Thursday, July 19, 2007

Liberation


Well, that was fun yesterday, talking about what scares us. You guys seem to be game for almost anything, as long as it doesn't involve squid. I think we can pretty much avoid squid here at A,SMoL, which isn't to say we'll never get into deep water. Ho ho ho.

Speaking of which. . .there were hints of this in the comments yesterday, but I'd like to take this a little further. Have you ever gotten over a deep fear? Was it just a matter of growing up? Or, have there been fears you consciously set out to conquer? Any fears you tried to beat, but didn't? Fears you think you ought to conquer, but just can't work up the nerve to do it yet? And have you ever done something just because it scared you?

I was a timid child when it came to going on any adventure scarier than reading Nancy Drew novels, so most of my getting-over-fear has been on purpose. I was scared of heights. So I climbed a construction ladder 80 feet to the top of a train station. Over time, I got scared of flying. So I took some flying lessons. I was frightened of skiing, so I skied. (No, that is NOT me in the photo.) I was scared to quit my day jobs and write fiction full time. So one day I called every client I had, and give them 30 days notice. I was terrified--scared to death--to talk to an agent for the first time. So I signed up to do it. (She accepted me, and we're still together.) If I hadn't done all of those and other things, I'd still be the timid little girl I used to be--and still am at the thought of ferris wheels, scuba diving, and ever getting married again!

I got over my growing fear of flying by taking flying lessons, but really, that's nuts, because there is no logical connection. Just because I flew a little two-seater a few times should have no bearing on the comfort I feel in the back of a 747, but it does. The illusion of control is a wonderful thing. Feelings of safety can be just as illusory as feelings of danger, but they're a damn sight more comfortable!

Personally, I think that stretching my fear boundaries is good for my writing, and probably healthy for my relationships, too. I haven't skiied for years, but sometimes I still use it mentally to prepare me for something that scares me--I picture myself whizzing smoothly down a mountain, zipping over moguls, and having a fabulous time.

There's fear. . .and there's liberation from fear. The Big Whew. I guess that's what mystery and suspense novels are about. Maybe most novels are, and maybe life is about that, too?

How do you deal with fear?

See you in the comments. . .unless you're too scared to go there. :)

49 comments:

Nancy P said...

G'morning, friends.

If you're out there wanting to jump into this pond, but feeling shy or having problems getting logged on, email me at the address in my profile. I'll be very happy to help or encourage you.

As for you old blog codgers, do you remember when you were nervous about making your first comment on a blog? First there was figuring out how to do it, then the decision about a name, then the first plunge, and then waiting to see if anybody responded and if they called you an idiot. I'm pretty sure my very first blog comment was at the original Daily Kos, where the odds of being called an idiot were fairly high, even then, so I've been doing this for awhile. It's easy to forget how shy a newbie can feel.

And then after I plunged in, I couldn't stop talking. It has been so much fun.

Nancy P said...

No, wait! It wasn't Daily Kos, it was the original Howard Dean blog. That was such a friendly--though eventually annoying--place that it was easy to participate.

One of the scariest things I ever did as a liberal Dem was to register as a Republican for a while here in Kansas. :) I wanted to be able to vote for the moderate candidates in the primaries, so I'd have at least some say in the elections. Eventually, after, oh say 2000, I just had to switch back.

Nancy P said...

Man, I am chatty Nancy this morning.

I would take scuba diving lessons to get over that fear, but it would require wearing a swimming suit, and THAT is a terror I have no intention of conquering.

Family Man said...

Good morning Nancy.

Fears. My two biggest are snakes and heights. I really don't see me getting over snakes, but I have done the height thing before.

I remember my first comments. The first was at kos and I was called stupid. Only comment I ever made there. Then I got into the Welcome Wagon at the Trib and just went from there. I think a lot of people do have a fear of jumping in. I know I did, but as you can see, I left that fear far behind.

Hope you and everyone have a good day.

Nancy P said...

Hi, family man! I hope you got some sleep this week.

