Fly Away

flyFor this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday post, I’m supposed to talk about my greatest fear.

Well, that’s awkward. 

Guys, I’m a mess. I’m claustrophobic.  I’m afraid to drive after dark or go outside on windy days. Maple trees terrify me. Big dogs, little rodents, unidentifiable noises when I’m alone. Basements. Bridges over large bodies of water. Thunderstorms. Car washes.

But here’s the thing about fears:

We all have them.

If you want to tell me that you are fearless, that nothing frightens you, go ahead. I will look you in the eye and call you a liar. Then I will turn and run like hell, because I just happen to be really afraid of confrontations.

Fear makes people do stupid things. When I see a snake, fear makes me pee.

When my boss glides up silently behind me and starts talking just a few inches from my ear, fear makes me spin around and shout, “For the love of God, woman, would you PLEASE wear a bell or something?!”

There was a time in my life when I thought of myself as fearless. I went to scary movies and convinced a group of my friends to sneak into an empty “haunted” house in my neighborhood. I even spent a few nights in a local graveyard where it was rumored that Al Capone’s mistress was buried. Local legend said that Flora liked to rise from her grave and dance at midnight, but she never seemed to feel much like dancing on the nights I was there. I never saw anything but a few bats and some people who were as gullible as I was.

I was a bit of a risk-taker. I went to a college in another state where I knew no one; I tried parasailing and rock climbing. I went on blind dates and fix-ups, and I took chances that make me want to go back in time and slap my younger self.

But I wasn’t really fearless when it came right down to it. I had one big fear that I just couldn’t face.

As long as I talked about my book without ever writing it, I never had to face the fear that maybe I couldn’t write a book. If I never let anyone read my work, no one could tell me to give up because I lacked talent As long as I never actually finished writing anything, I never had to face the fear that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t really a writer. 

I spent years talking about writing, learning to write, planning to write. I was dedicated to my dream, or so I told myself. I can look back now and see that the only thing I was dedicated to was my fear of failure.

And then life dropped a tree on my head.

So, now I’m afraid of maple trees and thunderstorms and sometimes the color blue if it’s the exact shade of the tarp they threw over my face during the rescue. I can have a panic attack every time I see a treetop bending in the wind. I’m terrified every time my kids leave the house because I understand now that all it takes is one second, one instant, one fluke of nature to take a life. I’m a neurotic mess who is pretty much afraid of everything.

And you know what all that fear has taught me over the last five years?

Life is short. There are no guarantees. “See you tomorrow” isn’t always a promise; sometimes, it’s a lie. All it takes is one mistake, one accident, one horrifying diagnosis, and guess what? Maybe you don’t get that tomorrow.

Do you have a dream that you’ve been putting off? Well, what are you waiting for? Whether you dream of writing a book or learning to paint or driving cross-country in a Winnebago, stop putting it off.

Try it.

Take a risk.

Don’t let fear tell you to put it off until tomorrow, because you never know when tomorrow just might drop a maple tree on your head. 

 

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson

 

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “One of my biggest fears I ever had to face…”

Hosts are Kristi from http://www.findingninee.com  and Michelle Grewe of  http://crumpetsandbollocks.com/

You’ve Got This

Today’s Finish the Sentence Friday prompt is a bit different, and it was a difficult one for me to write. I had to write a letter to myself — past, present, or future. I chose to write to myself at a point in my mid-twenties, when I had everything all figured out.

At least, that’s what I told myself back then.

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Dear 20-something Me:

Right now, you see yourself as being so daring, so willing to take a risk. You think you’re brave because you’ve been parasailing and you’ve gone to Europe and you want to try skydiving. You talk about taking a year off and driving cross country with an old pop-up camper so you can write, write, write.

But face the fact, Kiddo: you’re never going to do it because deep down inside, you’re afraid. Afraid to be alone, afraid to take a risk, afraid of failing. You’re terrified of city driving, of getting lost, of dealing with a flat tire by yourself in the middle of nowhere.

It’s not just the cross-country trip that’s got you in a cold sweat. You put on a good show that fools a lot of people, but you’re afraid of everything. It’s just so easy to talk about your dreams and make your plans without ever following through; if you never actually try, you’ll never have to deal with failure. You’ll never have to accept defeat.

Stop letting yourself be guided by fear. You’re going to miss out on so much in life because you’re afraid to fail, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of being hurt.

