Life changing changes require sticking with what’s going on. No easy task. It means being uncomfortable. It means having your heart jump every time somebody calls or says something. And it means no going back. If you can withstand the pressure, then like a phoenix you will raise from your old self into your new self.
I am going through such a time myself. The pillars of my life are being shaken. Intellectually I know where I need to go, but now is the time to take myself there also emotionally and psychologically. I must confess it isn’t easy. But I have not given up on what I know to be right. So I’m going through the stress of one foot here and one foot there; meaning one foot in the old self and one foot in the new self. But I am fully aware if I put my two feet in the old self, I will only find myself again in this same situation in some time in the future. But if I do endure the anxiety and the fear all the way till I cross to the other side, I will have accomplished my own transformation.
So much is going on in the world these days. So many of us loosing so much. And so many putting their community ahead of themselves.
Fame, money and power are the qualities we have chosen as a people to measure worth and accomplishments. We read and watch news about celebrities with excitement. “He is dating her and she is dating him. She has a baby and he is no longer with her.” We would take the opportunity to shake the hands of a celebrity and consider it to be a milestone in our lives. We know nothing about them as people, but we are impressed by what they represent. And what is that? A film written by a writer in their home and produced by men and women who either believe it to be of critical importance or that will make them loads of money?
My friend Claire Pascal started a blog called A Year Of Good Deeds.
Claire is a very special woman. She’s a writer and a teacher.
When 9/11 happened it touched her so profoundly she went to Yale to study theology. She needed a different kind of knowledge to understand or at least to cope better with devastation.
My friend Claire looks at life and people with profound respect and understanding. She’s kind to others as well and to herself. She’s fallen many times without ever losing her heart. And for that she has my admiration. It is not easy to fall, truly see oneself down, get up and still be opened to the world.
As Claire writes about herself she lets us in her humanity and we are all better off for that.
Below is Claire’s statement about the birth of her blog.
A HAPPIER LIFE
So my life fell apart. I couldn’t deny my alcoholism anymore, a dear friend died, and then my marriage tore apart–wrenching and painful. To recover from the wreck I’ve become, I’m conducting an experiment: I will do one good deed a day. I’m hoping this helps me peek out from my miserable self-absorption and perhaps do a tiny bit of good for the world. Will this make me or anyone else happier?
A THOUSAND CONNECTIONS
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I just got back from an AA meeting and I stand corrected about the saying: “Give 100% expecting nothing back.” Here’s the more accurate version: “Give 100% because it’s free and fun expecting nothing back not even a thank you.” A tougher version. Now I have to have fun while I’m giving without expecting a reward.
Good deeds today: Flowers for my AA sponsor. A thank you note to the woman guard at the entrance of my condo complex. She’s the only female guard and she always waves and smiles at me when I come home late at night from work, which is often…Continued
There is a “good fear” and a “bad fear”.
The “good fear” is a mechanism that goes into place when something harmful is about to happen to us to increase our ability to survive the event. In this case certain areas in our brains such as the amygdala and the hypothalamus are activated to control the first physical response to fear. Chemicals such as adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol are released into the blood stream causing certain physical reactions such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Tightening of muscles
- Sharpened or redirected senses
- Dilation of the pupils (to let in more light)
- Increased sweating
All of these reactions take place to help us focus and do what we must to survive.
Now the “bad fear” is a consequence of our interpretation of who we are in society and how society sees us. And it is often not real.
I’ve experienced fear and its first cousin anxiety in small and large doses throughout my life.
First the big doses:
When leaving a bad eleven year relationship where I was emotionally and psychologically dominated, I wondered if I would survive. I was then told by my partner I would never be anything without him. I fearfully wondered if that was true.
When I lost a job and my financial security because I was involved with a man who talked me into doing something that became a professional conflict of interest, I went on downwards spiral blaming myself for what I had done to my own life. The blame was so great, it created an overwhelming state of anxiety.
When I knew Chris was dying, I experienced tremendous fear of what the last moment would be like and all the moments after.
