymore

When we talk about aging in our society, and how to fend off its physical effects, the discussion often turns to diet, exercise, healthcare, and beauty products. I’ve found the best way to lessen the impacts of aging has nothing to do with anything physical. It’s about choices. Are we making the decisions that make us happy and help us feel fulfilled? Are we having fun, enjoying our time, and doing what we love? Our choices have just as much impact on our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing as anything else. So let’s make the choice to leap through fear and go after the lives we really want.

creative, creative process, creativity, fear, feelings, work

This just in: Don’t unpack your bags – a lesson from Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live - 1980s
Saturday Night Live – 1980s

Yesterday I watched a documentary about Saturday Night Live in the 1980s. The show struggled so much after its first five golden years. It lost a lot of its people, its mission, and its way. And it wasn’t a matter of finding it again. A very small group of people, some original and some new, scrapped the entire format and started over from scratch. Brave, and frightening. Just like life.

Many of the cast members—Billy Crystal, Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus—talked about not unpacking their bags. They all had month-to-month leases and were never really sure if they’d made it. Even when things were going very well, they were always on edge. In so many of those old sketches and outtakes, I could see the nerves, spontaneity, and spark.

It got me thinking that as much as we are creatures of comfort, habit, and routine, maybe we do our best work when we don’t have any of those things. Maybe those nerves that keep us on our edge give us our edge. We shouldn’t be looking for comfort at all. What we need to do our best, most creative work is a manageable dose of anxiety and fear. Our magic is not is doing the work we know we can do, but in biting of more than we can chew, in taking on precisely the projects that are beyond our reach. We should go where we think we’ll fail. We rise when we have something to shoot for that seems impossible.

choices, decision-making, fear, work, writing

This Just In: The 4 questions I ask when deciding to walk away or try harder

Walk away or try harder?
Walk away or try harder?

Eventually we all face this question: walk away or try harder? I face this kind of choice every day, multiple times a day, especially at that dark 3:00am hour. It happens so often that I’ve had to devise a method to calm myself down and thinking clearly. The beauty of this simple system is that it lets me respond to my fear and doubt without being consumed by them. I ask myself four questions:

1. Do I find joy in doing X?

2. Am I helping someone by doing X?

3. If I stop doing X now, will I regret it?

4. Is what I’m giving up to do X worth the tradeoff?

Sometimes these questions showed me that I did need to walk away. That walking away wasn’t easy or pain-free, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Compass Yoga, the nonprofit I founded and recently dissolved, is an example of that. Other pursuits, like my writing, proved to be things that I decided to double down on. These questions aren’t one and done. I re-evaluate regularly, sometimes hourly, and these questions help me get through the process so I can get on with my life. I hope they work for you, too.

art, books, creativity, fear, writing

This just in: A lesson about creativity from Mary Shelley and Frankenstein

Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein by accident. Lord Byron was visiting Shelley and her husband. There was a terrible storm that kept them all inside the house. To entertain themselves, Byron suggested they all write and then share horror stories. Byron’s and Mr. Shelley’s stories were mere entertainment for the trio. Mary Shelley’s became a classic novel (after much revision on that first draft!)

You never know when you’re creating the greatest work of your life which is why the very act of continuous creation is so important. And why it’s important to remember that from unlikely, and frankly unwanted, experiences, can come wonderful gifts. Mary Shelley didn’t know she was writing a novel destined to be a classic. She just knew she cared about its theme and wove an entertaining story around it. She didn’t leave her thoughts to spin around in her mind. She fearlessly wrote them down and sent them out into the world. We should, too.

courage, discovery, faith, fear, Life

Inspired: It’s okay to feel broken

Rocks grow in places that are crumbled
Rocks grow in places that are crumbled

“Be crumbled so wild flowers will come up where you are.” ~ Rumi

I know a lot of people who’ve had a tough year. Maybe you’re one of them. You feel a little broken by life, by the holidays, or maybe you feel a little broken and you’re not even sure why. Maybe someone you love is facing this reality right now. I came across this quote by Rumi yesterday in my reading and I think it’s an important one to keep close. Know this: perfection is a myth. Truthfully, we’ve all got small cracks, chips, and breaks somewhere in our lives. They aren’t always visible, but they’re there and there’s some comfort in knowing that we’re all on this imperfect journey together. So don’t be embarrassed or afraid or feel despair for the parts of you or the people you love that are a little crumbled. The flowers are on their way.

adventure, business, career, creativity, entrepreneurship, fear, learning, work

Inspired: We learn best by doing

Jump and build your wings on the way down
Jump and build your wings on the way down

We can’t learn to sail from the shore. We can’t learn to fly from the ground. To learn how to build a business of any kind, we must be in business. Business is an art form just like playing the piano or painting a picture. It takes practice, and chances are we will create some really awful work as we learn to make great work. So don’t be so hard on yourself if your first attempts are less than shining stars of success. Honestly, it’s better if they’re not. Go further than you think you can. Give your wildest ideas a whirl. Get crazy. That’s where the learning is, and learning is the best gift you can give to your future self. Don’t be afraid. Just do it. Go have an adventure.

dreams, experience, failure, fear

Inspired: A life of “oh well”s is a better than a life of “what if”s

From Pinterest

Part of the puzzle of pursuing a path that is meaningful to us involves learning to weather the tough times. I’ve had my fair share and I’m sure have many, many storms waiting for me around the bend. These few things help me to keep going when the going gets rough:

    • I look for the good. Every situation, no matter how difficult, has something good about it. A friend rises up to help in a way I never expected. I gain more compassion for other people who go through tough times. There’s always some light in the darkness.
    • I make sure I learn what go me into the tough situation and what will get me out. As long as I learn something to help me avoid making the same mistake again, I think of it as a win.
    • I stop. When I face a challenge, I step back and ask myself if I really carry enough about the end goal to keep going. This reflection helps me to understand my priorities.
    • I let myself feel really bad. Buddhism teaches us that the only way to move through adversity is to feel the full range of emotions it brings – anger, fear, sadness, disappointment, rage, etc. We have to give ourselves room to feel anything and everything that arises. Only after I’m truly done with those emotions do I pick up and try again. Don’t put a timeline on that process. Sometimes I bounce back almost immediately and sometimes it takes much longer than I’d like it to take. Emotions are like that. They can’t be forced to do anything. They just are. We have a right to all of our feelings and it’s healthy to exercise them.

Failure and disappointment are a part of every life. I don’t know a single person alive who’s ever gotten every single thing they ever wanted. When I fail or when I’m disappointed, I eventually remind myself that this means I tried to reach for something that meant a lot to me. I tried and in the process, I lived. When I look back, I’d rather have a life filled with “oh well” rather than a life filled with “what if”. 

fear, future, sleep

Inspired: Don’t believe everything you tell yourself late at night

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

3am can be a tough hour for me. That’s when some of my greatest fears surface. “What are you doing?” “That’s a terrible idea!” “You’ll be all alone!” And on they go. To exercise those little gremlins, I write them down in the notebook I keep next to my bed and then put an “X” through them. Then I lay down, focus on my breath, and silently say “I am okay” until I fall asleep again. Don’t believe everything you tell yourself late at night. At night, the good and bad rise up in our minds. We can’t control that. All we can do is get it all down, throw out what harms, keep what helps, and get some more sleep. Tomorrow needs us at our best.