Tag Archives: courage

SOAR! to See More

10 Oct

Do you ever feel like your project is just too big, too difficult for you to handle? I did. Whenever I’d start to work on my novel, or more precisely think about working on it, I’d more often than not culminate in overwhelmed defeat and just give up.

SOAR: Feel free to expand.

SOAR: Feel free to expand.

Then last fall, I received a piece of advice from author Mark Spencer that has changed my perspective: Don’t be afraid to expand. 

This gem came to me while taking an online class through Writer’s Digest University, for which Mark was my amazing instructor. Besides writing the actual submissions each week, which was very motivating, I would whine ventexpress to my Mark how overwhelmed I felt by the whole process of trying to write. He assured me that my despondent, neurotic anxieties were actually ‘normal behavior’ for writers, thereby proving myself to be one.

Still, I complained that I didn’t even know if I could fit my story into one book, which is when he told me to feel free to expand. What a horrifying suggestion, I thought at first, to make it bigger than it already was! In retrospect, my fear was telling me to make the story smaller, simpler, easier. But the story itself was telling me otherwise. Mark told me to listen to the story, and in so doing, to myself.

When you're SOARING, the size of the sky is freeing, not frightening.

When you’re SOARING, the size of the sky is freeing, not frightening.

This fall, I’m taking WDU’s Advanced Novel Writing course. Mark’s helping me through another chunk of my novel, impelling me with insights and encouraging feedback that only an experienced author can give.

It’s still a bit scary to look at it all from up high, seeing how much there is yet to be done.

But with my synopsis providing my birds-eye view, I can soar down to my sharply focused target–crafting one precious scene at a time–without fearing the size of the surrounding sky.

DIG! Digging Yourself Out Of The Mud!

6 Mar

digging 1

This past weekend I did my 2nd Tough Mudder Obstacle Race! I though it was fitting for this month Power Word Dig!  It was a 12 mile run with 25 obstacles course, in which you are constantly in mud or in water.  Was it hard? Yes it was hard and I don’t think I would choose to do these kinds of event by myself.  I did it with a group friends.

On the Tough Mudder website they really emphasize on team work there moto is “To get through mud, fire, ice-water, and 10,000 volts of electricity you’ll need teammates to pick you up when your spirits dip. To get over 12 foot walls and through underground mud tunnels, you’ll need teammates to give you a boost and a push. Tough Mudders are team players who make sure no one gets left behind. To that end, all Mudders are expected to uphold our ideals and exhibit teamwork and camaraderie both on the course and off it”.

This is how I feel with my fellow chicks.  Without them I would not be where I am now.  They have given me the courage to go out there and try new things, to be creative, to write and to pursue my dreams.  There faith in me has helped me DIG myself from things that were pulling me back, my insecurities, my fears and my worries about what others might think.    Dig 2Because of them I have become braver!

I still have lots of Digging out to do but I know that I have my fellow chicks to help me out when I get stuck.

P.S. No, they won’t do a Tough Mudder with me, I’ve tried to convince them maybe you all might have better luck LOL.

ZOOM! Facing Forward

7 Jan

Eva 1This past December I did my first Tough Mudder!  Yes, I am insane.  Why, you may ask?    Again, here FEAR comes into the picture.  It’s been a constant battle my courage will, against my FEAR will.  Who will win? Sometimes it wins and sometimes I win.  December 1st I won!  I faced it with courage and excitement even when I had to run through the electrical wires.

So, this brings me to this month Word ZOOM and what it means to me.  For me it’s facing forward and never looking back.   This was the last obstacle of a 20 obstacle course, there was no turning back.  I needed to face forward and just push through it, knowing that I was going to feel pain and might fall and not be sure if I was going to be able to get up and finish.

But I did not look back at what I already failed at or what I already succeeded at.  NOW is all that mattered.  Will I run through it or just decide to play it safe and skip this obstacle    Then the question would be, “what have I learned”.  That when things get tough I just play it safe.  NO!  Fear was not going to take over and WIN.  I ran through it, never looking back and saying “I WON THIS TIME”!  Ouch!

Not looking back at your failures or successes, who are you NOW?  What are you zooming toward?

