Did you think that courage was the absence of fear?

FEAR!      F-E-A-R!             FEEEAAAAAR!!!!

I get goosebumps even as I write the word down, mind you! Fear! Just a simple 4-letter word you would think. Not a chance honey! Fear is that one powerful word that can:

  1. change the status quo of your heart beat.
  2. allow you to froth at the mouth
  3. make you beg and plead for mercy
  4. have a million thoughts churning in your head at full throttle
  5. make an agnostic completely devout and faith-full
  6. make you take risks that you never thought possible – it’s called leap of faith maybe?
  7. ruin your appetite, give you ulcers and perhaps be the root cause of your irreversible illnesses (really? is that even possible? I thought my illnesses were because of the processed food / genetics/ rare disorder/ environment/ self-medication? And you’re saying my fear could be the root cause? So I eliminate fear and I can be cancer-free for instance? Hmm! Maybe. The point is no one can actually eliminate fear completely. Which is what I was coming to and the point of this entire post is. It’s about the conquest of fear. And replacing fear with another f-word. Guess!)
  8. make your friends into enemies
  9. give you x-ray vision and you can see ghosts where none existed
  10. help you swallow your pride and ask to be saved
  11. make strange bedfellows with greed and insecurity and allow you to feel complacent
  12. take you to the nadir of being humane without letting you on
  13. blind you to itself and weave veils of illusion around your befuddled and fearful mind
  14. make you want to be the best you can be
  15. spend sleepless nights in a toss-turn-hallucinate-toss-turn-hallucinate continuum that you fear you may never wake up from
  16. ensure all your relationships are f&%$ed!
  17. can make you wealthy and successful beyond belief
  18. can also make you aspire to be more than you can be
  19. help you survive (ever seen Bear Grylls doing his thing on Man vs. Wild? Maaan! He’s something and I think his FQ (Fear Quotient) must be pretty low. He’s seen it all, been there, done that and his belief in himself and in that other F-word keeps him going!
  20. help you value LIFE when it hits you in the solar plexus and knocks your breath out.

Because when FEAR wrestles with you, the only chance of survival is when you give yourself over completely to that other F-word! It’s 5-letters and anyone who needs miracles in their lives needs to inculcate this pronto, NOW! Dunno what I’m talking about? It’s called FAITH!

Do you know what happened before I decided to pen this post, here, right now? Firstly I was overcome by fear! Fear of:

a) Writer’s block having come to occupy me like Occupy Wall Street
b) my writing not having the power to move even an ant, let alone a human being
c) having my memory cells slowly and surely being drilled away by termites and my memory crumbling around me like powdery dust
d) my Outlook crashing/ being infected/ and all my emails disappearing (it has happened incidentally, the Good Lord knows I’m not lying and that there’s a worry gnawing away at me this very instant even as I write this (what will I do? will it mean all my emails are gone forever? why didn’t I take that back-up? will my emails be on my mail client?) and on and on like a carousel gone wild goes that inner voice of mine)
e) not remembering the movie that I saw last night and all the wonderful dialogues that made an impression on me and made me think of writing a blog post on that
f) just not having flow  – you know the stuck-ness that you feel sometimes where nothing that you say or write sounds right? It’s like trying to get into a tee-shirt or jeans that’s too tight – you wriggle, you jump, you shake – nothing! It won’t budge.

That’s like 6 friggin’ things that went through my mind as I was logging in to write my post after a week. In the space of maybe 10 mins. What the F#$@! Another F-word! Sheesh!
And then I realised that no one, no human being can ever have the absence of fear. In fact if you don’t fear anything then that’s a fearful space to be in. Because fear helps you survive, helps you decide, helps you take that leap of faith and be superhuman sometimes.

As long as you don’t allow fear to paralyse you into taking those risks, those actions that allow you to fulfill your potential, you’re okay. As long as you look fear in the eye, you’ll be fine. As long as you can outrun, outgun, outsmart fear and confront it without blinking, without taking a step back, without hesitating, you’ll be fine.

Because fear cannot, should not be eliminated. It’s about sifting it, learning to understand what it’s egging you to do, then you can conquer it, turn it around and make it your best friend. If fear allows you to go out there without second-guessing yourself, allowing FAITH to have your back, that’s the time to sport the badge of courage. Because courage is not the absence of fear, but it’s conquest. I did it just now. I couldn’t think of words to write. I was fear-full. Then I closed my eyes, meditated and my Faith came back on, blazing headlights et al. I won today! Yes!!

Go forth! Stand tall! Crush it!!

And while you’re doing that, try this one on for size – sing this song imagining that you’re singing to a girl/ guy called ‘fear’. Have fun! Peace out!

I want to be Carrie Bradshaw. Don’t you?

Sex & The City has become a cult classic if I may say so. It’s the modern 20th / 21st century woman’s ode to her own coming of age, with a no-holds-barred-I’m-doing-it-my-way kind of tone and attitude that really sparked off a huge interest. Of course with the fashion and the good looking men and the sparkling wit and repartee thrown in, it was a sure-fire winner.