Personally, I don't think you (generically speaking)really get over a fear until you've done a countering behavior enough times to feel confident. I'd need to climb that construction ladder a dozen more times before I really began to beat that fear of heights. On the way up, I kept telling myself, "construction workers run up and down these things every day."

The Froggy Bottom Cafe introduced me to the joy of blogging in a place where people are nice to each other. Like here and at your place.

Family Man said...

I told the story awhile back about when I was in college, a friend and I had climbed a fire tower. He didn't have any problem with heights and because of a few drinks, I had none also. We climb up the steps and I have no problem. Like an idiot, I decided we're going to climb down the side of the tower. I get about a quarter of the way down and I'm sitting on a long thin piece of metal with a hand in front of me and a hand in back. In an instant the movie "Vertigo" was real. Everything telescoped out, and I could see myself laying dead on the ground. It took my friend about 10 minutes to talk me into putting my foot about three feet over to the platform. Needless to say, I haven't done fire towers since. Obviously that wasn't trying to overcome a fear, that was just shear stupidity. :)

Yep the Froggy Bottom Lounge did the same with me. I don't think I would be blogging as much if there hadn't been so many nice and kind people who were very encouraging.

Nancy P said...

Oh, god, family man, I can just imagine!

A few drinks used to make me brave, too, but it made me just as stupid. Sooo much better to do these things sober! Cause then we won't actually DO some of them. :)

My first ski instructor had to talk me down a mountain. Man, did he look exasperated! And I got halfway up that construction ladder and told the experienced person ahead of me, "I don't think I can do this." He talked me up the rest of the way, and I was so glad he did.

Another moral. . .don't do these things alone!!

Beth said...

Morning, folks! I rolled a car on black ice, and then was petrified to drive on icy roads again - or what even appeared to be an icy road. Panic attacks - crying - you name it - as soon as winter hit, I was a mess. Barely went anywhere I didn't have to go, and drove very slowly when I did - almost caused accidents being a granny driver in inappropriate places.

Until I met a woman who raced cars on frozen lakes. ON ICE. It took a while, but I convinced myself that if she could actually RACE a car on ice, then I could most likely DRIVE one on it and not die.

So I managed that one. I hate it less now, but I'm also moving to FL for the winter! :-)

I have my own blog, but this is the first time I've participated in someone else's. It's been a great experience - you all are so welcoming!

GreenMinute said...
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Nancy P said...

Beth, can you give us a link to your blog?

A race driver on ice? Wow. Sounds kinda fun, but only if we could do spins with nobody else within crashing distance. The first chapter of my curent novel has a scene kind of like you described, and a lot of people have told me they have experienced that helpless feeling on ice. Me, too. I was a passenger twirling toward a bridge abuttment which we didn't, thank god, hit.

It's sooo helpful to have examples like your race driver, or my construction works, in mind.

Nancy P said...

Beth, is it the link in your profile? Cause that's not working for some reason.

Nancy P said...

green. . .lol!

Beth said...

My blog is http://bhanggeli.blogspot.com. I'll check the link, Nancy - thanks!

I started it when I sailed around the world with Semester at Sea in Fall 2005. Those entries were a lot of fun - hard to be boring when you're walking barefoot around the Taj Mahal or climbing the Great Wall of China. Your entries here inspire me, N - I need to tweak mine a little to reflect my change in direction these days.

Good thing you got over THAT one, green - you just never know when you're going to be required to dance naked with a gay man - how embarrassing to have to refuse... :-)

Nancy P said...

Beth, you're on the blogroll. It works from there. :) Pretty blog!

Kelly McCullough said...

Morning everyone.

Ex-adrenaline junkie here. The way I used to deal with fear was to plunge into whatever it was that frightened me. Fear of heights--go free climbing in the Rockies. Fear of falling--start jumping off of tall things. Fear of public speaking--try out for a play. I got to really liking the adrenaline rush. Too much actually--I've got the scars and permanent injuries to prove it.