Here’s the thing: You are going to fail, you are going to make mistakes, and you are going to get hurt. And you know what else you’re going to do? You’re going to survive.

Sure, a lot of things are going to go wrong in your life. But a lot of things are going to go right, too.

So go on the date with the guy that you’re about to turn down because you think he’s out of your league. Okay, maybe you’re right and he’s setting you up as a joke, but maybe he thinks you’re out of his league. Take that chance.

Apply for that dream job instead of missing the opportunity because you think you’re not organized enough or smart enough. You’ll never know your limits if you don’t push them once in a while.

Finish writing something — anything!– instead of throwing it away at the halfway point because you worry that it’s no good. Stop worrying about rejection letters that you’ve never received because you’ve never had the courage to finish your work.

And Kiddo, I want you to listen to me on this one: in a few years, Depression is going to hit, and it’s going to hit hard. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness or failure.

Understand that fear is okay. Letting fear control you is not.

You’re stronger than you know, and a lot more resilient. You’re going to survive the failures and the mistakes and the hurts, and you’re going to have a pretty good life with a lot of amazing people and breathtaking moments. It’s all going to work out if you just step back once in a while and take a minute or two to believe in yourself.

You’ve got this.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “Dear Me…” Hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee and Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks.

Grouch To Groucho

It’s been one of those mornings.

I had crazy dreams all night.  The last one, the one that woke me up in a cold sweat, involved my riding around Mackinac Island on a tour bus filled with Brownie Scouts and their Troop leaders, all of whom were glaring at me because my child and I were not in uniform.  It was especially odd because the child wasn’t my daughter, and there are no motor vehicles on Mackinac Island.

I woke from that strangeness around 4:30 with a headache so bad that my eyeballs were throbbing.  Lots of hot coffee and two hot showers later, it’s not much better; I do, however, have a vague marketing idea for hot coffee showers.

Would that not be the greatest invention of all time?

When I finally sat down at the computer, I discovered that I have forgotten how to spell.  Anything.  Anything at all, even my own name.  That’s all right, though, because I have apparently also forgotten how to type, along with a few other things that are pretty important to me as a writer.  Working on a chapter in my newest book today, I have called my main character Eric, Kenny, Brian, and George.  All perfectly nice names, but his name is Jayson.

I went back for more coffee and stood at the kitchen window, staring out at my snow-covered yard.  Only to realize, after several moments of absolutely nothing going inside my head, that the bright fluorescent curtains are missing from my son’s playhouse in my back yard, and that the yard is crisscrossed with footprints in the snow all over the place.  Someone has had a wonderful time playing out there in the past few days.

Which is odd, since my kids are with their father this week.

Honestly, I was starting to feel like Arthur Dent in the opening scene of Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, when he looks out the window at the bulldozers circling his house and all he can think of to say is, “Yellow.”

Then, just as I was really settling in to a satisfying round of whining about my headache and bad day all over Facebook, a very dear friend sent me a picture that made my day.

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All righty, then.  I am choosing to be happy.

I am happy because my kids and I are healthy, and we have a cozy little house, with neighbor kids who obviously enjoy playing in my back yard.

I am happy because my new book is coming together really well and I’m having fun writing it.  As long as I can remember Jayson’s name, that is.

I am happy because the new features for my blog are coming along nicely, and I’m excited about the very talented people who have agreed to be interviewed by me.

I am happy because my blog has really been taking off lately.  It’s getting more hits every day, as well as more followers.  The “referral” part of my stats page doesn’t always tell me where they are coming from, but I’m still thrilled to see that so many people want to stop by and read what I have to say.

I am happy because my books are selling at a steady pace.  I’m nowhere near bestseller status, but I’m very content at this point to be selling one or two a day.  I’m in the process of making Have a Goode One available through more channels, and things are definitely looking up.

I am especially happy because I just found a Toblerone in my refrigerator.  I don’t remember putting it there, but I’m going to eat it and chalk it up as a gift from the Chocolate Fairy.

What’s that?  You say you don’t believe in the Chocolate Fairy?  Heresy!  She exists, all right.  With her cousins, the Cleaning Fairy, the Money Fairy, and my personal favorite, the Wine Fairy.

