Tag Archives: fear

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.

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TWIST and BOUNCE to Progress

5 Sep

Attention, OK-Mart shoppers: this month I’m offering a BOGO. Blog One power word, Get One free! Like that multi-tasking TWIST?

Once again this fall, I’ve undertaken a Writer’s Digest online class to force me at gunpoint inspire me to make progress on my historical novel. So August had me twisting to churn out 15,000 words. And by TWIST I mean writhing and squirming on the floor from the pain of an inescapable deadline.

To make it, I had to say ‘no’ to volunteering more at my daughter’s school, which was very hard for me to do. I also put my son in full-day preschool, which was even harder. I thought I would be overridden by guilt. Instead, I was energized and motivated by such a generous gift to myself, a gift that my inner artist deeply appreciates and is returning in kind.

LA InterchangeStill, I struggle with my internal antagonists: insecurity, indecision, imperfection. Once I get going in a scene or section of a scene, I’m happy in the process of actual, you know, writing. To me, crafting dialogue is the icing on the Brussels sprouts. But it takes a lot out of me to get there or decide the exact events within a given scene. I get stalled, even overwhelmed, by the infinite possibilities. It’s like Frost’s The Road Less Traveled but on the twisted East LA Interchange. It’s hard to see where each road will take me, if it will connect to my other roads, and even how to find the right on ramp.

All roads diverged at a point of plot,
And sorry I could not travel each
And be one writer, long I thought
And looked down one longer than I ought
To where it bent in the story line…

This is where the BOUNCE comes in. When I encounter an interchange or detour, my natural inclination is to pull off at the next exit for a Diet Coke and Snickers, maybe catch a movie, flip through my Facebook, alphabetize the cereal boxes in my pantry–anything to avoid driving.  However, I am retraining myself to bounce through it instead.

Taking on a buoyant attitude of BOUNCE propels me from a defeatist all-or-nothing something-is-wrong-with-me mentality to a resilient something-or-something-else whatever-gets-me-to-the-next-sentence outlook. Once through a stressful trouble spot, I can relax again. Even if I’m not exactly sure where I’m going, I took a road to keep traveling. And that has made all the difference.

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?

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!

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.
Hard.
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.

And above all, DON’T EVER LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE A VICTIM. You are a SURVIVOR :-).

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

5 Jan

Lately, my Chicks and I have been jokingly whining to each other “Stop making me do scary things!”  You see, every time we try something new, we are afraid. Afraid of failure, afraid of other people’s judgment, afraid of many things.

But we keep trying new things anyway.  One of us will come up with some crazy idea and the others will say “Yeah!” even though inside they might be thinking “What?? I can’t do that!”

Why do we do this?  Because we want to encourage each other, because we don’t want to let each other down, because we feel more capable when we are together.  Because we’ve committed ourselves to a more creative life.  And, isn’t doing something new the very essence of creativity?

I heard an interview yesterday that made me realize that people who do creative work are afraid at least some of the time and perhaps on a daily basis. Terry Gross, of Fresh Air on National Public Radio, was interviewing Pamela Adlon, an actress on the current HBO hit series Californication and a voice over artist who won an Emmy for voicing Bobby on King of the Hill.   Pamela was talking about how just putting on some of the wardrobe (such as it is) for the HBO show was scary.  I thought: here’s someone who does this for a living and has for many years and has won awards.  She still gets scared, why shouldn’t I?

I was afraid to sing our theme song to be recorded – I mean, I was literally shaking.  I was afraid to act (I know that’s stretching the definition) in our video.  I was really afraid to launch them for the whole world to see and hear.  Now I realize I can’t just accept fear, I have to embrace it.  So, though I won’t call it a resolution, my creative goal for this year is to be afraid as often as possible.

And my wish for you in 2012 is to be afraid, be very afraid.

Chicks Chat About Resilience – Week 9

23 Dec

There is a Chinese proverb that goes something like this: Fall down seven times, stand up eight. That ancient writer might have gained that wisdom from me, the Muse. The Chicks are in the process of learning it now. In any endeavor, whether you fear and fail is not as important as whether you try and try again. I am beckoning you. Keep seeking me, and the worry, fear and self-doubt you feel will not be roadblocks but signposts along the way.

