Do It Anyway

Today I got an email from Dr. Susan Jeffers. Actually, it was a newsletter that I receive every month, but this one was quite different from the others. It was an obituary. Dr. Jeffers died of cancer in October, and someone who loved her sent the monthly newsletter. Among other works, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway influenced millions of people, including yours truly, and this evening, I’m copying and pasting something from this book that I wrote in a psychcentral blog about a year ago. Here goes:

From reading past posts, I’ve realized that self-help and personal development are among the most popular topics. For that reason, I’m re-reading 50 Self-Help Classics by Tom Butler-Bowden and choosing a few that I think you might find both interesting and helpful.

One of the classics reviewed by Butler-Bowdon is entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. The author, Dr. Susan Jeffers, says that people see fear in the wrong way, and that it’s actually a green light to keep going. Trepidation is undeniably real, but we just need to push forward, to feel the fear and do it anyway. Sure, security and routine are safe, but can’t they be a little risky if they prevent you from living a full life?

Dr. Jeffers says we need energizing every day, and that just like breakfast energizes and fuels our body, reading inspirational quotes and books fuels our psyches. Take control of your mental inputs, Jeffers advises. Say things like, “I am a confident person in every situation.” Never be fearful of mistakes. Lighten up and be happy that you had the experience…that you tried. Wouldn’t be awful to come to the end of your life and still be thinking coulda, shoulda, woulda?  From teaching Human Growth and Development, I’ve learned that the #1 regret of elderly people is that they DIDN’T give things a try, that they let their fears hold them back. By that time, it’s too late to make that call, start that business, write that article, or fly around the world

Jeffers offers a perfect example of how she worked through humans’ #1 fear, rejection.  These are her words lifted right from her website:  “It took many, many rejections before my first book, FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY, was finally accepted by a publisher. The worst rejection letter I ever got was that “Lady Di could be bicycling nude down the street giving this book away and nobody would read it.” Can you imagine being told that? I bet that publisher has regretted that snide comment hundreds of times. What if Jeffers had listened? What if she had given up? What if she had felt the fear and stopped?

Are you going to be one of those people who allow fear to stop you from taking chances, or are you going to be courageous? Why not start small?  Think of one thing, just one thing, you can be brave about today and DO IT! Oh, and share it on this blog. Who knows? Your courage might inspire someone else.


Yes and No

I’m not sure what the secret is to a long and happy life. Some say it’s to stay engaged and productive while others declare that diet and exercise are vital. While those ideas have great merit, lately I’ve been reminded that knowing when to say yes and when to say no are also important.

Sometimes you need to say a resounding yes while at other times, you need to say NO as loudly and as clearly as possible. Saying yes to new experiences and opportunities can be a good thing. A week or so ago, I saw that several people had posted a list of 100 things they wanted to eat before they died, and although I didn’t open the link and read the list, I must admit that I did start thinking about all of the tastes, textures, and appearances of food that I have yet to taste. Heck, until five years ago, I hadn’t tasted Panini bread, and now I love it. The same goes for Greek yogurt, especially the kind with the fruit on the bottom. Yum. Yesterday I tasted fruit salsa. Double yum.

Saying yes to opportunities is crucial to one’s growth as a developing, evolving human. Whether its traveling to different countries or accepting a personal challenge, stretching ourselves keeps us from getting in a rut. While the rut might be comfortable and safe, after a while it can become dull and stagnant. Who wants that?

Saying no to the right person at the right time is important too. Some of my biggest time drains have been doing something just because someone asked me to do it. It might be a supervisor, a family member, a friend, or even one of my children’s teachers who was making the request. Because of my inability to say, “No, find someone else,” I’d find myself agreeing to work overtime, bake the brownies, teach the extra class, or make yet another cash contribution. Once I succumbed to the not so gentle pressure to give blood and nearly passed out. Seriously.

These days, I follow Ann Lamott’s quote: “No is a complete sentence.” I don’t  have to explain or offer some kind of lame excuse about why I can’t or won’t give in to the request. No. No period. Don’t try using guilt with me or preaching to me about my moral responsibilites.