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Daily Prompt: Dreams and Maple Trees

When I was ten years old, I wanted to be a writer.  I was in the early stages of my addiction to the Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators series, but I already knew that I wanted to someday join the ranks of M.V Carey, William Arden, and the fabulous Robert Arthur. Oh, I read The Hardy boys, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and others as well, but it was the Three Investigators that really grabbed me.

My plan was to write the further adventures of Jupiter, Bob and Pete for a few years before creating my own series of juvenile detective novels.  My series was going to include girls and boys, to appeal to readers of both genders.

Over the years, the dream never really died; it just sort of went on the back burner.  There was college, when I decided to major in Education because I wanted something to “fall back on” if a writing career never took off.  Then there was business school when I couldn’t finish college after Mom died, followed by Cosmetology school when I realized that I was the world’s worst secretary.

I kept writing when I had the time or when a story idea hit me, but I just never seemed to finish anything.  I got married, had kids, saw my beloved Three Investigators series come to a close.  I thought that maybe, someday, when the kids were grown and life slowed down, I might actually write my book.

Apparently I needed something to remind me to pay more attention to my dream, and that reminder came in the form of a maple tree falling on my car on a stormy June night two years ago.  When I came home from the hospital, unsure of just how much mobility I was going to get back, my big sister gave me a Netbook.

“Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling you to sit down and finally write that book,” she told me.

And that’s where I am today.  My focus is more on writing Romance than on mysteries, but I am writing every day.  My novel, “Her House Divided” is nearly finished, and I have an opportunity to send it to an agent when it’s done.

It took forty years, a random maple tree, and a broken neck, but I am finally what I wanted to be:  a Writer.

And the Three Investigators?  Well, the series is long gone, but we fans still have each other, and I get to post my Three Investigators fanfiction on the Three Investigtors U.S. Editions Collectors Site.

That’s closer than some people get to realizing their dreams.

I just wish the universe didn’t have to drop a tree on my head  to get me here.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/daily-prompt-dreams/

Car and Driver

Describe the last nightmare you remember having. What do you think it meant?

The last nightmare I had was a variation of the same nightmare I always have:    I was in a car, arguing with my husband about something, and the car went off the side of the road into water.

My husband isn’t always the driver when I have this nightmare.  Growing up, I usually dreamed of Aunt Marian behind the wheel, although Mom was there fairly often as well.  For a time in my early thirties, one of my sisters chauffeured me to my watery death in my dreams, but I’ve also seen friends  or employers or others, depending on what was taking place in  my life at the time.  The one constant is that I am never the driver.

Sometimes the car plunges off the South Haven drawbridge, or flood waters rise too quickly to escape.  The car might crash through thin ice and settle to the bottom of a lake, or a distracted driver throws it into drive instead of reverse in the marina parking lot.

We won’t even discuss what takes place when I dream about driving across the Mackinac Bridge.

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I had the nightmare the first time when I was four years old and I have continued to have the same dream over and over throughout my life.  My family assures me that it is not a repressed memory of any kind; I have never been in a car accident that involved water.

For a long time, I thought it was a precognitive dream.  I believed that I was destined to die in a car in water, and so I developed a completely irrational fear of bridges and any road that is too close to water.   Not an easily manageable fear for someone who lives within fifteen minutes of Lake Michigan — or who goes on frequent vacations to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Yes, I have to be sedated to cross the Mighty Mac.

The odd thing is that I am not afraid of water.  I swam before I walked; my family bought the cottage right on the shore when I was three years old and I spent more time submerged than on dry land when I was growing up there.  I have always been clumsy and awkward until I hit water, at which point I personify the words of Kurt Vonnegut:  In the water, I am beautiful.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come up with my own theory about what my nightmare means, and I don’t believe it has anything to do with water.  It’s about control – or lack thereof.

I have this nightmare whenever I feel that I am not in control of my own life.  The car is always driven by the person who I feel is trying to run my life, and since I have never been any good at standing up for myself, I think I have the dream when I feel trapped or bullied.  The driver of the dream car drives me to my doom in my dreams, while driving me to unhappiness in real life.

The only good part of the dream is waking up from it with the Big Guy close by.  I wake up gasping for air – I am drowning, after all – and I am so horrified that I can’t move.   Without completely waking up, the Big Guy will pull me close and murmur, “You swam to the top, Honey.  You didn’t drown.”  Then he promptly drops back off to sleep and pretends not to remember the incident in the morning.

I am always touched that he knows me well enough to tell what bad dream I’ve had without having to be told.