Saturday, January 31, 2015

quotes.

"There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." -Jim Hightower

"There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction." -Franz Kafka

Hope you're having a courageous weekend!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

don't look away.

"To be an artist means never to avert one's eyes." -Akira Kurosawa

Watching other people do things for the first time stresses me out. I was expecting that my act of bravery yesterday was going to be giving my first mock opening statement for my Trial Methods class, but it turns out that I wasn't chosen to go. What I did instead was have anxiety for all of the classmates who did have to present. Now, I will say that everybody did pretty good. REALLY good, actually. But that didn't keep me from worrying myself into a stomachache about them.

I'm the person who can't watch the first few weeks of American Idol, because I can't stand to watch people embarrass themselves like that. (I choose not to watch all the weeks after that because I'm way over that show.) I can't. It makes me so uncomfortable. And that's how I felt watching my classmates yesterday - worried that they were going to mess up and I was going to be a captive audience. If people are going to struggle, I'd rather let them work through it and not make it worse for them by being a spectator.

But I had to stay and so I did, and I bravely watched all of the presentations do a really solid job.

ANOTHER thing that I watched yesterday actually happened early in the morning (I just remembered it right now!). I pulled into the parking lot at school and a classmate was parked next to me. She was standing next to her car. She had the driver's side door open and the radio blasting. She was dancing next to the car. Not just kind of bobbing her head, but flat-out, arms-in-the-air dancing. I got out of my car, thinking that she would stop and be embarrassed. But no, she sees me and yells, "This is the BEST SONG!" And she keeps right on dancing. It was great - made my whole day. I wish I was so confident that I would keep dancing in 10 degree weather at 8:00am even with my peers watching. Amazing.

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"Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will." -James Stephens

(I really liked the quote for today because I think it's really true (there's a reason we have the saying about the cat), so I tried Google-ing James Stephens to see who he is. Turns out that's a pretty generic name, so I'm having some trouble. He's either and Irish poet or a TV actor known for a show called The Paper Chase or a 19th-century Irish politician (not related to the poet). I'm guessing the poet is the right guy, but who knows...)

This past summer, I read a book about introverts and decided that I am one. It's taken some courage for me to observe this because I get scoffing remarks in return. Turns out, there's a difference between being introverted (which I am) and being shy (which I am not). I keep reading, little by little, about introverts and how they can best maximize their personalities in a culture that so prizes extroverts. It takes a little bravery for me to keep learning about something that will make me a better person even though I know the people around me don't necessarily think I fit the bill. Truth is, I know myself better than they ever will.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

hypochondria and blown tires.

"There's a way to do it better - find it." -Thomas Ala Edison

I'm sorry the picture is sideways. I tried, with no luck, to rotate it, but you'll get the point.

The day-before-yesterday, my act of courage was to confront any hypochondriac-type tendencies. I get migraines maybe once every 6 months, and I'm always worried that I will get one when I'm out someplace and can't do anything about it. This is mostly because the first symptom of a migraine, for me, is that I can't see anything in my right field of vision. If I'm out, this makes driving home dangerous for myself and everyone around me. So there's that.

I also have this weird fear of burns. Once when I worked food service at an amusement park back home in Erie, I was making candy apples and I accidentally dropped melted sugar on my legs. Without thinking, I tried to brush it off with my hands, and then when THAT burned me, I smeared it on my arms to get it off... It was horrible. So now I try really hard not to re-create the experience.

Yesterday, my act of bravery involved assisting in a blown tire change on the side of I-83. That was a little scary too, with all the cars whooshing by. But we did it, and I think I could do it myself if I needed to.

Monday, January 26, 2015

unplugged.

Long story short: On Saturday, I didn't use the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the news... you get it.

Nothing super crazy happened, probably because it was the weekend and nobody was trying to get a hold of me.

I did realize, though, how often I reach for my phone out of habit - when I need a little break or when there's a lull in my studying, or in the conversation. I try not to use my phone when I'm talking with other people, because it makes me INSANE when other people do it (like, what is so blasted important that it can't wait 5 MINUTES?!), but I do still use it a lot. I'll try to cut back.

Sunday was another personal bravery.

Have a good week!

Friday, January 23, 2015

flying: step 1.

"Inner space is the real frontier." -Gloria Steinem

Today we're going to talk about how I am sure I will die every time I set foot in a plane.

I didn't always feel that way. I remember taking my first flight ever. My dad and I were flying to New York City so I could audition for the musical theatre program at NYU. I thought flying was the absolute best thing ever. Amazing.

Then, when I was flying to the Dominican Republic one time, there was really terrible turbulence. It was one of those scenarios where we were flying through a storm and the pilot had requested to change his altitude. Unfortunately, there was another plane flying at that different level and he couldn't switch. So we had to ride it out.

The bad turbulence was probably only 20 minutes or so, but I was sitting over the wing, and I remember looking out the window in that span of time (which felt like an hour) watching the wing bend and flex, thinking that at any moment it was going to snap right off. I was suddenly very aware of how I had absolutely no control over what happened while I was in flight. If we started crashing, I was just going to have to sit there and handle it.