Join the 4 Chicks as they chat about Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World: The Practical Art of CreativityChapter 9: Discovering a Sense of Resiliency.

Happy Holidays to you and here’s to a creative 2012!

.                             .                            .

Apricot Glazed Cornish Game Hens with Italian Sausage-Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 4 Cornish game hens (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced orange zest
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons toasted almond slivers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups apricot jam
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • KICKED UP DAN VERSION:   ADD ½ CUP COINTREAU

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook until the fat is rendered, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the orange zest and sweat for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook stirring continuously for 3 minutes. Add the raisins, almonds, parsley, thyme, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place it in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the rice from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Place the rice on a sheet pan or a platter to cool.

Combine the apricot jam, orange juice, COINTREAU and remaining zest in a small mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Place the glaze in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Allow glaze to cook until reduced by half. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes.

Season the hens with the remaining salt and pepper on the insides and out. Stuff each hen cavity with about 3/4 cup of the cooled rice and place in a roasting pan. Use a pastry brush to spread the glaze on the hens and place them in the oven.

Roast the game hens for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and spread another layer of glaze over the hens. Return the hens to the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the hens from the oven, spread the glaze over the hens, and return to the oven.

Continue to cook for 30 more minutes, or until an instant read-thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 160 degrees F, and inserted into the rice registers 140 degrees F.

Serve the hens with any extra rice pilaf.

What wishes have you granted yourself this year?

24 Oct

I marked another item off the list!

Call it a ‘wish list’.  Call it a ‘bucket list’.  You have one, don’t you?  If not on paper, then at least in your head?  I have one, or many actually, in various forms.   I’ve created them at a number of times over the past couple years that the Chicks and I have been working through Julia Cameron’s books

I wasn’t thinking about those lists yesterday, though, when I met with the Chicks to record our theme song.  I was too nervous! 

All that was going on in my head was:  I’m not a singer!  What are people going to think?  Why did I agree to this? 

I almost pulled out.  But I didn’t.  Instead, I came, I sang, I conquered.  My fear, that is.   What a great feeling! 

Thanks to Tracey for so many things, from writing the song to arranging our recording session to serving us lunch to reminding me that singing for an audience was on my wish list.    It made me realize how many things on my wish list I have ‘granted’ myself in the past year, from singing ‘in public’ to taking a photography class to joining a writing group to finishing a novel (with Vivi).  It’s so empowering.  With this kind of momentum, who knows what’s next?

What wishes on your wish list have you granted yourself this year?

The Next Right Decision

4 Aug

Get clarity. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Don’t be defeated by mistakes. Learn from them. – Oprah

My family and I have been working very hard organizing a Family Reunion 5K event.  This is our second year.  Last year we had 29 family members participate and it really only took us 3 month to organize it.  From buying Hanes t-shirts and ironing the logo to it and making our own goody bags with health information in it.  It was such a success that when discussed regarding doing something else for this year’s reunion, everyone wanted to do the 5K again.

So, me being me, I wanted to take it to the next level.  We decided to charge $10.00 for all participants and donate the money to an organization that helps the homeless in Puerto Rico.  We started working on this event 6 months ahead and the last month really tested what I’m really made of.

I think it’s always easier when you work on a project yourself, because you can do it exactly how you in-vision it.  But this time around I really needed help to make this a successful event. So I recruited a few of my cousins and sisters to help.  Thank god I had them to help me because there was no way I could have done this by myself.

I was also, being tested during this process running this event.  Like little things, being too bossy, to the economy being bad and maybe $10.00 would be too much to charge.  I question myself through it all.  “Was I making the right decision”?   Even my faith in God was being tested.  For whatever reason every time something was not going right one of my cousin Zulema would say to me “you need to have faith in God”.  That word FAITH kept coming up again and again and again.  I believed that Zulema was put there to remind me that I can’t control everything and that I needed to put my trust in something higher than me.  Last minute things started happening that were positive.  And what we couldn’t control we said we will deal with it when the time comes.

