5 Ways to Push Past Fear

Were you one of those kids who believed that ghosts or monsters lurked in your bedroom closet, waiting until the lights were out and you were trying to sleep to make their presence known? (See my raised hand.)

Or, maybe you were the young adult with the world before you, yet you were so anxious about making wrong decisions that you opted more often than not to play it safe and make choices that were safe.  (Hand still partially raised.)

Or, could it be that now, as a full-fledged adult, you view your age, weight, finances, personality or other personal circumstances as reasons for staying in a holding pattern or coasting through each day?  (Hand NOT raised.)

It took me a while, but after living for a bit and surviving a couple of life’s major “D’s” – death of loved ones and divorce – I’ve come to realize that life’s not meant to be expansive and enjoyed only after you’ve conquered your challenges; instead,  while you’re wading (sometimes knee-deep) through them, you could be growing, learning, laughing, loving and even thriving in your inner soul.

Watching my now-deceased older sister find enjoyment in simple things after surviving a double lung transplant in 2011 taught me to value each breath, each opportunity to connect with loved ones, and indeed, each day.

Experiencing the death of important relationships and the snuffing out of their accompanying dreams taught me to value myself, flaws and all, because even if no one else is around, I have to live with and love me.

Pushing through all kinds of highs and lows with others shook me and shaped me into a more empathetic, peaceful and purposeful person – someone filled with more resilience, hope, deeper faith and joy for simple blessings than I otherwise might have possessed.

While my experiences have been uniquely my own, the benefits they’ve yielded are universally possible.

What has hampered you or broken your heart? What has made you press pause and enter a journey of self-examination or sacrifice? What has led to tears that have filled God’s bottle with your name on it, yet also grew a garden of unexpected supporters and mentors to surround you?

Consider those consequences as the gems for your journey. Allow them to fuel your steps forward and foster more hope and heartiness where needed.

Fear comes to us all, yet fear can’t take up residence unless we grant permission.

When it pays a visit, greet it with these behaviors:
  •  Acknowledge the emotion’s presence, then try to assess why you’re afraid.
  • Envision your worst-case scenario. If the thing you’re fearing were to happen, how would you survive? (Your faith, your Plan B, support from family or friends, or all of the above? )
  • Envision your best-case scenario and how this outcome would empower and elevate you. If this were to happen, how would you stay centered while sustaining the success?
  • Remind yourself that whatever comes, you are strong enough, smart enough and loved enough to fall down and get up, or to stand  and wait, or to rise and forge a new path – whatever is required.
  • Remember that by some accounts, FEAR is simply “False Evidence Appearing Real.” You have all within you to overtake whatever is causing you to stumble or spin your wheels.

Embrace the five suggestions outlined above and execute them routinely – one moment, one hour, one day at a time. Refresh and repeat as necessary.

Invest attention and intention in yourself, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself shedding your cocoon and soaring, in your solely special way.

You’ll be living life “untapped,” in a space where regrets are few, life lessons are abundant, and grace is more than sufficient.

CCO Use photo. Overcoming fear.

Video Viewpoint: How Storytelling Helps You Grow

Whether personally or professionally, may this brief video inspire you to write a vision, life strategy, book, blog post, journal entry or essay about your experiences and set a new resolve to thrive.

 

15 Ways to Get Unstuck and Grow

It’s true: Growth requires change. This is how…

Seeds become flowers;

Caterpillars become butterflies;

Irritants in oysters become pearls.

So why can’t we – once babes in arms – grow into purpose-driven world changers?

With intention, discipline and greater expectations, we can, and so can the children we’ve been given the opportunity to steward.

Let go of your fears and grow.

Where to start? Right here, right now.

How to start? With every simple or significant opportunity that comes your way.

Try one new thing today and see how it feels. Say yes to something you’d normally avoid. Consider embracing hard truths rather than running away from feedback, even if it stings.

Listen more and learn from others.

Get comfortable with silence so you can both hear yourself think and give your heart the space to respond. Consider another person’s perspective and why their view matters.