At this point in time, I no longer seek out the adrenaline opportunities and I'm not really that deeply afraid of anything any more. I've gotten to be positively mellow. It's not a method I'd recommend though. It works out all right if you live through it and move on, but an awful lot of adrenaline junkies don't.

Beth said...

I'm honored to be in such esteemed company, Nancy - thanks!!

Nancy P said...

My pleasure, Beth. :)

Kelly, I'd never have guessed, because you always seem so mellow. Now I understand it was earned the hard way! But I should have guessed. I mesan, any man with the courage to wear a kilt. . .

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Nancy, I love the way you make it look so easily to start a conversation on the blog and draw people in, making them comfortable, just as you did with me and the others at your table at the Agatha Awards banquet at Malice Domestic in May. And then you won! Again! What a thrill for all of us. :) My blog sisters and I over at Poe's Deadly Daughters can learn from you about this part of blogging. In the meantime, this morning's post on Poe's Deadly Daughters is my interview with Nancy.
Liz
PS Nancy, I logged about 30 hours on a little Cessna back in the 70s. On the other hand, I was soooo relieved when the money for lessons ran out before I had to solo.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Oops. Should have previewed before I posted. I missed a typo: Nancy "makes it look easy," not "easily," and posted comments aren't editable as far as I know. Either way, she's a great facilitator along with her other talents. :)

Nancy P said...

On the other hand, I was soooo relieved when the money for lessons ran out before I had to solo.

Lol, Elizabeth! I sooo understand. I stopped flying the same day that my instructor took me up to do stalls. Really scared, I did two under her supervision. Then we landed and she told me next time I'd do them alone!!

No. Thank. You. Ha.

I was ready to quit anyway. I did solo, though. Man, what a rush that is!! I only did touch-and-go solos, never a solo cross-country flight, and it still changed my life.

In my next comment I'll link to your (thank you!) interview of me at your site.

GreenMinute said...
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Nancy P said...

Elizabeth, my linking skills have deserted me today, but it inspired me to create a new category on the front page: Recent Interview(s).
Your blog is front 'n' center there.

Nancy P said...

Green, I just love that story. When you dive in, you dive in!

I'm afraid of straight guys with guns, too. :)

Jen said...

It's always so weird to me to see gay people talked about as though we are some strange novelty.

I don't make much of an effort to conquer my fears. Mostly I just try to do whatever I want whether I'm afraid of it or not and either the fear goes away or it doesn't.

Nancy P said...

Jen, I envy your ability to just step into things. I'm only ever that straightforward about doing scary things if I'm really really clear on my need or desire to do it. Then I step right into it. Otherwise, it may take a looong running start. In Acapulco one time I had to watch other people parasail every day for about three days before I truly believed, "If they can do it, I can, too."

Catherine could tell you how long it took me to even do a website, much less my own blog.

Jen said...

I just make it look easy, Nancy, I don't actually experience it that way. :p

For example, even though I've been doing it for years now, I'm still very nervous about every blog comment I make (yeah this one too), and having my own blog is a constant source of anxiety. The good outweighs the bad, though, so the work it requires is worth doing.

GreenMinute said...
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Jen said...

Greenminute, of course I can't be sure because I don't know you from Adama, but it seems as though you have made several bad assumptions about what I think and believe. Your entire response to me, in any case, was extremely off base.

When I posted about feeling weird in response to your post, I wasn't accusing you of anything, I wasn't attacking you, and I wasn't criticizing your behavior. I'm not sure why you seem to have assumed that I was doing some or all of these things.

What I was doing was expressing my own feelings about the experience of being a member of a marginalized group in a particular context. Which, I grant, I could have been a lot wordier about and thus perhaps avoided this apparent misunderstanding, but I can't always anticipate when someone is going to mistakenly think I'm making value judgments that I'm not making, and I have a bad habit of over-explaining that I keep trying to break, hence I often try to be concise in blog comments.