The Courage of Judy Blume

28 Nov

If you were a girl growing up in the 70’s, you know Judy Blume.  Or at least feel like you do.  Because when you read her books, it was like she was there with you.  In books like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret  and Deenie she wrote about real life.  Things that you thought about and dealt with but no one talked about.  Of course, in our current world, we voraciously consume reality television and everything is discussed openly 24/7 on this miracle we call the internet.

It’s easy to forget that back in the day, writing about real life often got your book banned or burned.  Judy Blume wrote about it anyway.  She says on her website that she didn’t realize at first what she wrote could be considered controversial, she just wanted to write the most honest books she could.  When her work was indeed censored, did that stop her? No, she wrote more.  She was courageous and it made a difference in many of our lives.  She shone a light for us along that rocky path called childhood and then puberty.

This is not Judy Blume. Or me. But it is what puberty feels like. And probably breast cancer too.

And she didn’t stop there. Even if you’ve never heard of Judy Blume (which is inconceivable), she has been your champion.  In the face of censorship, she stood up for not only her rights, but your rights, my rights and the rights of millions of young readers.  She became very active in the anti-censorship movement.  Once again, her courage was a beacon.  You can read more about her activism here.

And now, Judy is shining a light on another rocky path that many of us will go down in our lifetimes. She announced on her blog in September that she has breast cancer.  This hit home for me because a good friend of mine recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and several other women I know in my community have been diagnosed just in the past few months.  It seems as though it’s blooming everywhere like an evil crabgrass.   It has begun to feel as inevitable as puberty was.  As always, Judy does not shy away from the topic, and in her blog she wrote honestly and openly of her diagnosis and treatment.

My friend is working through her chemo and doing very well, enjoying the good times and plowing ahead ahead in the bad.  I know she will be well again soon.  I wish the same for Judy Blume.  We need her and her courage as much now as we ever did.

What Would You Attempt To do, If you Could Not Fail?

14 Nov

The very first post I wrote was about Fear of Failure.

I wrote:

” I realized that skydiving is my biggest fear.  I fear being that high.  I fear that the parachute won’t open.  I fear that I might die.  And I feel that if I could conquer this then I would be able to accomplish anything that is put before me without having the fear that I will fail at it.”

Well guess what?  I just conquered that fear with my wonderful Chick Vivi!  I was a nervous wreck but turned out I loved it!

Sail Away…. Sail Away… Sail Away with us

9 Oct

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. ~Andre Gide

Truer words were never spoken and I’m proud of my Chicks for having the courage to set out on their creative journeys.  They don’t know what waters lie ahead but they know they can only reach their dreams by casting off and trusting that I will guide them.  And what better way to celebrate their milestones than a beautiful day on the water together?

As you set out on your creative journeys, how will you celebrate your milestones?   The Muse loves a good celebration!

Confronting Your Fears

26 Sep

I’m turning 45 in a few weeks. As I look back on my accomplishments and my failures, I can only wish that I would be able to express myself like Sarah Kay does; she is a young spoken poet. Spoken poetry is poetry and theater all wrapped in one.

I would be able to communicate how it felt being raised in the Projects of New York City. How it felt to be scared at a young age when I had to make a last-minute decision regarding taking the elevator or the stairs depending who was in the elevator. Then taking the stairs and always listening to see if there were neighborhood gangbangers hanging out on the lower level, or if I should take the elevator on the 3rd floor.

I would explain how it felt being abused by a distant uncle and NEVER taking the title of VICTIM; I had decided as a young adult that I was not a VICTIM, not going to be LABELED, that I was not going to put MY LIFE in someone else’s hands so they could control my future.

I would be able to express the joy of getting on the airplane to leave New York City for good and never coming back. The happiness and guilt I felt as I saw my cousin crying hysterically because we were raised like sisters — and I was leaving her behind.

The feeling of not fitting in, in the beginning because even though you were considered Puertorican in New York City, you were not considered that in Puerto Rico.

The happiness I felt when my parents divorced, because I knew the fighting would stop; and the sadness of seeing the sacrifices my mother had to make to raise three daughters on her own.

In all this time I was looking for my creative voice. I was not into art, music, acting, or writing. I did try a little of everything:  guitar, dance, gymnastics, swimming, I was even an aerobics instructor. I was always willing to try new things, but nothing stuck.

I’m inspired by people who have struggled in their lives and have been able to make it through to the other side.