These are just some of the huge events that happened in my life that brought tremendous anxiety into my mind and system. But in each circumstance I went through the following steps:
- Slowed my breath down
- Carefully analyzed the situation
- Accessed my courage to accept the situation at hand
- Reminded myself life is a learning experience
- Reminded myself I still had life ahead to experience and change what needed to change
- Thought of realistic steps – even if baby steps – to take to come out of my situation
What about fear of saying or doing what we think because we don’t know how we will be perceived?
1. I won’t approach him or her because they are going to know I like them. And what if they reject me? What happens to my self-esteem?
2. I won’t share my idea because what if others think I’m silly or stupid?
3. I won’t tell others what I really want because if I don’t get it, others may think of me as a looser.
This type of fear is crippling and it’s self-created. It often originates from a place within where we are not sure of who we are and of our own worth. When I have these fears this is what I do:
- Who cares? I ask myself. Don’t make everything in your life so serious. So if you tell a guy you are interested and he rejects you, does that mean you are not worthy? NO. Who knows why he rejected me. Maybe I reminded him of his mother J There is no movement forward without risk. If I want something I have to come out of your shell and ask for it.
- Because something doesn’t work out it doesn’t mean I’m less than. It just means it didn’t work out. I move on. I’ve learned not to make everything a judgment on who I am and what my worth is.
The more I get to know myself the more I learn to rely on my instincts and to respect my own values. As long as I am in harmony within “bad fear” is something I can process and eliminate fairly quickly.
I hope this makes sense to you. And if you are in fear, remember, all of us no matter who we are dealing with our own.
Last night I went with a friend to see LA’s last performance of Next to Normal, winner of 3 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. The musical is about mental illness. A subject one wouldn’t usually associate with singing – there is no dancing in this musical.
My friend, who is also a therapist and I really enjoyed the musical. As I was driving home we talked about mental illness and finding acceptance and peace in our own lives.
One of the great values of films and plays is the opportunity they offer us to see situations and relationships through others points of view. They create a safe environment – because we are not personally involved – and then present us with a situation played out by the different characters.
In my life I have been close to a few people suffering from mental illness.
The New Year is upon us. For the first time in a very long time I’m seeing this New Year differently. Let me explain; obviously there isn’t a concrete separation between 2010 and 2011. It is not like a bell goes off and all about your life in 2010 ends and the slate is blank. But, there might be a psychological opportunity that if we want we can make use of.
I am on my way to Miami, Florida to work on a film. I brought with me for the four and a half hours of flying, a memoir a woman who reads my posts sent me. I’ve had the manuscript for a few weeks but knowing it was a story of loss, I was giving myself time to prepare to make the descent back into my own history which undoubtedly her account would take me to.
The woman’s husband was diagnosed with brain cancer after months of irrational behavior which had everyone thinking he was either on drugs, having an affair or a nervous breakdown. As I read her painful and touching words, my hands slide down the ropes of my past. I’m going down.
I put the pages on the empty seat next to me and think; all of us go through life loosing pieces of ourselves. It is as if we are all born with leprosy. Each new loss another part of us is left behind.
This is a very inspiring video. Please watch.
My life is about projects. I’m a producer and I am a writer. I either get hired to produce other people’s projects – like now I’m working on a special effects film for someone else – or I originate my own projects. At any time, I’m personally working on at least 4 different projects. Because film, TV, books, webisodes, take a long time to come to fruition (sometimes 10 years) I have had to learn to enjoy the process.
The 10 years that take for a feature film to come together is marred by disappointments, frustrations and setbacks. As a producer if I don’t find a way to get something out of the process, I will never make it to the end. The same as in life.
We all have goals we want to achieve so we work towards them. Sometimes these goals take a long time to happen and in the process of getting there, life continues to unfold.
What am I talking about? Here it goes: “A nice girl wouldn’t act this way”, “ A responsible man wouldn’t do this or that?”.
We have created labels and now we struggle between living our lives as we see it and living up to and within the labels that we have helped create.
So let’s be real honest; good girls sometimes want to be sexual while still being good mothers, girlfriends, friends, and neighbors. Strong men sometimes need to be vulnerable and have a good cry.
These labels, established by society and embraced by us, only serve to stop us to fully being ourselves and living our lives without guilt.