Now, whenever I fly, I literally mutter to myself under my breath the whole time. I have a constant, whispered pep talk going on: "You're doing great. This is nothing - just like riding on a bumpy bus. See? Nobody else is panicked, nobody else thinks you're going to die. You're fine, you're okay. Just take deep breaths..." (One time, a little old lady sitting next to me overheard me. She offered me gummy bears.) I don't like it when other people get up and walk around on the plane because I'm afraid they're going to throw it off-balance. I'm alternatively worried that the pilot is drunk or sleeping. I'm afraid that if I put my headphones in I'll miss vital instructions in the case of a crash. I am particularly uneasy when our route takes us out over the ocean because I don't want to be on one of those planes that vanishes over the sea. (Also there may be some latent fears about getting eaten by sharks...) At least if we crash over land they'll know what happened to us.

Anyhow, with our move to San Diego in the not-so-distant future, it's becoming abundantly clear to me that 2015 is the year when I will have to face my fears once again.

Normally, I can't even watch YouTube videos of bad turbulence. It makes my heart pound and my hands get sweaty. I have to turn them off. But today, I decided that the first step to conquering my fear was to force myself to watch YouTube turbulence videos (example HERE) for examples of people who did not die on planes. Since I knew I was going to get upset, I decided to employ a tactic from work: When interviewing trauma victims, you're essentially making them re-live the experience of their trauma as they talk about it (they'll even switch from talking in the past tense to the present tense). To bring them back at the end, you have them describe something about the room they're in. (Ex: "Name three green things in this room," or, "Describe how the chair feels that you're sitting in.") It grounds them in reality, and helps them to realize that they're not actually where they were just talking about. So as I was watching the videos I tried to remember: (1) The plane clearly hadn't crashed, since the video was uploaded, and (2) to look around my living room for a couple of seconds if I got freaked out, but not to turn off the video.

I realize this makes me sound like a crazy person, but I was able to do it. I have 5 months to figure out how to handle a plane ride in a civilized manner, and this was a good first step.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1/20 and 1/21/2015

The page from yesterday's prompt really says it all:


...but of course I will say something more.

I enjoy doing well at things. I, like nearly every person, enjoy it when someone recognizes that I did well at something. What I DON'T like to do is be perceived as arrogant, or blowing my own horn, or looking for accolades. Writing this blog about personal triumphs in courage is a still within my comfort zone because nobody HAS to read it. And it's more of a competition with myself to see what I can do to be more unafraid in my personal life, and not as much about bragging how brave I am. The proof of this should be that all my "braveries" are really small things to everyone else. If I was a cliff-diver I'd feel more uncomfortable about sharing.

ANYHOW, I am a TA this semester for one of my professors, and last night she had me go in to the class I'm TA-ing for to introduce myself. I did, and after I was finished talking she told them that I was leaving out a lot about myself, and went on to say some really nice things. I couldn't really have stopped her, so it wasn't really an act of bravery, but it was really uncomfortable for me to stand here in front of a group of people I don't know and hear her say that stuff. The act of bravery was in me telling myself to stop staring at my shoes, to look up while she was talking, and to thank her afterward. Definitely outside my promotion comfort zone.

Today's act of bravery has to do with my fear of the dark. My poor husband has a nagging cough that's been around since the holidays, and I was wiped out in the wee hours of the morning, so I came out to the living room to sleep on the couch. Because it was nighttime, it was dark. (Duh.) But my act of bravery was to NOT light a candle or turn on the light, but to just go to sleep. Nothing bad happened. It was fine.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

spanish.

I don't have my little book of inspirational quotes about courage with me this evening. I'm at school. I just finished eating lamb curry and naan from my favorite local restaurant, and I have 35 minutes before my Bankruptcy class begins this evening, so I thought I would take advantage of the few unscheduled minutes alone and post for the day.

Yesterday evening, my act of bravery was to send an email message to one of my undergrad Spanish professors (something I do from time-to-time just to see what's new). Yesterday, though, I sent the email in Spanish. Every time I send her a message I think I should do that, but I don't because I'm afraid that she'll be shocked by how my grammar still has problems, or that she'll think I'm an embarrassment to the foreign language department or something like that.

In the email, I explained why I was sending her the message in Spanish instead of English:

Escribo hoy en el español por causa de mi "New Year's Resolution." Es: hacer una cosa cada día que me asusta. Cada vez que envío a usted un mensaje de email pienso que debo hacerlo en español, pero tengo un poco de vergüenza porque yo sé que nunca voy a hablar (ni escribir!) con fluidez. El español no es mi idioma natal - esta nunca va a cambiar, aunque sigo aprendiendo. Pero quiero agradecerle por enseñarme. Todavía tengo algunos de los libros que usamos en la clase de literatura! Usted me enseñó no tener miedo de novela completas en español ni materiales serios y académicos. Yo sé que voy a seguir aprendiendo el español todo mi vida - pero porque usted (y la Señorita Forrester!) me enseñó no tengo miedo de enfrentar mi falta de vocabulario, o gramática, o lo que sea. Entiendo que hay un proceso, y no tengo miedo del proceso.