Here’s what I’m saying yes to: kisses from grandchildren, any and every opportunity to Skype or have Face Time with my children or grandchildren, healthy food, exercise, travel, meeting new people, walking in the rain (well, mist), drinking rich dark chocolate, being kinder, learning new things (including vocabulary words), and walking on the beach. The picture above was taken from a lighthouse in Hunting Island State Park. Saying no to the arduous climb would have been easier, but saying yes gave me that awesome view.

I’m saying no to fear, dream slayers, negative energy, gossip, and sloth. And a big NO to being around people who bring me down either physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Yep, I plan to sidestep those folks and their negative energy field as much as possible.

So basically, I’m saying YES to life and love and to whatever helps me to develop as a person. And do you know why? It’s because if I take care of Jayne, then there’s more of her (me) to share with others.

Only if You Promise Not to Squander

A incident that occurred yesterday afternoon later prompted so much insight that I’d have to call it a revelation.

A incident that occurred yesterday afternoon later prompted so much insight that I’d have to call it a revelation.

In Columbia, I was at an exit near Fort Jackson and Forest Drive. I was about the fourth car in line, and as I sat waiting for the light to change I noticed a young man with a sign. Based on his attire, woebegone expression, and overall appearance, I didn’t have to read his sign to know that he was asking for money or food. The woman in the car in front of me rolled down her window and handed him some money.

Should I or shouldn’t I? Scrounging through my pocketbook, I found two whole dollars. What a huge amount! So I rolled my window down too, and he came over and got the money. He was very appreciative and said, “God bless you, Ma’am.”I wasn’t feeling particularly pious, but I did have a fleeting thought about the “when you have done it unto the least of these….” scripture. I gave him the money because he needed it and I had it. What he did with it is his business.

I went on to Hobby Lobby on a fruitless search for buttons and then to Sam’s for some goodies like grapes and bread. In Sam’s, I also browsed around taking in the selection of clothes and books while putting together some ideas for Christmas gifts. How could I not do so when I saw the Christmas décor? As always, I felt a bit whelmed at the huge selection of stuff lining the aisles. I was also struck by the juxtaposition of the haves and the have nots in our country and thought of the young man at the exit.

That’s when it hit me, the insight about the man at the exit. I’ve heard and read comments about how a person shouldn’t give money to the homeless or needy. Buying them a meal or giving them an article of clothing is a good idea, but giving them money is foolish (according to my reading and listening). After all, you never know what “these people” are going to do with it. They could buy alcohol or drugs! Do you really want to contribute to that???

Drum roll please. Here’s the revelation (at last) I got yesterday. Every single person walking the earth has got some talent, gift, or aptitude that is going to waste. People let their fear of failure, rejection, or ridicule keep them from developing and using their God-given gifts. In other words, they squander them. Question: What if God decided not to give any of us any gifts because He thought we might not use them the way He wants us to?

Whether it’s material wealth or a talent of some sort, it’s a gift from Him to you. You might say, “I have this wealth because I worked like the dickens. God didn’t give it to me.” But who gave you the energy and ability to work?? Do you see what I’m getting at? If you’ve been given an aptitude for singing, dancing, golfing, drawing, writing, telling jokes, nursing, constructing, leading, organizing, selling, or anything else and you aren’t using it, then to me you’re just like the person who takes monetary gifts and uses them to buy alcohol and drugs.

I’m just glad my Creator is more generous than we are. I’m glad He doesn’t withhold our gifts unless we promise not to squander them.

Bravely Taking a Step

Fear of the unknown, fear of change, and even fear of success (FOS) can prevent people from living their dreams. Sometimes, however, playing it safe is the riskiest choice a person can make. By this time next week, my friend and his family will be strolling around the viaduct in Auckland trying to decide which trendy café or restaurant to dine in. Where will you be?

My friend Connie posted a link to a blog on courage on her facebook page today, and it reminded me of how much we all need to be a little braver (or maybe a lot braver) in living our lives. Last week, a former colleague of mine took a HUGE step towards changing his life, and I’ve been thinking of how difficult it must have been for him to step out of the security of his life and literally fly into a new one.

I missed Ray (a.k.a. Mr. Hines) at work yesterday morning. He’s the math instructor who’s been teaching in the classroom next to the room where I keep a couple of office hours on MW’s.  I’ve listened to his math lectures since January, and I’ve often admired his enthusiasm and diligence.