As to the specific misunderstanding, in my experience, plenty of things "feel weird" or are strange or novel without any attached negativity, and I'm under the impression that this is pretty common, so I'm also not sure what it is that set you off on such a wrong interpretation of my text.

Nancy P said...

I don't mean to seem to be ignoring you guys. You're doing quite well communicating your own thoughts without interference from me, so I'm not going to stick my nose in.

I'm going to detour around you just a bit, so people feel okay about talking about other things. I mean no disrespect, nor will they, I'm sure.

xxoo

Nancy P said...

I just want to emphasize how important courage mentors--so to speak--have been in my life. I really like to have in mind somebody who has gone before me, you know?

Hey, I set out to write earlier, and I still haven't. Somebody tell me how hard you're working so I have a good example in front of me!

Catharine said...

(I'd answer, but I'm really busy making progress on a program I'm writing)

Kelly McCullough said...

I finished the last of the line edits yesterday and now I'm doing my final substantive edits before Codespell goes off to my editor. I'm at the point where I've read this thing so many times I'm sick of it. Does that count?

Beth said...

I'm furiously packing, Nancy. Does that count? Feel inspired to shove all of your worldly possessions into cardboard boxes? Not a lick of writing done today, so I'm no help at all. Sigh. Hope you found inspiration elsewhere...

Nancy P said...

You guys are good at this inspiring business, lol! (Cathy, lol)

Beth, when do you leave and when will you be settled in Florida?

Man Eegee said...

One fear that I have is sounding like an idiot when I make an attempt to speak Spanish to native speakers. There is an expectation, at least in my experience, that I be completely fluent - and beyond that, I want to be a flawless code-switcher. Unfortunately, my brain and vocal cords don't cooperate so I end up getting very nervous and blabbing out something incoherent. I am working on it, though, and have learned that it is just a matter of charging forward.

As for fears that I have knowingly challenged, several years back I attempted to handle a tarantula during one of those school demonstrations that brings in an outside expert. Let's just say that I nearly killed the thing when it started walking up my arm and I violently twitched. Never. Again.

I also tend to do way too much overthinking, and then overthink the fact that I overthink. Unfortunately, I have yet to learn mastery of that particular gem of psyche.

Beth said...

Overthinking! Boy, is that something I'm all too familiar with. My brain gets me in more trouble...I have yet to figure out how to turn the blasted thing off. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

I leave Idaho Aug. 8. Driving to NH to visit my sis, then down to FL. Quick side trip to San Diego (flying, thank goodness) for a week, then should be settled in FL by the first of September. Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda/Englewood area - lots of beach time, lots of quiet writing time. I can't wait! But 4500 miles between here and there...I like driving now...don't ask me in September!

Nancy P said...

I saw some tarantulas for sale in an appliance store last week, Man E. Yes, I did. I didn't think of you, you'll probably be glad to know, but if I ever see some again. . .

Did you see Hank's story last night about overthinking? It's very funny. Since I'm having no luck linking today, I'll copy it to the next comment. . .

Nancy P said...

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
My fears mostly have to do with the weird thing that you didn't even consider could happen, happens. So because you didn't think cleverly enough to do what you could have done, you're doomed.

So as a result, I have to think of every possible bad thing that could happen so it doesn't.

For instance: don't leave the can of bug spray in the car in the summer because it might get too hot and explode.

What if, when I get out of the car in the driveway to get the morning newspapers and my husband is behind me and waiting for me, this is the morning the brakes decide not to work and the car rolls down on me?
(I never go directly in front of the car.)

What if on the airplane, I change seats and as a result something does or doesn't happen to the person who was in my old seat and I shouldn't have changed seats. Or what if I should have changed? Not even necessarily because of a plane crash, but someone with the, um, flu. Or it's Donald Maass. Or Nancy. And I shouldn't have moved.

But I guess those fears aren't really irrational.

Renata Adler once wrote an amazing short story about a woman who was so neurotic she couldn't choose which egg to cook in the morning because she couldn't decide whether eggs wanted to be cooked, like that was their destiny and they only way they could be fulfilled or whether eggs were upset to be the ones chosen to be broken.