So if you’re wondering “have I made it to the other side?”  The answer is:  YES I have.  I made it to the other side as a young adult, once I decided that I was not going to be a VICTIM.  Believe me, it was not easy to get to that point. I was rebellious, angry and hurt.  I came to the realization that I needed to forgive, for me to be able to move on in my life in a positive way.

Sarah Kay said in her poem
And she’s gonna learn that this life
will hit you.
In the face.
Wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach.
But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs
how much they like the taste of air.

I love that! I had resigned myself to the fact that bad things do happen and it’s my reaction to them that dictates how much I let them affect me.  I’ve lived by the saying “I’ve been through worse; this is nothing”.

So if I could go back and change things, would I?  NO. Surprising, don’t you think? I have an amazing mother and family and — even with all the bad things — there were amazingly great things in my life. I believe that the bad or good things you go through in life shape who you become. But they do not define you.  If I had not gone through those situations, I would not be the person I am today. I love the person I’ve become.  I’m daring, overprotective about my kids, I love to laugh, I love life, and most of all I’ve found my creative voice. At the same time I’m also emotional, my worst critic, and shy.

But I don’t give up! As I get kicked in the stomach, I still get up and keep pushing forward.

As I write this, I’m scared to death to post it.  But here is one more wall I’m tearing down.

So, follow what you love and don’t ever let life’s circumstances or FEAR stop you from doing what you always wanted to do.


Unclear Path

5 Jul

I have to admit that I love the feeling of not knowing where something is going to take me.

It’s like that feeling on a new roller coaster that you have never ridden, standing in line and your heart is beating out of your chest and your palm is sweating with excitement of not knowing what to expect.  You just know that you are going to love it.   After the ride you feel exilerated and happy and you want that feeling again.  So, you get back on and even though you loved it, it is not that same feeling you had the first time before getting on.

That’s how I felt when I did my first Sprint Triathlon.

I had never run in my life.  I had been aerobic instructor in my early college years and was in a swimming team during High School.  But running and sweating was not my idea of fun.  One day, one of my employee said that he was going to do the 5K, and something inside me clicked, kinda like what our first guest chick said regarding her experience about photography https://4chicks.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/our-first-guest-chick/.  It just clicked.  Well that is how I felt.   So instead of trying to train for a 5K, I decided to up the ante and do a sprint triathlon.  I download a free training program and started training.  At first the running for me was hard, remember I had never really ran.  I just started walking 5 minutes and running for 1 minute till almost at the end of my training I was able to run the whole 3.1 miles.

When the day came for the Triathlon I had that amazing feeling like before getting on a roller coaster.  I was excited and scared at the same time.  I could not stop going t0 the bathroom because my stomach was not cooperating with me.   I remember telling myself “what am I thinking, am I crazy”?   But I will never forget what the organizer of the event said as we all stood knee high in the lake before the swim.  “For all the 1st timers, I know that you are scared but I can garantee you, that the fear will leave once you start swimming”.  I remember telling myself “year right”.  And than I heard the horn.  There was no turning back now.  At first I was hyper ventilating and thinking “I need to stay calm and breath just swim like you have been practicing and enjoy the ride”.  Ohhh how amazing it felt when I was able to let go of the fear and just enjoy it.  After the swim I felt energized and got on my bike as happy as I can be.  Got back to my transition area and dropped the bike off and ran.  And I will never forget coming around the bend and hearing people scream with excitement and finding myself getting emotional as I ran to the finish line. I DID IT!  What a Day!

Now let me tell you that I have done a few 5k’s and a half marathon after that first Sprint Triathlon.  But I have never been able to recapture that feeling from that day.  And I realize that it was that feeling of that unclear path not knowing where something is going to take me.  Will I fail? Will I succeed?  and than to find out that you succeeded was an amazing feeling.

So, I wonder is it fear or the final journey of my Documentary that hold me back from finishing it.  Maybe a little of both.   But this I know, that you need faith as you venture through the unclear path.  Going through the unclear path is to take risk, make mistakes and sometimes fail.

Their are 3 things you need  to know as you go though your creative journey is have an Illusion, Desire, and Courage”.   Here I am in my 40’s trying something that I have never experienced in my life. Was I being delusional?  Was I crazy? Was I going through a midlife crises?  But I knew that I had the desire to prove something to myself.  And had the courage not to just speak of it, or want it, but to actually do it.