When you can’t literally stand in another person’s shoes, do your best to find other ways to empathize. What if it were your sister, brother, mother, father, son or daughter, best friend or spouse facing what this other person faces? Would you care enough to help, be an ally or be an upstander?

Shed unsuitable labels that those around you have given you. Beginning today, define or redefine for yourself who you are, who you are going to be and why your life matters.

Dust off the dreams you once held dear, but perhaps gave up pursuing. If necessary, give yourself permission to dream new dreams.

Accept that age truly is just a number. Celebrate the wisdom that has come with maturity, yet remain young at heart and as optimistic as the bright-eyed youth who sees a goal and declares it a birthright.

If Vera Wang could become a fashion designer at 40, Samuel Jackson could achieve stardom at age 46, Laura Ingalls Wilder could write her first book at 65, and Etta Baker could record her first blues record at 78, what can’t you do?

Make up your mind and fix your resolve to do it afraid, if necessary. (You get to determine what “it” is, and you may have more than one.)

Implement positive and productive practices that become positive and productive habits. Tell yourself to keep going when it gets hard. Push through and pat yourself on the back.

Cry if you must, then regroup. Get back up each time you wobble, fall or fail. Practice makes perfect, and important lessons are often learned through trial and error.

Know that what you’re you’re sacrificing now is worth what you’ll eventually gain.

Someday you’ll look back with gratitude at the seed covering, caterpillar shell and irritated oyster bed you outgrew.

~ Stacy Hawkins Adams

 

 

 

 

 

When Change is a Gift

Research shows that most people dislike change so much that they’d rather stay in unfulfilling, stagnant or unstable circumstances rather than risk the unknown or stretch past what feels safe. It’s human nature, it seems, to “go with what you know.”

Over the course of my personal and professional journey, however, I’ve become convinced that the different or the uncomfortable (or even the heartbreaking) can sometimes be a sacred path to purpose.

For it is on this fresh course and in unfamiliar territory that we learn more about ourselves, discover strengths we might not have otherwise realized, and connect with ideas, skills and relationships that are meant to play pivotal roles in our destiny.

Yet, if we’re not open to change, or avoid accepting its unexpected arrival, how will we ever know our other (possibly wiser, stronger, happier) selves?

This is my sentiment as I bid farewell to readers of Life Notes, the parenting column I’ve had the pleasure of writing since July 2007 for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Yes- more than 10 years! (Read my farewell column, in today’s newspaper, here.)

Life Notes was actually my second venture as a columnist for this daily newspaper in Richmond, Virginia: From 2000 to 2006, I wrote a weekly column for the Saturday metro section called Inspirations, which acquainted readers far and wide with the uplifting and resilient journeys of metro Richmond residents and with their explorations of faith and personal growth. It had a tremendous following, and according to Times-Dispatch reader surveys, was a primary driver for Saturday newspaper sales during that time.

Both columns were meaningful to me, as was my connection to their readers.

I retired Inspirations, however, when I “retired” from my daily journalism career to focus on penning books and freelance writing. Not an easy decision since I loved my work, but an exciting and necessary one, in order to fulfill the other dreams on my To Do list. I never regretted the choice.

This time around, with changes abreast in newspaper column inches and editorial direction comes the opportunity to take another leap that has long been on my To Do list: expanding the genre of books I write to include more nonfiction (in addition to my women’s fiction) and perhaps some young adult reads.  And while I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to blog for the Huffington Post, I look forward to penning more essays and profiles about the power of story and the relevance of our individual journeys for additional national publications. (Stay tuned!)

So yes, this is a goodbye of sorts to one platform for my writing, but a hello to all of the opportunities and open doors on my uncharted path. Will you celebrate with me?

I hope you’ll follow this blog to see where the written word takes me. Feel free to comment below and share ideas about what you’d like to learn about personal growth, matters of faith, living your best life, walking in purpose or writing your way to joy. I look forward to exploring these themes and more with you, and to growing with you.