So you can see how fear would get in the way.

July 18, 2007 7:15 PM

Nancy P said...

A "sidetrip" to San Diego on your way to Florida? lol! While you're in the neighborhood, why not stop in Ontario?

Nancy P said...

Oops, I just realized there is an Ontario, California. Well, so much for that attempt at humor. . .

Beth said...

You're beginning to figure me out, Nancy. I WOULD take a side trip to Ontario - either one! :-)
I drove from South Carolina to Idaho in January - via Tucson... And I'm not even map-challenged, although it might appear so...

Once you get on the road, it's all relative. But again, ask me in September how much I love this wanderlust streak of mine...

Nancy P said...

I love car trips, too--whether alone or with a good friend. But I don't think I could ever do what I once thought I could--actually live on the road in a camper of some sort.

Susan S said...

Hi. My biggest fear used to be heights. Like you, Nancy, I overcame that by going up to high places. Since then I haven't been afraid of much.

Until now.

3 weeks ago I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rather nasty stage IIIB cancer that grows quite rapidly. Fortunately, I was able to get all the tests done quickly, and I now know that it is not in my bones or any of my innards.

Strangely, I am not afraid of dying. I always thought I would be, but it's going to happen sometime, so now I can do what I believe is true: act as if the only moment we have is this one.

What DOES bother me is the thought of missing out on those things I have planned: writing, travel, conventions, awards (Maybe!!). And what frightens me is knowing that if anything happens to me, it will cause grief for those I love.

SO - I intend to beat this, become one of the 10, 20 or 30 year survivors, and live every minute I have left.

And a bit of advice for everyone: don't let any conversation with your friends or loved ones end with any words that don't express your love for them.

Love,Susan

Beth said...

Oh Susan, my thoughts and prayers are with you. You have a great attitude - you WILL beat this, and be one of those very survivors. Stay positive - lean on the people you love.

Nancy P said...

Susan!! We sent good thoughts to you a couple of Sundays ago from this here very blog. :)

Folks, this is one of the most ALIVE women you will ever meet. It's my pleasure to know her and her writing partner.

So glad you're here, in more ways than one, Susan. :)

Catharine said...

oh, Susan -- I'm so sorry. Even with a strong attitude, this must be a frightening time.

I happen to know that a strong attitude, prayer and good medicine can work miracles. My mother is a 2 time cancer survivor. At the time she was diagnosed the second time, there were NO survivors of the sort of cancer she had.

That was nearly 25 years ago.

My prayers and good thoughts are flying your way as I type.

{{Hugs for Susan}}

GreenMinute said...
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Sally said...

I get up with the sun (and the smell of my husband's Peet's coffee) to write before I go off to my day job, but i have been missing the sweet mystery world so gave myself two minutes to drop by...and fell completely into these conversations--from the inspiring posting by Catherine that will keep her in my thoughts and change the way i look at and live my day, to the honest and thoughtful exchange between Green and Jen (Green, you are not an ass. You like plants and ghosts, for heaven sakes!) that made me think this is the real stuff of life and love and novels and humanness and people who care about each other. So now it's time to go to work--no words written in the novel, but a world of real life stuff filling my thoughts and moving me into my day. You are all quite wonderful, and I love learning more about you and your thoughts and your fears. Thank you, Nancy, for hosting this grand gathering.

Jen said...

We're all good, Greenminute. We all make bad assumptions from time to time -- part of being human. :) Just FYI, though, I'm really not one of those passive-aggressive people who deploys under-the-table nastiness. I do tend toward being both very direct and very polite, however, which is an odd combination, and when you take my tone and facial expressions out of the picture, such as the internet does, I think it can be easy to mistake me for a passive-aggressive jerk. Let us move on with no bad vibes between us.

Susan S, I'm so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I don't know you, but you sound like you have the heart of a survivor. My very best healing wishes to you.