Tag: Mark Twain

Courage: The Flip Side of Fear

On this day when we remember the brave men and women who died to secure our constitutional liberties, a post about courage (bravery, dauntlessness) seems more than appropriate. The fact that Bravery is heads on the coin where fear is tails might not be as welcome.
In an article on Literary Hub, another author introduced me to this phrase: “Fear and bravery are different sides of the same coin.”
Since I’ve chosen to be DAUNTLESS in 2017, I wanted to reject this simple assertion.

                               “I’m defeating and banishing fear from my heart, mind and life.”

Isn’t that what it means to be dauntless?


But according to Hala Alyan, maybe I’ve been going about this dauntless thing all wrong.

NO Fear

I’ve been working under the assumption that if I’m feeling afraid and anxious about something, I’m not being brave.

Which goes in the face of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain, Franklin Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela. Yes, it’s such a great thought that many people have reiterated it in their own words over the centuries.

To conquer my fears, I must continue to move forward through the fire I’m sure will burn me. The Dauntless jump off the train with abandon onto the platform near their living quarters.

They might have learned to be adrenaline junkies, but the first (dozen) times they jumped, their hearts, lungs and stomachs surely rebelled. Their brains wanted to draw back, play it safe, keep away from pain and injury.

Every time they successfully completed the jump, the Dauntless experienced a different sort of adrenaline rush. Rather than fear, anticipation welled in them. They had tricked their brain into enjoying the dangerous activity.

          Strange how terror and anticipation can provoke the same physical reactions in our mind and body.

But our soul knows the truth. It knows if we’re still afraid deep down or if we’ve overcome that particular anxiety.

Being Dauntless

Once we’ve mastered jumping off the train, it means we need to find a new terror to conquer.
Or not.

Does being dauntless mean a continual rush into situations that overwhelm our safety barriers? If we’re playing it safe, does it mean our dauntless spirit will starve to death?

Continual stress kills. And pumping adrenaline through our veins is exactly what stress does.
I don’t think it’s healthy to live on the edge where our bodies experience constant anxiety, fear or terror.
Being dauntless doesn’t mean becoming an adrenaline junkie and heading for an early grave. Either from a broken bungee line or a heart attack from too much stress.

                                               And dead is dead.

Dauntless me isn’t looking for death. But DM should be willing to stare death in the face.

In my world, that’s more the death of expectations, death of dreams and death of pride. If I write a young adult fantasy novel and no one wants to read it, that kills the part of me with a message for those readers.
But it doesn’t mean I’m not dauntless if I change genres.

If the nonfiction book doesn’t garner interest with publishers, will I self-publish it myself? If I believe in its message strongly enough, yes.

And if only a handful of people read it and it helps even one person, it has succeeded in the purpose I have for it. Yes, if the sales are this slow, there will be death to the dream of becoming a best-selling nonfiction author and sought-after speaker.

But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t dauntless in the moment-by-moment action of living out my calling to write words that encourage others.

It takes courage to face rejection and failure. But if Two Face can flip the coin, so can I.

Do you agree that courage and fear are sides of the same coin? How would you define courage?

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What Makes a Woman Old?

I had a landmark birthday recently. And I totally expected to feel old. Which made me start to wonder: what does that even mean?

Old is a state of mind they say.

You’re only as old as you feel.

Don’t think of age as a number.

You’ve heard all the platitudes and sayings. But they are only words.

Wrong Thinking

I like Mark Twain. He had killer wit.

mindoverage-marktrwain

And in this case, I totally agree with him. Age, like enduring the pain in boot camp, is all about mind over matter.

As my birthday neared, I kept dreading the big five-zero.

But why?

Would I really be decrepit on my birthday when I was totally able-bodied the day before it?

In fact, since I was 23 and got my first gray hair (I thank my firstborn for this), I’ve had an interesting idea about age and getting old.

wisdom_highlights

Speaking of Which

While we’re on the subject of my firstborn, today is his birthday.

That’s right. Twenty-six years ago a cute little boy interrupted all the plans that went before him.

Because having kids does more than reshape your figure. And your finances. And your sleep schedule.

Suddenly the young couple becomes a young family. And family trumps all other things.

It’s hard to claim the age of 39 (which I found to be a perfect point in my life) when you’re standing beside a tall, handsome nearly-30-year-old to whom you gave birth.

Uh, yeah. I was still in middle school when I had him.

Not. (And even the thought of that is more terrifying than watching a scary movie marathon.)

My Body Has Other Ideas

The problem with this mind over matter thinking? Sometimes a body refuses to cooperate.

I’m not talking about those phantom aches and pains.

Imagine: You sit on the examining table and glance over at the ultrasound screen. Your name and date of birth are in bright characters at the top.

A neon sign blares “AGE: 50”

This test is in preparation for your first ever surgery the next week.

“Wow. You made it fifty years without ever needing anesthesia.” I didn’t imagine the hint of awe in the admission nurse’s voice.

Could someone stop reminding me of my age?

And my body—which refuses to act like the 30-year-old vessel I imagine– should be the engine of that train.

Let me say that when you’re recovering from a “minor procedure” you feel every second of your actual age. No matter what you claim, the 50-year-old cells don’t repair things at the rapid rate of 30-year-old ones.

Now back to the question posed in the title of this post. A woman is as old as the calendar says minus a decade or two if she’s taken care of her body.

Most people don’t look closely at the crow’s feet around my eyes or the brown spots on my jaw. They see the wide, white smile and twinkling eyes.

Those are the characteristics of someone whose age isn’t on her mind. She’s too busy living life to worry about some arbitrary number.

Ladies, the only thing that can make a woman old is her declaration that she is old.

What do you think makes a woman (or a man) old?

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What’s a Muse?

Muse: Statue in Germany
Muse: Statue in Germany

Muse, Greek goddess of artists, gifted her favored ones with inspiration to create fantastic and original works of art: sculptures, paintings, poetry, songs. Actually, lucky for the Greeks, there were nine goddesses.

Greek city states produces creative art, I’m sure.

Often, we creative types like to blame our personal muse when what we write is subpar. Or if we aren’t feeling especially creative. If the toast burns.

Yeah. Ridiculous. What is a muse anyway? Is it a real or imagined phenomenon?

Muse Defined

Aside from the capitalized version referenced above, the noun form of muse means “a source of inspiration; especially a guiding genius” (Merriam-Webster).

With such a broad definition, a muse could be anything. Maybe the sunrise inspires you. It could be a walk that helps your creativity flow. Reading quotes from a literary genius like Shakespeare or a satirist like Mark Twain might incite you to write.

Whatever makes you itch to practice your art becomes your muse.

Real or Imaginary

Artists who depend on the elusive muse to visit them before they can create have made her a crutch. Why cripple yourself? Time to throw away the cane, Tiny Tim, and stand on your own two feet.

Ideas sparkle in the air around us. Open your eyes and ears to the world and you will discover an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

I believe some things I’ve written have been divinely inspired. Other stories emerged from dreams. According to the dictionary definition, whatever inspires us can be a muse.

My Muse

In my case, my muse defies definition. When a story is fresh, the ideas flow. The story becomes my muse.

Often a walk early in the morning causes poetry to flow. Is it nature or exercise acting as my muse?

When you say, “I’m waiting for inspiration to hit” instead of writing, you harelip your muse. I believe the muse is available as oxygen. We only need to open our artistic lungs and inhale her.

What is your personal muse?