4 women who are all beautiful, successful and have their own unique personalities navigate their lives, loves, travails and joys with each other and pivots around Carrie Bradshaw. Sassy, talented, single, magazine columnist, self-proclaimed lover of all things luxurious including Manolo Blahniks, assured in her own sexuality and who was fearless in her desire to seek, find and keep love. The all-consuming, electric, breathless, forever and forever kind of love. Was she successful? I don’t know how the series ended, but the movies that followed had her marrying the man of her choice, the love of her life, ‘Big’. Lucky Carrie! I want to be like Carrie. Here’s why:

I want to be sassy like Carrie, sure and comfortable in my own skin, not afraid to show the world my warts et al. More importantly not afraid of waking up in the morning, looking into the mirror and saying, “hello beautiful” despite the mascara streak lining my cheek or my hair standing up on end like I’d had an electric shock.

Carrie Bradshaw quotes

Eventually it all falls into place

I want to be a free flowing writer like Carrie. Writing from the heart, writing it as I see it and writing that connects. Without worrying about comparisons, without worrying about the ‘likes’, without worrying about the ‘followers’. Of course Carrie was a columnist and if she didn’t have a following she’d be off, but am saying, she wrote in a way that connected. I don’t know if can, if I am connecting, yet. Of course I write, but it’s riddled with self-doubt, but then again, show me one writer who isn’t riddled or anxious or brooding about their craft.

I want to be fearless about my sexuality and not keep it under wraps (figuratively speaking). I didn’t choose to be born a woman and so why should I be guilty or shamefaced about having needs and wants like normal healthy human beings do? And why should I be branded for expressing or fulfilling those needs? One-night stands, 3 month-old relationships, FWB (Friends with Benefits) or whatever, the point is, if it feels right, it assuages a need and doesn’t leave you an emotional wreck, go ahead, be yourself. Caveat – know yourself first, love yourself first, be unapologetic about yourself first – and then go about living your life.

I want to be assured and confident about the way I look and create my own style statement instead of following a trend. I want to be the trend-setter and not the trend-follower. I want to wear my clothes like my own skin because what can be more comfortable than that?

I want to be a hopeful, forever. Never ever giving up on hope for myself. Never ever doubting that there is love out there and not just any kind of love, but that all-consuming, electric, breathtaking, heart-blazing kind of love and it will be come into my life. Yeah, the “I’m all in” kind of “all or nothing” love. Fingers crossed.

Carrie Bradshaw quotes

Be a free spirit. Be unafraid of who you are.

I want to be passionate about life. Friends and family and loved ones, giving them my all. Not being stingy with love, support or balanced observations – if you strip that euphemism it really means that saying it like it is, without hiding under hyperboles or massaging anyone’s ego. Your loved ones deserve the truth and you know what they say about truth right? It may be bitter, but it’s the one that sets you free :).

I want to have a crazy following like Carrie Bradshaw. But yet remain unaffected by it and stay true to my calling and my craft and my purpose. Purpose? Aah, now that requires a whole new conversation around it but sure, purpose. Life is what we make of it and if I have a PoV why not share it, maybe you’ll feel the same?

Carrie Bradshaw quotes

To err is human

I want to have crazy, dizzying success – with love, relationships and career. Oh yeah, I want to live the dream life, tears, heartbreaks and misplaced Manolo Blahniks notwithstanding. To live fully, fearlessly and passionately. Am getting there, it’s a rocky road and right now if you ask me, I’d probably show you a tear-streaked face and wail, “I’m doomed to never find love.” :). But like Scarlett O’Hara said, “tomorrow is another day.”

I want my life to be as succulent and moist and orgasmic as a chocolate walnut pastry with oodles of chocolate sauce where every mouthful sends you into “OOOOH” land and makes you want more and more. Heaven!

I don’t want to be Carrie Bradshaw mind you. But I like the essence of the free spirit, independent, vulnerable yet strong, affected yet pure, flawed yet so real, daringly passionate and unafraid-to-go-with-her-gut and feelings even if it means breaking someone else’s heart kind of woman. She’s real in many ways and yet since she’s a character from a book, now cult classic TV show and movies, she perhaps also nestles in the realm of “unattainable” and “it only happens on TV”. But what the hell, I want to be like her.

I’ve given my list of ‘why I want to be Carrie Bradshaw’, it’d be great to hear from you if you’d like to be like her or someone else who is your role model and why. Share, share, share. Sharing is caring.

And oh yeah, while you try on your shoes tonight and get ready to wear that dress and paint the town red, listen to this gorgeous song and groove baby. You go, woman!

You know me. You don’t mind waiting.
You just can’t show me, but God I’m praying,
That you’ll find me, and that you’ll see me,
That you run and never tire.

What have you failed at today?

I was listening to this interview that Jonathan Fields had with Sarah Lewis and she mentioned something there about Sarah Blakley, the founder of the multi-million dollar company Spanx, whose story incidentally is an inspirational read for every one of us who dares to dream of doing something daring. So anyway, in the interview, Sarah Lewis (they both share the same name, just realised) apparently talks about how her father would ask her and her brother at the dinner table, “so what did you fail at today?”.