So, I leave you with this poem from the Apple campaign.

Here’s to the Crazy Ones!

The misfits.

The rebels.

The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.

Because they change things.

The invent.  They imagine.  They heal.
They explore.  They create.  They inspire.
They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas & see a work of art?
Or, sit in silence & hear a song that’s never been written?
Or, gaze at a red planet & see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they
can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Poem By: Apple Computers, Inc.©

The Upside of Falling

18 Jun

There are worse things than falling. Giving up when faced with adversity, for example, and living safely within one’s certain boundaries of success, as another. I recently learned of these through beautiful and tangible illustrations worthy of sharing.

Last weekend, I went to see some friends perform from Delibes’ famously charming ballet, Coppelia. You may recall my friend Caroline and our ballet mistress, Stella, from my past posts about breaking the Guinness World Record. So the first excerpt was a lovely duet with Caroline and another dancer. Next came a male solo by Stella’s young and talented grandson, Lashard.

Then, at about (3:20) in this video, Lashard’s music stopped. For a second, my heart stopped with it. But then something truly remarkable happened: Lashard kept dancing. For what seemed like a frozen eternity but was really only another seventy-five seconds, he kept dancing. Even though the music played only in his head, Lashard orchestrated every leap, jump and turn on beat, causing a stunned and appreciative audience to applause throughout. Their spontaneous clapping punctuated the intimidating silence, during which could only be heard the deft workings of Lashard’s feet, as they landed in their prescribed positions on the vast and empty stage. I was incredibly proud of my young friend and deeply moved by his courageous perseverance.

Next came Caroline’s solo, which was executed gracefully and flawlessly. Finally, the three dancers joined together on the stage. After about four minutes of challenging choreography, however, the unthinkable happened to Caroline. As seen in this video, she fell to the ground. It was only for a second, and she was back up again in her final pose as if it had never happened, but I was devastated for her. An otherwise perfect performance had been ruined at the very end. Or had it?

When I afterwards attempted to console my friend, expecting her to be very upset, she surprised me yet again with her casual, good-humored reaction. She laughed and explained how falling is actually a good thing. While not ideal for a performance, of course, it does help you know that you’re stretching the limits of what you can do. She had gone for the double pirouette, feeling it within her grasp. This time, it didn’t work out, but that was okay. Or to grossly misquote Lord Tennyson: ‘Tis better to have tried and fallen than never to have tried at all.

What’s more, Caroline’s theory means that never falling is actually bad, a sure sign of complacency. Yikes! The metaphorical mandate for my life is clear. I must reprogram my brain accordingly.

FALLING IS NOT FAILING. They are two different things. Trying and then falling is growth, and hence, succeeding. So here is my challenge–and yours, if you want to take it: Let’s see if, the next time things don’t go according to plan in our lives, you and I can embrace falling with more perspective and, yes, with more grace.

Hellena – Los Angeles, CA

3 May

This week’s Chick Story comes from a very good friend of Eva’s (hostingthemuse).  She is a life coach and a very talented jewelry maker.   Read her story about going through life challenges and still being able to conquer your dreams.

The Leap…

I had hit rock bottom. I doubted my abilities. I had the feeling that people were looking at me behind my back and shaking their heads with pity.  I was not satisfied with my life and my work standards suffered for it.  That’s when “she” came to me. She had been patiently waiting, giving me subtle hints that she was on her way and now “she” saw that I was ready for a change.

It was August 2006 and after just two months of marriage to my husband Peter, I was in the hospital having a hysterectomy. Needless to say I was devastated – but not lost.  “She” guided me to a therapist who helped me tremendously and “she” also placed a book in my path – Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins.  Although this book was directed toward companies, it had a profound effect on me.   When the author instructed companies to find 3 things that they are really good at and focus only on them, I did that for myself.  My 3 greatest assets: my ease with public speaking, the ability to connect with people and my gift for helping people solve their problems were the things I decided to focus on and improve. These 3 things helped me to take my leap – and become one with her.


