Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kick Like No One's Watching

We don't need enemies or frenemies, or things that go bump in the night. We have ourselves— saboteurs of plans and smashers of hope.

The person muttering under her breath that I won't be able to do something and am foolish to try is me. So's the woman who declares my work derivative, compares my butt to urban sprawl, and hints my cats have fleas.

I'm not alone. At The Fearful Adventurer blog, Torre DeRoche takes down her biggest and baddest critic via an essay: "What If Your Biggest Naysayer Is You." Read it. Now.

Did you laugh at the line "I look like a douche when I do yoga!" For years, I refused to join an exercise class for fear others would smirk and point their fingers when they noticed my sense of rhythm is missing in action.

When I finally signed up, a fellow exerciser showed me how foolish I'd been. She might dress in don't-look-at-me colors like gray and beige, but when the music starts, she jumps, kicks, and throws punches like a ninja.

Not all her punches are synchronized to the music and her kicks don't reach the height of the Rockettes', but she's moving her body, gaining the health benefits of exercise, and, judging by her ferocity, she takes out an army of enemies and frenemies every morning. Before breakfast.

Most importantly, no one cares what she looks like. Remember Lark Howard's post of January 9 and the advice she got from a friend? "Nobody cares what you’re wearing, they care what they’re wearing. Unless you look fabulous or horrible, nobody notices." That advice applies to more than clothes. In fact, it applies to almost everything in life. No one cares about how you look when you do squats or your skills as a teacher, insurance adjustor, travel agent, or writer unless you screw up or are so skilled you inspire teeth-gnashing envy.

It's liberating to know we operate under the radar. Sure, our mothers and friends might know of our progress—or lack thereof, but most people don't notice and don't care.

We're the ones scaring ourselves, and we have to quit it. At the end of his post listing twenty-five things writers should stop doing, Chuck Wendig offers this advice:
"Fear will kill you dead. You’ve nothing to be afraid of that a little preparation and pragmatism cannot kill. Everybody who wanted to be a writer and didn’t become one failed based on one of two critical reasons: one, they were lazy, or two, they were afraid. Let’s take for granted you’re not lazy. That means you’re afraid. Fear is nonsense. What do you think is going to happen? You’re going to be eaten by tigers?"

The tigers we invent are the fiercest, most intimidating of all. To defeat them, we have to jump, kick, and throw punches like ninjas. A lady I know manages that without a lot of coordination, rhythm, or brute force.

She's unself-conscious and fearless. She's awesome.

We can be, too.

28 comments:

Ginger said...

Fantastic post, Pat. LOVED it! I have already planned to attack this year like a fearless Ninja, so you just helped solidify my resolved and warm-up for my best moves! :) Fear is so debilitating if we let it be.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Great post, PAT! You are so very right--and not just for writers although I think we must be the biggest couwards. Thanks for the links, too.

Lark Howard said...

Love the tiger pic, Pat. I've put off yoga because I don't know how much I can do after years of not stretching properly and just getting to that "certain age". I'm inspired! Yoga here I come!!

shannon said...

Very inspiring post! Bring on the yoga..and ninjas!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Ginger,
Thank YOU for the Writer's Butt initiative--an exercise program we should all get behind. (Did I write that pun? Yes. Am I ashamed. No.)
Find the Writer's Butt plan at http://gingercalem.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/writersbutt/

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jane,
We writers listen to the voices in our heads more than most. If those voices spew negative stuff, we're a captive audience--unless we kick ourselves free.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

You'll be good at yoga, Lark. Do it!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Thanks, Shannon!(Give my love to Abbey, the world's only advice-giving dog.)

Coleen Patrick said...

Awesome Pat! That fear reminds me of high school--and it's funny sometimes now when I walk thru the full cafeteria at my son's high school, I feel that fear again. Which shows me it's all in my head!
Love the tiger image.

Julie Hedlund said...

What a GREAT post Pat! I think I'm going to take that Tiger picture and pin it to the wall in my office. Thanks for sharing Torre's post too. A double dose of inspiration!

Liz Flaherty said...

I loved this post!

Sheila Seabrook said...

Ah, to be fearless. The are probably very few people in this world who truly meet that description. I guess blogging is good for pulling us out of our comfort zone and forcing us to face a few fears.

Thanks for a great post, Pat!

Kecia Adams said...

So wise. Thanks, Pat for that kick in the pants. :) I do let fear hold me back and I don't always know why, but really how bad can it be? No tigers...

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Coleen,
High school cafeterias bring back my old fear: will I find a place to put down my tray or be doomed to circle the room endlessly, listening to "That spot's taken" and "I'm saving that seat."

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Pat. I needed that.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Julie,
Wasn't Torre's post great?! Those illustrations! Glad you like the tiger picture, but I think you need an ambush or streak of them. (Yes, I looked up the collective noun, and found two.)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Thanks, Liz! The post is so flattered, it just punched the air.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Sheila,
Social media still scares me, but I'm inching out of my comfort zone.

Louise Behiel said...

Pat you nailed it...the links were excellent and the suggestions powerful. I 'got over' my fear of driving in the winter. this is my year to get over the "nobody likes me or some variation of that theme". you know, no one will ever buy your book or no one will ever come to your writing chapter or...I know they're not true but they keep hanging around. so this is the year to dispense with them...Off with their heads - after all, they're nothing more than dandelion puffs.

Ginger said...

Wow, thanks for the extra shout-out, Pat. HUG!!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Kecia, I'm scared into immobility at the moment but I'll hate myself if I don't push through it. There's a tiger, all right, and it's us, stalking ourselves like an auto-immune disease. We've got to strike first.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Cheryl, I am one of your fangirls. Happy to help and thank you for visiting.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Louise, the "nobody likes me" trap snags me, too. Good plan to break out of that one! (You know the WANA1011 crowd adores you, don't you?) Congrats on getting over your fear of driving in winter, especially since winter in Calgary is lo-o-o-ng.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

How do you thank me for that shout-out, Ginger? With push-ups! No fair!

Nancy Kay Bowden said...

Great post, Pat. Sending the tigers to their cages right now, locking them in and throwing away the keys. Now, back to work for me!

LynNerdKelley said...

It's so true. We can be our own worst enemy and need to concentrate on positive self-talk instead of the negative. Thanks for the reminder, Pat!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Glad you've locked away your tigers, Nancy. Happy writing!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lynn,
I was reminding myself--and need frequent reminders to stay positive.