Pause. Mull. Take the question in an imaginary glass, sniff it, sip it, roll it over your tongue and then swallow it. Does it create a warm fuzzy feeling as it slides down your throat or do you start spluttering because it just wouldn’t go down well with you?

What have I failed at today? Little do we realise that it’s our failures really, all the small ones, the big ones, the stupid ones, the funny ones, the egg-on-your-face ones, any kind of mistakes, failures and slip-ups are what teaches us to be smarter about it the next time. If little gorgeous miraculous babies were to give up at the first instance of a fall when they’re first starting to get over the crawl and learn to walk, well we’d all still be crawling on our fours wouldn’t we? Doesn’t it strike you as strange that as we grow up, more aware, more insightful, the things that we dared to earlier, only get more and more fearful as time passes by. We fear:

a) ridicule – the egg-on-my-face, what-will-people-say moments when we fail (notice I say when, because failure is a certainty that we honestly don’t want to embrace)

b) comparison – she did-it-so-well and she’s so goddammed successful why can’t it happen to me or with me or to me? Yeah. Stop. Did you ever ask “her” or “him” about his journey to the success that you have ascribed them to? Why don’t you ask and be prepared to hear about their travails?

c) judgement – now this one is a classic irony – we yearn to be successful because success to most of us is about the external approbation and the applause and the camera flashes popping in our faces and the people gushing about how “successful” we are. Yet, yet we fear these very people’s judgement about us if we’re not. What is success if not a judgement by the very people we fear of failing in front of? (Now that’s a tweetable).

d) censure – people who have our backs will always encourage us to go out and really s-t-r-e-t-c-h our limits and bask in the flowering of our potential as we do so. The muscle of potential really does get all warmed up as we s-t-r-e-t-c-h and practice everyday. Slowly, little by little by little we get better. Watch The Karate Kid, one of my favourite movies, to understand how practice helps. But we don’t want to put our time and effort into it. We want mastery in a day, sorry, in an instant, NOW. And when we fail, we are afraid of censure. Are we strange or what?

e) being left behind – we’re not rats, yet we call it a ‘rat race’. We’re not rats, yet we have books alluding to rat food, “who moved my cheese”?. In fact if you see ant behaviour (and there are myrmecologists who’ve devoted their lives to the study of these wonderful tiny creatures with big hearts and will), you’ll be blown away by their intrinsic discipline that is so individualistic and yet works so amazingly in groups (read this fascinating article on Swarm Theory here) as well. So why are we equating ‘living’ to a race? I just want to live freely, happily, connectedly, joyously and doing my own ‘thang’. Why should I be afraid of you? Beats me. Always has, but the heartbreaking truth is that we end up beating ourselves over it. We’re our own worst enemies.

f) not coming first – winning is everything. Or not. Depends on how you want to look at life. And how you define winning. Winning, success, failure, are not just adjectives in the language of life. They can make or mar us. Coming first in school I remember was the ‘big’ thing for me. When I came 2nd when I was in the 4th grade and got rebuked by my folks, I honestly felt like I’d let them down. That was perhaps the beginning of ‘wanting to please other people’, and the fear of failure. It’s okay isn’t it if you don’t come first? But then the guy with the podium finish is the one who gets all the endorsements. Ha!

g) shame – what does shame mean to you? this is perhaps the most inexplicable yet one of the most powerful emotions that can elicit a visceral reaction, can have us bound like a mummy in our own fears and keep us from truly blossoming out into the fabulous human beings we are. Shame. I hate that 5 letter word. Because we internalise it, we make it about ‘me’, we make it about ‘not being enough’ we make it about ‘never being good enough’ and we eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Jesus! We need to chew it and spit it out.

h) guilt – what is guilt? is the flipside of shame? Perhaps it is. It gnaws at your innards, brews toxic emotions and suffuses your being with this toxicity that is a drug that you are addicted to all your life. No amount of detox helps. Guilt has you firmly in its grip. But guilty of what? If I have to be convicted for:
being myself, being flawed, being quirky, being imperfect, being ‘too much’, being my true unique self, being non-conformist, being politically gauche or savvy, being a free ranger, being anything goddammit that is at its core being human, then yes, I am guilty. I want to listen to the beat of my own drummer, not yours. Is that alright or what?

When and if we are able to traverse this rocky road of the fear of failure, it is then and only then that we come to a self-assured, perhaps tranquil and “indifferent to a world-view that defines success” place. Yes, it is only then that we have truly arrived. It is time we rejigged our internal GPS to point us in a direction that is N-E-W-S (North, East, West, South). How does it matter? It’s your direction, your definition, your path, your life. Go fail.

And while you do so, please do share with me how you failed today, or tomorrow, and what you learnt from those failures? Did you feel misery, shame, guilt or were you able to take it all in your stride? Sharing is caring, I invite you to do so. Lots of love.