I realized that by focusing on my 3 greatest assets, they would connect me with my deepest values: trust, integrity, creativity, to be of service and to honor my self-worth.    I had finally turned on the lights in my life and saw for the first time all my gifts waiting to be tapped.  Being conscious of those values made it easier for me to see when I was not honoring them.  I got mad at myself when I hadn’t done something I knew was best for me or when someone else said or did something negative to me.  Think about your values and how they connect with the work you do. If your work is engaging, challenges your intellect, is exciting and you look forward to it every day, it doesn’t seem like work.  But when your work is uninspiring and creates dissonance, you’ll find yourself dreading each task.  “She” knew my values and that as soon as I connected with them my journey would begin.

My Future Self

You see “she” is me – Hellena, my future-self.  That part of me that didn’t see me as less than but more than I could ever imagine.  It wasn’t that Hellena was boastful, it was that she knew that in every situation, good, bad or indifferent, there was something I could learn as I moved forward in my life. The key phrase being “moving forward”.

We all have a future-self – we just need to tap into it and have that discussion.  It is that part of us that does not live life by lack or limitation but by abundance and endless resources.  It does not see obstacles but rather opportunities for growth and learning.  It remembers how to dream and does it on a daily basis. It keeps life exciting.  It creates scenarios with the connector word “and” not “or”, “either” or “but”. As in “I can be successful and have a great relationship” versus “I can either have a thriving career or a great marriage”.

Yes…you can have both and much more. The key to this success are your values.  It’s also knowing your boundaries and when it’s OK to say no to take care of yourself instead of saying yes to please someone else.

Making the leap

In January 2007 instead of making a resolution, I made a declaration. From now on I would be open to whatever the universe brought my way. I also made a conscious decision to honor my 3 assets.  First, I joined Toastmasters.  Not only did I become a better speaker, but when I joined the board and served my club, I also became a better leader. Secondly, after a short track with psychology, I decided to become a Life Coach.  I wanted to work with people and help move them forward in their lives. This career path addressed assets 2 and 3 simultaneously. But as with Toastmasters, I got so much more.  I found Hellena again and she introduced me to my creative side – designing jewelry.  Creations by Hellena was born from the freedom I gave myself to believe I had a creative outlet.  And it was further enriched by knowing that creating is not about perfection – it’s about allowing something to be.

These two career choices were a major shift for me because up until then I had only seen myself as nobody special.   How could I have the audacity to think someone would trust me with their most intimate fears and dreams?  That someone, other than my family and friends, would not only love my jewelry but pay me for it?  That wasn’t my future-self making those comments.  Alas, my saboteur aptly named Mr. Fear Procrastinator started whispering nuggets of self-doubt and worry in my ear.  I admit, for a while it kept me stagnated but because I was now connected to my values, Hellena had ammunition with which to battle those fears.  She said “Send out an email blast to family, friends and colleagues and tell them about your new coaching profession. What’s the worst that could happen?”   “Email pictures of your jewelry to that boutique.  It’s only an email, what harm can come from it?” Hellena took away the doubt and allowed my talents and gifts to speak for themselves.  In both instances, I was greeted with the word YES!  And what happens when you hear that word?  You want to hear it again!  Now that my fear had gone, I could approach perfect strangers and talk to them about what I did without fear of rejection because my PASSION was leading the discussion.

And now…

My coaching practice, Core Illuminations www.coreilluminations.com has made the leap to workshops and group coaching. Creations by Hellena can be purchased in two boutiques: Twig & Willow, Long Beach, CA and Mindfulnest, Santa Monica, CA (more stores to follow). You can also find my jewelry online through my Etsy.com shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/creationsbyhellena.  As I continue to dream, my dreams continue to grow.

I look back and thank my future-self for her patience and steadfastness. I look back and thank the Universe for allowing me to fall – so that I could learn something new. I look back on those 5 years and see the many leaps I’ve taken and the growth, adventures and rewards I’ve received.  Now, Hellena and I make those leaps together…

I leave you with this: Discover and Nurture your 3 greatest assets.  They hold the keys to your sanity, health and happiness.  It is here that your future-self is waiting to take the next leap with you.  Don’t keep him/her waiting!

Hellena Jones Elbling, CPCC
Core Discover Life Coach
Core Illuminations
Discover your True Passions and
Use them to Illuminate your World!

Hellena Jones Elbling
Jewelry Designer
Creations by Hellena
Find Your Spirit in my Creations

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