The day before the event, I had a what is called a nervous breakdown.  I kept saying to myself “what am I getting myself into” , “Do I have what it takes to make this successful”, “will I be judged and criticized “, “I don’t know if I can do this again”.  And on top of it all I had to say a speech in front of everyone.   I had to put things in perspective and say to myself.  “This is not about you Eva”. “This is about helping your family and also helping a wonderful cause”.

So, what helped me? A week before the event I received an email from my mother in law about a book that she though I would like.  First I did not tell her about my fears regarding organizing this event, but learning from Julia Cameron about synchronicity I knew that this book came to me at the right time when I needed it the most.  The book is called My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock.  It was about conquering your fears. I finished the book the day before the event.  One of Noelle’s fear’s was public speaking and she signed up to do a stand up comedy at a comedy club.  The day of the show she went through all the fears regarding what if she freeze up on the stage or what if no one laughs.  Well it turned out that she could do this, and was actually very funny.

This is one of my biggest fears also, talking to a big group of people.  I have no problem talking if it’s one on one, I love to talk.  But talking to a group of people even if it’s my own family members, it was terrifying.   The night before, I wrote what I wanted to say, and after finishing My Year with Eleanor I was prying that my situation would  happen like Noelle.  That I would be nervous, but once up there it would just flow from me and I would be amazing.

Do you want to know what happened? I was awful!  I started OK but when I was talking about the charity and had the lady of the organization there with me, I forgot what I wanted to say.  I was shaking and the words would not come out of my mouth, I even forgot how to say homeless in Spanish (if you need to know it’s deambulante).  I had to close my eyes to focus myself.  Thank god the lady took the microphone and started talking about the charity herself.  After she spoke I took the microphone back and kept going on, with thank you’s and crowning the queen of the event.  I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself.  You have to understand that I’m married to a person that goes around the country doing public speaking.  You would think, after 15 years that it would have rubbed on me.  Once up there I realized that it didn’t rub on me at all! LOL.

Eleanor Roosevelt says:

“About the only value the story of my life may have is to show that one can, even without any particular gifts, overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable if one is willing to face the fact that they must be overcome; that, in spite of timidity and fear, in spite of lack of special talents, one can find a way to life widely and fully.”

Even though I found out that I don’t have public speaking talent.  The most important thing was that I put myself out there and was able to conquer one of my own fears.  I was able to prove to my girls that nothing is impossible.  So, now I can say that I did it, that at least I tried.  Was it great? No.  Did I get judged? No.  Was it that awful? No.  Would I do it again? YES.

So, going through this process with the 4 chicks and a muse, did help me in many ways.  Julia Cameron say that their will always be that negative voice, but it’s really up to you if you are going to listen to it or not.

I took the leap of faith and it was a success.  I enjoyed and was inspired in helping a wonderful cause. We were able to raise $700.00 for the Albergue el Paraiso.  Doubled our family participation.  And, even if this event changed only one person to better themselves physically and mentally.  Than I made the right decision.

 

Fear of Failure

18 Feb


I keep asking myself:  “Why do I want to go skydiving?”  Is it because of the excitement of jumping, the rush or just plain stupidity?  As I was reading my other chick’s post, I realized that my reason–even if it’s not a great reason–has to do with fear.

Don’t get me wrong; I do not get a rush out of being scared.  But I just 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.

In my rational mind I know that skydiving will not take that fear away.  It would help with the actual fear of being that high, and I might just enjoy it.  But it won’t help me deal with the fear of failure.

So how do I deal with this little issue that I have?

I was just reading this wonderful post from Luann Udell about Dealing With Failure  http://luannudell.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/dealing-with-failure/.

“Edison trying and discarding 423 different materials before he found one that could successfully be used as a filament in his electric light bulbs. Supposedly, he would say,  “I didn’t fail—I found  423 things that didn’t work!” In reality, I doubt he was that chipper at trial #218. I’m sure he had some  choice words.

But the important thing to remember is, it wasn’t failure. It was a process. He didn’t take each failure as a “sign” he should not continue. He took it as a challenge, an opportunity to explore new possibilities.”

So as I go out into this world, I know that YES, I will fail, but I also know that this is a process.  Who knows what great things might come out of something that I work on and fail 100 times in?

P.S.  I still want to go skydiving!

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