He didn’t call in sick. And no, he didn’t get fired. He’s on his way to Auckland, New Zealand, a beautiful area that he’s always wanted to visit. Recently he and his wife found teaching positions there, and they decided to go for it. They sold their home, cars, and much of their furniture. What they couldn’t sell, they gave away. “Carpe diem” is their motto…or one of them at least.

Some people might say, “Well, it’s easy for them. They probably don’t have a family.” Actually, they do. The parents of two young sons, Ray and his wife have parents and other extended family members who live in the United States. They’ll be missed. Other people might say, “They’re nuts to sell everything they own to go off on an adventure like that. It’s downright foolhardy!” Regardless of what anyone might say, this young family will soon be enjoying some of the sights and sounds of the beautiful South Pacific. They had the courage to pursue their dreams, and if things don’t work out, they’ll move back.

In psychology, we often talk about the paralyzing effect that fear can have. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, and even fear of success (FOS) can prevent people from living their dreams. Sometimes, however, playing it safe is the riskiest choice a person can make.

By this time next week, Ray and his family might be strolling around the viaduct in Auckland trying to decide which trendy café or restaurant to dine in. Where will you be? Will you still be saying, “Someday, I’m going to….”?

Reba’s Reminder

While I was out walking earlier this evening, I was listening to my iPod and thinking of how much truth there is in country music. Reba reminded me of that as she confidently belted out “Consider Me Gone.”

I don’t remember all of the words and am too lazy/disinclined to look them up right now, so you’ll have to be content with this paraphrase:

“If I’m not the one thing you can’t stand to lose,
If I’m not that arrow to the heart of you,
If you don’t get drunk on my kiss,
If you think you can do better than this,
Then I guess we’re done,
Consider me gone.”

Go Reba! Tell it like it is. This song reminded me that everybody deserves the very best that life and love have to offer.  I repeat EVERYBODY deserves the BEST. No exceptions. So why don’t more people realize that? You don’t have to settle. You don’t have to take leftovers or crumbs. You deserve the best. Truly, you do. And if you’re in a “relationship” with someone who thinks he or she can do better or who doesn’t get drunk on your kiss, bid them adieu.

Yes, it will be painful. Yes, you might be alone for a while. Is that any worse than being with someone who’s lukewarm about you???  Someone who neither appreciates nor respects you? Again, you deserve the best, something that Etta James calls “A Sunday Kind of Love.”

Always Too Early to Quit

Norman Vincent Peale

 Ever get stuck on a project? Ever feel like whenever you take one step forward, you take two steps back? Ever feel like throwing in the towel and giving up on something you’ve been working on? I have. I think one of the things that holds me back is time…yes, and maybe lack of focus too. Like you, I have 168 hours per week to do things, and yet my hours seem to be frittered away by details, especially those involved with making a buck. I’m not complaining, just sayin’. 

Whenever I feel discouraged, I love reading success stories, especially those that come about after a few trials and tribulations. It’s a bit disheartening to read about instant success if you’ve been plodding and planning and trying your dead level best to succeed at something and have it come to naught. From what I can pick up, however, that’s not how it usually happens. 

Someone once said (maybe you can provide the source of this quote) that most overnight successes take about 20 years. While it might seem easy and quick to the outsider looking in, achieving major accomplishments takes time, effort, and maybe even a little help from above. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? 

This morning I’m thinking of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, minister and prolific writer. The only book I’m familiar with is his famous The Power of Positive Thinking.  Published in 1952 and translated into at least 42 languages, this book was once rejected so many times that he gave up on it. The story I heard is that he threw the crumpled manuscript into the trashcan and forbade his wife to remove. Evidently, she had more confidence in his work than he did because she took the trashcan, manuscript within, to a publisher who saw the “power” of the book and took a chance on Peale’s seminal work. 20 million copies later, the book is still going strong. 

I often spout his quote, “Change your thoughts and you change your world,” in classes when cognitive psychology is being discussed. It’s a simple, yet powerful thought. This morning I came across an even shorter one that I’m going to keep in mind: “It is always too early to quit.” 

I KNOW that if my friends and I get frustrated with our project progress, then there are others who do the same. From now on, I’m going to remind myself of Peale’s advice. It worked for him.