 

Stacy Hawkins Adams ~ Author, Essayist, Journalist, Blogger

Why Your “Do Something” Matters

Just days after images of death and horror from the mass shooting at a high school in Florida filled our  TV and digital screens, we are now being jarred by coverage of the funerals for 15 young people and the two adults who perished with them.

As Martin Luther III declared yesterday during a visit to Richmond, Virginia, the fact that such secondary trauma is now routine has resulted in a nation living with post traumatic stress, in perpetual fight-or-flight mode, with a desensitization to the taking of human life.

“Until we change the culture, we’re not going to address the issue,” Mr. King told a roomful of attentive listeners of all ages and ethnicities during a talk at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Yet, he went on to assert that it all starts with individual decisions to do what’s right, to listen to one’s conscious, to follow through with integrity.

As he shared his thoughts on human rights and reminisced about the special times he could remember spending with his father before losing Dr. King when he was 10, I couldn’t help but wonder how, 50 years after Dr. King’s murder, Mr. King maintains hope for a better  future.  He answered for me (and likely others) before the question was verbally uttered.

“I had to learn to hate the evil act and not the person. I’m thankful for the Spirit that teaches you to forgive.”

Even so, he called on each person within earshot to do something, whether locally, nationally or globally, to change their communities and the world for the better.

I too, issue that challenge, in my own way, through the words that follow:

We all can do something to make a difference. 

Speak up.

Stand down.

Listen. Be present.

Empathize. 

Go out of your way.

Give others a chance. 

Be your sister’s keeper, 

your brother’s armor bearer.

Call a local official.

Start a petition.

Volunteer. Give. 

Lead. Teach.

Push through.

Laugh together, cry together.

Hug it out. Press on. 

Use your words for good.

Use your innate gifts for best.

Care more.

Love harder. 

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

All these things?? This is what a change for the better requires. Daily. 

Will you (we) embrace the call? 

Our world sure needs you (us). 

© Stacy Hawkins Adams

CCO Creative Commons Use.
SHA – Martin Luther King III, speaking at VCU.

Why I Love: Librarians

Throughout this week I’ve read quite a few posts on my various social media feeds about exciting national librarian conferences and about funding issues related to school librarians.

The conversations and concerns reminded me of Mrs. Horn, the sweet, silver-haired librarian at Sam Taylor Elementary School in my native Arkansas.

When she discovered my voracious appetite for reading and saw me zip through books in record time, she took this shy 2nd grader under her wing and not only helped me discover chapter books and excellent authors, but also challenged me to read books that stretched my imagination.


I didn’t get all of the nuances of the novel “Heidi” as a 7-year-old, but that didn’t really matter. What mattered was that Mrs.Horn thought I should try; and as a result, I’ve been nudging myself ever since to try new things, to push past my comfort zone, to be willing to make sense of experiences different from my own, while celebrating and valuing my own.


These days, I try my best to write from that place, too. (One of my first attempts was in 4th grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Owens, let me write our class play, which my classmates willingly performed.)

Thank you, Mrs. Horn (and Mrs. Owens) for being among my many elementary school champions. Your efforts helped shape my memories and my foundation.

What about you? On whose shoulders do you stand? What simple acts of kindness or unsung gestures helped shaped you for good?

Take a few minutes to reflect on this, then if possible, find those heroes or “sheroes” and say thanks. Regardless of whether you reconnect with them, you can honor them by paying forward their generosity of spirit.
~ Stacy Hawkins Adams

CCO Use

3 Steps to Your Next Level

Sometimes you have to

1) Let go to grow

2) Leave behind in order to find

3) Stand up rather than continue to sit

Is this easy? Rarely.

Is it worth it? Always.

For even if you don’t hit the exact mark you’re aiming for, you’ll come closer to being your most authentic, purpose-filled self, and that’s a treasure worth seeking.

When we’re able to release the habits, beliefs and actions that keep us stuck at average or below, the doors to our next-level blessings will slowly but surely begin to open.

Get ready and stay ready.